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

Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby GroundquestMSA » Nov 5, 2012 10:15 pm

BrianFrank wrote:Even if the first 5% of a cave is walkable and the rest is too tight for a helmet I would take my helmet.


So you would wear your helmet for the first 10 feet and then push it for 200 feet? Forgive me for thinking such actions a bit absurd.

BrianFrank wrote:you are more of a hardcore caver than I am

NZcaver wrote:Yeah, that's not caving - that's self-abuse.


I'm not sure if NZ is trying to call me a wanker, but I'm niether hardcore nor psychotic. I'm desperate.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby caver.adam » Nov 6, 2012 9:37 am

Every time I hit my helmet more than a brush on the ceiling I call out "One dollar." Every time I hit my helmet hard enough that I would've had to stop to recover I call out "Two dollars." The one time I walked away from a lose rock that gave me a headache even with a helmet I just thanked my lucky stars. If you add up the head strikes my helmet has more than paid for itself.

But for a walk-in/tour cave I don't bother with a helmet unless the roof seems unstable. And I'll take it off in a squeeze that it won't fit though. I'll also take it off in a room with low hanging formations as a reminder to watch my head.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby BrianFrank » Nov 6, 2012 12:18 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:
BrianFrank wrote:Even if the first 5% of a cave is walkable and the rest is too tight for a helmet I would take my helmet.

So you would wear your helmet for the first 10 feet and then push it for 200 feet? Forgive me for thinking such actions a bit absurd.
BrianFrank wrote:you are more of a hardcore caver than I am

NZcaver wrote:Yeah, that's not caving - that's self-abuse.

I'm not sure if NZ is trying to call me a wanker, but I'm niether hardcore nor psychotic. I'm desperate.

How do you know the cave won't open up after a crawl? Or are all Ohio caves that miserable :shocked: ?
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby GroundquestMSA » Nov 6, 2012 4:35 pm

BrianFrank wrote:How do you know the cave won't open up after a crawl? Or are all Ohio caves that miserable ?


Since there aren't many caves to begin with, and most of them don't take much time to see, we go back to the same little caves several times. We'll explore the first time, dig the next, survey the next, look for critters the next, photograph the next, and so on. That's pretty much our only way of getting regular cave trips. After the first visit we know if a helmet is going to be practical. All Ohio caves aren't that horrible. There are about 6 out of 50 in my county that you can actually stand up in. :big grin:
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby GroundquestMSA » Dec 15, 2012 5:43 pm

I found it interesting that this month's News had 8 photos of 4 individuals caving without helmets. In only one case did it seem that this was actually necessary (Bruce White evidently needed to shed more than just a helmet). I'm sure that in every case there was a good reason for this exclusion, but just in case some of you want to blacklist a few more cavers, go ahead and add Al Schema, Bill Mason, and either Marco, Santiago, or Fransisco to the tally.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby NZcaver » Dec 15, 2012 10:19 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:I found it interesting that this month's News had 8 photos of 4 individuals caving without helmets. In only one case did it seem that this was actually necessary (Bruce White evidently needed to shed more than just a helmet). I'm sure that in every case there was a good reason for this exclusion, but just in case some of you want to blacklist a few more cavers, go ahead and add Al Schema, Bill Mason, and either Marco, Santiago, or Fransisco to the tally.

I don't have access to this months issue. Were these people caving (moving through a wild cave) sans helmets, or were they simply taking a break in a cave and removing their helmets temporarily?
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby GroundquestMSA » Dec 15, 2012 10:34 pm

There were about 6 photos of Bill Mason exploring cenotes on rope. One included another fellow (with a baseball cap) sitting in the cave at the top of a rappel. His account of the exploration of one of this cenote includes mention of a rockslide caused by the rope. I assume that he didn't take a helmet since he was diving after each rappel. Another photo is of Bruce White forcing his nudish self through a crack, the lack of a helmet is obviously a neccesity. Lastly, Mr. Schema poses in a crawlway. He clearly has no helmet with him since his light is strapped to his head. His companion is wearing a helmet.

Again, I'm certain that all of these instances were wholly justified.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jan 23, 2013 7:42 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote: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.


Allow me to digress a bit, here. There is a point, I promise.

One of my primary concerns about the very existence of cavechat is that the conversations we have here just sit on the internet. Everything we post, unregistered lurkers read. Some of those are new cavers who would like to learn about the sport. Some of those are impressionable young cavers who have been in a cave or three, spelunker-style, and suspect there may be some safety measures they're lacking. Some of them are rock climbers who want to explore caves but don't know the appropriate vertical techniques for caving, and are looking for info.

Not all of them post their questions. In fact, lots of them don't. And plenty of google searches return this board specifically; if you don't believe me, go to google and type "spectra cowstail" into the box.

I don't care what you do, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean, if you don't want to wear a helmet, that's your decision. I don't wish you any harm from that decision. I certainly don't agree, and I think there are a hundred reasons to wear one even in terrible caves that don't seem to require it; I've had a sheet of limestone dislodge from the ceiling (a few inches above me) and land on me in a virgin cave, I've slipped on a muddy passage floor (embarrassingly) and banged my helmeted head on the ground as I landed flat on my back, I've stood up quickly and cracked my head on an unexpected low ceiling more times than I can count -- In fact, I did the latter in Tory's Cave in CT, which is about 200 feet of really awful cave that I suspect is similar to what you'd find in Ohio.

Where it crosses a line, however, is when we post on the internet that it's sometimes OK to not wear a helmet. It goes from "personal decision" to "at least some members of the caving community are OK with this." And once we've crossed that line, the rock climber who doesn't wear a helmet sport climbing suddenly feels empowered to go caving without one. The young caver who hasn't scraped together enough cash to buy a helmet feels empowered to go caving without one. That's not OK. That's when I feel the need to step in and say "this is bad advice; please don't follow it," regardless of whether or not the original poster intended it as advice.

And I think we've reached that point here. Jonah, I know you mean well, but... this is bad advice. To those reading now, or next month, or finding this thread in a Google search for "helmetless caving" in 2015: don't go caving without a helmet. Ever. Seriously, don't.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 23, 2013 8:13 pm

I appreciate the point you're making Jeff. Feel free to point out all the bad advice you can. I certainly am in no position to give advice. My intent was to find out how experienced cavers felt about the question. However, people can always find justification for doing what they want. No one ever told me it was ok to go caving without a helmet, for instance. Maybe I'm experiencing a phase of childish rebellion, but the "hobgoblin of little minds" seems to scurry through the spelean Canon. Rightly or wrongly, we don't give people any credit whatsoever to use their brains. I understand that this is to keep them safe, and I certainly wouldn't want anyone to behave unsafely because of something I said.

If someone wants to move this thread to the "registered" section, or delete it entirely, go for it. I learned from it, and that's all I wanted.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Jan 29, 2013 9:56 am

And let's not forget.... You'd Look Hotter in a Helmet :rofl: :grin:


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Unearthly Beauty Lies Underground for those who Venture In!
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby Extremeophile » Jan 29, 2013 10:52 am

Jeff Bartlett wrote:
GroundquestMSA wrote: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.


Allow me to digress a bit, here. There is a point, I promise.

One of my primary concerns about the very existence of cavechat is that the conversations we have here just sit on the internet. Everything we post, unregistered lurkers read. Some of those are new cavers who would like to learn about the sport. Some of those are impressionable young cavers who have been in a cave or three, spelunker-style, and suspect there may be some safety measures they're lacking. Some of them are rock climbers who want to explore caves but don't know the appropriate vertical techniques for caving, and are looking for info.

Not all of them post their questions. In fact, lots of them don't. And plenty of google searches return this board specifically; if you don't believe me, go to google and type "spectra cowstail" into the box.

I don't care what you do, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean, if you don't want to wear a helmet, that's your decision. I don't wish you any harm from that decision. I certainly don't agree, and I think there are a hundred reasons to wear one even in terrible caves that don't seem to require it; I've had a sheet of limestone dislodge from the ceiling (a few inches above me) and land on me in a virgin cave, I've slipped on a muddy passage floor (embarrassingly) and banged my helmeted head on the ground as I landed flat on my back, I've stood up quickly and cracked my head on an unexpected low ceiling more times than I can count -- In fact, I did the latter in Tory's Cave in CT, which is about 200 feet of really awful cave that I suspect is similar to what you'd find in Ohio.

Where it crosses a line, however, is when we post on the internet that it's sometimes OK to not wear a helmet. It goes from "personal decision" to "at least some members of the caving community are OK with this." And once we've crossed that line, the rock climber who doesn't wear a helmet sport climbing suddenly feels empowered to go caving without one. The young caver who hasn't scraped together enough cash to buy a helmet feels empowered to go caving without one. That's not OK. That's when I feel the need to step in and say "this is bad advice; please don't follow it," regardless of whether or not the original poster intended it as advice.

And I think we've reached that point here. Jonah, I know you mean well, but... this is bad advice. To those reading now, or next month, or finding this thread in a Google search for "helmetless caving" in 2015: don't go caving without a helmet. Ever. Seriously, don't.

Very well argued.

I have done many terrible, awful things over the years caving. I've caved solo, with one source of light, without a surface watch, entered a stream cave when rain was threatening, scooped passage without surveying, caved with people I had never met before, trusted fixed ropes and anchors blindly, and even caved without a helmet. I survived all of these Darwin Award candidate moments through luck alone. Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from years of bad judgement. There is a clear consensus from the caving community that not wearing a helmet is bad judgement in every case. Trying to argue otherwise is doing a disservice to those who are less experienced.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby Mike Hopley » Jan 29, 2013 11:35 am

When I remove my helmet in a cave, I tend to feel very slightly on edge. I think this is a good feeling to have: it indicates a deeply embedded awareness of how vulnerable your naked head is in a cave.

There are a few circumstances that I don't wear a helmet:

  • I have to take the helmet off, temporarily, because the passage is too tight
  • I'm swapping batteries, changing clothes, etc.
  • I'm relaxing at underground camp (although this could depend on the camp!)
  • Sometimes when I'm prospecting for cave entrances (I won't descend far, though)
  • I'm at a practice session -- either indoors or on a tree

Even in some of these situations, one could make a good argument for wearing a helmet. For example: you're at an indoor practice session; what happens if someone drops a jammer on your head? Even from just a few metres, that's going to hurt.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby driggs » Jan 29, 2013 3:10 pm

Image

Anyone who caves without a helmet ought to have their head examined.
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby NZcaver » Jan 29, 2013 7:12 pm

Mike Hopley wrote:Even in some of these situations, one could make a good argument for wearing a helmet. For example: you're at an indoor practice session; what happens if someone drops a jammer on your head? Even from just a few metres, that's going to hurt.

A very good point, and this is why for vertical practice sessions I usually insist on the use of helmets for all participants and anybody in the drop zone. :grin:
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Re: Helmetless Caving Poll

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 29, 2013 7:41 pm

I guess the "we gotta protect the internet" argument sets me off.

First, If your google search returns a post in CaveChat and you don't read anymore of the thread, well your obviously predisposed to making ill-informed decisions and doomed to a short brutish life anyway and thats better for the gene pool. In fact, anyone using the internet as a information source (which most of us do nowdays) has learned not to go solely with the first link you see be it looking for a good deal on a TV or how to cook food on your manifold.

Second is the larger issue of "dont have complex discussions because idiots wont understand them" really? Using that logic we could simply put up a single locked post that says "caving is fun, we won't tell you where they are, seek experianced help" and that would be the forum.

Helmetless caving is a prime example of why these discussions should take place. Someone has an idea or question, others offer opinion, special cases and considerations are exposed, and everyone at least has more data on which to base a decision. Those that think you never need a helmet and those that think you should never remove it can certainly hold to their belief...but they can't claim they didn't KNOW any different course of action might be appropriate at some point.
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