looking to get into caving!

Caves and caving, beginning caving, joining the NSS, etc.

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looking to get into caving!

Postby benji0520 » May 17, 2016 2:11 pm

Hi all. New guy here with a lot of new guy questions.

I live in Southern Illinois, and am wanting to get into caving. I fancy myself as a sort of explorer and photographer, and I have stomped around all the trails and little-known nooks and crannies in my area and am looking to explore more subterranean places. I know Illinois DNR has a sort of moratorium on exploring caves in places due to White Nose Syndrome being present in local bat populations, but where are some good beginner spelunking areas? As I said, I'm a beginner, the only caves I have been in have been guided tours on paved walkways with guard rails, but I feel I've grown past that and want to really experience caving. Is there anywhere that is open to the public in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, or even Ohio that is a good place I can cut my teeth on this?

Also, what is a good 'Beginner's Kit'? What items should I always have with me? I appreciate any and all responses, and thank you!
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Re: looking to get into caving!

Postby CaverScott » May 18, 2016 9:43 am

hi there. welcome. :grin:

Please see if any of these grottoes (Caving clubs) are near you. I would strongly recommend you reach out to one and consider attending a meeting.

http://www.nssio.org/find_grotto_overview.cfm?state=IL

:bat sticker:
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Re: looking to get into caving!

Postby GroundquestMSA » May 18, 2016 1:11 pm

There are caves in Southern Illinois, in the counties below St. Louis, and many caves in southern Missouri and Indiana. I do not know many specifics of that region, but you shouldn't have to go too far to go caving. Following Scott's suggestion to look up a club will be the easiest way to get into caving. Alternately, you can search for caves and negotiate with landowners on your own. This is a long term process. Online sleuthery, conversations with local people, and lots of walking are a good formula if you go this route.

Beginners kit? A couple of headlamps and a hard had will be plenty sufficient for you to get a feel for caving. No need for anything fancy, cheap lamps throw a lot of light these days. If you like caving, there will be plenty of opportunity to buy gear of all sorts, but it's best to start by focusing on yourself and the cave, not on stuff.

If you do find a cave, be cautious, and careful. Most caves are not very dangerous, but they can be very punishing to bad judgment. Finally, read this forum. There is a wealth of valuable information here.
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Re: looking to get into caving!

Postby Caving Guru » May 18, 2016 6:35 pm

In general, I would say that the best way to learn about caving in your area is by going to a regional caving event where a bunch of led cave trips are offered. Seeing that you are in Southern Illinois, I would suggest going to Speleofest which is held in Kentucky near Bonnieville. It will be on Memorial Day Weekend (May 27th to 30th), so 2 weekends from now.

Here is a link about the caving at Speleofest:
http://louisville.caves.org/speleofest_caving.shtml
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