Recreational caving involves exploring wild cave systems. Planning a caving trip and caving per se should be performed responsibly for the well-being of the cavers and yourself and to minimize the impact on the cave and its ecosystem. Below we provide an overview of some of the basics that may help you achieve a responsible attitude toward caving and related trip planning.
Some Basics that Further Responsible Cave Exploration:
1) Cave with a Certified Caving Guide and a Group
When you schedule a caving trip, make sure that you will be led by a guide who has received the proper certification from a qualified caving training organization, considering the type of cave and adventure.+ Do your research and ask for referrals to assure you select a competent and knowledgeable guide with sufficient caving experience and appropriate skills.
In addition to a guide, cave explorations should be performed along with a group of people. The group should stay together while exploring the cave except when special measures need to be taken under particular circumstances such as an emergency or a caver injury.++ Follow instructions from your guide with respect to any special measures.
In relation to the minimum number of people that should participate in the caving adventure, you may check out recommendations from competent speleological organizations such as the National Speleological Society (U.S.A.) and its chapters (or their equivalent), considering the destination and the caving activity.
2) Be Fit for the Caving Challenges
Those who want to engage in cave exploration should be physically and mentally ready to overcome any related challenges and to have the skills necessary for the activities to perform. ++ Ask yourself if you are fit to follow through in the selected caving adventure.
Some caving activities may require prior training. You may consult competent and well-known organizations that offer caving training courses.
3) Check and Secure your Equipment
Prior to going underground, assure that all your caving equipment is working properly. Secure all your gear to prevent from falling on other cavers. ++ +++
4) Bring Three Sources of Light
Carry at least three sources of light. For instance, mount one light on your helmet to use as your primary source and keep spare lights to mount on the helmet if the principal source of light goes off. Do not forget spare batteries for your lights. ++++
5) Dress Properly
Bring suitable clothing, considering the temperature of the cave and the activities to carry out. For example, nylon, polyester and polypropylene absorb less water, dry faster and retain heat better than other fabrics. +++ ++++ For more information about the suggested clothing, you may consult well-known organizations that promote responsible caving practices such as the National Speleological Society or its chapters (or their equivalent).
You may read the “what to bring” subsection in this article for more information about suggested basic gear.
6) Notify your Caving Plans to Someone you Trust
Inform a trustworthy person about your cave exploration plans, including the name and location of the cave, date of the trip, expected time to begin and finish the caving recreation, and estimated number of people who will accompany you. ++ +++++ Also, notify the names of the caving guide and business he/she represents, if any.
The notified person should know what to do in the event that you have not confirmed on time your return from the trip. It is recommendable that such person and you agree on what do and who to contact under these circumstances. ++
7) Be Eco-Conscious when Caving
Keep the cave clean. Pick up the trash you find along the way. Do not harm the cave formations. ++ ++++
The above list includes some basic principles related to recreational caving. Some of these fundamentals are based on our interpretation of information from various sources. These principles do not substitute a consultation with a caving expert or certified guide, and are not meant to be interpreted as expert advice from the company behind this publication. We suggest requesting advice from certified caving guides or instructors with respect to the necessary skills, gear, techniques and safety measures.
Note: People engage in cave exploration at their own risk and are responsible to take the necessary measures to access the caves, subject to availability, and to cave according to their caving skills and instructions given by a certified caving guide, among other factors. Caving is a risky outdoor recreation that may result in serious injury or may be fatal. Do not depend on the information provided herein for your safety. Make your own assessment.
+ Marie Montes, President of Puerto Rico Speleological Society's Board of Directors, Puerto Rico Chapter of the National Speleological Society
++ National Speleological Society website, “Safety & Techniques- Safety” (http//caves.org/safety/safety.shtml)
+++ Waldron, Kurt, “What to Wear and What to Bring”, Safety & Techniques- Part II: At The Cave, NSS News, October 2007 (http//caves.org/safety/Articles/S%26T%20Article2.pdf)
++++ National Speleological Society, “A Guide to Responsible Caving”, 2016 (5th ed.), (http//caves.org/brochure/Guide_to_Resp_Caving_2016.pdf)
+++++ Waldron, Kurt, “Safety & Techniques”, NSS News, July 2007 (http//caves.org/safety/Articles/S%26T%20Article1.pdf)