Friday, November 27, 2009

Remembering the Nutty Putty Cave


We had a saddening accident in Utah over the Thanksgiving Holiday, a young father and med student John Jones, died in the local cave known as the Nutty Putty, after becoming trapped in tight space tilted feet over head for nearly 28 hours. It sounds likely now that the cave will be closed and there has even been talk of sealing the entrance.

It's been years since I have been to the Nutty Putty but I used to go often and have been planning on using it in one of my novels for some time now. I have not been able to find a cutaway diagram of the cave so I did one myself to show a little better of what it is like going inside. It is odd that right on top of bald scrubby hill a hole opens into the rock not unlike a chimney. You climb down the 7-8 feet of that and get down on your knees-probably bang your head-as you crawl across another similar distance though this one is wide and shaped in My mind like a pancake. At the opposite end it opens up a bit and you can stand and climb down and cross a slight drop off to go to your left and my favorite part of the cave the Maze. Some good friends, Ryan, Jason and Bob-notice our regulation gear-OK we had none.


My friends and I used to go to the Maze and play hide and go seek. I grew so accustomed to the layering's of the Maze and the darkness that I used to quit using my flashlight and run around in the dark and usually be the last one found. We played that when whomever was it found someone they had to both start looking for the rest-letting it snowball. This was all back in the 90's. Used to meet some interesting people in the cave-Hey Cave Girl who are you?


Part of why I liked the cave was I don't get claustrophobic-if you do you would not like the cave which has quite a number of tight passages-including most especially infamous now The Birth Canal. Back then we didn't think about any dangers and just had fun. The cave maintains a year-round temperature making it comfortable in winter or summer. It was the aspects of the maze that made me think about adapting a cave scene for my action-adventure novels. Now this tragedy has me thinking about the real accidents that can happen when people think they are just going out for a good time.

Still I don't think we ought to seal the cave, accidents can and will happen anywhere and while I do not fret over fate-I don't see us protecting ourselves and our children from anything and everything that can happen. To get into the Nutty Putty anymore took getting permits and such (Not back when I used to go-but it does now). Jones had the permits and experience and still accidents happen-it was the first fatality at Nutty Putty. I feel for Jones family but sealing the cave won't bring him back, instead perhaps by remaining open people may remember him and be more cautious. I am all for it being the John Jones cave in memoriam-IF his family so chooses. If I am an insensitive lout please tell me.

13 comments:

One Cluttered Brain said...

No, I don't think you are an insensitive lout as you say. If the person was an experienced CAVEMAN, then accidents do happen. If the family wants it closed, great, but what about the rest of the ppl ho like to go spelunking? Accidents happen ALL the time, I mean if U decided to take a walk down the street, and you decided to cross the street, a bus or a car could run U over. Just by being alive, it is a risk U run. You might just get hurt.

Good post. I enjoyed the pics and the content.

Anonymous said...

Hi - I've been 2-3 times to nutty putty. Each time I went through the birth canal where the "bob's push" passage is. People as big as 6ft 200lbs have made it through. Where did he fall? I don't remember a spot in the birth canal that would permit falling.

Any more infor would be great.

Thanks.

David J. West said...

The reports have said he was in Bobs Push so I'm not sure either. Perhapssomeone is a little mixed up-it was his and his brothers first time there apparently. But there are a number of other little off-shoots close by where someone could concievably be end over end....so?

The New report just said they are making it John Jones final resting place. No one is ever going back it seems because they still can't retrieve his body.

M. Gray said...

This is so eerie to me! I had my first date with my husband-to-be at Nutty Putty. I have great memories of the place. :( He even took me back there with the same group for my birthday, brought down brownies with candles and finagled an enormous sign down there.

Love the idea of using the spot for a story.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Well, the fact that his body can't be found rather changes things. Otherwise, I see no reason to close the cave. People die in Zions National Park regularly, hiking Angel's Landing, yet they keep that open and just tell everyone to be careful.

David J. West said...

No Karen they know exactly where his body is-but it is in an extremely cramped tunnel and they can't get the momentum to pull him out.

So they are going to seal the cave and it wil be his tomb.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

That's really sad for the family. But it does fuel the imagination, doesn't it?

Steven said...

He was trapped at the 90 degree at the end of aortal crawl. It is snug for a XXL. It's way past bobs push.

David J. West said...

Thanks Steven, I figured that a couple things were getting miscommunicated in the inital reports.

Anonymous said...

I hope his family is doing okay. On initially reading that they wouldn't retrieve his body I was like, WHA??? But I can understand why, it being such a tight spot and difficult to maneuver around efficiently. I think it's good that they are sealing the cave off. Aside from wanting to prevent other accidents really (because they happen all over), there's the fact that it's become his resting place, it doesn't need to be disturbed by anybody. It's hallowed ground now. God be with his family.

Voidwalker said...

Sad to hear about the loss of those people's lives, but I think you are right. It happens and closing the cave won't change anything. Driving a car is MUCH more dangerous than running around in a dark cave. We can't put ourselves in a plastic bubble. Life will happen and in turn so will death.

Voidwalker said...

I must have missed the part about his body not being retrieved. That puts a new spin on things. I wonder why they think they can't retrieve it for a proper burial?

David J. West said...

Its a long winding tunnel-very tight and there is no room to work. I suppose they can get him out in a while once he has detiriorated but who knows?