21 July 2007
McKenzie Pits Training

It was a beautiful day and a group of us headed up to the McKenzie Pits to practice rappelling and dealing with edges. Not to mention, check out some cool - in more ways that one - steam vents!

We were provided the following information by Scott, trainer:
The training will involve using GPS units to find the pits. We will be breaking up into a number of groups, each of which will navigate to the caves independently. Once we get to the pits, we will rig 2-3 of them and people can practice going down & back up. NOTE: There is only ONE WAY back out, and that is up the rope. So this will be a good test of your vertical system and ability to cross overhung lips (there is one good one in the 95' deep pit). Pit depths run from ~35' to ~150', however the 150' deep pit is a sinuous enclosed one so there isn't the sense of exposure. The 95' is nice and open.

A deep pit waits...

Explorers find additional pits below!

A microclimate provides a home for vegetation not found anywhere near by including small ferns.

Earnest discussion regarding ascending systems.

The discussion includes visual aides.

Jerry and Jonathan discuss systems.

Nate backs off the edge of the 60' pit.
Somewhat picturesque entrance, but not easy to photograph 'action'.

Drew goes down to join Nate.

Jerry, Scott, Jason W., and Jim 'supervise'.

The 3rd pit to be rigged, the deepest one.
After Scott measured off an appropriate length, Jonathan provided enough rope from the tie off, and re-secured the anchor.

Then the rope was taken down the entrance before being thrown in.

Are you sure it reached the bottom? It's okay - there's a knot at the end.

Scott then drops the pit to make sure the rope reached the bottom.

Time for some to rest.

Jason W. (with large camera bag) shows his edge technique.

A beautiful location.

Nate casually rappels down.

Drew eyes the descent down the opening to the pit edge.

Drew starts his descent.

Jim wonders "What am I doing here exactly?"

Jerry carefully passes the prusik securing the edge protection.

A lenticular cloud, complete with half moon, provided a nice distraction for those on the surface.

Scott watches - for trouble? For caving recruits?

Having successfully negotiated coming up the edge, Nate and Drew offer 'helpful' tips to others.

Jim powers himself up. (yes out of focus, but love the cheeks!)

Almost out!

Jim reaches the true edge of the pit.

Jonathan observes. Jerry's pack and shirt act as padding.

Jerry approaches the 'bag crux' as it came to be called.

Is that a smile?

Jerry, Jonathan and Drew

Return to Photo Album