October 15, 2013

Entrance to Seitz Pit
Laura and I headed out to Indiana to meetup with Chris Parks for a weekend bonanza that included a visit to  King Leo cave which is home to the contortionist breezeway that spits you out into the highway passage, the multi drop Seitz pit, and Upper Twin for a nice cool Sunday swim. We stayed at Chris's house Friday night so we could get out to King Leo and Seitz Pit.  Thankfully we did that because we needed the full day to re route ourselves through some mis-orientations and super tight squeezes inside the cave. 
We woke up early Saturday morning and headed out to the Swiss cheese country side of south Indiana to the location where these 2 holes in the ground reside.  We parked the car and started our traverse through the rain soaked forest of 55 degree fall weather until we came up upon Seitz Pit. 

Entrance to Seitz Pit

This cave has three rappels so I brought three separate ropes as well as other rigging gear for the drops inside this pit cave in case we needed it. We descended the 30 ft scenic pit and had to climb up a bit to get to the second drop.  I made the decision to use the remaining rope from the same bag so we tied into a natural anchor and made our descent down the second 50 ft rappel, stopping at the ledge and continuing down to the bottom of the second pit. 
Second drop Seitz Pit
Chris and Laura descended down and we went to look for the next passage that was suppose to lead us to the third pit and continue on to the rest of the cave.  We looked down into the small boreholes but we couldn't find the next passage.  We ascended up to the natural bridge and realized that the connection is a super tight canyon at the bottom of the lower level that we would have to climb up into and go through in order to continue to the final drop.   We all had a look and the group decision was that we didn't want to continue on so we ascended out of the cave and went to King Leo.
Chris Parks Seitz Pit
We stopped off at the car to have lunch and quickly made our way over to king leo.
King leo was a bit closer to the car but after a few wrong turns we were able to find the small entrance to the cave.  This cave has a 50 and some change drop into a jagged water cut pit that went into a canyon passage connecting into two dome rooms.  We rigged the drop and made our rappel to the bottom with no issues so we started our traverse through the dome rooms.  After climbing around some exposure in these dome rooms, we found the crawl. This is a crawl on hands and knees that squeezes you around a dry cut meander above a tight slot canyon passage until you come to another interesting intersection of the cave.

King Leo Cave
Chris Parks rappelling into King Leo
  We walked over some more exposure and continued to a spot that got tight, really tight!! Chris wasn't sure if we were to some how descend or kept going so I continued to push through and the ceiling got lower and lower, so low I had to take off my helmet and was breathing to get through the squeezes. It must have been less than a foot and I couldn't image people bigger than me getting through this squeeze in this direction. So I backed up and found myself wedged into the wall above me. Here I am in one of those moments where you sit and think about how you got stuck and how to maneuver your body backwards to get out of the situation. One small finger move and a breath of air at a time, I was able to back up and come back to the decision point. We must go down. Chris was not sure if this was the way and it was rather right so I frictioned myself down the slot and it continued on. Laura and chris dropped down and eventually we made it to the large borehole passage.
Adam Haydock King Leo Cave

This is a large walking borehole passage 15-20 ft to the ceiling. We continue down to the flowstone section of the cave admiring the gypsum crystals and flowers as they shimmered when our lights glanced over them. It has been brought up that this cave connects to another cave called Hells Hole which might be directly behind the breakdown beyond the flowstone.
Next to the flowstone and domeroom

Furthermore muskoxen bones were found in king Leo indicating that king Leo was once open before or during the ice age where mammals might have been able walk into the cave and live. We continued down to the other passage and found it kept going to another breakdown section that appeared to end. I always find it amazing that these large passages exist below the ground and is always a good reminder that there is so much more going on than we see from the surface. We completed our traverse back through the crawl which seemed to be a lot quicker than going in. We made it to the rope, climbed out and made it back to the car just as the sun was setting. It was a bit cold for the group to be camping so we ended up going back to Chris's house to get a good night sleep for the river cave the following morning.
Chris Parks in King Leo Cave

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