Main Drain

Main Drain is the 11th deepest cave in the nation, and the deepest in the state beating Neff's Cave by almost 100'. This was by far the coolest cave we have ever done, but also the most brutally painful! The 38 degree water and the -1,227 vertical feet make for a torturous ascent out. The slow 4+hrs down was an incredibly fun and awesome experience, but the 6+ hrs getting out nearly killed us. This is not a cave for the beginner, and should only be attempted after many hours of training, and with someone very familiar with the passages. Thanks again to Brandon Kowallis for being our guide and putting up with some Main Drain newbies.

Tony Grove is a beautiful area to hike in ! The hike to Main Drain takes about an hour and is about 1000' vertical ft.

The Entrance. 0'

Judd Zimmerman and Brandon Kowallis (aka - The Sunshine Boys) gearing up just outside the entrance.

Judd headed in.

Shane Coles looking up from the bottom of the entrance pit (-225') , with the huge snow pile behind.

Brandon snapped this incredible picture looking up at me on rope in Frayed Knot Falls Pit (-770). The light at the top is Shane Coles waiting to descend. (Image courtesy Brandon Kowallis, copyright 2008)

These were the biggest cave pearls I have ever seen! Beautiful! You can read about how they form here

Shane Coles getting off rope at the bottom of one of the smaller rappels in Waterfall Canyon (-500').

Working our way through "Caviar Canyon" (-400').

Judd standing on the top ledge of Frayed Knot Falls Pit (-550).

Shane at the top of "Frayed Knot Falls Pit"

Brandon headed into Kilo Pit. (-875')

Draperies in the bore hole that is "Overflow Hall" (-1,170')

There are several pockets of cave pearls throughout the lower portions, which give "Caviar Canyon" its name.

Standing in front of the Terminal Sump at -1,227' (left to right) Shane Coles, Spencer Coles, and Judd Zimmerman. The 11th, 12th, and 13th people ever to reach the bottom of Main Drain!

Photo courtesy Brandon Kowallis, copyright 2005.

What a great accomplishment this was for us! I think I speak for all of us when I say WE WILL NEVER DO IT AGAIN! ...... Unless we do.

Now for a little perspective...
This is a picture my brother took from the ovservation deck of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). It is 1,353 feet above the ground. That puts this view looking down only 126' higher the the depth of Main Drain. Like I said... a little perspective.

Now imagine raising this platform five times higher than it currently is and you would roughly have the depth of Krubera Cave. 6,824' deep! This one is not in Utah, but is is no my to do list. :)


Anonymous said... | January 3, 2009 at 5:30 PM

WOW. That last photo is phenomenal. Nice work!

Eric and Sherridan Olsen said... | April 13, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Beautiful pictures. I was on the 18th of June discovery team. I'm excited to see these amazing pictures.
Very nicely done.
Eric Olsen

Spencer Coles said... | April 13, 2009 at 2:34 PM

I would have loved to do discovery work on a cave of this magnitude! What a great experience that must have been. Great work Eric!

Dave V said... | March 13, 2011 at 2:27 PM

Unreal, it's like a whole other world down there... fantastic stuff.

Oman said... | April 5, 2011 at 7:28 PM

I am just going on a hunch that this is the cave that a buddy and I explored a few years back. If so, this is one of the coolest caves that I have explored. We had been hearing word of a cave above tony's grove and were determined to find it. The first time we went we could not get very far considering that we had no ropes, so we free climbed down as far as we could, but considering the depth of the cave we were only scratching the surface.
This is one that I would like to go into again with the right people and gear. It is without a doubt not one for the inexperienced spelunker.

Anonymous said... | April 22, 2011 at 10:55 AM

It seems that whenever I have gone somewhere that I figured noone else had gone there before, I either find a volkswagon or ancient human remains with a torch.

Marc said... | August 9, 2013 at 9:16 PM

Very cool cave. I would never be able to, or even have the desire to go, but is this one gated off?

Unknown said... | March 30, 2014 at 8:37 PM

This looks like the cave that a couple of friends and I rapped into in the mid 80's. Especially the description of the side chamber 60 ft off the floor. If it's the same cave, it led down a skinny slot that dropped through a keyhole slot into a second chamber. I was the only one skinny enough to squeeze through. We didn't have enough rope for me to go further and I got stuck in that damn keyhole trying to get back out. Lost a bunch of skin. Moved to SLC and never managed to go back. Glad to see that someone else pushed it farther.

Unknown said... | June 16, 2017 at 9:02 AM

The "bottom" of the cave is no longer. Last year a team of 30+ individuals hauled gear for a series of dives into the terminal sump. The sump was broken, and approx. 800' of dry passage lies beyond. There is another sump at that point that due to time and logistical constraints was not entered. Depth added to the cave is approx. ~79 feet.

Spencer Coles said... | June 16, 2017 at 10:53 AM

Thanks for the update Adam. I was trying to be there for the dive but had a work conflict. I was excited to hear it was successful at finding more passage. Hopefully they can keep up the exploration. Most of the work is just getting gear all the way down there....and back up!