Lago Ercina

Speleogroup  title


Site list (GPS fixes) Walks (GPS tracks)  Video clips Panoramas

Coordinates used

Electronic projects:

 Bat detector
 Lamp tests
 µ-controlled lamp
 SEPIC-based lamp
 ISP isolators
 Making SMT boards

Expedition logs:

  Spain 1973, 1974,
  1975, 1976, 1977,
  1979, 1982, 1983,
  1985, 1986, 1987,
  1988, 1989, 2000,
  2001, 2002, 2003,
  2004, 2005, 2006,
  2007, 2008, 2009,
  2010, 2011, 2012,
  2013, 2014, 2015,
  2016, 2017, 2018,
  2019, 2020, 2021,
  New England


 The Battle of
 El Mazuco

New England, 1980 & 1981

This a transcription of my » logbook of caving trips while this member of Speleogroup was on assignment to the IBM Yorktown Heights Research Laboratory in 1980 and 1981. A colleague there was Oliver Wells » – a British cave diver famous for his explorations of Wookey Hole », etc.  He introduced me to his son, James, who showed me the local caves and in turn introduced me to his fellow cavers.

These notes are not as detailed as other logs on the » website – please let me know if you have anything to add to them!

Here are some pictures – if you can identify any of them let me know and I’ll include them in the log below.

The people mentioned in the trip descriptions are mostly identified by first name or nickname only.  I believe fuller names (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Alyson Rice
  • Elizabeth (“Beth” O’Brien) Gering
  • Frank Blau
  • James Wells
  • John Schwenk (rope-walking and ‘under the bar’) in the pictures
  • John Wells
  • Ian Baren
  • Kathy (“Kat” O’Brien) Hall
  • Larry Fleming
  • Melissa (“Missy”) Rice

Please let me know of any corrections/additions!


06.04 Easter Day.  Tories Cave, CT.

Just off route 7, 6–7 miles north of Mew Milford, Conn.  On a side branch of Housatonic Trail, about 100 yards fro Rte. 7; near very large open area.  About 0.6 miles south of North junction with Squash Hollow Road.

Entrance damp and partly blocked with ice, in very unpure rock. Crawl down over ice, with wet squeeze to carry on.  Wearing normal clothes, so decided to leave for another day.  Worth a grovel, come summer.

19.04 Indian Oven Cave, NY.  With James Wells, Kathy?.

North on Route 22.  A few miles north of Millerton , and exactly on the Dutchess/Columbia county line, there is a dirt road on left. About ¼–⅓ mile up the road, path leads uphill on the left.  Follow this upslope and then along contours for about ½ mile to large obvious depression with rock face and stream sinking.

Beautiful weather, 60–70F.  Spring flowers (a few) in the woods, still no leaves on the trees, however.

Down through boulders – small climb – then follow stream.  Stream chokes after 150′ or so in tight crawl – chemical persuasion might produce results.  Above stream end, obvious muddy traverse/crawl southish leads several hundred feet through crawls and squeezes to unpromising end.  A couple of inlets have a few muddy formations. Rather unrewarding cave but better than nothing.  2 hours.

04.07 Knox Cave, Schoharie.  With Bob ?, Larry Fleming, Paula ?, James Wells, Mike ?, etc.  3–4 hours.

Near town of Knox.  Go north on Knox Cave road, pull off to track on left 1 mile after X-roards to campsite.  Knox Cave is at end of track; used to be a show cave.

Rocky climb down entrance then down fixed ladder (the pit).  Beer bottles everywhere.  Then on to “Dungeon”.  Back under past the fixed ladder leads to the Gunbarrel – an entertaining tube crawl.  Larry gets boot stuck, 20 minutes to rescue...
On through breakdown room, had a look at climbs and things, then up climb and along a crawly traverse to Alabaster room.  Not exciting.

05.07 Clarkesville Cave.  With James Wells.  1½ hours total.

100 yards uphill from large parking wasteland in Clarkesville.

Entrance in middle of cave.  Went downstream, interesting wriggles, down to stream.  English-like limestone, quite wet with good ducks. Very quickly into daylight (bottom entrance) again.
Back into central entrance next, passed a weegee party and up to lake entrance.  A free climb possible, maybe, but exposed and bad rock.

06.07 Gages Cave.  With James Wells.  1 hour.

South of NY Rte. 7, difficult to describe.

Down 50′ fixed ladder, then the obvious way on to largish rooms connected by a small climb.  Crawl near the bottom of the ladder leads to very cold swim, then 12 tufa dams, ending in “square room”. A passage leads off through uninviting duck/sump.  This is “lost passage”.

23.08 Indian Oven Cave, NY.  With James & John Wells, Ian Baren, and Fritz ?.  4½ hours.

Down to final ‘sump’ which had been dug by James and others who were unable to get through.  Tight squeeze through up into crystal pool passage; flat-out crawl but pretty.

Dug squeeze for James to get through, then investigated crawlway. Became too tight due to calcite floor – diggable.  Rest of party arrived, investigated, much grunting.  Arranged to return later.

31.08 Indian Oven Cave, NY.  With James Wells, Ian Baren.  6 hours.

Back to the dig.  Investigated end, dug a while, got cold.  Quite a lot of progress but a long way to go. 

On the way out, looked at First Inlet squeeze, near roof, very tight over ridged stal.  Passed the squeeze, looked down into pristine chamber with stream and stal.  Out in good time.

??.09 Convention Cave, MA.  With James Wells, Missy, Bob ?.

In the woods.  Entrance hole followed by crawl opening out into chamber, then to top of climb/pitch; needs 10′ handline (2 slings OK). Messed around in sump at bottom.  V. cold water, sump goes down at 30° to horizontal, rather small, filled with stones and mud. Had a look round mud tubes, “canyons”, etc.; out after 3 or 4 hours, no extensions.


??.02 Rhodes Cave (sketch map – which doesn’t show the cave...).

Ice! Very, very, pretty.  Interesting squeezes, boulders.  Stream at bottom probably near water table.  2 hours?

03.05 Rhodes Cave

Still Ice! And seriously cold.

??.05 Prusiking practice (on old bridge near Tranquility Campground, NJ).
31.05 Knox cave.  With James, Missy, +4.

Looked at rift above dungeon.  Tight but still going (pressure traverse at +25′).  Then down to Alabaster room with M; looked around a bit.

Back and up to pit room (climb much easier than reputed), not very interesting.  2½ hours?

20.06 Convention Cave, with James, Missy, Andy, Stu.

Sporting little trip; quite wet.  Had fun with belay at top of pitch (rigged ladder for Andy & Stu).  2 hours.

... out to rain, so down the road to ...

Bakers Quarry Cave: different limestone, different character.  Cold, slowly descending phreatic tube.  v. short; 30 mins.

... still raining when we got out so poked around in sinks and things ...

Found an interesting “hopeless” sink near Convention Cave, which took water fast when poked with a stick.  20 minutes digging took us into a small chamber leading to 50′ passage after an hour. Sump at end.  Named the hole “Pokie Hole” in honour of the means of discovery and of Poughkeepsie programmers.

... and the sun came out! 

03.07 Mitchels Cave

Off to Schoharie for 4th July weekend (NRO get-together).

Down Mitchels with James; 160′ depth steeply descending cave in middle of wood, quite interesting, hanging sump at the end.  2 hours.
(Then off on an 8-mile hike over Barton Hill, looking for Single X cave.)

04.07 During the Glawackus Hunt », searched both entrances of Youngs Cave (AKA Runkle Cave).  Avoided middle section as in ordinary clothes.  Cave sites visited during the hunt included: Mistake Cave, Vanfleet’s Cave, and Becker’s Cave (twice).

We won the hunt ...

06.07 Tories Cave, CT.  With James, Missy, John.

2 routes from entrance. RH route leads down to puddle (duck on left connects to LH route) with passage on left → Aven room.  Crawl on right leads to James’ dig and upwards squeeze (7″).  Latter pushed but not much hope once above it.

LH route down through tight inclined rift leads to complex solution chambers.  Whole cave ‘full’ of sharp Grit! 1½ hours.

19.07 → 25.07 International Speleological Congress, Kentucky.

Many pictures, but no notes.

Expeditions to the Picos de Europa and elsewhere since 1973.
Please e-mail Mike Cowlishaw ( or Bill Collis (
if you have any corrections, suggestions, etc.   See also the SpeleoTrove speleology section ».
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This page was last edited on 2018-06-15 by mfc.