Helmetless Caving Poll

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Helmet Habits

I would NEVER consider caving without a helmet under any circumstances
53
40%
I wear a helmet in the grocery
5
4%
I would NEVER allow Jonah to cave with me since he shows such disregard for safety
8
6%
I like to have my helmet, but would go caving without it if the opportunity arose
6
5%
I can imagine caving situations that shouldn't require the use of a helmet
40
30%
Jonah has big ears
5
4%
I wear my helmet mostly because it's expected and would prefer to go without
2
2%
I don't regularly wear a helmet
1
1%
If Marion Smith wore a helmet made with kielbasa, I would too.
13
10%
 
Total votes : 133

Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 30, 2012 9:51 pm

I've made mention several times that I often cave without a helmet. In the short crawlways of Ohio, I don't feel that helmetless caving adds to the likelihood for debilitating injury. The intention of the poll is to see if any of you share the belief that there are some occasions when a helmet is not important.
Understand that I have deep respect for your opinions. I'm not very experienced, and I'm perfectly willing to change my mind if the logic is there. You have lots of fun options to choose from...let fly.

Thanks,
Jonah
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby NZcaver » Oct 30, 2012 10:50 pm

Excellent. You must have read my mind - I was about to suggest starting a new topic/poll when you beat me to it. However I doubt I would have been quite as creative with my poll questions as you. Since I was the one who questioned your original comment and opened that can of worms, I guess I at least owe you a reply.

In an absolutist-dogma kind of way, I chose the first answer in the poll because it is the closest fit. Although what I really mean is "when I go caving, I always bring a helmet and wear it almost all the time while underground." On rare occasions I do remove it - e.g in tight, nasty crawls I can't avoid, camping underground during an expedition, when I need to change batteries, scratch my head etc. But I don't actually 'go caving' without a helmet unless you count the lighted tourist trails (I don't).

If I'm ridgewalking I would usually bring a helmet. If I'm just hiking and happen to find a hole in the ground, maybe not. But in those rare cases, I'm not there to push any envelopes. I will usually stay within sight of daylight and/or easy walking passage and/or in voice communication with others. Basically I would be in casual spelunker mode rather than caver mode.

This is just me, and obviously you have a different opinion based on your experience. In the previous topic you mentioned Marion, and said "I think he's a good example of a fellow who can use his own brain to decide what will work for him instead of doing what everyone else does/says." While this is very true, to the best of my knowledge I believe he consistently wears a helmet while caving. It looks that way in the photos, and he was certainly wearing a helmet the last time we were caving together.

I realize cavers can think for themselves and make their own decisions, but helmets are kind-of a fundamental piece of caver equipment the world over. I know you own one, but choosing not to bring it on some caving trips just strikes me as an odd decision for a caver. :shrug:
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 30, 2012 11:09 pm

NZcaver wrote:In the previous topic you mentioned Marion, and said "I think he's a good example of a fellow who can use his own brain to decide what will work for him instead of doing what everyone else does/says." While this is very true, to the best of my knowledge I believe he consistently wears a helmet while caving. It looks that way in the photos, and he was certainly wearing a helmet the last time we were caving together.


You're right. I'm sure Marion would tell me and anyone who asked that they should wear a helmet too. However, if he (or you) were stuck in Adams County Ohio for 80% of your caving, where almost everything is "in tight, nasty crawls I can't avoid", where it's impossible to fall, where it's impossible to hurt yourself too badly, where you're required to drag your jugular through the mud if you want to see past the brim of your helmet, do you think it's possible that some of his (or your) habits may change?

Thanks for taking the time to reply, and to explain your own feelings on the matter.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 30, 2012 11:22 pm

NZcaver wrote:But I don't actually 'go caving' without a helmet unless you count the lighted tourist trails (I don't).


Neither do I. But there's a point to be made in there. Why don't you wear a helmet on the lighted tourist trails? Because of the low risk involved, right? I don't think it's ridiculous to claim that there's a better chance of suffering a catastrophic head injury in a tour cave than in a 300' crawl. You could fall, there are often stairs, there's an absurdly small chance that a rock could dislodge from above, none of these "risks" are present in Mary Grace Caverns, my latest survey. So the question is, convention or no, why should I wear a helmet in these caves?

Have you been on many trips with Marion? He invited me last month when I was in TN, but it didn't work out. I hope to meet him in person one of these days.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby NZcaver » Oct 31, 2012 12:18 am

GroundquestMSA wrote:Have you been on many trips with Marion? He invited me last month when I was in TN, but it didn't work out. I hope to meet him in person one of these days.

Not many, just a few during an expedition of sorts in Hawaii several years ago.

You bring up some interesting points. It's good to discuss these things.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby rebelfirefighter » Oct 31, 2012 6:58 pm

To me if there is the slightest chance that I am going to hit my head or something might hit me in the head I'm wearing my helmet. Unexpected things happen. Back in '04 with the fire dept we were pressure testing fire hoses. Nobody wore a helmet, didn't cross your mind cause you were stepped back far from any danger. We wore helmets for everything except this. I was draining a supply hose when the pump operator sent water to my hose instead of the one next to me. When the stream of water hit my chest I flew 20 ft and didnt stop till my forehead met a fence post. I ended up with a concussion and couldn't drive or do much else for 6 months. I still have head aches daily. I was lucky, if the coupling had hit me in the head it may have killed me. From that point on I had a helmet on my head whether everybody else did or not. What I'm getting at is you might think something is fine but in a quick second it can change. Prepare for the worst hope for the best.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby cavercrane97 » Oct 31, 2012 10:24 pm

I would never cave without a helmet. For one, a good whack to the head by the limestone ceiling never feels what I would call great, and I have had quite a few rocks that probably would have knocked me out deflected by my helmet. I just feel safer with a helmet. I don't feel like a true caver without one. Cave Safely!! :grin:
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby nathanroser » Nov 1, 2012 10:06 am

Really low airspace, really tight squeezes, reading survey instruments. That's when I take off my helmet in a cave. If I'm just hanging out in some shelter cave or running in an entrance and staying within daylight I'll go helmetless, or course the same does not apply to vertical open air pits which you can see daylight from the bottom.

That being said I knew a guy in Syracuse who would go to Eagle Cave in the Adirondacks without a helmet. His logic was that in that particular cave the ceiling was always out of reach of your head and the walls were all slabs with nothing loose to break off. All the other caves he went in with me however he always wore a helmet.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby LukeM » Nov 1, 2012 10:30 am

I have had maybe two incidents of a rock nailing me on the helmet where I would have been injured without it. Anytime anything has hit my helmet it has been at the bottom of a drop. That said, 95% of my head-bopping incidents have been while in a tight space or while stoop-walking, and for that reason I would always wear a helmet in a cave with a lot of tight spaces. Sure, most wouldn't have done anything other than leave a lump, but that's one less thing I have to worry about.

Also, I've seen plenty of tight crawls with unstable ceilings or breakdown so I gladly wear a helmet in those cases. I'd pretty much always wear one unless visiting a cave where I know I'll just be strolling down a borehole without taking any side trips, much like when at a commercial cave.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby Extremeophile » Nov 1, 2012 10:58 am

I wear only a helmet when caving :banana:
and that's only due to peer pressure. I don't like the hassle of dealing with the other gear and clothing.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby GroundquestMSA » Nov 1, 2012 12:13 pm

Extremeophile wrote:I wear only a helmet when caving :banana:
and that's only due to peer pressure. I don't like the hassle of dealing with the other gear and clothing.


That explains why your photo is a sihllouette...
You look a bit baggy.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby submassabielle » Nov 1, 2012 12:27 pm

For inspiration, it seems, some look to Marion Smith...and others to Norbert Casteret...
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby Chads93GT » Nov 1, 2012 2:10 pm

Jonah, I always wear a helmet. Ive bashed my head off ceilings in crawlways before. that being said, when in tight survey crawls, or push crawls where its just too damn uncomfortable to have a helmet on, i take it off so i can actually move my head around, but I always have it with me, unless im hiking with a friend and we stumble upon a cave ilprepared. but on any organized trip where we plan in advance for survey, ridge walking, etc, we always have helmets. even doing vertical at cliffs where rock climbers climb without helmets, we wear them.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby Lava » Nov 1, 2012 2:15 pm

There is no option for me up there. What I'd pick:

I have encountered caving situations where I would have preferred to wear a helmet, but space constraints dictated otherwise


I suspect that many of the people who are picking "I can imagine caving situations that shouldn't require the use of a helmet" are doing so because they have such tight spots in mind, but I don't think that's what you meant with that option, so the result there is probably misleading. Because a tight space "should require" the use of a helmet even if it prevents it.
Last edited by Lava on Nov 1, 2012 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby NZcaver » Nov 1, 2012 2:18 pm

Chads93GT wrote:...even doing vertical at cliffs where rock climbers climb without helmets, we wear them.

Ditto this. Also hanging from bridges, trees and ceilings - I generally insist on helmets being worn by anybody on rope or immediately below, even NSS directors... :grin:

Lava wrote:I have encountered caving situations where I would have preferred to wear a helmet, but space constraints dictated otherwise

Aaaaaand... ditto this too.
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