ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

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ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby ek » Apr 1, 2008 10:53 am

Well, I thought today would be a good day to bring up an idea that I've been mulling over for a long time.

Truth is, humans should stop caving altogether. It's inefficient. We're big!

Instead, we should be focusing our energies on training smaller critters--specifically, weasels and ferrets, to cave for us. With helmet cams, we can see what they see. With advance simulation technology, we can feel what they feel. But they can go in such smaller spaces!

In the northeast, this would probably increase the total explored passage length of many caves by a factor of 10!

For the rest of this post, I am going to focus on weasels, but what I am saying applies equally well to ferrets. Perhaps other small animals as well!

I am posting this in the Equipment Forum because the replacement of human cavers with weasels--which is, if you really think about it, inevitable--will spawn a new ultralight gear revolution.

How thick would the ropes need to be? Would 3mm cord work? Monofilament fishing line? Would rescue teams made up by and for weasels be able to use 10.5mm rope instead of 11mm? How thick does a rope need to be to withstand a factor-1 fall of a weasel's body mass, and produce under whatever the peak impact force is that hurts weasels?

What climbing system would best suit weasels? How would it be constructed? What processes would be used to machine weasel-sized ascenders?

What is the best cave pack for a weasel? Perhaps SWAYGO will come up with a waterproof weasel pack that starts at the size suitable for a small human and rolls down to fit a weasel! Then at least small people can still feel like they are useful in a cave, for another few years, before weasels and ferrets take over altogether.

What should a weasel pack in his/her pack? How much water? How much food? How much webbing or cord for handlines? What should go in a weasel first aid kit? What kind of closures for packs and first aid kits could a weasel operate? Can weasels be trusted with knives, or do we need to build weasel-sized EMT scissors?

How thick does a wetsuit for weasels need to be? Weasels could do so much more low-airspace passage than humans...

Assuming a weasel can get certified for cave diving, and we figure out the decompression tables for weasels, there are still other issues to consider. Even with reduced-size gear, I think that there would, comparatively, be considerably more "dead air space" than for humans, which might make it difficult for weasels to breathe normally. Is Hogarthian style--breathing the long hose--workable for weasels? Well, if not, then that's not a suitable alternate air source for the weasel's buddy either, now is it? Finally, someone has to train these critters--but you can plainly see, if a weasel and a human go cave diving together, and you calculate when they have to turn back so that either has enough air to supply the other, they will have to turn back almost immediately due to the weasel's considerably smaller tank!

Still, the inevitable force of history and various other similar concepts are pushing forward small critters as the future of caving, making humans obsolete. We can either be obsolete and jump on this bandwagon, helping to prepare the world for weasel cavers, or we can not jump on the bandwagon and just be obsolete and pathetic. Therefore, I call on the entire caving community to join in this effort. Let's talk about gear, and how it needs to be different. Let's see if we can brainstorm the foundation for some new international standards.
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby chaz » Apr 2, 2008 9:15 pm

I'm a mole in a hole an I like it that way!
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby Squirrel Girl » Apr 3, 2008 7:05 pm

Well, there is a caver in TAG named "Sleazeweasel"
:big grin:
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Apr 3, 2008 7:11 pm

There's also CaveRat too. :big grin:

If this were serious I'd recommend Ferrets instead of weasles. But then again ... once you send that little animal into a crawl too tight for humans... how are you going to control it. Intelligent as they may be you still can't get them to do exactly what you want them to do. Same with getting them to LOOK where you want them to look. They may go after those tasty blind crawfish or cave blindfish, or salamander(s) and have a nice snack. Way to go.
Go the Skynet route... make a smart mobile robot on tank treads to move about and go where you want them to go, to point the camera where YOU want it pointed.
Cute as those animals are... well, just not practical.
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby Squirrel Girl » Apr 3, 2008 8:54 pm

SQUIRRELS! They'd do the trick! Except it might be hard to convince them that headlights would make it good for them to explore far into the dark.
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby ek » Apr 3, 2008 10:20 pm

CUTENESS IS ALL THAT MATTERS!

Actually this reminds me of an unentertained argument for use of the double figure eight (a.k.a. Mickey knot, after Mickey Mouse) instead of a figure-eight on a bight, even when only one loop is really needed. The cuteness factor!

If weasels, ferrets, and squirrels are going to be the cavers of the future, we should make sure to use the CUTEST RIGGING POSSIBLE. There should be a UIAA standard for this.
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Apr 4, 2008 10:07 am

ek wrote:CUTENESS IS ALL THAT MATTERS!

Actually this reminds me of an unentertained argument for use of the double figure eight (a.k.a. Mickey knot, after Mickey Mouse) instead of a figure-eight on a bight, even when only one loop is really needed. The cuteness factor!

If weasels, ferrets, and squirrels are going to be the cavers of the future, we should make sure to use the CUTEST RIGGING POSSIBLE. There should be a UIAA standard for this.

Right, they can use a harness to wrap around a tree for an anchor.
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby NZcaver » Apr 4, 2008 11:18 am

Squirrel Girl wrote:SQUIRRELS! They'd do the trick! Except it might be hard to convince them that headlights would make it good for them to explore far into the dark.


ek wrote:CUTENESS IS ALL THAT MATTERS!

All this talk reminds me of army squirrel! Now we just need to dress some of these guys for caving... :big grin:

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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby ek » Apr 4, 2008 11:52 am

Ralph E. Powers wrote:Right, they can use a harness to wrap around a tree for an anchor.

Perhaps this harness.
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby hunter » Apr 4, 2008 1:31 pm

I think this discussion is totally flawed! If your going for efficiency then weasels are the wrong way to go. Scroll up a bit on the main board index and the answer is obvious in one of the sections. Bats are a much better solution for the following reasons:

1) They are cute (sort of)

2) Some are already cavers (no retraining needed)

3) No headlamp needed, although an IR bat cam would be cool.

4) No rigging needed

Hmm, now that I think about it putting tiny tracking devices on bats would be a way to locate caves. Just watch where they go and investigate convergence points...

Along the same lines we should clearly replace people in cave diving. All you really need is some sort of trained fish. Then instead of carrying a pile of tanks all you need is one fish tank to carry the team in. Not only that but a fatality would be an excellent excuse for a cookout.
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby cavemanjonny » Apr 4, 2008 1:46 pm

ek wrote:If weasels, ferrets, and squirrels are going to be the cavers of the future, we should make sure to use the CUTEST RIGGING POSSIBLE. There should be a UIAA standard for this.


In that case, I guess a butterfly would be the only acceptable knot to use.
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Re: ultralight gear: weasels will replace humans as cavers

Postby YuccaPatrol » Apr 9, 2008 10:23 am

I hope weasels never replace cavers because they have already stopped all other discussion in this equipment forum. . . . .very sad for a gear-head like me. . . . :shrug:
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