March 27, 2014

Jamie Chang, Kevin Romanak, and Adam Haydock in the Diamonds In The Rough room in McIntosh Pit

Kevin Romanak and I pushed a lead in a pit cave behind a auto body shop called McIntosh Pit a few weeks back that rewarded our efforts with one of the most decorated rooms in Indiana.  We researched this room to see if anyone has ever been inside this part of the cave and the only documentation we were able to recover was that someone entered a “beautiful dome room with a cave pearl”.  After conducting more research, we came to the conclusion that the discovery we made was not surveyed and it appeared to us that nobody has ever been to the top of the room and into the smaller room beyond the top of the Diamonds In The Rough room.  Furthermore, other than the documentation that Bill Baus produced for us regarding an individual finding a cave pearl in a beautiful dome room, nobody else has appeared to have been into this room. This room very well might  be one of Indiana’s best kept secrets as there is evidence that people have been up the first exposed climb in the room next to the drop. The evidence we found was nautical rope that has been tied to the top of the exposed climb as well as an old wood ladder leading up the pathway to the traverse over the exposure to get to the top of the first pitch.  We also have found a survey marker at the top of the first exposed climb that confirms people have been to the top but beyond this survey marker appears to have not been travelled much. Human presence appeared to be next to nobody when we first entered the climb leading to the window continuing into the Diamonds In The Rough room. Finally, We think nobody has been up to the top of the diamonds in the rough room as every step we made had a crunchy sound to it and it just had that look of pristine virgin passage to us.   This cave has a lot of mystery and questions leading to how this highly decorated room has been left unnoticed and/or not talked about in books, articles, word of mouth, rumors, or stories..until now.  
Main Drop in McIntosh Pit Indiana
Kevin, Justin, Jamie, and I put our survey plan together for the section of the system we went to work on with this survey trip.  Kevin and I rig the main drop with a line to rappel on and another separate pulley system to haul gear up and down the drop.  We get down to the trash bottom of this main entrance pit after moving the 150 lb block of concrete out of the way.  This was a 70 ft drop into what reminded me of the trash compactor on the Death Star.  We start our push to rig rope next to the ladder, than belay each other over the exposed climb and to the top of the last survey marker.  Next we rig the drop into the next pit, rig rope so the team can climb the 30ft exposed climb,  than rig the climb into the window, and the climb to the top of the Diamonds in the rough room.  Once we got into the room, Kevin rigged the top of the room with another 70 foot rope so we could use it as a handline and rappel down from it to get back down to the bottom.  
Adam Haydock in the Diamonds in the Rough Room McInotsh Pit Indiana
Once everyone else got into the Diamonds In The Rough Room, We all had lunch and shortly after started our survey.  I was working on taking pictures of everyone while Kevin, Jamie, and Justin start at the top and work on tape measurements and compass readings. 

Kevin Romanak Surveying the Diamonds In The Rough Room McIntosh Pit

 Jamie pushes the small lead in the upper passage under the flowstone drapery shown below but it doesn’t go anywhere that she can see.  As they are taking measurements,  I was snapping photos and attempting to capture the colors that these minerals have made in the flowstones.  

The flowstone colors of the Diamonds in the Rough room McIntosh Pit cave Indiana

 The formations were absolutely amazing in this room!  We started off in a small pit at the bottom with flowstone formations all around us and the cave pearl that was mentioned previously in the documentation Bill Baus produced for us.  Looking up to the top of the room the traverse was covered in flowstone with pastel colors and flowstone drapery tapestries spilling over each other on the walls like a series of frozen waterfalls embedded with minerals. There was a large flowstone column above our heads that sparkled with crystals. 
Kevin Romanak, Jamie, Justin Thompson & Adam Haydock in the diamonds in the Rough Room McIntosh Pit Indiana
 As we made our traverse up the room, there were formations covered in popcorn formations.  The flowstones got more dynamic as we made our way to the top which allowed us to grab in places so that we would not damage anything.  We continued to get to the top and a flowstone drapery chandler hung over our heads like a large gothic fixture made of swords and thick blades. Beautiful!! I remember seeing something like this very similar in jeep side pit in the cagles chasm system.  The formations were plagued with popcorn formations and sprinkled with a dusting of a white crystal finish that made the room shimmer. 
Popcorn and Flowstone Drapery in the Diamonds In The Rough Room in McIntosh Pit cave Indiana

 In the back of this room was a rainbow of different shades of whites and pastel colors fused into the flowstone like paint spilling from top.  It was amazing.
Back room in the Diamonds In The Rough Room McIntosh Pit Cave Indiana

We continued to map starting from the top down and I continued to take pictures along the way.  Eventually we were complete with the room and continued out of the Diamonds In The Rough room and back out into the 10ft pit before the window. 
Adam Haydock, Jamie Chang, Kevin Romanak & Justin Thompson in the Diamonds in the Rough Room McIntosh Pit Indiana
After completing the compass measurements  in this section I rappelled down the 30ft drop to the main side room next to the main pit to take a few pictures of the garbage and the main entrance.   The main entrance drop would be a beautiful shear drop if it wasn’t for all of the garbage at the bottom.  I came back and was talking to Justin for a bit about how his business has been taking off which was super awesome to talk about than…. I think we were discussing???........I remember waking back up a half hour later and Justin was in another crawl section while Jamie and Kevin were still at the top of the 30ft drop
The following Drop after the 30ft climb in McIntosh Pit cave Indiana
 Eventually, Jamie came down and Kevin started to Take down the rigging the rooms.  I belayed him around the bend and we started packing everything away to get ready to haul up the haul line.  Justin went up first so he was in charge of pulling the rope up with bags attached to the haul line.  After hauling up the gear including the haul that was twice the weight as the others….my bad Justin, we all ascended out of the pit de rigged the drop and pushed the concrete slab over the entrance drop.   We clocked out at 13 hours of survey and everything appeared to be a success.  Tired as fuck, we drove back to Spring Mill State Park but when we got to the campsite most of the other WCG members were still up and celebrating their caving trip with spirits and happy faces.  I stayed up with them for a bit than got some sleep as the following day I wanted to wake up early to get over to Peachers cave. 

Diamonds In The Rough room McIntosh PIt Indiana

Kevin Romanak lighting the pit below in McIntosh Pit

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