Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Conley Hole, Tennessee

One of the TAG Classics.

Mark Jonard ascends Conley Hole while Andrew Mengele watches.  March 2016
Fog was from a recent rainstorm.
          Isolated far up the side of a hill in Grundy County, Tennessee is Conley Hole.  Conley Hole is unique given its size and shape.  There is basically no passage, just a single gigantic room with a hole in the ceiling.  Like most caves in southern Tennessee, the entrance is at the top of the Bangor Limestone and it drops to the base, a drop of about 168ft.

Andrew Mengele at the entrance, March 2016

         The entrance is 20ft in diameter and has many rig points, all are fairly easy.  Pad the lips well, the lower most ledges before the free drop have eaten ropes, including mine.  Over any lips one is on the wall for about 30ft before the final 140ft free drop.  And this drop is free.  Several dozen feet from one wall and a couple hundred feet from the other wall.  In the spring and summer following rainstorms a fog layer collects in the middle of the pit and can obscure the floor.  On sunny days a beam can shoot all the way to the floor.  Formations, some over 100ft tall, have built up on breakdown piles below.  When the fog moves in, these formations stick out of the fog giving an unearthy look of islands on an ocean.

Emily Deaver (left) and Jessi Lowman (right) watch Cassandra Mosley ascend from the pit.  March 2017

          Despite a hike of over a mile and half, including a final climb of over 500ft, this pit is a must do for anyone going to south-central Tennessee.

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