Jamaican Caving Notes
Barbecue Bottom Hole-1
May 14, 2005
Team: Stewart, Conolley, Hyde, Slack, Roggy, Gottgens, Silvera, Silvera, Phillips.
Notes: RS Stewart
This site was visited after Montieth Cave, on a Saturday afternoon. The outing was dual purpose: we would accomplish work on the PiP Project, but also give some training to a few new members of the JCO. Montieth had been chosen because it was a complete unknown, and our thought was to assign some of the crew to conduct a physical survey while two other separate teams carried out exploration and biological investigations. Barbecue Bottom Hole-1 had been chosen as the second target, because there was a short descent required to enter it, and we could give some lessons in Single Rope Technique.
Montieth is south of Clarks Town, near Campbells, and the start of the Barbecue Bottom road. As the Jabbering Crow flies (Corvus jamaicensis), it is only 5 kilometres from Montieth Cave to the Barbecue Bottom Holes, but to drive it takes over an hour (if you want to complete the journey with intact shocks, and a muffler still on the car). As a result, we were not at the start of the hike into Barbecue Bottom until after 3:00 PM. The more experienced of the team knew that this meant we would be hiking out in the dark, but we were familiar with the route and we didn't see it is a problem. It must be confessed, though, that we did not volunteer this information to the newer members of the crew, assuming that they would be able to handle it when the time came, and not wanting to discourage them from getting a needed lesson in SRT at the hole.
By the time we reached the hole, it was closing in on 4:00 PM. The hike itself was only about 30 minutes, but it had taken a little while to get gear sorted out, and everyone organised. (The writer of these notes also had to spend a few minutes attending to difficulties caused by a combination of lychees, a hot mango that had been foolishly eaten after it had been roasting in the car for a few hours, and lingering effects of bad water encountered earlier in the expedition - and excuse my including this, but it was a factor in my caving performance, so it gets entered into the notes).
Before I continue with the account of the visit, I will address the access to both this site, and the nearby Hole-2: At a point on the road to the south of BBQ Bottom (18 20 55.6, 77 33 23.0 W, WGS84), there is a track that descends into the valley. Conveniently, there is a geodetic marker on a low concrete monument right at the start of the track, on the roadside. Once at the bottom, swing north and follow the rock walls of what appears to be an old Carriage Way. After 700 metres, a saddle will be reached. Follow the track through the saddle, and on the far side, as it swings to the left (west), look to the left for a hole about seven metres wide. This hole is less than 10 metres from the track, and about 50 metres downslope from the saddle. This is Barbecue Bottom Hole-1. Hole-2 is directly downslope of Hole-1 about 25 metres, and also close to the track. Find Hole-1, search down the hill a bit, and you will find Hole-2.
The older hands at the hole were Adam Hyde, Ivor Conolley, Stefan Stewart, Dietrich Roggy, and Elizabeth Slack. The least experienced of the crew were Barbara Gottgens, Melissa Philips, Melanie Silvera, and Ann Silvera. By the time we were done, we had put everyone but Ann into the pit, gotten everyone out, and had no problems.
We'd found the hole on April 3, when we'd entered BBQ Hole-2, and had seen then that the vertical pitch was not great, maybe 10 metres, so we knew it was perfect for a training session. There were trees close by to use as anchors. Within 10 minutes of being at the hole, the drop was rigged, Anne had a smudge fire going for the mosquitoes, and the nominal head of the JCO was descending into the hole. I wish I could say that this was done gracefully, but this is not the case. About three metres down, I hit an overhang, and while trying to work my way past this, I managed to take a swing to the side that turned me half upside-down. Perhaps the rope shifted, who knows, but at any rate, the rest of the short descent went fine and one by one, the others followed. Adam and Ivor were in charge of instruction for the newer members, and did a fine job. In fact, everyone else came down in better form than I did.
At the bottom, we found to our disappointment that there was not much to this cave. It is an old chamber that has collapsed on one side (downhill, north side) to form the entry pit. A scramble down talus leads to an area with a ceiling, and extensions of a few metres around the sides, but there is no dark-zone. We did not see any bats, but Artibeus might conceivably roost in the extensions at times. The frogs, E. cundalli, liked it but that was about it for cave biota. Regular forest terrestrials were in the pit, of course, because the pit is essentially the same as the area immediately outside.
We did not map this site, but a description follows: A pit of ~7m width drops 10m to the top of a bouldery talus slope that descends to the southwest. About 12 metres down the slope, you pass into a remnant of a chamber cave, with a ceiling above. The extant part of the chamber, perpendicular to the slope from the pit, is less than 25m wide, including extensions.
In JU, this site is described as a "Shaft to a cave". In our database, we are changing this to, "Collapsed chamber cave".
The ascent of the 10-metre pitch went well, and at about 8:00 PM we were all at the top and preparing for the hike out. It must be noted that our students had all done very well this day, not only on the vertical at BBQ Hole-1, but also at Montieth earlier when they had helped to create a map, search for critters, and explore new ground.
The hike out was not a problem, but I did it half-blind. While in the cave, and looking up, a large drop of something had fallen in my right eye, and it eventually caused it to fill with mucus. I managed to stumble back to the car nonetheless, and when I finally reached Miss Lilly's at Coxheath, an onion sandwich and several Red Stripes took care of things. I recommend the remedy to others who might have a similar problem.
We are listing this site with a low vulnerability, because of the limited size, lack of dark-zone, and absence of a bat-roost.
Barbecue Bottom Hole-1
May 14, 2005
Notes: DK Roggy
This cave is entered via a descent of perhaps 6m. The opening is fairly large, probably about 3m by 5m. The chamber at the bottom has a floor at a slope of around 30 degrees, covered with rocks and slippery debris. I scrambled up a 1.5m high wall that separates the main chamber from another large chamber. Stefan explored down the passage at the end of the sloping floor and reported that it goes about 30m (approximately 100ft) rather than the 100m reported in Jamaica Underground.
I didn't spend much time exploring the cave, but did take pictures and assisted the newer members in the ascent back out of the cave.
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