In recent years, chas gained increased popularity, especially around colleges and universities because of its physical and mental requirements. Cavers have many different motives for their underground passion. For some, caving is a sport offering physical and mental challenges. Others are drawn underground by the simple love of exploration. Still others enjoy the scientific aspects that may involve mapping and other methods of documentation. Still others find caving an inspirational or spiritual experience.
The National Speological Society (NSS) has been formed by those so drawn to natural caverns in the earth. The society supports cave exploration, research and conservation. Local chapters, called grottos, exist in regions throughout the US. The National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC) is a volunteer group of the NSS developed to coordinate cave rescue resources throughout the US. Most NCRC cavers perform rescues as members of their local rescue squads, civil defense units or cave rescue groups.
Some caves offer easy exploration, while others require tight crawls, challenging climbs or dangerous descents. Caves can be cold, dark and damp. They can also be dusty-dry, muddy or completely filled with water. All are dark and many can be extremely dangerous, especially without proper gear, knowledge and experience.
If you are interested in caving, local grottos can provide invaluable resources. Membership involves NSS membership, which includes newsletters, knowledge of those who have been there before, maps, fellowship and safety.
Serious cavers devote a good deal of time to training and planning. Acquiring approriate climbing gear and practicing how to use it is a preoccupation of local grottos. Mapping, photographic documentation and protection of local caves is also part of their charter.
Experienced cavers have established the following guidelines for caving.
Required Caving Gear
Three sources of light per person (Make sure batteries are fresh)
Tough, water-proof boots
Food & water
Space Blanket or Garbage Bag
Small length of cord or webbing
Small First Aid Kit
Small Whistle for signaling
Extra batteries (and bulbs for your main light)
Caving Safety Tips
Never cave alone!
Don’t attempt climbing a pit without proper training.
Don’t cave while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Don’t jump — surfaces are hard and distances can be deceiving.
When crawling through tight spaces, keep your arms in front of you, not at your sides.
Be wary of going head-first down into tight spots.
Looking behind you will help you remember the way out.
Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
Removing or destroying cave formations and disturbing cave wildlife is illegal.
Leave nothing behind
Don’t bother the wildlife. Don’t shine your light on bats
Don’t urinate (or worse!) in a cave.
Don’t touch any formation, especially with bare hands.
Respect t the land around cave entrances. Never damage gates or dump trash.