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Best Practices - Entering a Mine Shaft


GeoJack

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I have found a location that I want to explore but the exploration begins at a 50 foot shaft with a tunnel at the bottom. What is the best practice for getting oneself down and then out of a deep shaft. It is vertical and approximately 10 feet square.

Would ultimately assemble a four man team for this process, one going down, one monitoring the lowering, one operating the equipment and one to oversee the complete operation.

Have thought of using my quad winch with additional climbing rope attached and climbing gear worn but haven't gotten as far as confirming I can access the shaft with the quad.

Thoughts?

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Well you would need an A frame and snatch block pulley over the hole, And does your quad hold 50' of cable ? And can your winch AND battery handle 100' of running without overheating or killing the battery ? Might consider two snatch blocks and free wheel a 2nd line down for just in case. I am sure you could get Bill Southern to volunteer for the 1st trip down ;)

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For rope, get bluewater static climbing rope and a figure 8 to rappel down.  This rope is meant for cavers and can handle a lot of abrasion before failure.  To go back up the rope (if winch is not available), best to use the frog climbing system (chest harness) with jumars.  Simple but effective.  Always bring a lighter to check the air at the bottom if you have any doubt. Animals tend to fall and die right there at the entrance.  Then as they decompose, the gasses are heavier than air.  One good breath of this and you pass out.  This is why you always want to see the bottom before you touch down.  Never go alone. 

There are many stories of people going into mines (and caves) and getting bad air.  To me, this is always my number 1 concern (even above collapsing roofs and false floors).  Please be careful.  And good luck to you!!

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Thanks guys, first entry will be GoPro on reel with LED lights to view the tunnel. Want to know there is somewhere to go before attempting to go down. I sail so have some blocks I can use, also oak trees near by and above the opening. Pretty sure I don't want to climb up unless under backup situation. I figured out a good ratio with some double blocks and the 100' of climbing rope and have rappelling gear. Figured to rappel down and hoist out.

Many precautions will be in place. If the plan isn't met it's a no go.

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I still quake at the thought of all the mines I've been in and how lucky I was to make it out.  At the time, I just didn't know what I didn't know.  And well, now, I know a little more.  I'm pretty sure I just watched Indiana Jones far too many times.  :arrowheadsmiley: 

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In 6 Mile Canyon by my house in Nevada adjacent to Virginia City I did that same op. STAY tied in as the floor gave way and another hole opened up in what seemed like a 1/10 of a second. I was walking with my flashlight taking samples and next thing banging my helmet on sidewall and breaking my light off. Always carry a spare and err on the side a caution as you make a practice off from posts. Tons a au 2 u 2 -John

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I instructed cave and abandoned mine rescue for 17 years in this state and been in most mines around, even have over 400 maps of the big ones.  We mapped them ourselves.

Never rely on a winch to pull you out because mechanical things always fail and there's little to no warning from it when the load gets snagged etc.

Bad air (typically Co2 or methane in AZ) does happen and a lighter will only tell you your about to die.  Lighters are useful for determining air flow but much safer ways to do that also.  A good multi gas meter is best and you lower the probe or meter itself in first.

3 quality light sources is a MUST.  Not a cheap minimag and your cell phone.

If no A frame or high line over the shaft then a long edge curtain is a huge help against rock fall and rope damage.

From your "plan" I suggest you just stay out to begin with honestly.

 

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It is sweet to dance to violins..it is delicate and rare..to dance to flutes and dance to lutes is way beyond compare..but it is not sweet with nimble feet to dance upon the air..from the ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde.What is to be gained by entering an abandoned mine?No one would ever leave any highgrade laying around or in situ.Perhaps some old tools,mine cars or powder boxes could be found.A mine dump or tailing pile with low grade ore could still possibly be found,including some species as what was once low grade has an obvious higher value these days.Lower grade ore was sometimes stockpiled.But here in the California motherlode country tailings and lower grade ore and waste piles were often used by county and state road crews for road base and repairs.In some hard to access areas these piles might still remain.

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7 hours ago, mldave said:

No one would ever leave any highgrade laying around or in situ

Sorry Dave, I have to disagree with that statement.

Found a lot of gold "in situ" in mines. 

You have to be very careful about which mines you choose to enter though....

hardrock gold.jpg

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I have the VCR of the 20/20 show from at least 12 years ago when they utilized "colormetric enhanced side scan sonar" and found HUGE masses and dug them out of tunnel walls. Amazing mine with fantastic stewardship of the land-John

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