Jamaican Caving Notes
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MAY 10, 2003
FITZIE FISSURES 1, 2, 3
Position: Fitzie 1, WGS84 - 18 21 42.8 N, 77 46 28.3 W, Alt 300 m, +/- 5 m
Field notes: R. S. STEWART
Cavers: R. S. Stewart, I. C. Conolley, M. Taylor
We had first heard of the Fitzie sinkholes in November 2002, from Tony, a farmer who lives on the Deeside - Maroon Town road; it had taken us until now to have a look at them because of priority on other, by report, larger caves in the same district. Tony's brother, Victor, had been our source of information for several unlisted caves in the area in March 2003, and now again in May, and these holes he was about to take us to may be included in the "Victor Caves" along with Grasslice, Rotten Goat, Barrow's and Schaw Castle. We had just finished a successful first exploration of Barrow's Cave, hiked back out to Victor's through the rain and had taken shelter until it eased off. There was time left in the day so we decided to check these long known-of holes.
A short hike to the south of the road brought us to three sinkholes/caves that are found within a circle of about 30 m diameter. A quick look at all three showed that what was later to be dubbed Fitzie 1 offered the most potential.
Fitzie 1 may be best described as fissures rather than a sink or cave. The entrance is about 2 by 2.5 m, and is less than 40 deg from horizontal. A look into it showed a wide crack leading down about 8 m, so we tied a 30 m line on a tree and I rapped in.
At the bottom of the drop, I found wide fissures extending in two directions from me. Water was trickling out from cracks in the rock above me and creating a constant drizzle. The one direction was tight, but do-able, and a squeeze and look showed it to carry on down, after a scramble across on rocks, for at least another 8 m. The other direction, left, was wider and could be seen to drop at least 10 m. I let Ivor know that the cave carried on, so he rapped down in. I had tossed the rest of the 30 m line into the left descending fissure; when Ivor got to where I waited, he carried on past me and descended down the rest of the line. As soon as I heard "Off rope", I got back on rap and went down to join him.
By the time I was down, Ivor had looked for a way ahead but found it too tight for us to continue any distance. On the floor there remained only about 2 m of the 30 m line, and only about 3 m had been used to rig at the top, so the total vertical was about 25 m. We geared for ascent, I went first, finding it real work because of the confined space of the fissure, then when I was at the top, Ivor came ahead.
The fissures in the direction not taken should be looked into in the future.
A good GPS position was obtained 8 m, az 20 from the entrance. The stated position has been adjusted accordingly.
We had already dropped a line into Fitzie 2 prior to going into 1, in hopes of finding a way through the system, so I rapped down on this line to see what could be found. A drop of about 7 m brought me to the bottom and I found it to be choked with no way on. Ivor learned during the course of this session that in past years, during the rains, things had been dropped into Fitzie 1 that would appear at Fitzie 2, and those who had shown us these holes noted that things seemed changed, as though there had been a collapse. (See I. C. Conolley's notes for these holes). I came back up and a look at Fitzie 3 showed it to be similar to 2, and because it was late in the day, we decided to wrap things up.
The name for these holes is based on a true story of a youth named Fitzie, (now 50 and living in the U.S.), who while pursuing a goat had fallen into hole 2 and seriously hurt himself. The sharp rocks had removed large pieces of flesh from various parts of his body. It is a well known story, often mentioned in accounts of the holes, so we are assigning the names Fitzie 1 (the deepest), Fitzie 2 (the one that mashed Fitzie), and Fitzie 3 (unentered). Neither cave nor sink properly describes Fitzie 1, the main hole, so we are calling them the Fitzie Fissures.
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