Walt Hamm

(term expires 2024)
NSS #24554LF FE • Board Member • Pittsburgh Grotto • MAKC Life Member • Assistant Billy Clay Pit Preserve Manager

Walt started caving in 1974 and joined the Pittsburgh Grotto the following year. He began going caving in Fayette and Westmoreland counties located just to the south and east of Pittsburgh. He joined the National Speleological Society in1983. He was a charter member of the Mid-Atlantic Karst Conservancy, and has previously served as both director and secretary. He rejoined the board in 2015 after a long hiatus.

Walt has caved in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana, New York, South Dakota, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, but primarily frequents the caves of the latter two states. He also has caved in Bermuda and was a member of the NSS Costa Rica Project’s 1990 expedition to the Rio Corredores basin.

In additional to supporting the cave conservancy goal of maintaining access to caves through acquisition, Walt’s primary caving focus has been cave survey and cartography. He started surveying caves in 1984. In the mid to late 1980’s he was responsible for the mapping of Fayette County’s Askon Hollow Cave, one of the deepest and most beautiful in the state, and several caves in northern Greenbrier County West Virginia including the remote Twin Columns Cave. The late 1980s to the mid 1990s saw him mapping over two dozen caves for “M.A.R. Bulletin 20—The Caves of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania,” and serving as a contributing editor for that publication. He also joined in Pittsburgh Grotto’s project to re-map West Virginia’s challenging Overholt Blowing Cave and joined the NSS’ Survey and Cartography Section in 1993. Project caving in the late 1990s included Dravosburg Cave in Allegheny County, followed by mile long Billy Clay Pit and several satellite caves in northern Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Walt was instrumental in the MAKC’s acquisition of Billy Clay Pit and Clay Pit #2 in 2000. He has served as Billy Clay Pit Cave Preserve property manager and permit coordinator. Walt’s project area since 2001 has been the Swago Creek / Dry Creek area of southern Pocahontas County. He has mapped over twenty caves for a future WVASS monograph on the area. When not working on his own projects he is generating survey data and sketches for others. He also was a contributing editor to “The Caves of Pennsylvania,” the 2013 NSS convention guidebook.

He has entered his cave maps in the cartographic salon at the annual NSS convention and won numerous ribbons since 1988 and has also served as a judge at several of the NSS Cartography Salons.

Walt attended Duquesne University and returned to school in 2002 to earn a degree in Computer Aided Drafting and Design.