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Advanced Caving Techniques

For many cavers recreational trips to well known tourist caves may eventually become a bit 'old hat'. There are, however, plenty of challenges left, many of which can offer opportunities to contribute to the well being of caves and the caving community. The next step for many cavers is learning new skills or adapting their existing skills to caving. Some areas that you may be interested in exploring further include:

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Vertical Caving - In many parts of the country technical rope work is required to access all or part of some caves due to large vertical drops, often seen as entrance pits that can be hundreds of feet deep. Vertical caving has a relatively good safety record but training, proper equipment, practice, and respect for the dangers involved are essential. More information is provided on our vertical caving page.

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Cave Surveying and Mapping - Many caves have been mapped, providing both a guide for future exploration and a basis for a better understanding of the cave by scientists and researchers. Before a cave can be mapped, it must first be surveyed and both these topics are covered in more detail on our surveying & mapping page.

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Finding New Caves - While many cavers are satisfied with exploring known caves, others seek to find and survey new caves. Even in areas that have seen heavy caving activity over the years, 'virgin' cave passages are being discovered through systematic searching on the surface and in known caves. Pushing passages other have overlooked as too tight, digging through dirt and rock fill or enlarging narrow fissures in the rock are resulting in a constant discovery of new caves. Find out more on our finding new caves page.

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Cave Conservation - already covered in more detail on our cave conservation page.

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Cave Rescue - Many cavers, some of them members of fire departments or rescue organizations in their communities, have made training and preparation for cave cave rescues a significant part of their caving activities. This is covered in more detail on our cave rescue page

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Cave Photography - The NSS has sections devoted to both cave photography and cave video. Some examples of cave photography can be found linked from the NSS Cave Photos on the Web page. It can be a challenge to get equipment into the cave in one piece, compose pictures in the dark, and illuminate large rooms. Images Below by Chris Howe "covers the basics of equipment and photographic techniques, working with single and multiple flash, then continues with special topics such as close-up, cave life, archaeology, underwater, video and stereo photography" and is available from the NSS Bookstore or speleo vendors .

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Speleonics - The application of communications and electronics to caves and caving is another way of applying real life experience and interests to a caving hobby. The NSS Communications & Electronics Section is a good starting point if this is one of your interests.

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Cave Diving - A very specialized area of caving, we won't have too much to say about cave diving except to note that cave diving is extremely hazardous and experience as an open water diver does not qualify one as a cave diver. Specialized equipment is required and special training and certification programs are essential. Cave diving, usually by inexperienced open water divers, results in a high percentage of all caving fatalities. Read the safety notice prepared by the NSS Cave Diving Section if you think you are interested in cave diving.

This short list just touches the tip of the iceberg. The NSS lists 18 separate sections devoted to various special interests. To find others with interests similar to your own, spend time with other cavers at club meetings (or even better, underground), attend regional or national caving functions, and take advantage of all the information on the web with a search engine like Google.

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  Copyright 2002-2004, Bob Robins
  Last Updated: August 9, 2005