Caving

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  • Topic: Cave, Caving, Mammoth Cave National Park
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  • Published : November 28, 2012
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Responsible Caving
Published by The National Speleological Society

A Guide to

A Guide to Responsible Caving

National Speleological Society 2813 Cave Avenue Huntsville, AL 35810 256-852-1300 nss@caves.org www.caves.org

Fourth Edition, 2009 Text: Cheryl Jones Design: Mike Dale/Switchback Design Printing: Raines

This publication was made possible through a generous donation by Inner Mountain Outfitters. Copies of this Guide may be obtained through the National Speleological Society Web site. www.caves.org © Copyright 2009, National Speleological Society

FOREWORD
We explore caves for many reasons, but mainly for sport or scientific study. The sport caver has been known as a spelunker, but most cave explorers prefer to be called cavers. Speleology is the scientific study of the cave environment. One who studies caves and their environments is referred to as a speleologist. This publication deals primarily with caves and the sport of caving. Cave exploring is becoming increasingly popular in all areas of the world. The increase in visits into the underground world is having a detrimental effect on caves and relations with cave owners. There are many proper and safe caving methods. Included here is only an introduction to caves and caving, but one that will help you become a safe and responsible caver. Our common interests in caving, cave preservation and cave conservation are the primary reasons for the National Speleological Society. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced caver, we hope the guidelines in this booklet will be a useful tool for remembering the basics which are so essential to help preserve the cave environment, to strengthen cave owner relations with the caving community, and to make your visit to caves a safe and enjoyable one. This is the fourth and completely revised edition of my original booklet, A Guide to Responsible Caving. A special thank you to my fellow cavers for their hard work and dedication: Cheryl Jones and for revising and editing this publication, and Michael Dale for the design and layout work. Adrian (Ed) Sira NSS 11904 FE

photo by Joe Levinson

5 6 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 22

Going Caving? Inside a Cave Cave life Protecting caves Caving courtesy What to bring

Table of Contents

How to behave above ground How to behave underground Hazards Quick review Do it right

photo by Peter and Ann Bosted

GOING CAVING?
Introduction Whether you are a beginner or an experienced caver, these guidelines will introduce you to the basics of responsible caving. Responsible caving helps preserve the cave environment, strengthen caver-landowner relations, and make your visit to a cave a safe one. This booklet describes how to take care of the cave and how to take care of yourself and your partners. Although proper and safe caving practices are discussed, this discussion is no substitute for personal instruction by a competent caver. Tolerating misery Do you really want to go caving? If so, ask yourself why. Caving is not a spectator sport, and it tends to be cold and muddy. Tight passages and long crawls are not uncommon. Dangers include falling down pits, being crushed by falling rocks, drowning, and hypothermia. And then there is the possibility of getting lost and quickly dying of hypothermia or slowly starving to death. But for people trained to cave safely, the rewards are worth the misery and risks. Why people visit caves People visit caves for many reasons, but mainly for pleasure or science. Non-cavers may know cavers as spelunkers, but most responsible visitors to caves prefer to be called “cavers.” Speleology is the scientific study of the cave environment, and one who studies caves is a speleologist. What do cavers do underground? They enjoy the adventure of searching for new passages or seeing places hidden from view. They survey the caves and make maps, they study the geology and biology, and they clean up caves and repair broken formations. The knowledge...
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