Exploring Airman’s Cave

We sat in the tiny passageway, exhausted. Our muscles were fatigued from overuse. We were over a mile deep into the cave, hours away from the surface, hours away from food, and hours away from water. Had our curiousity finally gotten the best of us? For the first time ever, I was worried for my life. I couldn’t imagine dying, but making it out of the cave seemed even less likely.

It started months ago. After exploring the small caves at Enchanted Rock, we were eager to tackle something a bit more challenging. A search on the internet led us quickly to Airman’s Cave – perhaps the most well known cave in Austin. What we didn’t know at the time was that it was also an advanced level cave. Few members of the caving community in Austin would attempt the cave. With an average ceiling of 18″, Airman’s cave was a full 2.5 miles long. But we didn’t really know that either. In fact, we knew nothing of caves or caving.

To access the cave, we had to take a hike down a dry creekbed and search for it. After wandering around for a while we spotted a large opening on the hill. That was it.

The cave was immediately difficult. Twenty feet into the entrance was a tiny passageway called “The Birth Canal”. It was so tight in every direction that I was forced to have my hands above my head at all times. If I put them by my side I would get stuck. Movement was only possible after exhaling.

The Birth Canal was a short section of the cave, and provided access to a larger cavern that was big enough to sit in comfortably. Beyond that cavern we were presented with a fork. We chose to go left and soon found ourselves in a dead end containing the bones of a few unlucky animals. Not the best omen.

We left the cave, and upon returning home searched for more information on it. The first site we came across showed pictures of people covered in mud, presumably who had made it all the way to the end.

“Wait. That’s Greg Geist.”

Greg was a 40 something year old science teacher who had become our friend when we were camping out for Star Wars (note to the ladies- I’m super cool). We’d lost touch with him after the movie, and to be honest, hadn’t really thought much about him.

But sure enough, we were looking at his web page, and he had successfully navigated the cave. Judging by his knee pads and crazy flashlight helmet, it wasn’t his first time either.

Interest in the cave waned over the next couple weeks as we became preoccupied with other adventures.

Then we ran into Greg.

More specifically, Terry ran into Greg on the UT campus. He asked him about the cave and Greg regaled him of his travels to the end of the tunnel. There was a huge room full of crystals, he said, and he would take us there.

We quickly arranged to explore the cave with him. We would have to get there early in the morning because it was an eight hour trek to the end of the cave, and another eight hours back. We agreed on the next saturday at 5am.

I hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep, but I’d gotten enough. I rummaged through my pantry and got a couple boxes of granola bars and some peanut butter crackers. I might get hungry. It didn’t occur to me that the cave experience was scheduled to preempt all three meals from the day. I packed my fancy flashlight, my digital camera, and the snacks. I put on an old T shirt, some cargo pants, and my combat boots. It was my typical trouble making uniform.

Shortly after arriving at Hayden’s house, the designated meeting spot, I stopped at a gas station and bought a couple bottles of water. I might get thirsty.

When I got to Haydens I met up with my fellow explorers. Austin, Terry, Jake, and Hayden were there. I don’t remember the specifics, but I know that a couple of them had stayed up all night. Jake had the foresight to bring Craisins, a peculiar dried cranberry snack. Austin had stocked up on water, as had Terry. Hayden didn’t bring anything.

I should have known that the day would be a disaster when Greg arrived. He opened up his trunk and pouring out came all sorts of spelunking devices. There were water packs, headlamps, and pads. He was wearing elbow pads, knee pads, a helmet with a lamp on it, and gloves. At the time it seemed like overkill, so we politely took one set of pads between the five of us and assured him we’d be fine. We wouldn’t be.

Still dark out, we hiked across the river stones in the dry creek bed. When we arrived at the entrance, we were very eager to begin.

Full of gusto, I took the more difficult entrance to the cave, which was even narrower than the birth canal. Even Greg didn’t take that route. We got to the main cavern and went right this time, leading us into the depths of the cave.

Within a few hundred feet I was surprised at the size of the passageway. It was very wide, but the ceilng was only 12-18 inches from the ground. Crawling military style wasn’t very comfortable at all. Making the journey even less comfortable were our backpacks. There wasn’t enough clearance to wear them on our backs, so we shoved them in front of us.

The ground beneath us alternated between mud and sharp rocks. We took turns wearing one or two pads at a time, for which we were particularly grateful when crawling over the rocks.

Our enthusiasm, along with an occasional granola bar, fueled us and we reached the “Aggy Art Gallerie” with relative ease.

The Aggy Art Gallerie is a good sized cavern with a thick clay floor. Over the past 30+ years, explorers have dug up pieces of clay and made sculptures in the cavern. There were animals, cars, and words spelled out, along with more impressive sculptures. One such sculpture was a huge dragon that hung from the ceiling aided by fishing line. Someone had made a light switch with clay wires that created a maze around the other sculptures on the walls, and finally reached a clay bulb overhead. It was a very cool place, and we looked forward to making a tribute to our school bus on the way back through.

We pressed on through Karen’s Crawl, which was the most difficult part for me. Our group was divided between two mentalities. Half of us prefered the short but technically challenging areas, while the others liked the long monotonous passages. Karen’s crawl spites you not only with a 16″ ceiling, but also with extremely narrow walls. It’s clausterphobia-inducing, and very long. To make matters worse, the ceiling was primarily composed of sharp rocks. On the way in it hurt each time I hit my head. On the way back out I didn’t even notice.

Shortly after Karen’s Crawl was Sherwood Forest. I had anticipated a large cave where we could relax, punctuated by tree-like stalagtites. I was wrong. Sherwood forest was wide, but wasn’t tall at all. We all took a break and stared at the fossils embedded in the ceiling a food away from our faces. By now we were deep below a shopping plaza. Kinda makes you wonder what’s below you now.

I’d had enough, and I wasn’t alone. We had been crawling for a little over four hours and our muscles were sore. In fact, using my arms in any way was becoming a serious struggle. My thighs ached. I was hungry and thirsty. As we snacked on peanut butter crackers and water, we talked.

“Guys… I think we should go back,” I started, “Even if we leave now, we still have four hours to reach the surface again. All of my muscles are sore.”

There was a bit of chatter and everyone agreed that we should go back. We went home and lived happily ever after.

Well, that’s how the story would have been if my friend Jake wasn’t along for the adventure. The thing about Jake is that he loves to disagree. He’s a good debator, and will take any opportunity he gets. I remember once as an experiment arguing one point of view, and then a week later bringing up the opposite perspective that he had previously argued. As expected, he vehemently disagreed and argued, despite defending that position just a week earlier.

“We’re never going to come back here. We might as well push forward and make it to the end.”

Damn him.

It was that kind of logic that you can’t argue with. If you do, you’re a wimp. Predictably, we all agreed that he was right, one by one.

Agreeing that our backpacks were the primary source of our discomfort, we ditched all but one of them in Sherwood Forest and put a few water bottles in the remaining one. Our burdens lightened, we carried on.

Within a half an hour, Hayden had had enough. He wasn’t a typical participant in our crazy ideas, and he hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before. Now determined to make it to the end, we left a water bottle for him and continued on. As much as I wanted to make it to the end, I envied him. It seemed like being in complete sensory deprivation might be interesting. But then again, so was our trip.

A little further down the line we reached the “Wire Wiggle”. Who comes up with these names? I would have called it “The Satan Squeeze” or something more appropriate. It consisted of a short but steep dip down followed by an incline upwards. The low ceiling made that valley very difficult to squeeze through. Appraently this had once been the end of the tunnel, but some explorers had dynamited just enough so that they could get to the next area. I assume that they were midget children who were coated in petroleum jelly, otherwise they surely would have blasted more.

Finally out of water, we left the last backpack right before the wire wiggle.

We continued through the seemingly endless maze. Greg would frequently entice us to continue by saying that soon we would have more clearance and would be able to “crouch walk”. Crawling was making us weary. The crouch walks rarely seemed to come, and our muscles became more and more tired. Occasionally mine would give out, and I would fall to the ground. Our breaks became more frequent, and also less satisfying. Without any food or water left, they did little but give us a chance to catch our breath.

In the back of my mind I began to wonder how we’d ever make it back out of the cave. Making it to the end seemed incrasingly unlikely, and we still had to go back the way we came. If it weren’t for my pride, I would have given up. As we sat for our break, only five minutes after our previous break, I considered the very real possibility that I would die.

Someone suggested that we turn back. It could have been me. Every agreed this time, even Jake. Our spirits were low, everyone was worried, and none of our muscles could support our weight. As I had slithered across the ground I watched the little pebbles pass under me. They weren’t moving as fast as they had been before. If I pushed and the ground moved four inches behind me, I was happy. Greg was the only one who didn’t want to give up. He had been promising us that the end was right around the corner for at least half an hour. The false hope had kept us trying, but we didn’t care anymore.

We just wanted to make it back outside.

Greg suggested that he go on ahead and see how far away we were. Surely we were close, he said. Content to not move a muscle, we agreed.

Only a few minutes passed and we heard him yell.

“It’s HERE! We made it!”

We got a second (or is it ninth by now?) wind and scampered across the rocks. Sure enough, it was right around the corner. And it was magnificent.

If you’ve ever seen a geode, then you’ve seen a small replica of the place we were in. The floors, walls, and ceiling were covered in crystals. Water ran over them and caused them to glisten when prompted by our flashlights. As happy as we were to experience such a scene, we were still exhausted. I wasn’t willing to expend the energy required to simply take a picture. It wasn’t worth it.

We pressed our heads against the wet ceiling to cool ourselves down. We joked and talked, but it was an act. None of us was ready to go back. Not having eaten anything in 4 hours was taking its toll, and it had been almost as long since we had had water.

We finally turned back and the reality of our eight hour crawl set in. Slowly, and punctuated by frequent stops, we made it back to the Wire wiggle. Terry went through first, and then I went through.

“I found our backpack!” Terry yelled.

“Please.. check for food or water,” I replied. I knew it was empty, but I was desperate. I had no energy and collapsing on the floor had become part of my gait.

“There’s nothing,” Terry said mournfully, “Oh WAIT! Craisins!”

Ocean Spray Craisins, 6 oz

It was Jake’s backpack, and in the bottom, under our empty water bottles, was a half eaten bag of Craisins. It was the best news I had all night. Behind me I heard Jake. He was stuck in the Wire Wiggle.

“Hold on,” I pleaded.

Terry stuffed his face with a handful of Craisins and passed the bag to me. I took a handful too. I’ve been privy to some delicious meals in my day, but I don’t know that any was as appreciated as those Craisins. I’d never had Craisins before, and had dismissed them as some stupid fad health food. But today, they were my best friend.

“Here, eat some of these,” I said to Jake, and handed him the Craisins. Instantly his spirits were lifted as well. Austin, probably eager to get access to the Craisins himself, pushed Jake while I pulled him. He finally got unstuck and made it to the other side.

Our energy renewed from the paltry 75 calories or so that we had each received, we pressed on with less frequent breaks. I’d like to think that we somehow would have made it without those Craisins, but you never know. As far as I’m concerned, they saved my life.

It was a two hour trek back to Sherwood forest, where the promise of granola bars and water lay. I fantasized about eating a granola bar. Maybe two at once.

We reached Hayden just as he woke up. We excitedly told him about the crystalline cavern at the end of the tunnel. By now we’d been in the cave for 11 hours, muscles working hard the entire time. If you want to simluate this at home, walk on a treadmill while lifting weights, and continue for 11 hours straight. My strength was so low that I had resorted to rolling sideways through the cave when the width permitted. I wasn’t sure which muscles the rolling was using, but I was happy that they hadn’t given up on me yet.

I finally caught sight of the backpacks. That last twenty feet seemed to take forever, but I finally made it. I lay on my back and stuffed my face with food. As the other got to Sherwood Forest I lobbed packages of crackers and granola bars to them as well.

Surely with bellies full of food and water, we’d easily make it back to the entrance. We were only four hours away. It seemed like forever, but knowing that we had made it twelve hours already was encouraging. Seventy five percent of the way there.

After eating, drinking, and resting for half an hour, reality set in. We had to go. Unfortuntately my excitement had caused me to eat too much too fast and I felt sick.

The last four hours were perhaps the longest. Every time we’d ask I swear that Greg said that we were three hours away. He would describe the upcoming obstacles, and was always correct. But it always seemed like there were three hours left. Maybe I was going crazy.

At one point I realized that I had dropped my flashlight. Crap. It cost over $100 and I loved it. I was last in line and I saw it just twenty feet behind me. It took me only a few seconds to opt to continue on without it. Nothing was going to get me to crawl more than I had to.

During the last hour I made a point to evaluate the situation in my head. Would I do this again for $10,000? I think I actually chuckled outloud. This torture wasn’t worth it. $100,000? No, I decided. Finally I considered that it might be worth it for a million dollars. Maybe. That’s how painful it was.

After what seemed like an eternity, we went back through the birth canal and emerged from the cave. Overall we had been in the cave for more than sixteen hours. I marveled at the height of the sky as we walked back to the car. I would never hit my head on the sky. That was comforting. We piled into the car and headed to a local hamburger joint. Everyone ordered the double cheeseburgers.

For the first time since the apartments, we were bathed in light. It was a funny sight. Our clothes, backpacks, and skin were caked in mud and dust, making us monotone. We looked as if we’d just survived a nuclear blast, which at the time seemed more pleasant.

I drove home and stripped naked in my garage. Even my underwear was somehow covered in mud and dust. I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet. My floor is limestone. Looking at it, I had a momentary panic attack and felt like I was trapped in the cave. No. I was ok. I got into bed and closed my eyes. I had intensely realistic visions of the cave which jolted me awake. Finally after three or four tries, I fell asleep.

Since that day I’ve gone back through the birth canal, but no deeper. The cave was by far the most unpleasant experience in my life. But it was a good one. I’m now deeply grateful that Jake pushed us to continue to the end of the cave. More than any other experience, the cave taught me that our limits are FAR beyond what we could ever imagine. Also I learned that dried cranberries are life giving nuggets of goodness that should be praised across the globe.

65 comments

  1. I honestly don’t think I would live through that if I attempted it. I also don’t think you’ll disagree haha

    You are such a haas, Tynan.

  2. Great enthusiasm – but an almost total lack of preparedness, and really poor judgement. If something had gone wrong (really wrong), imagine the amount of effort it would take for a rescue. The one thing they had going was having someone who was somewhat prepared, and had been in the cave before. They were very, very lucky.

    I hope they don’t give up on caving, though. They should find a local group of cavers to go with and learn from them. Visit some other caves, perhaps…

  3. Cool story, but hang on… you got to the most amazing cave covered crystals, which was the objective of your mission, and you couldn’t be bothered to take a picture?

  4. Jonathan – Yeah. I was just too tired to do it. Also Greg took pictures, so I figured I’d just get them from him, but I never did.

  5. I defenitly got stuck. Fat man in a little cave. Trust me guys, when we got to the end, we didnt even care enough to crawl in and look at the crystals. I just wanted to turn around and get a burger.

    By the way, even though I am clearly the most argumentative person ever, I dont like quitting, so, that was legitimate desire.. honest.

  6. Me and my buddy, Brad Broberg, got into big trouble (circa 1974)because we had explored this cave. An expected 2-3 hour excursion turned into a 12 hr ordeal and we loved every minute of it. Just getting to the “Aggie Art Gallery” was an acomplishment, but we knew that we had hit pay dirt when we started seeing spent wiring from demolition charges that had been used to level the land (above Airmen’s terminus). Our respective parental units had called out the rescue squad from the Austin Natural Science Center etc.. Meanwhile Brad and me were hitchhiking along Ben White Blvd. and no one would pick us up cause we looked like a couple of construction workers bla bla bla…

    great memories!

  7. mmm, i will be crawlin through airmen’s soon. i look forward to it, even after reading this horror story. However, i will be with a group of knowledgable individuals who have been inside more than once. Sounds like you guys had a lot of luck on your side going in there with nothing almost. I’ll be usin my bmx pads and helmet. and i got a headlamp, cuz after going through a cave my friends and i discovered in round rock, i know it sucks holding your flashlight while crawling. glad you made it out. your story sets a perfect example for what not to do, ty.

  8. mmm, i will be crawlin through airmen’s soon. i look forward to it, even after reading this horror story. However, i will be with a group of knowledgable individuals who have been inside more than once. Sounds like you guys had a lot of luck on your side going in there with nothing almost. I’ll be usin my bmx pads and helmet. and i got a headlamp, cuz after going through a cave my friends and i discovered in round rock, i know it sucks holding your flashlight while crawling. glad you made it out. your story sets a perfect example for what not to do.
    peace

  9. Wow…My first comment, looking at those pictures and thinking of the story made me feel claustrophobic, i’ll never want to go in a cave now. I take my hat off to you for surviving that, it’s when thoughts of not making it out and dieing crosses your mind you’ve become too close to passing away.

  10. Stupid and arrogant beyond belief, you guys. Particulary Greg should have known better than to take non-cavers with no food, piddlyshit lights, and no redundancy on a 16-hour crawl.

    I haven’t looked at the rest of your website—it looks like you have a lot to prove. If you’re serious about caving, get in touch with your local NSS chapter. Oh, before they’ll let you join, you will need to go on a checkout, beginner-level cave crawl with an experienced member. But I suspect that your attitude will keeo you out.

  11. Stupid and arrogant, but a fantastic experience which I’m proud to have had. Sometimes you need to push outside of our comfort bubble and try something truly difficult.

    You’re also right that my attitude will keep me out of the NSS. I have no desire to explore easier caves.

  12. This thread is still going – wow! Have you done any more caving since that trip to Airman’s?

    I can understand your response to Barbara’s post. Just don’t go thinking that NSS members and/or other mainstream cavers only explore “easier” caves. Not true! Beginner trips are usually not too challenging because they are for… beginners. These trips are also a good opportunity for experienced cavers to help/guide/observe newer cavers – which I think was Barbara’s point.

    If caving really interests you, check out http://www.caves.org and search for local chapters (grottos) near you. Give them a chance, and the feeling should reciprocate. Get connected with other cavers, keep an open mind, learn new tricks, but still be yourself. Cave softly, and cave safely.

  13. Ugh- i can only imagine what you went through. i just went through that cave today but only stayed in there for a few hours. We only made it to one legged willy before we decided to turn around.

  14. lol i read the story, and all the comments, and i couldnt help but laugh. I laugh, of course, simple to keep from crying. I say this because today at about 5pm we walked to the entrance of the cave, and decided to try our luck. There were only four of us (2guys, and 2girls), and only one of us had been in the cave but never very far. Everyone thinks you guys were dumb for trying what you did? well at least you had a guide. it took us two and a half hours just t get to th “Aggies Art Gallery” simply because we spent our breaks trying to find the right path. When we finally reached the gallery we had a blast making our own mark in history. Some of us more than others; my friend and his girlfriend had sex in the entrance to join the “6 feet under club” Well very long story short we made it out barelly alive. trying to get out of the “birth Canal” i just wanted to die, but the sound of my friends crying out for joy made me want to live lolng enough to see the wide open spaces. It was also a bad idea watching “desent” before we went cause a racoon decided to follow me for a good hour, and being in the back of the group it kinda scared me. Oh and all the arrows in all the wrong directions didnt help .

  15. lol i also found it kinda funny that on one of the other persons sites, they mention finding a flashlight(small maglight) oh i really want to make it to the end, and more importantly out again so if any experienced members would like to go im all in.

  16. No pic of the crystal room????????? But you took pics of your buddy taking a gatorade bottle out of his backpack…unless you can provide the pic of the crystal room I call BS that you made it all the way!

  17. OK, now that three UT students made national news getting lost and found in Airman’s cave yesterday, I have had trouble sleeping (images of being stuck in a coffin like postion dancing in my head), After reading your story and how you made it out without a rescue team, I will sleep a little better. My sister lives on the greenbelt in Barton Hills a short hike from the cave, and I hope her sons don’t get the idea to explore without proper preperation.

  18. I have made this exact journey to the back myself back in 1989 and when we FINALLY made it out, my two buddies and I were so exhausted I didn’t think we’d make it back to the car. I never missed being “OUTSIDE” more in my life. Believe it or not, we actually went to see S.R.V. that night and one of my buddies fell asleep in the concert. Thanks for a trip down memory lane with your story. WOW what a trip it was (over 9 hours for us). I doubt I’ll do Airman’s again, once is enough for me. Jimbo in Brady,TX.

  19. You probably won’t believe this, but I have made it out from the wire wiggle to the entrance in 57 minutes flat.

    Yeah, we were hauling ass. We were also both in extremely good shape (we were both runners and framing carpenters) and very used to operating in a full running sweat. Framing in Austin in the summer is a hot business. Yes, we had kneepads, and yes, I had been to the wire wiggle before.

    Both of us being 5′ 8″, we could duck walk really fast through long sections around Sherwood Forest. Pretty good burn in the quads, but if yer haulin ass, it don’t last long.

    Otherwise, nice story. Next time, take a couple of hand trowels back there and continue my dig at the end, where all the wind is coming from that pile of rock. Miles of cave beyond, to be sure. 😉

    I won’t speak ill of the NSS… but it’s even more of subculture than the community, complete with it’s own jargon, heros and rituals.

  20. Oh yeah, one more thing: all we took in there with us was extra lights, a couple of trowels and a gallon of water. We drank the water on the way in.

  21. You should send this to the craisins people.
    I’m on p 26? of your blog, out of 46, and it’s at least a 16 hour journey to get to the other end.
    Lots of crystal rooms along the way tho.

  22. Just did this yesterday. I was trying to get to the Aggie Art Gallery. My second time through the birth canal. Turned right once we got into the next large room. Went through the No Name crawl. Went a bit furhter. Not sure where I ended up turning back at. Got a little turned around and concerned about not finding my way back out. Fortuantely, I found some reflector squares someone had placed. Left my daughter alone for about an hour (god bless her for keeping her cool – yes, she had a working headlamp the whole time) while I went on. I was so tired and malnourished when I headed back I was worried also about the exertion required to return. Daughter was very happy to hear my grunting and groaning off in the distance. Exiting through the birth canal seemed quicker than entering. I chalk it up to desparately wanting out. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again… Birth canal to the first good sized chamber – yes. Any further – I really don’t think so…

  23. I’ve been in Airmans several times with Gregg. I felt like I was right there with you when I read your descriptions of the things he said and did there. Would you believe that Airman’s is one of his favorite caves?

  24. Just left Airmans Cave tonight. It is my third trip in. I have 2 experienced grotto members who have showed me the way. My first trip was to the Aggy Art Gallery…2nd trip was all the way to Poetry Passage where we were confused on where to go so we turned around. That trip took all of 4 hours. I am a small guy who can squeeze through tight places pretty well. Lots of tight spaces… Very advanced level cave and I do not recommend going in without proper equipment, food, and water. Planning a trip to the end on Jan. 3, 2009 with some experienced cavers. If you decide to enter Airmans, be READY!!! PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT!

  25. That is an absolutelny insane story. i’ve been to the Aggy Art Gallery in the 80’s. It was extremely claustrophbic and really not very fun to get to. It took us about two hours to get there. The art room had some interesting sculptures, but for whatever reason I found it somewhat creepy. I remember even after being in the Art Gallery dreading the crawl back.

    I was in there for a little over 4 1/2 hours and was completely freaked out after I got out of Airman’s Cave. How you made it 16 hours and to the end is amazing.

    What was the absolute worst part?

    I had heard there is an exit after the
    formation room that comes out around Westgate Mall.

    p.s.- It looks like they’ve closed it for safety reasons. does anyone have a picture of the formation room? how big was it?

  26. We made it to the Formation room Last night and what a spectical!!! Truly amazing…We entered the cave around 5:30 p.m. and made it to the formation room at 9 p.m. We exited the cave at 1 a.m. What an experience!!! The whole trip was a little under seven hours. We blew through it!! Crucifiction Rock is about to be gated up by the Texas Grotto. if you are going to make to the end you better do so soon!!! Pack it in, Pack it out!! Happy caving folks!

  27. We made it to the Formation room Last night and what a spectical!!! Truly amazing…We entered the cave around 5:30 p.m. and made it to the formation room at 9 p.m. We exited the cave at 1 a.m. What an experience!!! The whole trip was a little under seven hours. We blew through it!! Crucifiction Rock is about to be gated up by the Texas Grotto. if you are going to make to the end you better do so soon!!! Pack it in, Pack it out!! Happy caving folks! No exit out One way in and one way Out!

  28. We made it to the Formation room Last night and what a spectical!!! Truly amazing…We entered the cave around 5:30 p.m. and made it to the formation room at 9 p.m. We exited the cave at 1 a.m. What an experience!!! The whole trip was a little under seven hours. We blew through it!! Crucifiction Rock is about to be gated up by the Texas Grotto. if you are going to make to the end you better do so soon!!! Pack it in, Pack it out!! Happy caving folks! No exit out One way in and one way Out! We have pics of the formation room as well.

  29. Jamie- what did the formation room look like? how big is it? did you take any pictures? i’m too chicken to try and go that far back. it sounds fascinating.

    i’d try it, but i get claustrophpbic. it sounds like Karen’s crawl is very long and very narrow. the same with the wire wiggle. once you get that far back, if you start to lose it, start getting that trapped feeling, get tired, etc. there’s nothing you can do. there’s only one way out.

    tell me about the formation room please. thanks.

  30. Me and some friends are planning on trying to go all the way to the formation room this coming up weekend – on Saturday the 31st. We’ve only been as far as the Aggy Art Gallery before so we’d like to go with some people more experienced. If anyone is interested. Let me know and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

  31. can someone video the formation room, the wire wiggle, Sherwood Forest, and Karen’s Crawl please? i’m too big to get in there and would like to see what it looks like.

    Thanks

  32. I went to Airman’s cave yesterday with no knee pads, a pair of jeans, a tank top and a headlight. I really have no experience in spelunkingand the only kind i have encountered is at Enchanted Rock yet i managed to crawl to the art gallery and back. It is not that hard but it takes a little bit of will power.

  33. I have been all through airman’s cave…explored every room and tunnle…Very fun but consumes a day quickly. I’m also available to guide anyone who is interested to cave explore. contact me at 1-512-968-8831.

  34. Airman’s cave: 17 hours. 105 lb fem with one hellluva partner. I brought a camel’s back and 12 lb backpack = water trail mix Gatorade redhots, peanut butter vanilla wafers and no xp spelunking. He took 1.5 gal water, hotdogs, cheese, tortilla, can of soup? (lol yeah I know, crazy). Heavy pack for him… I know I had to help heft, lift and push the thing.

    2 headlights, battery lantern, 2 hand flahlights candles knee pads, elbow pads hats.

    The one thing that would not be good.. is having your light fail…pitch black is an understatement.

    lol I started unintentionally renaming some areas.. like “deadman’s crawl” Daemon teeth crawl” etc.. I cursed quite a lot in some of those low areas 20-30 ft on my back or tummy watching the ceiling 2-3″ above my face… “I don’t do WELL in with this type of thing”.. I kept saying. “What did I ever DO to deserve this?” The “F” “MF” bombs flowered and multiplied from my lips many times in the most challenging parts. I think my partner laughed the most at “WHAT THE HELL! WAS I THINKING…” He said I’ve never heard you use the F word. lmao Well I used it 5000000xs. *smiles angelically*

    Anyways, we did make it out thanks to my partner’s stable centered nature and xp. Trust is paramount and I trusted him. Now for sure, I always will.

    Is there a geode room? Yes, but it is at the end of that 2.5 mi cave of hell. I doubt many will actually find it, as the way “in” is nearly impossible even if skinny midget children in petroleum jelly tried.

    I will mention that the audible resonance of the cave in the end-chambers where crystals are within the walls, etc.. is deafening. I still hear the various frequencies of sound in the days after and wonder if it will ever stop. (hasn’t yet)

    This cave was extremely difficult to manage psychologically, emotionally and physically for a newbie. Thanks to a partner that I trusted and his knowledge I made it through. Sometimes I quietly wondered if I could, but I did with his help, encouragement and most of all, laughter at my assorted curses.

    I slept 16 hours and it took me 20 minutes to get out of bed (pain pain pain. Sore is not even an accurate word) My small body screamed at the level of sharp pain that overlapped significant deep aching in every muscle. I could not count all the deep colorful bruises on my shoulder points, elbows, back, knees, booty, legs, body (yes we had knee pads, elbow pads) I looked like I had been tortured so long sleeves, jeans were the clothes I wore for the next week n half until they faded.

    Airman’s Cave: A personal achievement that was hard fought and hard won.

  35. I am leaving for Airmen’s Cave Right now. I will be there in two hours.
    call me if you want to go!
    2102593437

  36. I was told by Parks and Recreation it was GATED. The ENTRANCE. I did find some amazing pictures of the cave and the formation room.

  37. Just a heads up… I made it to the end with three friends. It took 16 and a half hours total time.
    There is NO crystals. nothing special… just a disappointing end.

  38. are you sure you made it to the right place? i have seen pictures and it looked fantastic. how does that much geology disappear? doesn’t seem possible.

    i guess they didn’t lock the place.

  39. These are the best pics I have found of the Formation Room, for those interested. I found them on the Internet, from Flickr, and have no ownership of them at all. I think if you can make it there and back in 7 or 8 hours, it would be worth it. But perhaps the room is not worth 16 hours? I don’t know, ’cause I haven’t made it that far.

    In order to pass the spam filter, I will explain the site. Flickr slash photos slash adamgaubert slash sets slash 72157603029969249.

  40. My buddy Reece and I came across the entrance to Airmens cave by chance a couple days ago, and ventured in just through ” the birth canal”, and were excited to see that it continued on. Plans were made. We headed in today at noon with 2 gatorades, pack of cigars, and a 12 pack of beer… No helmets, pads, or other such comforts. Oh ya, I had to lead with my buddys headlamp, as I left mine on my bed. Thankfully I somehow remembered the extra batteries, and had Reeces trust to do right by us. Not sure what everythings called, but we went through some pretty gnarly stuff, and made it too “the aggie room” in 2 hours, got some cool pics. We continued on for another 30 minutes, and came to a sparkley room that seemed to be a dead end, since we knew nothing of the cave system other than a quartz filled room was supposedley at the end, we assumed we made it. I still havent seen a pic of what that room looks like, to compare it to mine, but we gave ourselves 5 hours to explore, and had been in for 3, after taking a 30 min breather. Even after a slight mishap, when I took us in a circle, we were still signing out by 5:15. We were filthy and battered, but probably a week of healing time, and we’re going back in, hopefully with a few more ppl. God bless ppl, cave safe, and dont whine.

  41. last time I was in airman’s cave, my friends and I were all tripping on acid. we were on our way out and had just gone through one-legged man and i told my friends to go on ahead and told them to take my light because I wanted to come out alone in the dark. they gave me this “you’re going to die” look, but reluctantly complied. i waited about half an hour for them to get far enough ahead that I couldn’t find them and then made my way out tripping in the dark; it took me about an hour to get out and I met them outside.

  42. My friend Kevin and I did this trip back in ’76.
    We’d made several exploratory trips and were all worked up to get as far in as
    we could. We prepared with the gloves, pads and nourishment then headed off
    early in the day. We made it past “One Legged Man” which I believe you
    called “Karen’s Crawl”.  I
    remember this as wide at the top with a channel for one foot . The wide top was
    only 3′ from the floor so you hopped along on one leg with your torso and arms
    forward and your trailing leg stuck out behind you. 

    From there we got through to “Sherwood
    Forest” and past to what we called “Crucifixion Rock” and I
    think you called it “Wire Wiggle”. 
    This spot was shaped like a pipe below your sink.  But the U space was filled with a large rock
    that hung down and would catch your chest as you tried desperately to U
    yourself through.  It was cause for quite
    a few hyperventilating panic attacks.  It
    was here that we turned around – supplies and time were not on our side.

    Coming out at the end, 8 hours later, was
    much like others described – muddy and dusty – looking like death warmed
    over.  We headed straight down to 19th
    street (MLK today) and the Gatti’s that is still there.  At that time the Gatti’s had the BRAND NEW
    Pong game and copious amounts of Dr. Pepper and, of course, pizza.   We
    cleaned up, ate pizza, drank DP and played Pong as long as the quarters held
    out.

     

    Unfortunately uniformed service duty was in
    my very near future and I never saw the low side of 200 lbs again.  Sadly too large now to get through the birth
    canal.

    Glad y’all had fun and at least you had a
    seasoned Vet along for the trip.  We did
    not – but we did have this neat map created by those same Aggie’s for whom the
    art gallery is named.  The map was drawn
    up by ASS…the Aggie Spelunking Society. 

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