Actual Spelunking – Pepper Sauce Canyon – Tucson, AZ

Acutal (not urban) Spelunking – in a cave, a very dark cave.. dark cave with wet water – and that smell.. pleasent, get on all fours smell.

John, Chris, Amber, Matt – in the cave, it’s the mud that’s got us acting weird… I swear. Though it was clear some folks enjoyed the cave for it’s solitude and similarity to an air tight container in which they could surround themselves with personally altered air which they would breath in and enjoy.

Here is a convienent map which is posted out front the cave. I suppose this image is a little small.
PepperSauce is a great little recreational cave. If you’ve never been in a cave this is a great start. It’s dark, wet, you get dirty and there are plenty of people to help out if you get yourself in trouble. The extensiveness of the little cave is quite vast and once you visit a couple of times you’ll begin, I’m sure, to find all the nuances and tricks the hiding place has.

Farmer John’s Meat Packing Plant – Tucson

Old plant for cows to = burger, this place is now a mess of graffiti, garbage, and vacancy. Coupled with some wind and animals, this place has the makings for one wicked scarry night.

Along the North wall the road is somewhat untraveled and easy to park along. The train drives right by, so noise can easily be muted. However, I doubt any trouble would arise unless someone wanted to scope out your car. I locked my doors, but didn’t give it a second thought. There’s a gate on the North-West corner that is easy to slip between, and then you’re in an open field filled with tall dry grass and a boot of gopher holes. A quick run across the field will drop you into the small stockyard. Full of dilapidated stalls, a large truck scale, and plenty of odd sounds, we were lucky enough to catch a barn owl. It scared the wits out of me, but in retrospect was quite interesting.
There is an open door or entry way somewhere around the building that escapes me, however once inside the true strange stillness that accompanies any urban spelunking abounds. In the electrical room a large crane hangs silent, equipment and cat-walks are stationary. A bit of a climb up to the top reveals an elevator which will easily put you on the roof. More so, rooms seem to echo with days past, with cattle and men working together. Large open rooms with drains across the floor tell this tale clearly.
With a bit more knowledge about the factory and it’s history may add quite a bit more to the experience.
Out the same way in. Notice the South wall is right along Grant Rd. and therefor a presence is quite obvious to traffic.
*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell

The Muse – Downtown Tucson

It’s demolished now. The end of a period and a clear sign of consumption, “Just knock it down and throw it away. We’ll make a new one.” This building, to my untrained eye, was just as good as any old school or community center. Perhaps with a bit of help it could have stuck around.

The old YMCA turned Theater turned Vacant. It was a friend of mine who introduced it to us and led the way. And as it turned out, it was an amazingly huge facility, complete with pool, basket ball courts, racketball courts, dance room, MPR, and a gaggle of classrooms. Just about the comprehensive pinnacle of my own urban spelunking in that respect.

We entered through the basement door into a classroom. Because of it’s central location in town and easy access (no fences were climbed) it was clear that there was a kind of resident ‘flow’ through the building. The room we came into had a certian eirre air to it; dissheveled things, a couple of desks, writing on the chalk board. Each room after seemed to reflect the same look and we could never figure out why.

From the entrance we explored the bottom floor finding changing/shower rooms a couple more class rooms and a number of utility rooms full of boilers and such for the whole building. We moved slowly up the stairs and onto the first floor. However this was where ground level was and therefore it was well lit and quite visible to the street view with large windows. After a gentil scan of this floor, including a key locker that seemed to have more keys that expected still hanging, we moved upward. The second floor contained more classrooms and as we moved to the south of the building we found the real gems.

The gyms, racketball courts, and the suspicion that below us was the pool. After a quick once over we found our way down stairs and into the pool room. It was grand. A ceiling so far away it was impossible to discern detail with a flashlight and benieth it a pool to rival any high school competition pool, deep and long, drained.

We climbed down into the pool and ran around for a bit, however like any large room covered in tile, noise echoed and reflected and shook our bones with fright everytime we got our own sounds back. We decided from there to move through the pool locker room and then into the multi-purpose rooms and then back up stairs.

In our last effort to find roof access I opened a door to find the largest pidgeon roost I’d ever upset, dumping about 50 birds into my face, the hallway and fortunatly out the roof access hatch that was just above them. Once the door was clear we then moved out onto the roof to enjoy the subtle serene temporary ownership of space that accompanies any urban spelunking expierence. Sitting atop the roof we could see the bulk of Tucson, watch poice helicopters fly past in persuit of some college party, hear the hoots and screams from 4th ave, and in general watch the night glide by uneventful for so much of the city as we harmlessly tresspassed on condemned property, soon to be demoloshed.

(… draft in progress)

*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell

UA Tunnels – Getting In

This is perhaps the most daunting & troublesome aspect of almost any urban spelunking, Getting In. For the UA tunnel system, it’s not different.

When ever entering a facility or location, always consider three things: Your Entrance, The Security, & Your Exit.
The Tunnel Entrance:
Tunnels have two types of access points – above ground and underground.
Above ground access points are man-holes and vents, as well as a few exterior doors. For the former simply lift the covers from the small holes and climb down the ladder. (be sure to close the hole up behind you, else some poor student will fall and not only hurt themselves, but blow your cover.) The trick with the vents and man-holes is they are often chained down. Out of 15 you may find one that is not. However, if your slim, sometimes you can get the cover off far enough to slip through and down. The other trouble with the man-holes is their weight. For a 120 lb. guy it’s quite the heave to move the sucker, especially since you only get to use your fingers through the little holes. The vents are the same, however they’re raised above ground and a little more obvious. However, these are almost always chained down. But trying never hurts. Right?
Two examples of vents would be on the mall, in front of the clock tower, in the flower garden is a circular vent to the tunnels. While underground you can climb the ladder and peek around. The other is a small vent is along the south side, near the south-west corner of Forbes. North of Herring Hall. It sticks up just behind some nice new plants.
The other above ground access points are a few exterior staircases and doors. These are 100% locked, however, it’s a good place to have a peek into where you’ll be walking. Shine a light through the gate and listen to the sounds. Or notice a big door beneath your feet as your walk to the mall… just imagine being beneath it some day, just peak your interest a bit.
Underground access points are doors. Because every building gets water, every building has a door that leads to the tunnel. These however are usually well locked, damn hard to find, or both. Yet, sometimes you’ll get lucky. I can think of a few doors that may leave you in the wide open space of a building without any trouble.
The Union – The entrance to the tunnel is in a room that is just North of the South Eastern stair. If you take the stairs to the underground on the East side, there should be a door to your right. Inside that door, I believe the room is again to the right, from there it should be a door along the back wall.
The Library – A quick peek out a door from the tunnels revealed a room full of chairs and desks piled high to the ceiling.
The Power Plant – A gated door that looked directly into the South-Campus power plant was unlocked and accessible.
(perhaps UA police & security would like to use this information to double check themselves, please do)

One great way into a tunnel system is via a building in construction. Because they open access to the tunnel and leave the building wide open, i.e. no alarms and the doors unlocked. These buildings make for easy in and easy out points. Just be careful of the everpresent campus security and your step. Construction sites can be very dangerous and touching things or fiddling with equipment could lead to severe repercussions.

Yet, the glory awaits when you walk onto a construction site since you’re essentially doing double duty, tunnel exploration and building spelunking! And therefore any new building going up is candy to this urban-spelunker.
*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell

UA Tunnels – Touring

Touring through the tunnels. For your first time or out of habit.

Getting around the UA tunnel system can be great fun! But while you’re down there I suggest being prepared and preparing the new-bees that may be accompanying you.
But first let’s look at basic security. The UA tunnels have security. If things are locked, that means you shouldn’t be there, right? right. Be aware of the presence of the multitude of campus police and security, as well as any other campus employees who may call the police. Due to the escalation of campus attacks, rapes, stalkers, etc there is a very large number of vigilant citizens out to harass the benign rule breaker. Be weary of all people and always have a plan for cover story, alibi, and general escape. There are also alarms on doors and motion detectors in the tunnels. Be aware. However, we’ve also found that the first time you’re caught ‘trespassing,’ yes this is trespassing, it’s a warning. Simply be sure to not have any weapons, spray paint, etc. etc. that would get you in trouble. Don’t be dumb.
Moving on. Things to consider before going underground.
1. If it’s your first time, get yourself a head lamp and mag-lite and do it the old fashioned way. Walk through the pitch black underground with just you and your spot. This not only adds to the thrill, but also helps to ensure you’ll be quiet and go unnoticed. However, if you want to use the lights, there are normal switches periodically through out the system. They glow when they’re off so you can spot them fairly easily. They will also be paired one is to turn off the lights from where you came the other to turn the lights on to where you’re going. Remember that at night, light emanating from a man hole is fairly obvious, as is laughing, shouting – etc.

2. Make sure you’ve got water with you. The tunnels are often referred to as steam tunnels. Along with the tele-comm they carry the heating steam to all the buildings, remember? That means the tunnels are incredibly hot and if you’re not drinking water you can get yourself in trouble quite quickly.
3. The tunnels are quite extensive, they go to every building on campus, so make sure you’ve got a good sense of direction before you venture down. You may want to look at a map ahead of time, or perhaps create your own map while you’re down there – i.e. – “we started out walking East – then came to a fork, North or South, we went North and noted writing at the fork that said the building names ….”. Almost every building is labeled, so keep your eyes open and read the walls, the pipes, the switches, or the blatant signs that are down there. Don’t go wriggling someplace you’re libel to get stuck in unless you’ve got a buddy with you or a radio. Cell phones may not work down below.
In general use the buddy system so you protect yourself if anything goes wrong – besides it’s always better to tell the story about you and your buddy sitting on the curb with the cops anyway, right?
Well, I suppose once you do anything you’re officially a pro at it, right? That was the standard in days past. In fact, it’s been a fun way to spend a late night with new friends, to challenge their willingness to live on the edge. Take them deep, dark, and dirty, scare the goods out of them, and see if you’re still friends when you pop out of a man hole someplace in the middle of campus. So long as your prudent to your safety and security and you have fun without damaging property, you’re good to go.

*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell

UA Tunnels – An Introduction

The University of Arizona – like many universities and campuses in general – have a tunnel system designed to carry the power, water, and telecom from their respective power, cooling, heating, and communication plants about the campus. These tunnels are accessible to maintenance personal on campus, and are often time accessible to urban spelunkers too, we just need to know where to look. — Cochise Alpha-Bravo

*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell


I recently spent some time looking online for some places to explore here in Tucson – abandoned buildings, tunnels, stadiums, farm houses, etc. etc. [This will be referred to ‘urban spelunking’ for those of you not familiar with the term] To my dismay the only report I found online (this could be attributed to my lack of search skills) was that of a fellow who had posted to a forum asking if anyone had any tips or ideas for urban spelunking in Tucson because he was new and wanted to give it a shot.
Now I know, for a fact, that I’m not the only guy in Tucson who digs the Urban Spelunking. I know this because I learned to enjoy it from some other folks who taught me and I have my suspicions that there are more like us, simply, not organized.

For those of you not familiar with urban spelunking – check out this reference site – it is amazing. Be extra sure to read the Theory and Ethics portion of the page.

SO – with that said, this will be my attempt at providing fellow Tucsonans with a urban spelunking resources – as meager as it may be.

-Cochise Alpha-Bravo

*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell