Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stephens Gap Cave, Alabama

"Heaven In Earth" - Eric Lee Hahn rappels Entrance No. 2 early one morning in March 2017.
          Few caves match Stephens Gap.  It is easily accessible, beautiful, and can be enjoyed by both horizontal and vertical cavers alike.  With several thousand feet of passage and over five entrances the cave sports everything from pit bouncing to wet pull downs.  Stephens Gap is an SCCi preserve requiring permits.
Deirdre Conroy rappels the Keyhole into Entrance 2.

Deirdre Conroy (right) and Amy Skowronski (left) at entrance 1.
               Entrances #1 and #2 are by far the most visited areas of the cave.  Entrance 1 is a massive 40x50ft hole in the hillside with a breakdown slope going into the cave.  Entrance 2 is a 50ft diameter hole dropping 147ft to the base of a large room.  The room is a junction between E1 an E2.  E2 can be rigged from multiple places, one of the most famous is the Keyhole.  The Keyhole is directly over the room below, 90° from the waterfall.  The rig point is a tree 150ft up the hill.  A redirect is used to hold the rope and a pad on the lip.  The lip doesnt even need to be crossed due to a ledge on the otherside of the Keyhole providing access by just reaching out and grabbing the rope.  The rappel from here is right around 110ft and lands on the infamous pedestal below.  In the summer months sunbeams shoot spectacularly down the pit and can hit the Pedestal in July.  Rainbows in the mist of the waterfall are also common.

Deirdre Conroy climbs past rainbows in the mist, March 2017.

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