View Full Version : Nutty Putty to be closed?

11-30-2005, 05:57 PM
:frustrated: Hey, it looks like they are going to close Nutty Putty Cave. :frustrated:

State may cork up popular Nutty Putty Cave
Too dangerous? Officials say too many of the amateur explorers are poorly outfitted and unskilled

By Mark Eddington
The Salt Lake Tribune

PROVO - Enter at your own risk.

That is the gist of warning signs placed this fall near Nutty Putty Cave, and state officials may soon decide to put the popular western Utah County cavern off limits.

"We're in a holding pattern right now, weighing our options," said Gary Bagley, resource specialist with the cave's owners, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. "We're not in the cave-management business, and there's a lot of people going into that cave that are not as prepared as they should be."

Sgt. Tom Hodgson, search-and-rescue coordinator for the Utah County Sheriff's Office, says rescuers have rushed to the cave seven times during the past five years, plucking 15 people from the natural subterranean lair seven miles north of Elberta off state Route 68.

Nonrescue squad deputies have been called out to the cave nine times this year.

Hodgson says the worst case involved a 16-year-old boy who spent a long night wedged upside down and was taken to the hospital.

"It's very likely someone could be seriously injured or killed," said Hodgson.

Lt. Dave Bennett, who heads the sheriff's emergency-services division, recalls the rescue of two youths.

"We weren't sure if we would get them out alive," he said. "One of the kids spent a couple of days in the hospital with cramping and some other problems."

Such rescues, along with the drowning deaths in August of four people in a cave on Provo's east bench, have prompted the county to ask state officials to control access to, or even seal off all or portions of, the cave that attracts an estimated 5,000 people a year.

The Provo cave, near Seven Peaks Water Park, was sealed within days of the four fatalities. County officials want the state to clamp down on Nutty Putty in some fashion.

"We spoke to their legal people about limiting access," Bennett said.

Utah County Sheriff James Tracy says the cave probably does not pose an unacceptable risk to cavers who are properly trained and equipped. But, he adds, the problem is, many who explore the cavern's depths are neither.

James Carter, Cedar Hills, has probed the cave with a flashlight and friends five times without problems. He says permanently fixed ropes help people navigate drop-offs and other dicey parts of Nutty Putty's 400-yard-plus length.

Still, the 24-year-old adds, cavers have to exercise caution to plumb the "Birth Canal," a narrow part of Nutty Putty.

"You have to put your hands in front of you or to the side and shimmy through like a snake," he said. "It can be dangerous if you're not careful, if you're messing off."

The "Scout Eater," a tight hole deeper inside that has been a sticking point for several Boy Scouts and others, is worse, says Salt Lake Community College visual-arts teacher Brandon Kowallis, a member of the Timpanogos Grotto Club.

Still, Kowallis does not want the cave capped with concrete. He notes the Cave Protection Act bans closure of "significant" caves on federal land. While Nutty Putty is on state land, he argues sealing it would be wrong.

"It's unethical to ruin a cave resource like that," said Kowallis, who favors gating the entrance instead.

Ideally, the state would like to lease the cave to a group that would limit access to trained spelunkers who have helmets, headlamps, ropes and other needed equipment.

Thus far, however, officials from state Parks and Recreation, Utah Valley State College, Brigham Young University and other groups interested in leasing the cave have backed away from shouldering the liability.

"We're still working on it," Bagley said."We've had a lot of discussion about it the last nine or 10 months.

Trust Lands Director Kevin Carter has the final say on Nutty Putty's fate.

11-30-2005, 07:05 PM
Aww man. They'd better wait until late next year, cause I've been wanting to go there for a few years.

Who here has been? Any pictures?

11-30-2005, 07:15 PM
I saw this on the news last night. They mentioned the Provo cave deaths. I have been in several times. It would be a shame........but there are always people causing trouble out there.

11-30-2005, 08:02 PM
I've been a couple times, winter is a great time to check it out, maybe you should go before late next year to make sure you don't miss it. I have a couple of really crappy pictures that I've attached. One of these days I'll get a camera again with a wide angle lens. I think it will help quite a bit with photos in caves and canyons.


11-30-2005, 08:03 PM
Aww man. They'd better wait until late next year, cause I've been wanting to go there for a few years.

Who here has been? Any pictures?
I've been quite a few times, and taken quite a few pictures (http://www.udink.org/npc/pictures.shtml) as well. :smile:

They've been threatening to close the cave for over a year now, and I can only imagine that they haven't followed through because there would be a lot of pissed off people because of it. I've been meaning to get out there one last time just in case they do close it, but I haven't had the time. This is a pretty good time of year to go, because visitation is lighter than during the summer, but the temperature inside is the same year-round.

11-30-2005, 08:55 PM
Cool. Thanks for the pictures, guys. Maybe I will check it out this winter.

Where are they exactly? How about a Google Earth location tool.

11-30-2005, 09:15 PM
Cool. Thanks for the pictures, guys. Maybe I will check it out this winter.

Where are they exactly? How about a Google Earth location tool.
I have a .LOC file on my website with waypoints for all the turns you need to make as you drive to the cave, but Google Earth won't open it even though it's supposed to support that file type. I created a .KMZ file specifically for Google Earth, though.

11-30-2005, 09:33 PM
Capping Nutty Putty would really suck :frustrated:

I believe a trip though Nutty Putty is required before you can graduate from BYZoo.... err.... I mean BYU.

I'm also pretty sure a trip through the cave is a requirement for all Salt Lake and Provo area scouts.... no local Eagle is complete with a Nutty Putty trip on the ol' resume.

The idea of capping Nutty Putty Cave is assinine. Its really not what I would call dangerous place, at least no more dangerous then hiking the Subway, Narrows or Orderville Gulch. Best I can tell is its an insurance issue.... in other words.... when someone get hurt who is going to get sued?

Anyhoo.... if you want to visit the cave before some dumbass couch potato caps it here is the complete beta free to all:


The cave is dry inside and makes a great winter adventure. The trick is don't be stupid.... don't squeeze into any place that you can't reverse. There is nothing worth see down any of the tight squeezes that you can't see from a more spacious vantage point. Also carry at least three light sources and wear a helmet.