Turbine Cave, NY

Since the entrance to Sellecks is currently iced over, we’ve been checking out a few other caves in the area with potential for diving. We have quite a few on the list, so we’ve started to check them off.

On January 21st the SUOC Sumpeaters enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather as we checked out Turbine cave. I was accompanied by Nathan, Joey, Leah, Joe, Trenton and Lexi. This was Lexi’s first caving trip (ever!) and Trenton’s first introduction to the Sumpeaters. Lexi never lost the smile on her face, and Trenton seemed to enjoy our little gang quite a bit. I’m excited for these two to join us on future trips. The landowners are wonderful people, and were very excited to have a diver checking out the sump.

Turbine

I’d spoken to another sump diver who had checked out this lead and thought it dead, but being the optimist that I am I still elected to bring along some dive gear. For the trip I brought two 46cuft steel tanks, to be sidemounted on my Nomad harness. Quite overkill, as I would come to discover. As I crawled in behind first-timer Lexi, I immediately felt a bit guilty. Being her first trip underground, I promised a “nice dry cave, with little or no crawling”. Within the first fifty feet I immediately realized my gross misrepresentation of the cave, as we crawl/swam through the frigid and flowing water. My guilt and worries of never hearing from her again quickly dissipated as we made it to a small waterfall drop. The look on her face said it all- she LOVED this. We scaled down the drop, where there is a small room before a very tight crawlway. The downward- sloping crawl is about 2′ tall, with approximately half of that full of ~40 degree water. It is fairly narrow, but certainly passable. After about 30′ of crawling the tunnel terminates in a tall room, with the terminal sump just beyond a little pinch. To keep things contained, Nathan and myself went first, followed shortly by Joey and Joe. We had some issues getting gear through the restriction due to the small size, but eventually managed to get it all to the sump.

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Nathan Roser inspects the entrance to Turbine Cave, NY.

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Alexi Bulloch ready to enter her first cave, in a NY January!

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Joe Armstrong navigates past one of the several ice formations near the entrance. This cave was COLD.

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Leah Hill and Alexi Bulloch maneuvering down into the stream. This was the last “large” room where we could fit more than a couple of people, so most of the sherpa team hung out here during the dive.

The sump starts in a fissure, with cold and muddy water. I elected to first poke around with a single tank and regulator, to feel with my feet and see if it went. The muddy bottom slopes off at a 45°, as the fissure progresses forward. I entered feet first and used my legs to gauge passage size and direction. I descended along the slope until my feet were ~16′ deep, dragging the single tank behind me. I expected the fissure to “bell out” at the bottom, but was disappointed when it failed to do so. The width of the passage was never wider than my shoulders, and it didn’t look like it was getting any better. Visibility was zero the entire dive. I surfaced and we packed up. I do not believe any more diving here would be of any use, but perhaps we’ll return in the future when the water visibility may be better. At least that way we could SEE if the passage got any bigger.

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Teddy Garlock emerging from the cave after his dive.

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The sherpa team for my Turbine dive. From left to right: Leah Hill, Trenton Witham, Alexi Bulloch, Joe Armstrong, Nathan Roser and Joey O’Reilly.

Following our jaunt into Turbine we checked out Spider cave. A short but exciting cave with much warmer water. Unfortunately no diving to be done here.

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Trenton Witham negotiates through one of the squeezes in Spider cave.

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Alexi Bulloch negotiates through one of the squeezes in Spider cave.

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