Caving Smyres Well #1

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Smyres Well #1

Cave Details

Type of Cave
Vertical Pit
Accessed Depth
96 feet
Safety Notes
Methane Filled, risk of death or injury present
500 feet W of the top of Jarrett Knob, and 1.7 miles southeast of Windrow, Smyres Well is 2000 ft, ENE of Snail Shell Cave Sinkhole.


Geographic Location


A 96 foot climb through a methane filled chamber..

Looking for some adventure, and after a failed attempt to find this well, using only paces and a compass about two years previous, and after a successful but failed descent with Randy a year previous, Bobby Watts and I returned for a go at the unconquered pit.  After locating the pit once again, mind you, it's very difficult to find in a shallow 15 foot diameter depression...

The entrance is a small 2 feet wide and is a little disconcerting in nature.  After rigging up, Bobby and I dropped into the pit, which is interesting in that you must squeeze vertically through that 2 foot entrance with your hand behind your back as you rappel in.  Not knowing exactly what you are in for in terms of width below, it does indeed feel strange.  Fortunately, about 10 feet in, it bells out and gives plenty of room as you free drop into the darkness.  At 96 feet, it is approximately 30 feet wide and you land in a bed of mud, water and decaying leaves, witnessing a seemingly microscopic hole way up above.  After exploring as much as practical.. 2 minutes?.. Bobby and I noticed that we were breathing really hard, just standing there.  I thought, "Man I sure am out of shape."  Suddenly it occurred to me...  Methane.  Seems there is practically no ventilation here, and the entrance is so small, and so far up that oxygen barely makes it down to the bottom.

I looked at Bobby, and voiced my fears.  I rigged up first and as quickly as possible, and started my inch worm ascent with my Blue Water Ascenders.  The more I climbed the more my oxygen starved muscles started screaming for more oxygen.  Knowing that, I had to get out of there, to allow Bobby's exit, I climbed as hard as I could, to somewhere near the halfway point, at which my muscles started giving out.  

About then, a curious thing happens.  Personally, I'm always on edge as I ascend a pit, climbing out of the pits of proverbial hell, bouncing ever so slightly on the rope.  One way in, one way out...  Hovering and suspended in the darkness of space...  with only a nylon highway going straight up to allow your escape.  This normally weighs on my mind, but curiously, now I didn't care about much of anything, whether I lived or died, whether I got out or not, or even if the rope broke.

Suddenly, Bobby screams...  "Climb you bastard.." Sensing the urgency in his voice... I summoned up as much strength as I could and climbed harder.  Little by little...  inching towards the top, dizzy...disoriented...  Climbing, bouncing on the rope, physically spinning as  the whole room was swirling even more about in my oxygen starved head....

As I approached the 2 foot entrance... oxygen started rushing to my brain, and then started one of the worst headaches I've ever experienced.  I crawled out of the hole, rolled over onto the ground, in what I would later discover to be poison ivy,  and laid there...  not forgetting that poor Bobby remained at the bottom of this horrid pit.  

Hearing my dear friend's echoing voice from below, I heard him ascending and encouraged him to keep climbing...  Little by little he emerged and on his labored and successful exit, we both lay there clasping our pounding heads... 

Such an intense experience..  All the more to help you appreciate life, and the wonder that it is.    The alleged Smyres Well #2?  1000 feet from here?  Somewhere?  Description is 2 feet wide and 85 feet deep as well.  Hmm..sounds similar in anatomy and geology?  I think I'll pass, you probably should too...  There are far more interesting things to do than dying at the bottom of a 100 foot well.

The entrance to Smyres Well is in a small sink, 15 feet in diameter and 6 feet deep.  The pit opening is 2 feet in diameter and is under an overhanging dirt ledge.  The pit is of small dimensions and is 96 feet deep, and for the record, as of 1993, is likely filled with Methane or otherwise has a severe lack of oxygen.


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Editor reviews

Smyres Well #1 2012-02-19 01:52:56 Shane Lewis
Overall rating 
Safety Rating 
Fun Factor 
Big Nuts Tilt 
Reviewed by Shane Lewis    February 19, 2012
Last updated: February 19, 2012
#1 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews

Yeah, uh, skip this one... but.. Big Nuts!


Good Points
None..other than the entrance is a hole 2ft in diameter and feels rather like slipping into a coffin, which is where you might end up after dropping this hole.
Bad Points
Methane filled, nothing but rotting leaves and mud at the bottom.
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