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an example of Caving
Spelunkers at work

Caving (or spelunking) is the hobby or recreation of exploring caves. People who explore caves are called spelunkers.

Spelunkers and their equipment[change | change source]

Wise spelunkers explore in groups, to prevent being lost or stranded in a cave. Spelunkers need reliable equipment, because the descent into a cave is like mountain climbing in the opposite direction. Basic spelunking equipment is similar to what mountain climbers use. Strong ropes make climbing possible and special tools attach ropes to cave walls. Special footwear makes it easier to explore hard to reach places, and hard hats protect spelunkers from falling rocks above. Caves are extremely dark, so spelunkers have to carry at least three light sources (like torches and flares). One torch attaches to a spelunker's helmet so it is with him or her at all times. Caves are also very cold, so most spelunkers wear heavy clothing for warmth.

Spelunkers tie their ropes with different kinds of knots, like the farmer's hitch knot and the alpine butterfly knot. Spelunkers choose different knots for different purposes. Some knots work well to hold people as they climb. Other knots are best for tying ropes together.[1]

Modern caving[change | change source]

Caving today has become a hobby for many different reasons. Some cavers are interested in conservation. Others are interested in gathering hard data about caves (called speleology). Geologists explore caves for the purpose of learning about the formation of rocks. But, for most of the rest, the purpose of caving is just to have fun.

Caves can generally be explored during any season of the year. Most caves remain at the same temperature year round. The common rules of thumb apply:[2]

  • Always wear protective headgear.
  • Always check to be sure there is no danger of flooding while you plan to be in the cave.
  • Never go alone. A minimum of three cavers is best.
  • Always make sure someone on the surface knows where you are caving.
  • Carry a minimum of three light sources per person.
  • The cave environment is more fragile than people realize. And, since water that flows through a cave eventually comes out in streams and rivers, any pollution will wind up in someone's drinking water and can seriously affect the surface environment as well.
  • Remember the cavers motto: Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. Nonfiction Science article, The Wonder of Caves
  2. Safety Rules for Spelunking, e-how
  3. Spelunking, the Knowledge Rush

Other websites[change | change source]