28 Apr What is Caving?
Cave exploring, or caving as it is popularly known, is the recreational accompaniment of “speleology”, which is the scientific study of natural caves. Caving enthusiasts usually call themselves “cavers”.
Interest in caving is growing worldwide, which is partially due to the continuing concern for health, fitness and the environment among the new generation who are demanding more number of outdoor experiences with an educational purpose with their greatest motivation being the thrill of a new discovery. The remotest corners of the globe can been observed by the latest satellite technology, but as of now there is no alternative to the personal investigation of caves. Most cavers are drawn by the potential for discovering new cave systems or maybe even find new extensions to existing caves. Of course, some simply like the solitude and beauty of the underground caverns. Others enjoy the camaraderie and team-spirit of caving, which can be a rewarding activity as the many physical and technical challenges along the way demand intense teamwork.
For some, caves are for the sole purpose of scientific examination of this underground wilderness and are objects of study, which has it owns pleasure.
Besides the growing number of people who enjoy caving for recreation and research, there are about as many who enter caves as casual visitors and tourists. As a matter of fact, the growth of “cave” tourism, a form of recreation for commercial purposes, has complimented that of caving, and several commercial operators offer supervised tours. Nowadays, even an average person can enjoy caving as before, he or she may have missed it due to a lack of experience, skills, or leadership.
Potential dangers can include flooding, rock instability, falls, getting stuck, getting lost, light failure, exhaustion, and hypothermia. Depending on the level of difficulty of the cave you choose and the length of the cave system visited, caving can be a taxing activity which requires a reasonably good degree of fitness and health.
The casual exploration of simple types of cave systems requires some extra equipment besides warm clothing which includes a good, reliable light having at least two backup sources that ensure your safe exit and aids you in seeing the cave’s features prominently and even your footing on craggy floors. A helmet with a chin strap is also recommended as it protects you from low ceilings and any potential falling rocks. Sturdy, rubber-lugged boots are a necessary requirement in slippery conditions, and if you are a bit more adventurous, certain situations can require gloves, knee pads and additional protective clothing. More advanced caving that can involve the safe crossing of vertical drops may require specialised ropes and the corresponding knowledge and experience needed to use these pieces of equipment properly.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, prospective inexperienced cavers are recommended to join a caving club or take one of some courses offered in some associations. It is important to remember never to go caving alone and to always inform someone close of your plans.
Cave environments are known to be very fragile. For this reason, cavers are required to follow some set rules and regulations to maintain the caves for any future visitors:
- Keep to established routes when underground.
- Do not litter or mark the caves in any way.
- Do not disturb any other forms of life you may encounter like spiders and snakes.
- Do not touch any fragile cave formations.