The Underground Explorers is a professional mine exploration team and a group of dedicated mine enthusiasts with a insatiable desire to explore, understand and document the incredible mining history of the United States.  Our goal is to to thoroughly document, photograph and map each mine we visit.  While in the mines we use only removable, non-destructive marking and surveying methods and always try to leave each mine in better condition that we found it.  We employ a wide range of tools to map mines including altimeters, compasses, clinometers, measuring wheels and laser range finders.

The Underground Explorers offers a wide range of professional services to mine owners, investors, journalists and TV and film production companies.  These services include:

  Abandoned mine mapping
  Abandoned mine access
  Mine photography
  Video recording
  Mineral samples
  Location services for the TV, film and still photography industry
  Location scouting
  Safety services

The Underground Explorers also assists government and private organizations with mine search and rescue/recovery (SAR).  In 2010 we teamed up with the Mojave Underground and the San Bernardino County Sherriff's office to search for April Beth Pitzer.  This young mother of two has been missing since 2004 and evidence suggests her body may have been placed in a Mojave Desert mine.  Our search spanned three days and covered six primary mine complexes.  The search was featured on the Discovery Investigations Channel show Disappeared (Mojave Mystery) which first aired in November 2010.  A clip of the episode featuring our search can be viewed here.  In 2014 we assisted a cadaver dog team and forensic archeologists in a search for human remains down a number of mine shafts near Benton, California.  The search was covered by the Associated Press and distributed to news organizations worldwide.  The video produced can be seen here and the print story can be read here.

In 2014 the Underground Explorers were featured on an episode of No Limits on Animal Planet.  In the episode "Underground and Under Pressure" we take the host, Showtime Eric Young, 600' underground in a Death Valley area mine.  This half hour episode can be viewed through iTunes.

We take safety seriously and employ the latest descending and ascending equipment, ropes, helmets, lights and gas sensors.  Through consultation with members of the National Speleological Society we have adapted vertical caving techniques and best practices for mine exploration.  We also employ a two way satellite communicator in locations too remote for mobile telephone coverage.  Several team members are Level 1 certified by the National Cave Rescue Commission for cave rescue operations and management.

Mining, mines and their histories are an important part of our country and the story of America is not complete without them.  Unfortunately, mining and mines (particularly abandoned mines) tend to be perceived poorly by the public.  Abandoned mines are easy targets for reclamation and ongoing operations are subject to intense scrutiny from all sides.  Our mission is to record the histories of these mines before they are lost forever and to do whatever is possible to stop the wanton reclamation of abandoned mines by state, local and federal agencies.  Our economy cannot exist without mining.  If it can't be grown, it must be mined!

If you have any questions or would like additional information please e-mail us at info@undergroundexplorers.comYou can also follow us and find additional information at http://www.facebook.com/undergroundexplorers.

Mine Team
Mike

Mike is the founder of the Underground Explorers and has been exploring mines since the '90s. Mike is responsible for most trip planning and research.  He also has primary responsibility for the web site and Facebook page and works with mine owners, government agencies, law enforcement and prospective customers.  Mike is the team's main photographer.  Mike is very experienced on rope and with technical rigging.  Mike is Level 1 certified by the National Cave Rescue Commission for Cave Rescue Operations and Management.

Jeff

Jeff's first time mine exploring was at Calico in 2008 and he was immediately hooked.  Jeff loves exploring the mines but tends to prefer horizontal workings.  That doesn't stop him from going vertical when needed though!  Jeff is a founding member of the Underground Explorers.

Dave

Dave has been exploring mines in the California desert since the late '80s.  Back then, the only essential equipment was a MagLite and sometimes a hemp rope, seatbelt harness and a figure-8.  Dave really enjoys vertical exploring and technical rope work and often works as a scout both above and below ground.  Dave is a founding member of the Underground Explorers.

 

Kurt

Kurt has been exploring, off-roading and caving all over the southwest for dozens of years.  He also has extensive rock climbing experience.  Kurt thrives on vertical work and is one of the team's best technical riggers.  Kurt is a founding member of the Underground Explorers.

 

 

Stacy

Stacy started exploring mines in the '80s.  He loves to get into every nook and cranny of a mine and is excellent at vertical work.  Stacy has great endurance and is a good scout.  Stacy is a founding member of the Underground Explorers.

 

 

Mine Team
Mike

Mike has had experiences underground since childhood.  During summer vacations he would explore mines and caves with his parents.  In 2009 he found a girl who liked exploring underground too and he proposed to Tina in the Bismark Mine in Calico (she even said "yes").  Mike found the team through the web site and joined us for a trip to Tecopa soon after.  He's been exploring and working with the team ever since!  Mike is good on rope and enjoys vertical work.

 

Travis

Travis was first introduced to mine exploring by his father as a young.  He was immediately fascinated by them and has been exploring ever since.  Travis found the team (by finding a card) in late 2013 and soon joined up for many trips and projects.  Travis is a firefighter and EMT and specializes in rope work, low and high angle rescue, and tower rescue.  His rigging and medical skills are an invaluable asset to the team.  Travis is also an excellent scout.  Travis often explores with his adventure beagle Skeeter who is at home in mines, on rope and even on ladders!

 

Troy

Troy loves to explore and off-road.  He found the team in early 2011 through the web site and joined us for a trip to Joshua Tree shortly thereafter.  He loves being underground and also rope work.  Most of all, he likes exploring new portions of the mines and seeing their spectacular features.  Troy is a great scout and has plenty of energy for long days underground.  His extreme off-road Toyota 4Runner is a huge asset for getting the team to hard to reach locations. 

 

Ken

Ken has extensive experience on ropes as an arborist and is also an experienced diver.  Ken, an avid hiker and backpacker, became interested in abandoned mines and has jumped into mine exploring without looking back.  His rope expertise and excellent physical fitness has proven to be a huge asset.  Ken shares rigging responsibilities with Kurt and Mike.

Lee

Lee has been fascinated with underground places since childhood. He started off exploring costal bunkers and storm drains and moved onto mines as a teenager. Exploring underground brings out his "inner kid" and he's not satisfied until he's personally explored every accessible part of a mine. This tenacity led Lee to make diagrams of the places he explores. Lee is the team's surveyor and cartographer and produces maps of incredible quality. He's also a superb scout, getting into (and out of) places seemingly impossible for the rest of us. 

Associate Members
Tina

Tina began exploring mines in 2009 with her new boyfriend Mike.  She found mine exploring to be physically challenging and thrilling and even accepted Mike's marriage proposal, made inside the Bismark Mine in Calico.  She's been exploring with the group for several years and is great on rope.  Tina loves seeing hidden places underground.

Robert

Robert began exploring abandoned cement factories and limestone mines in his native New York as a teenager.  His father owned a photography lab and he developed a passion for that as well.  He soon combined his interests, rappelling into mines with bulky film cameras and tripods.  After moving to California he joined with other mine explorers and also joined the digital photography age.  Robert prefers to photograph scenes painted with light as a more accurate representation of what we see in mines.  His goal is to photograph the historic places we visit before they are destroyed or access to them is lost forever.