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   York Grotto
an IO of the

YG's 50th Anniversary
& Fall MAR
(Click here for a printable version.)

"In 2009, celebrating a half century of exploring the State of Darkness from the City of the White Rose."

In commemoration of our fiftieth anniversary the York Grotto hosted the Mid-Appalachian Region Fall Field Meet the weekend of October 2-4, 2009 at the site of Rupert Cave in scenic Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. (Please Note: In the interest of preservation Rupert Cave is gated and requires permission from the owners for each visit.)

The York Grotto was saddened and shocked by the untimely passing of longtime member and renowned caver Dale Ibberson on March 2, 2009. Dale's ashes were interred at the Fort Indiantown Gap Military Cemetery on Friday, 20 March 2009 followed by a memorial celebration of his life at American Legion Post 272 in Harrisburg, Pa. To honor him we dedicated our 50th Anniversary MAR in his name.

It had been the custom that on MAR weekends the historic section of Rupert was open for exploration, but due to the prevalence of White Nose Syndrome in bat hibernacula throughout the Northeast and the voluntary moratorium on all caving it was closed during our 50th Anniversary MAR weekend.

Organizers of this event brought together some of the leading experts on WNS, including cavers and scientists, for a panel discussion and up-to-date report on the status of the problem and the solutions for dealing with it. See WNS PANEL DISCUSSION below for more information.

Since caving was out of the question, many alternative activities took place.


T-shirts sporting the new 50th anniversary logo with the top-hatted bat on the chest (above), a classic York Grotto bat on the left sleeve and the saying, "Celebrating a half century of exploring the State of Darkness from the City of the White Rose." on the back were sold at registration. T-shirts were $15.00 and came in a variety of sizes and colors. PLEASE NOTE: Now, in our 51st year, T-shirts are ON SALE at $10.00 each. Limited supplies are available. Please call Joel Jacobs at 717-241-5635 to reserve your choice before sending in your order form.

Download a T-shirt order form here.

Embroidered, commemorative, 4" circular patches featuring the logo on a yellow background sold for $7.00 each. Patches are no longer available.


Those who pre-registered before September 15, 2009 saved $5.00 off the weekend price and received a free commemorative patch.

On-site registration began at 3:00 p.m. Friday, October 2nd. Registrants received one ticket which was used both for admission to the Saturday evening banquet and for the door prizes.


Guidebooks from the 1999 Fall MAR Field Meet hosted by York Grotto in honor of the 40th anniversary of the grotto were located. These are collectors' items. They were given out at registration along with the accompanying maps to Alexander, Big Ridge & Rupert caves with a supplement which contained information on the current MAR event.


Beer & soda and a bonfire were provided both Friday & Saturday nights. The legal drinking age is 21 and older, no exceptions.


There was a showing of the DVD honoring Dale Ibberson which was shown at the celebration of his life on 20 March 2009 with additional pictures from the gathering.


Crammed with articles, photos and remembrances of Dale, this collector's edition of the YGN was available at registration. There are just a few copies remaining. Anyone interested in purchasing one for $2.00 may contact joeljacobs@comcast.net


Two hours of TV Nostalgia from the 50s and 60s were provided by Dean Snyder.

1. Death Valley Days. "Up the Chimney" Season 17, Episode 10. Original air date November 30, 1968.

Three bank robbers chased by a posse kidnap a young prospector. They outlaws are trapped in a cave- or are they? Filmed at Colossal Caverns, Arizona.

2. Timmie and Lassie. "His Master's Voice" Season 10, Episode #335. Original air date January 12, 1964.

Lassie is struck by lightning and loses her hearing. Meanwhile, Timmie's father is having problems with his water supply. What could be causing the polluted water?

3. Davy Crocket and the River Pirates. 1956. B&W with commercials for AC spark plugs and Canada Dry ginger ale.

Davy Crockett (Fess Parker) and his sidekick Georgie (Buddy Ebson) battle river pirates who have taken over a cave on the Oho River. Filmed at Cave in Rock, Illinois. This is the rare original print that was shown by TV stations in 1956. (Although the episodes were filmed in color, TV stations received black & white prints since no one had a color TV!)


There could not have been a better time to hike the scenic mountains of Pennsylvania. Many joined us for spectacular experiences with something for all levels of ability.

Hike #1: Carrie Shafer offered to lead a rigorous 14.1 mile hike, which would begin with a mountain and end with a mountain. Participants had to be in good all around physical condition. Start point: Tussey Mtn; end point: Greenwood Furnace, an all day event due to the length of the hike and the necessary transportation. http://pahikes.com/trails/midstate17.asp

Hike #1 Alternative: Carrie also volunteered to lead a shorter hike to the Greenwood Furnace Fire Tower. http://pahikes.com/trails/midstate17.asp

Hike #2: Kevin Dunleavy led a caravan to the 1,000 Steps Loop near Mt. Union, a 6.7 mile excursion with a vertical rise of 1,700 feet.

Hike #3: George & Karen Bange took a group to the Alan Seeger Natural Area, near Bear Meadows, a 390-acre preserve along Standing Stone Creek containing virgin white pine and 500 year old hemlocks, an easy hike on level ground appropriate for youngsters and older folks. http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/Forestry/oldgrowth/alanseeger.aspx.

Hike #4: Steve Shawver led what is called The Throne Room Hike, which was listed as one of the best hikes in PA by Pennsylvania Magazine. It is located in Huntingdon County just south of the MAR site. It is 3.8 miles long with three nice views. Steve says, "It is rugged and needing of sturdy footwear that do not give you blisters, water and a snack. Also might want to bring a camera."

Sign-up Sheets for these hikes were available at registration.


There was a vertical training session at a site not too far from Rupert. Those who joined in brought their own vertical gear, minus the ropes and signed up at registration. The vertical experience was led by Gary Dunmire and other experienced climbers who rigged a traverse line much to the delight of the participants.

BASIC SURVIVAL SKILLS, 10/3, 3:00 p.m.

Presented by Eric P. Bowman, MD, Director, Wilderness Medicine Section, Department of Emergency Medicine, York Hospital

"You are out enjoying your adventure . . . oops! Something unexpected just went wrong! Looks like you will be spending the night in the woods.

Are you prepared to survive 24 hours on your own? How should you approach the situation? What are your priorities?"

Dr. Bowman discussed basic survival strategies and taught some important, yet fun, tips and tricks.


When not hiking, Carrie Shafer had for sale her craft style bat motif collection of earrings, fleece wear, T-shirts, dish towels and more.

Frank Herceg sold boots, packs, gear, rocks, minerals, fossils, jewelry and the odd this and that from his eclectic and extensive collection.


The York Grotto squeeze box with adjustable wooden columns was on site for all those willing to test their slithering prowess. Youngsters had a ball.


Cathy Hartwick, a skilled artist, applied color to smiles and grimaces alike.


Note approximate distances from Rupert:

LINCOLN CAVERNS, Huntingdon, Pa. (@ 14 miles)


INDIAN CAVERNS, Spruce Creek, Pa. (@ 39 miles)


PENN’S CAVE, Centre Hall, Pa. (@ 24 miles)


WOODWARD CAVE, Woodward, Pa. (@ 37 miles)



8 miles from Rupert. The cost was $4 for kids and $6 for adults. The price included the maze and a hayride. Directions were provided at registration.


Brookmere Winery & Vineyard Inn, Belleville, PA.


Mount Nittany Vineyard & Winery, located off route 45, three miles east of Boalsburg, PA.


Seven Mountains Wine Cellars located on Decker Valley Road, just one mile off of US Route 322 between Lewistown and State College, PA.


Shade Mountain Vineyards, Middleburg, PA.


WNS PANEL DISCUSSION, 10/3, 4:00 p.m.

This panel was moderated by James A. Hart, a Mammalogist with the WPC-PA Natural Heritage Program.

Panelists were:

Dr. DeeAnn Reeder, an Assistant Professor at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania who has been heavily involved with research into the causes of White nosed Syndrome in Pennsylvania. Dr. Reeder is a member of the Mammal Technical Committee of the PA Biological Survey.

Peter Youngbaer, the Liaison on White Nose Syndrome for the National Speleological Society and manager of the WNS webpage for the NSS. He is President of the Vermont Cavers Association. You can read the article he wrote about testifying before Congress on page 10 of the August 2009 NSS News.

Greg Turner, a Wildlife Biologist with the Wildlife Diversity Section of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. His primary focus is to survey, monitor, and manage the state’s protected mammals including among others all bat species.

For extended bios on the panelists click here.


The banquet on Saturday evening October 3rd was catered by Clem's, famous for their Wood Fired BBQ. The menu included Pulled Pork and Chicken with sides of Creamy Cole Slaw, Hearty Baked Beans, Garlic Smashed Potatoes and rolls and butter. Portabella Mushroom Caps over vegetables were available for our vegetarian attendees.

Many diners brought their own chairs to sit around the bonfire.


Ballots were available at registration. The results were announced after the banquet.


Caving related door prizes, including items from the Dale Ibberson collection like T-shirts and commercial cave mugs and a diverse assortment of household and outdoor items were given away after the banquet. Here are just a few: an Emeril 1 quart sauce pan with lid, a Pandigital 7" photo frame, a 16 piece Barbecue Tool Set, a Corning Ware Rangetopper Skillett w cover, an XL Woolrich Jacket, a cordless knife, a Black & Decker Steam Iron, Vivitar 7x50 Binoculars, a Lexan 2.2 liter water container, a Wyandotte caves water container, a GAG t-shirt, a Mr. Beer Home Brewery kit, Jeep Laredo garment carry-on luggage, a Caves and Caverns 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and several copies of Kave Kapers, the Cave Mapping Game. And there were more.

All adult registrants received one ticket which was used for admission to the banquet & door prizes.


"A Potential Mega-System: Recent Explorations in Germany Valley, West Virginia," a power point presentation by Mark Minton and Yvonne Droms.

Germany Valley, WV contains some classic caves such as Hellhole, Schoolhouse Cave, and Seneca Caverns. A recently concluded project by the Germany Valley Karst Survey in Hellhole led to the discovery of an enormous amount of new passage, taking the cave from 8.5 miles long to 28.3 miles long in just 6 summers, and it still goes big. In addition, the two deepest drops in West Virginia were discovered by climbing them from the bottom up in domes in Hellhole. Elsewhere in the Valley, two relatively recently opened caves, Memorial Day Cave at 13.5 miles and Shovel Eater Cave at 4.5 miles, have received considerable attention and are undergoing active exploration. We have every reason to believe that these and other caves in the Valley are part of a huge interconnected system over 50 miles long. Highlights of the last several years’ exploration were shown and predictions were made regarding what the presenters believe will become the sixth longest cave in the U. S. A.


Pennsylvania Cave Conservancy members made breakfast on Sunday morning October 4th on their newly constructed stainless steel grill beginning at 8:00 a.m. The menu included pancakes, sausages, orange juice and fruit. Tickets were $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children age 6 and under. All proceeds were donated to the PCC. The York Grotto provided free coffee and goodies on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.


The Pennsylvania Cave Conservancy met at 9:30 a.m.


Trash bags were passed out to all registrants. As there are no waste removal services at the Rupert site, participants carried away any and all refuse they had generated during the weekend, including recyclables.

They all remembered to: "Leave nothing but footprints."



From Harrisburg
Take Route 322 West.
- At Lewistown follow the signs for Mt. Union/Route 522/22 South.
- Stay on 522/22 South, which is the new bypass around Lewistown, and follow the signs to Mt. Union.
- The new bypass will drop you off on the west side of Lewistown.
- Take 522 South to McVeytown (follow signs for Mt Union).
- As you come into McVeytown there will be a trucking company on your right and just past it a cemetery.
- (If you get to the stop light you've gone too far.)
- Turn right onto Furnace Road after the cemetery.
- Go straight at the first stop sign (still in McVeytown).
- At the 2nd stop sign (about 1 1/2 miles outside of town) bear left onto Schoolhouse Road.
- Stay on this road for about another 1/2 mile.
- Turn left onto Kansas at the "No Outlet" sign.
- Go exactly .6 miles.
- Turn left onto the dirt road to the MAR site. ("670 Kansas" is marked on the cable post.)

From Reedsville
- Go south on 655 approx. 9.5 miles and turn left onto Wills Road.
- Follow the "To 22" signs.
- Go 6.7 miles, crossing over Jacks Mountain.
- At the bottom turn left onto Kansas Road.
- Go 1.4 miles to the MAR site on the right. ("670 Kansas" is marked on the cable post.)

From Mt Union
- Take 22E/522N approx. 8.7 miles.
- Turn left onto Jacks Mountain Road.
- Look for signs "To 305" and "Belleville."
- Go 2.0 mile and turn right onto Kansas Road.
- Go 1.4 mile to the MAR site on the right. ("670 Kansas" is marked on the cable post.)

Address to use to search for internet driving directions:
670 Kansas Road
McVeytown, PA 17051-8528

York Grotto Bat
Next Meeting: TUESDAY, November 28, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at John's Diner. Come early, join the cavers for dinner and try something from John's eclectic menu.
*NEW* Battle for Bats - A USDA Forest Service video showcasing the search for solutions of White Nose Syndrome in Bats
White Nose Syndrome Information Link
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