SCCi Leases Varnedoe Cave

The SCCi is pleased to announce a new lease agreement of Varnedoe Cave. This fine cave is located within the city limits of Huntsville, Alabama and is one of the more popular multi-drop caves in the southeast. Both entrances to Varnedoe Cave can be rigged all the way to the Fox Skeleton Room where the register is located. Entrance 1 has a pit series of 73’, 15’, 41’, 72’ and Entrance 2 has a pit series of 115’, 12’, and 69’ with the latter entrance route dropping near the waterfall in the Fox Skeleton Room. Beyond the Fox Skeleton Room are meandering passages that lead to tall dome complexes and a formation area. Access to Varnedoe Cave requires a permit. Contact the Varnedoe Cave Access Coordinator Julie Schenck Brown at at least three days before you would like to visit the cave.

Varnedoe Cave with Elliot Stahl and Joy Palmer (Photo by Alan Grosse)

Varnedoe Cave with Elliot Stahl and Joy Palmer (Photo by Alan Grosse)

SCCi Takes a Huge Step Forward in Expanding its Cave Acquisition Capacity

This month, the Southeastern Cave Conservancy has taken a huge step forward in our efforts to expand our cave acquisition capacity! As we have reported previously, in early 2013 the SCCi board of directors approved a strategic plan for 2013-2015. The strategic plan set an ambitious goal  – to double and eventually triple the number of caves that SCCi protects each year. In order to achieve that goal, the board recognized that SCCi must ramp up our game with respect to the plans, policies, and procedures that foundations and other major conservation donors expect, and also do a better job serving our growing membership. After much discussion, the board concluded that a key step in our ability to successfully implement the plan was to obtain professional administrative support services for SCCi. At our March 2014 board meeting, we welcomed Sage Morgan to fill this part-time contracted position.

We are confident that Sage has the right skills to help SCCi move forward with our strategic plan. Not only is she already assisting with SCCi’s day-to-day operations by doing things like dramatically improving our ability to keep current with the recurring credit-card donations from our nearly 500 sustaining members, she is also assisting each of SCCi’s volunteer-based committees in completing the many tasks that they are charged with as part of implementing our strategic plan.

Please join me and the SCCi board in welcoming Sage to SCCi. If you would like to contact her, she may be reached at

Ron Miller

The following is a message from Sage:

Hello! I would like to take a moment to express how honored I am to be a part of the growth of this truly grassroots organization. I am inspired by the ability of this “For Cavers, By Cavers” group of volunteers to drive this organization for the past 20+ years. I look forward to helping SCCi move to the next level. My virtual door is always open. Please feel free to call or email at any time. Thank you!


Frick’s Cave Open House This Weekend

Don’t forget that the Frick’s Cave open house is Saturday, February 15! Several people have asked us what the cave is like. It’s a large horizontal stream cave and will be very cold and very wet this time of year. Be sure to wear plenty of warm layers if you go inside the cave and be sure to bring a change of clothes! Others have asked if they can visit the cave another day if they miss the open house. The cave is only open one day a year, so if you want to see it, be sure to join us Saturday!

If you would like to go into the cave, you will be required to use gear and clothing that’s been cleaned and disinfected according to the SCCi Cave Visitation Policy. In addition, white-nose syndrome was found inside the cave last winter so please also clean and disinfect your gear after the trip.

Stream passage in Frick's Cave. Photo by JV Van Swearingen IV

Stream passage in Frick’s Cave. Photo by JV Van Swearingen IV

Right now the weather is looking great for Saturday! Hopefully that won’t change! We’re planning to cook burgers and hot dogs between noon and 4 PM. We’ll also have a fire so everyone can warm up. Please join us around the fire to visit with friends, eat some great food, and meet new friends.

The address for the open house parking area is 1536 Fricks Gap Rd., Chickamauga, GA. Directions from the intersection of GA 136 and GA 193 (between LaFayette and Trenton): Go south 2.1 miles to Harold Stephens Road. Turn right. Continue until you dead end into Fricks Gap Road. Turn left. Follow this road to the signs for the open house parking.

We hope you can join us for this once-a-year opportunity. We look forward to seeing you!

Formation area in Frick's Cave. Photo by JV Van Swearingen IV.

Formation area in Frick’s Cave. Photo by JV Van Swearingen IV.

Large Room in Frick's Cave. Photo by JV Van Swearingen IV.

Large Room in Frick’s Cave. Photo by JV Van Swearingen IV.




SCCi to Exhibit at Banff Film Fest in Atlanta Mar. 17 – Discounted Group Tix Available!


We are excited to announce that SCCi will be exhibiting at the upcoming Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, coming to Atlanta (at the Georgia Tech Ferst Center again!) on March 17! Check out this year’s thrilling Banff World Tour trailer here:

The event begins at 7 PM; doors open at 6 PM. Films shown during the three hour event (including an intermission with a great raffle!) are among the best films from the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival. As the REI event blurb states: “This year’s tour features a collection of the most inspiring and though-provoking action, environmental, and adventure mountain films. Traveling from remote landscapes and cultures to up close and personal with adrenaline-packed action sports, the 2013/2014 World Tour is an exhilarating and provocative exploration of the mountain world.”

From the film "Down the line"

From the film “Down the line”

We are able once again to get group-discounted tickets for just $12 (adults or children). Also this year, both SCCi and DCG (Dogwood City Grotto) will be exhibiting at the event, so we’ll also need a few volunteers to help staff our tables. If you’re interested in helping out with that, please contact Nancy Aulenbach (see contact info at the bottom of this note). As part of the agreement to exhibit, we’ve committed to trying to sell at least 50 group tickets, so we really need to have a great turnout from cavers! If we sell enough tickets, we may also be able to convince them to reserve us a block of good seats (which they almost never do, but they did for us the year we sold 54 tickets!)

A few years ago, we had a great “festival before the festival” dinner and social hour at the nearby Gordon Biersch restaurant. If there’s sufficient interest, we’ll try to do that again – let Dianne know if you’re interested, as we’ll probably need reservations for a decent sized group.

Please contact Dianne Guthrie (her contact info is at the bottom of this note) if you want tickets, and how many. Group tix are all the same price – $12 (vs. regular price of $15 adults, $13 students, seniors and children), and anyone 4 or older needs a ticket. Once she has purchased your tickets, you’re on the hook for those tickets! Dianne hopes to be able to hand the out at the DCG meetings in February and March. If you won’t be attending these meetings, not to worry – we’ll mail them to you!

• Date: 3/17/2014
• Event Location: Ferst Center
• Event Fee: See event details

• Time: 6:00 – 10:00 PM EDT
• Leader: Banff

Description: REI once again hosts the only Atlanta stop on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour! This year’s tour features a collection of the most inspiring and though-provoking action, environmental, and adventure mountain films. Traveling from remote landscapes and cultures to up close and personal with adrenaline-packed action sports, the 2013/2014 World Tour is an exhilarating and provocative exploration of the mountain world. $15 General Admission, $13 Students/Seniors. All proceeds go to support the Georgia Conservancy’s Heartland Rivers of Georgia Paddle Series. Monday, March 17th at the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech. Doors open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm. For more information or group ticket sales of 10 or more, contact or 404.633.6508×203. Buy your tickets at any REI store. Georgia Conservancy’s Heartland Rivers of GA Paddle Series:

We look forward to seeing you at Banff!

Contact info:
Dianne Guthrie

Nancy Aulenbach




Goodbye to Steve Hudson

Steve Hudson

Steve Hudson

I sadly announce that Steve Hudson, longtime friend and avid supporter of the Southeastern Cave Conservancy, unexpectedly passed away while vacationing with his wife Diane Cousineau in Puerto Rico on December 19th, 2013.

Steve was SCCi Charter Member #16. He exemplified the backbone of the Conservancy through his Sustaining Membership. He whole heartedly participated in the sustaining program by making a significant monthly contribution every month since the program’s inception more than 16 years ago. Steve’s sustaining membership substantially contributed to the generation of the required monthly operating capital for preserve acquisitions and stewardship.

Additionally, Steve graciously gave preserve-specific donations for nearly all SCCi acquisitions. I recall how excited he was when the Conservancy acquired Neversink, Valhalla, and Byers. His most recent preserve specific donation was toward our Run To The Mill Cave Preserve. As an explorer, Steve was the first to dive the borehole’s upstream sump. He pioneered the dive route for those divers that followed. This occurred years before the preserve was acquired in 2013.Steve’s name appears on the preserve map at the dive site for his generous donation to the Run To The Mill Preserve acquisition.

Steve endorsed the SCCi’s concept of cave protection and stewardship. He believed in its organization and executing administrators. He confirmed his beliefs through his continued contributions and years of support.

Steve made possible the donation of thousands of feet of PMI rope and equipment for all of the raffles held by the Conservancy. The money raised by these raffles provided precious dollars for cave acquisition and preserve stewardship.Throughout the years, he participated as a “matching contributor” on numerous matching donor fund raising challenges.

Steve was seen frequently at the SCCi booth during the TAG Fall Cave-In. Sometimes just kidding around with staff or visitors, assisting with our booth setup, consuming an adult beverage, and other times making serious contributions to our latest acquisition or fund raising program.

Steve’s support and presence will be greatly missed by the Conservancy and its friends.You can honor his memory and legacy by making a donation to the Conservancy in his name today.


Kris Green SCCi Co-Founder, Sustaining Member #8, Vice Chairman, Director