Tony Grove Cave Survey


The main goal of the Tony Grove Cave Survey is systematically explore and communicate the findings of cave resources in Tony Grove area. The project consists of accurately locating all cave resources throughout the Tony Grove area, marking caves using rock cairns, surveying all significant caves, and displaying progress with databases, maps, and 3D views.


Present Progress!! – 12/08/2008

71 Cave GPS Locations (over 20 ft in length)

20 Caves (being) surveyed

29,070 ft (5.51 miles) surveyed-to-date

Present Weather Conditions

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Tony Grove Historic Weather (200 KB)



Only one survey trip occurred in 2008. The trip was lead by Brandon Kowallis to yield 105 ft following a stream upstream near the Overland Canyon. Also the Neffs Canyon Inlet was pushed an estimated 1500 ft to reach a 25 to 30 waterfall climb.



The summer had 3 surveys into Main Drain Cave to boost its length to 2.02 miles. Peter Hartley led 2 trips up Neffs Inlet to survey 1130 ft. Brandon Kowallis led a survey trip up the streams on the Overflow Route to get 36 ft to a dome climb. Brandon is also working on completing a video on exploring the deep caves of Tony Grove. Peter Hartley also led a trip into Nielsons to survey to the Megadome. This survey added 525 ft to the cave’s length.


Peter Hartley a huge head start with an out-of-state crew. Peter lead 2 winter trips (Jan and Feb trip) in Main Drain Cave for the purposes of checking water levels and mapping. The first trip was a successful bottom trip to check water levels and to stash gear for a 3 day trip into Main Drain. The second the crew entered under melting conditions. With fear of being iced into the cave the 3 day trip was turned into a long half day trip.


The first “summer” trip into Main Drain Cave occurred on June 9th. The explorers battled through the thawing ice-lined pit entrance. The trip placed dye receptor in Neffs Canyon and climbed into a high lead near the entrance junction to the Overflow Hall. The trip did a heroic 14 hour trip with high water conditions. The 45 ft Deeper Than Neffs Pit was completely full of water where the exploring team had wade up to their chest just to approach the pit. They then had to swim across the pit and practically sump dive to get into the Neff Canyon Inlet to place their dye receptors.


This year is easily the lowest water year since mapping in Main Drain Cave has started. Hopefully, the end of the year low water levels will allow for amazing new discoveries.



2006 Report (1.2 MB)


Main Drain has had 1,749 ft surveyed at the bottom of the cave. Most of this new length is mop up at the bottom of the cave. However, there are many leads are presently heading upstream - a good distance upstream. We currently have two upstream leads: the canyon above Deeper than Neffs and upstream from Kilopit. Mapping in these two leads is expected to bring the cave over the 2 mile mark.


One high lead in near the Breakroom at bottom was reached with lassoing techniques using rocks and string. The lead went about 40 ft up and then into a belly crawl infeeder that went for maybe 60 ft.


Survey has started in Over the Hill Cave. This cave is the highest cave in the Tony Grove. Currently, they have surveyed the cave 420 ft in length and 190 ft in depth.



Main Drain Cave had has about 2,500 ft added to extend its length to 7,655 ft and a depth of 1227 ft - making it the 9th deepest in the United States! Main Drain Cave has bottomed out at a large pool. All of the other leads are now heading upstream. There is hope that one of the upstream leads will breakout and eventually lead to an ancient overflow passage as was found at the end of last year.


Brandon Kowallis has also catch up on creating maps for most of the near-completed caves (See Map Gallery). Brandon Kowallis also performed a cave mapping workshop to get others involve the mapping the minor caves.


In the down time, large progress has been made. Dave Shurtz released a very comprehensive history of the discovery and exploration of Main Drain Cave in the April NSS News. Jon Jasper was successful in receiving the NSS Sara Corrie Grant for US Cave Explorations. And Bountiful Examiner Newspaper published a feature on the Shurtzs' discovery that led to the state's deepest cave. (See the links below for full articles)


2005 Sara Corrie Grant (3.2 MB)



A major breakthrough in Tony Grove occurred allowing Main Drain Cave to beat Utah's depth record. This excitement allowed an additional 5,340 ft of survey to be added this year. This new cave, hopefully, will be covered by a detailed Utah Caver article, NSS article, and presentation at the 2005 NSS Convention. The cave is awesome with 4 pits over 200 ft in depth! The cave has many inputting streams. And best of all, it's still going. Due to the mid-30 degree temperatures and wetness, cave exploration will probably not continue until July of next year. For those who are interested, start practicing your vertical skills.


The first trips of 2004 focused on mop up mapping in Polygamy Cave. The survey was performed by Brandon Kowallis, Shay Lelegren, Spencer Christian, Peter Hartley, and myself. The wiggly crawl out the bottom of the 200 ft drop was mapped to about 70 ft. A small lead with air blowing out remained. The lead, however, needs hammering or a very small person. The back of Polygamy was also surveyed. The survey hit the 70 ft pit and the bouldery pit at the very end of the cave. Both surveys added 280 ft to Polygamy Cave making the total length 1600 ft.



image007 NSS News April 2005 (3.7 MB)


2004 Sara Corrie Grant (92 KB)


Bountiful Examiner (973 KB)


Karst Recharge Areas (1.1 MB)



In the summer 2003, we were able to map significant portions of Polygamy Cave, Polygamy End, T-Cave, Tea Cup Pit, Flashlight Pit, and Lucifers Lair for a total of 3,520 ft. In process we added Polygamy Cave, Polygamys End, and Lucifers Lair to the deepest caves (caves over 300 ft deep) of Utah. The group effort was impressive. The confusion over the many cave entrances is slowly being worked out. With 68 unique cave entrances confirm and about a dozen more leads to be investigated. It clearly was a good start.



Peter Hartley, Dale Green, Jon Jasper, Brandon Kowallis, Vern Bowden, Ryan Shurtz, Dave Shurtz, Matt Covington, Tom Haskett, Daniel Francom, Mike Wiser, Andy Howe, Cami Pulham, Dave Meier, Jason Mateljak, Jason Green, Dave Herron, Peter Ruplinger, Larry Spangler, Rob Stilmar, Marlo Kendall, J. J. Kendall, Omar Sotello, Tammi Heazlit, Shay Lelegren, Jake Snedecor, Kyle Voyles, Spencer Christian, Leon Kilgrow, Thorpe Cox, Harrison Holden, Dean Killan, Anthony Bowden, Becca Bowden, Ricki Sheldon, Yifan Shi, Sam Hiatt, Walter Wilson, Cami Litchford, Tom Benhard, Jason Baxter, Ben Simon, Kent Kowallis, Duane McCully, Kory Kowallis, Jared Shurtz, Jason Barnett, Jason Ballensky, Sam Carter, Glenn Shurtz, David Rigby, Chris Checketts, Gretchen Baker, Frank Rommey, Tyler Erickson, Andy Poczobutt, Joann Poczobutt, Willie Hunt, Dave Dixon, and Brian Gindling.


Copyright 2008 Jon Jasper

Maintained by Jon Jasper - last updated December 8, 2008