Mapping Lehman Caves

Where: Great Basin National Park, Nevada
When: Fall & Winter 2003

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to join Steve Deveny and other members of the Southern Nevada Grotto for an ongoing survey project at Great Basin National Park.

In 1986, a portion of the cave ceiling had collapsed over part of the underground trail system through the highly decorated and wonderful Lehman Caves. The park had since closed the back third of the affected cave system to public visitation. In consideration of a new above-ground trail system that was in the works above the collapsed area of the cave, the NPS had since decided that a new survey of the cave was needed to determine the amount of rock between the proposed above-ground trail and the collapsed ceiling of the cave. That's where we came into the picture.

Fortunately, Steve, a talented climber and caver, was a surveyor by trade. Contacted about the project by the park, Steve enthusiastic signed us up for this significantly ambitious undertaking. I was to participate in several of the weekend survey trips to the cave, during which, our work team would enter the cave after visiting hours and spend much of the nighttime hours alone in the depths of the cave.

Learning quite a lot about cave surveying, as well as being given the opportunity to visit seldom-visited parts of this magical cave system, I harbor fond memories of my volunteer work at Lehman Caves.