In August of 2009, a friend and I decided to hike to the top of Avalanche Peak [in Yellowstone National Park]. On our way up, a blizzard hit (don’t you just love the Rockies?) and we turned back. Feeling unfulfilled, we headed back to Billings and saw an old, barely legible sign for Big Ice Cave 20 miles away. Two and a half hours later we arrived at Big Ice Cave and I was immediately hooked! I spent the next year trying to find all the cave locations I could with little success. Finally, in January 2011 I decided to join the NRMG and haven’t looked back. As soon as I met other cavers, I knew they were my kind of nerds and I became more and more involved with the grotto. I was elected Secretary in 2013 and Chairman in 2015. I look forward to growing and strengthening the Montana caving community. Let me know what I can do to help get YOU UNDERGROUND!
In the spring of 2013, some friends and I were planning on skiing when it started to rain. We decided to look for an activity outdoors that wouldn’t be impacted by the weather. That was when I stumbled across mention of Argenta Cave. We managed to find the cave and set up a rappel. Lowering into that icy, dark entrance was one of the most exciting things I’d ever done, but it was the formations and walking passage that really awed me. After that, I checked out “Caves of Montana” from the Missoula Public Library and read it like a novel, captivated by the number of unknown or never-checked leads. I quickly joined the Grotto, and spent a few years volunteering with the fantastic Bigfork HS Cave Club while finishing my bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology. It turns out that caving fits in pretty well with wildlife work; now I get to work with bats and cave at the same time. I hope that as an officer of the NRMG I can help the community that has been so wonderful to me.
In 1962, as a 19 year old college student, I read “Adventure is Underground”(subtitled “The story of great caves of the West and the men who explore them”). Forget electronics and engineering, my life was changed (NSS#6675). After a master degree (signed by Ronald Reagan) with a thesis “Mortuary Caves of the Mother Lode Region of California”, I got a researcher assistant position at the University of Alberta and spent a couple of summers looking for evidence of early man in caves of the Canadian Rockies. A year after that I found a few caves in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. I spent a few years doing archaeology in California, Texas and Alabama before getting a real job (at 38) as a computer programmer. I retired as system analyst from the University of Alabama in Birmingham Hospital in 2005 and 2 weeks later was in Hamilton Montana.
During the summer of 2004 I was living in Kalispell and was invited to my first wild cave. We visited Yakinikak Caves and after challenging the “toaster” I was hooked. To this day the Yakinikak Cave system intrigues me and remains one of my favorite caves to visit. After a time working for the navy in Washington (with few caving opportunities), my family was able to move back to this amazing state. We currently live in Great Falls and I have begun exploring the caves of central Montana. I am really interested in fostering a caving community here in Great Falls. When I am not caving, planning a cave trip or taking care of my 2 children you can find me brewing beer or working on my garden.
During the last week of my freshman year of college a kid came up to me asking if I knew of any caves nearby as he knew I was always out messing around in the mountains. Not being aware of there even being caves in Montana I was unable to answer. He found me later that week and told me he found a cave (Lick Creek Cave) and I should help him get to it. I reluctantly decided to go along. After driving him to the cave as he slept the whole way I was not in the mood to hike to the cave. I hiked up the steep trail having no clue where we were going, and I kept thinking that this was the worst idea ever. However, standing in the hot morning sun, I looked into the entrance and got my first blast of cold cave air on my face. I swear something bit me at the moment and I haven’t stopped exploring caves since. I am now a junior at Montana State University studying Mechanical Engineering Technology. Some other hobbies I have besides caving are ridge walking and cleaning cave gear [editor’s note: along with fire juggling, street luging, chemistry experiments, and putting knives up his nose].