In the beautiful Lime Creek area outside Eagle, CO is Power Line Cave. Adeptly named, this unique vertical pit cave sits under massive power lines and has some amazing decorations with stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstones. The real challenge comes in the long 50 foot rappel inside the cave and then ending in a squeeze so tight it made a coffin feel comfortable.
Rappelling into Power Line Cave
After making the scenic drive past Lime Creek, Dan and I made the quick hike to the large pit entrance of the cave. The rappel into Power Line Cave is short, with the main entrance on the first level. There also is a lower level we rappelled into, but even in the middle of summer there was ice at least a dozen feet deep that covered any possible entrance to the lower level.
Once inside the cave you quickly encounter some tight crawlways and a 10-15 foot down climb. Although not much decoration at this point, the layout of the cave is interesting with a combination of tight crawlway that opens up into larger rooms. Towards the front end Power Line Cave it is very damp and muddy which made for carefull footwork on the down climbs to keep from slipping and falling into the darkness.
One of the more unique features of Power Line Cave is a 50+ foot rappel inside the cave. Then of course there was the 50+ foot assent back up the rope too.
Formations of Stalactites and Stalagmites
At this point there were some very large rooms that had great decorations. Much of the 50 foot rappel had nice curtain flowstone formations along the entire wall. These flowstone formations are so interesting to see how they have formed over thousands of years with an ever so small drip of water.
As we progressed further into Power Line Cave there were lots of crawlways that led to this amazing room filled with columns, stalactites and stalagmites. Crawling through this section was fun as you squeezed and worked your around the stalactites and stalagmites.
This small alcove was interesting to see it packed full of stalactites and stalagmites, with a flow stone base.
The End of the Cave and Coffin Like Squeeze
At this point Power Line Cave begins to test your resolve. To keep going in the cave requires squeezing into this tight passage.
Although tight, its doable and inside the entrance there is this small passage with two columns right in the middle. Once working your way around these it gets tighter and tighter and even tighter still. Perhaps luckily for me, Dan was leading the way at this point and his feet are just visible in the picture above. After getting past the columns he yelled back saying “it’s really getting tight” and then reporting his helmet would fit only one way through the passageway. Dan proceeded to take his helmet off to keep inching forward. I could hear the stress in his voice as he described the rock floor on his back, the roof of the cave pressing on his chest and saying that his head could no longer rotate around as the circumference of the passageway was so small.
Dan pushed forward a few more feet and then said he did not think it was possible to go any further and backed out of the passageway. He emerged with his shirt pulled up around his head and back full of scratches from sliding on the rock. Now this is caving!
It really seemed from the flow of the cave that this was not the end, but I fear that unless one was very thin we had reached the practical end of Power Line Cave. We were a little disappointed, but the cave was so amazing inside with the formations and long rappel we were satisfied and made our way out of Power Line Cave.
The search continues to see if anyone has made it past this squeeze in Power Line Cave.
See the US Forest Service for Caving in the White River National Forest.