|Location:||I15 exit Santaquin, Hwy6 west, 20 km to Eureka, turn right (north) towards the Salt Lake. After 11 km turn right on dirt road at 7 miles marker, 14 km to the cave.|
|Classification:||Karst cave Sacrifice Cave|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1960||cave discovered by Dale Green.|
|2003||cave surveyed by the Timpanogos Grotto.|
|2004||two cave accidents around Labor Day.|
|2006||cave closed by the local chapter of the NSS, open for preebooked groups under certain conditions.|
|NOV-2009||visitor dies in cave accident.|
To make it clear: nobody from showcaves.com ever visited this cave. But its impact is rather impressive to us. Hundreds of people find this page every month, by a search engine. If all this people really visit the cave, and probably some more without web access, the number of visitors would mean a fortune to every commercial cave manager.
A website about this cave - see the first link below - tells something about this cave which sounds pretty familiar to us. Many western countries have this kind of caves. Narrow, uninteresting and overcrowded holes, popular torture instrument for bored kids. Where most of the caves are closed to protect nature, the few open caves, especially if they offer some sportive challenge, become extremely popular. The results of this popularity are well known: the air becomes bad, on weekends all visitors have to queue, the floor becomes polished, and speleothems evaporate.
These caves are called sacrifice cave, because they are sacrificed to the unstoppable urge to exercise some cave crawling. Obviously some people see in caves a way to do sports and have fun ignoring all environmental damages they cause. To protect the other caves, certain caves are offered as a bait. In IT this is called a honey pot.
We listed this place for completeness’s sake, we do not want to promote it. But it seems to be mostly harmless. Just don't get stuck and use your brain. To find it, just follow the long queue of spelunkers...
We left the original cave description unchanged, and it seems our original resentment was justified. The cave was visited by an increasing number of visitors, up to 5,000 every year. Finally on the Labor Day weekend in 2004, two visitors had to be rescued from the cave.
The owner of the land, the State of Utah School & Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) was not willing to keep the cave open, because of the potential damage and financial risk. They asked various groups including BYU, Utah Valley State College and the Boy Scouts of America to lease the land. But this lease would have included the requirement to build a gate, maintain the land and carry a $1 million insurance policy. Another accident in a nearby cave, where four people died in a narrow underwater tunnel in August 2005, stopped all negotiations.
Now Timpanogos Grotto, the local chapter of the NSS, signed an agreement with SITLA. They close the cave and allow access only to groups which submit an access request form at least one week before the planned trip and follow the strict safety rules. The rules are explained on their website in detail, and make sense to us. Hopefully this will prevent further accidents in the cave.
And yet another part of our original cave description has become nasty reality. We described it as a narrow torture instrument and recommended not to get stuck. This is what happened in November 2009 to a caver with some experience. He got stuck 100 m deep into the wormhole, unfortunately it was upside down. Rescuers were not able to get him out, so he died after only 24 hours because of the unnatural posture. Obviously, if they were not able to get him out while he was alive and supporting, they have no chance now after he is dead. At least not without using a huge knife or saw. It seems they decided to do it the other possible way: close the cave and wait some years, then go in with a mask and a big bag. The SITLA representatives have decided to close the cave forever, which is heavily criticised by the cavers of the local grotto, which managed the cave for three years now.
So we updated the page. After years of cave vandalism mis-named caving by its supporters, the cave is finally closed. And they even left some food for the troglobionts.
We do not believe it will really be closed forever. Eternity is somewhat around five years. There is obviously a need for such a spot and there will be pressure to reopen it. Actually it would be pretty hard to close every spot where someone has died forever, there would be no place to live left pretty soon.