Some of the best ways to learn about a danger scenario is to hear about those who survived one. in August 2018. Spencer Christiansen, 31, and his wife Jess, 24, spent nearly two days lost in Wyoming’s Darby Ice Caves. Here we break down their story and offer some valuable advice.
The couple picks and adventure to go on every year. Last year, they chose the Ice caves of Darby, Wyoming. They’ve gone caving before and the icy aspect appealed to them.
Online information spoke little of any cave offshoots, so once they had entered the frigid caverns, they assumed it would be a straight shot. While they continue to see footprints and other signs of past cavers, they began to wonder why they hadn’t found the exit yet. After nine hours, they grew concerned.
The entrance to the cave was a rappeled entrance, and since they “knew” about the exit farther in, they pulled their ropes, this meant they couldn’t go out the way they came in.
After finding a dead end, with no sense of breeze to guide them, they realized they were lost. It was midnight by then. They slept best they could, to awaken five hours later. They ate the last of their food and burned what supplies they could spare to generate heat. They had to find a way out soon.
They found a small waterfall and strained to find the source. After much effort, they discovered that it only led to a small crack in the rocks and not a valid means out.
Fortunately, after a little while longer, they were found by a rescue team.
According to the team, they were on the right route, but only about halfway through. They estimate that the couple had traveled nearly 8 miles looking for an exit. As it turns out, the correct way to go was well hidden by high water. It only left 4 inches of air to breach in in order to cross it.
Cave Navigation Advice
- Carry a Survey: You use a map to drive or hike, you should have one for caves too. Local caving clubs often offer them for free.
- Look Around: Every so often, take note of your location and how it looks from every direction. It’s easy to lose track of where you are when approaching a previous spot from a new angle. Pay attention to what every location and noteworthy landmark looks like.
- Don’t Leave Marks Behind: It’s tempting to mark the caves in order to not get lost. This includes scratching the walls, painting arrows, and other permanent marks. This is not only bad caving etiquette, but it can also make it hard for future explorers to navigate the caves. Imagine finding a cave and seeing spray can dots everywhere. Use removable ice-pop sticks instead. Mark one side of the stick to indicate the in-out direction.
Story and Advice Source: TheBackpacker