Why are you mapping caves?

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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby gindling » Feb 12, 2013 10:53 am

I would just like to say that concerning the secrecy of maps and leads, thankfully Thomas Barr and Newell Campbell wrote their respective books on Tennessee and Montana caves chock full of cave maps, descriptions, locations, and leads to be checked out. They were both very instrumental in helping me find caves and karst areas and we still continue to work on the leads and lost caves of Montana through such books. Though the long approaches and downright difficulty in getting to them seems to deter most of the spraypaint zombies in Montana.

After rediscovering the connection between Green Fork Falls Cave and Kathy's Icebox after many, many attempts because of the unwillingness of the original explorers to ever turn over their data, Red Watson said,"Now wasn't that so much more satisfying that following someones stupid map?" And, he was right, it was.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby rjack » Feb 13, 2013 1:22 pm

I make cave maps to share my caving interests with friends/family and publish in the grotto newsletter as they see fit. I don't include coordinates to entrances.

Its not illegal to make maps despite NWsurveyor's claim that topographic drawings are strictly the purvey of licensed surveyors. I don't have a PLS or PE stamp and I am not certifying my maps for anything at any time and they serve no legal purpose under the laws cited. The argument that a cave map is bound to legal standards of accuracy is like saying a Ansel Adams photograph shows topography and needs a scale bar and north arrow.

I would not offer to share maps with anyone I spontaneously meet on a trail, "rescue certified" or not. They can get miffed or whatever, I would politely tell them I can't share with strangers. They would need to contact and join the grotto for more information about caves and caving.

Its the grotto's role to coordinate with state and provincial rescue teams. That's why grottos have elected representatives speaking on behalf of the caving community. If my grotto's elected board wants to share information with government agencies - rescue or otherwise, they bring it up for discussion with the members and a democratic decision on what information and/or maps to release is decided upon.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby Extremeophile » Feb 13, 2013 9:32 pm

rjack wrote:I would not offer to share maps with anyone I spontaneously meet on a trail, "rescue certified" or not. They can get miffed or whatever, I would politely tell them I can't share with strangers. They would need to contact and join the grotto for more information about caves and caving.

I think this is consistent with the attitude of the vast majority of cavers and cave cartographers. Most are very willing to share cave locations, maps, publications, advice, gear, rides, girlfriends, etc., but some initial relationship building is to be expected. I'm not sure why anyone would think certification, membership, or money automatically entitles you to anything.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby Chads93GT » Feb 13, 2013 9:48 pm

I certainly don't hand over the grotto database to new members just because they paid dues. You gotta earn that.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NWSurveyor » Feb 15, 2013 10:19 pm

rjack wrote:Its not illegal to make maps despite NWsurveyor's claim that topographic drawings are strictly the purvey of licensed surveyors. I don't have a PLS or PE stamp and I am not certifying my maps for anything at any time and they serve no legal purpose under the laws cited. The argument that a cave map is bound to legal standards of accuracy is like saying a Ansel Adams photograph shows topography and needs a scale bar and north arrow.
I apologize if I came across stating that it was illegal. I guess what I meant to do was just ask if anyone was aware of it being an issue. I'm just curious - looking at it from my land surveying background...

rjack wrote:I would not offer to share maps with anyone I spontaneously meet on a trail, "rescue certified" or not. They can get miffed or whatever, I would politely tell them I can't share with strangers. They would need to contact and join the grotto for more information about caves and caving.
I feel like most folks posting here are less than familiar with the MRA. In hind sight it makes sense since this is a cave forum. All I can really speak to is how things operate in my little corner of the world. There aren't many cave rescues, but the ones I'm aware of were performed by MRA teams. I tried to explain the process earlier in this thread. I could have done more to foster that Grotto / rescue team relationship. I did reach out a few more times, but I didn't join the Grotto. I'm sure that would have helped... When you get into trouble in the mountains, you pray for MRA teams out here.

rjack wrote:Its the grotto's role to coordinate with state and provincial rescue teams. That's why grottos have elected representatives speaking on behalf of the caving community. If my grotto's elected board wants to share information with government agencies - rescue or otherwise, they bring it up for discussion with the members and a democratic decision on what information and/or maps to release is decided upon.
Is it possible that what you refer to as State rescue teams could be the same as the MRA teams I've mentioned. Since mountaineering is prevalent here, these teams are primary, where in less mountainous areas, different rescue organization would be necessary. I'm just asking... I can understand how a Grotto might think it's odd that an MRA team would ask for help with cave maps.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby Aaron Addison » Feb 18, 2013 8:54 am

NWSurveyor wrote: I can understand how a Grotto might think it's odd that an MRA team would ask for help with cave maps.


Then surely you can understand why cavers might think it is odd that the MRA community feels compelled to get into the cave rescue business when there are already local grottoes with the resources and experience to conduct the rare cave rescue.

MRA could reduce their cave gear stash to just a couple of phone numbers.

Why the need to reinvent the wheel?

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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NZcaver » Feb 18, 2013 8:56 pm

Aaron Addison wrote:
NWSurveyor wrote: I can understand how a Grotto might think it's odd that an MRA team would ask for help with cave maps.


Then surely you can understand why cavers might think it is odd that the MRA community feels compelled to get into the cave rescue business when there are already local grottoes with the resources and experience to conduct the rare cave rescue.

MRA could reduce their cave gear stash to just a couple of phone numbers.

Why the need to reinvent the wheel?

Because grottos are caving groups, not rescue groups. :doh:

I've mentioned this previously (and so has NWSurveyor), but the picture obviously didn't come through clearly. So I'll try again.

Rescue groups are made up of employees and/or volunteers who are part of (or formally affiliated with) the federal, state or local Authority Having Jurisdiction for SAR/EMS etc response in any given area. These trained/certified teams interface directly with local agencies and speak the same language. When an incident occurs, most agencies don't suddenly contact random groups for help - even if they are a Super Grotto who have all attended NCRC training.

But on the flip side... if a grotto would like to be a resource in the event of a cave rescue, I suggest they make an effort to liaise with local agencies and recognized rescue groups before an incident occurs. This means exchanging information, talking about maps and pre-planning, and perhaps even putting together some cave training. I've been helping facilitate this type of thing in various places around the US for a while now, so I've got a pretty good feeling for it.

So no... I don't really think it's odd that an MRA group would want to obtain maps for caves in areas where they are responsible for mountain and other wilderness rescues. However I also don't think it's odd that the local grotto did not immediately comply. These things usually require the mother of all grotto discussions, consulting with the map-maker, talking with landowners/managers, etc, etc. As this forum discussion so aptly demonstrates.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby Aaron Addison » Feb 18, 2013 10:04 pm

right. and mountain rescue groups are not cave rescue groups.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NZcaver » Feb 18, 2013 10:05 pm

Aaron Addison wrote:right. and mountain rescue groups are not cave rescue groups.

I can name at least a couple that are. And one of them is right there in Oregon. Douglas County Mountain Rescue.

Care to try pitching another one? You seem to be on a roll with all this expert talk.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby Aaron Addison » Feb 18, 2013 10:35 pm

NZcaver wrote:I can name at least a couple that are. And one of them is right there in Oregon. Douglas County Mountain Rescue.

Care to try pitching another one? You seem to be on a roll with all this expert talk.



....and there are grottoes that focus on cave rescue. Bloomington Grotto in Indiana comes to mind. There are several others, especially in the TAG region.

When it comes to expert speak, you seem to have everyone covered....Professional Land Surveying, rescue, topographic mapping laws, and now we can add grotto composition and cave rescue training--->

NZcaver wrote:Because grottos are caving groups, not rescue groups.


NZcaver wrote:I've been helping facilitate this type of thing in various places around the US for a while now, so I've got a pretty good feeling for it.


The running theme in your logic seems to be that whatever profession or organization you belong to is above cavers and their activities.

I'm sure you will have a rebuttal to this message as you have had to everyone's for the last seven pages, but consider this: EVERY serious cave rescue person that I have known in over 25 years of caving has no trouble obtaining the cave maps that they need for their region.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NZcaver » Feb 18, 2013 11:15 pm

Aaron Addison wrote:....and there are grottoes that focus on cave rescue.

Good point. But in the case of a rescue, members may be called upon by the AHJ because they (presumably) have a pre-existing relationship.

The running theme in your logic seems to be that whatever profession or organization you belong to is above cavers and their activities.

If you meant me personally, you have completely the wrong impression here. I was introduced to rescue through caving, and I'm still first and foremost a caver who belongs to this thing called the NSS. I have connections in the rescue community but I am not a current member of any recognized rescue response group primarily because I never stay in one place long enough.

but consider this: EVERY serious cave rescue person that I have known in over 25 years of caving has no trouble obtaining the cave maps that they need for their region.

That's excellent news, but in my 25 years of caving I can recall a number of incidents where the outcome was at least partially delayed or impeded due to lack of access to (or existence of) good cave maps. A couple of mapping projects I've been involved with were primarily initiated so the public lands manager/agency has good maps available in the event of (more) rescues. Hopefully this might explain why I've been arguing some of these points.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 19, 2013 2:38 am

NZ-While it isn't going to keep me from a rebuttal, I'm glad you edited out the goofy comment about the inadvisability and illegality of "Bubba caver's" attempt at rescue. Of course I can imagine that there are times when untrained people aren't qualified to rescue someone just because they are cavers. But to suggest all individuals lacking an official title or even rescue training should refrain from performing a rescue is a bit much. By that logic, a self rescue would be innapropriate, and dozens of cavers would be stuck in caves for much longer than needed. Even when there are rescue teams put in place to moniter a certain area, I'd much rather see Bubba caver show up to give whatever help he could, than sit for extra hours unassisted. I know that serious mistakes can be made during a rescue, especially by untrained cavers, and that some of those can kill you. But there are lots and lots of kinds of rescues, and many of them are within the scope of Bubba's abilities. If they aren't, I trust Bubba to sit tight and keep me company while waiting for more qualified help.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NZcaver » Feb 19, 2013 3:12 am

GroundquestMSA - after I wrote that comment I re-read what I was replying to and realized I was heading off on a tangent, so I removed it. Sorry for the confusion.

I was referring to Bubba being called out by other cavers and attempting to mount a rescue operation without the involvement of appropriate local authorities. This would generally be a bad thing. What you may have missed was my comment about the Good Samaritan clause if Bubba happens upon somebody in need of help and offers to assist within the scope of his abilities. Subtle difference. Assisting a member of your own party to exit a cave (aka 'self rescue') is also subtly different. Hopefully that makes sense?

Note - I mean no disrespect to anybody named Bubba or anybody who thinks I am making derogatory insinuations by using that name. I picked up the term "Bubba caver" from your fellow American cavers and cave rescuers who occasionally use it in this context. I only recently discovered that Bubba is originally a southern term of endearment meaning brother. Amazing what you can learn from other cavers.
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