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Vertical Caving in Virginia Area

PostPosted: May 12, 2009 1:06 pm
by rvamutt
Hey guys,

I'm super interested in vertical caving in the VA/WV/NC area and can travel farther with some notice. I think the whole idea of walking or crawling into a cave and exploring sounds cool...but not as cool as dropping a rope and rappelling 100 feet, traversing, etc. I have experience in backpacking, rock climbing (sport lead), and rapelling so I have some gear and knowledge of first aid, wilderness survival, etc.

I don't know how much WNS has messed with this type of caving but if anyone is planning any trips and can take one more I can pay for gas for the trip, can provide a vehicle (Ford Ranger), bring the food, or provide some other form of compensation for letting a noob tag along. Thanks guys!


Re: Vertical Caving in Virginia Area

PostPosted: May 12, 2009 1:53 pm
by Scott McCrea
Welcome to Cavechat!

Where are you? Perhaps your best option would be to hook up with a grotto in your area. They will know where the vertical caves are, have extra equipment for you borrow and show you how to use it.

And, yes, WNS will probably crush your dreams and spirit limit your options.

Re: Vertical Caving in Virginia Area

PostPosted: May 12, 2009 2:15 pm
by rvamutt
I have gone the local grotto option and am in contact with two of them but I'm kind of between cities (I'm a activated military reservist that works in Cheasapeake during the week and travels back to Richmond as much as possible), this making it very difficult to attend meetings. I was hoping someone here would remember when they first did some vertical caving and take pity. I am even willing to travel to SC or GA.

Re: Vertical Caving in Virginia Area

PostPosted: May 1, 2014 12:58 pm
by Caving Guru
White Nosed Syndrome has not messed with vertical caving that much in the Virginia Area Region.

Re: Vertical Caving in Virginia Area

PostPosted: May 1, 2014 6:19 pm
by Stridergdm
I think pretty much any responsible person or group will insist on vetting your vertical skills before taking you on a vertical trip. While rappelling may be the same (note for most caves, cavers use devices other than 8s and the like), ascending is another ballgame. In addition knowing how to do change-overs are critical.

That all said, I'm sure there's a lot of cavers out there like me always willing to take new folks caving and to share the sport.

Re: Vertical Caving in Virginia Area

PostPosted: May 2, 2014 6:14 am
by Caving Guru
I agree that you should get training in vertical caving and should practice as much as possible before you start doing vertical caving. A great place to start learning how to do vertical caving is at the Spring VAR (Virginia Area Region) Field Meet. This is where I was first introduced to vertical caving. There are some very knowledgable people at the Spring VAR on vertical caving. Each Spring VAR, there is a vertical set up with ropes tied up in some trees and there are vertical caving experts who help train people all day Saturday and Sunday morning. In my opinion, learning to ascend and descend on a rope is the easy part but learning how to do a change over is a little more difficult. I trained and practiced doing my changeovers for a long time to make sure I knew I would be able to do a change over if the need arose in a cave. So it wasn't until a year later that I did my first vertical cave. So the DC Grotto, Potomac Speleological Club (PSC), and Battlefield Area Troglodytes Society (BATS) which are all 3 based in the DC area and the Virginia Polytechnical Institute (VPI) Cave Club all have vertical grotto trips at some point in a given year. I am not familiar with the other grottos in the Virginia Area Region. The Spring and Fall VAR Field Meets offer vertical caving trips also. And Stridergdm, rvamutt may already have a lot of experience in caving in general and vertical caving by now for all I know. Rvamutt made the two posts in 2009 so 5 years have past since then.

Re: Vertical Caving in Virginia Area

PostPosted: Jun 11, 2014 1:59 pm
by RedSmurf
Hi! I am a vertical caver in Virginia and am friends with many cavers across the state, ranging from Northern VA to Richmond and about everyone in between. Hopefully some of my response will help get you underground around here a little bit quicker.

1. I am in agreement with several responses prior to mine - a. you should reach out to a grotto (even if you cannot attend meetings) and b. most cavers in the area would probably like to vet you before taking you underground. Cavers use different techniques than climbers and the safety factor is even higher with a cave. Cave rescue is a much more complicated beast and no one wants anyone hurt.
2. Having said that and reading about your location, you should reach out to RASS - Richmond Area Speleological Society. They occasionally do vertical practices by knowledgeable and capable cavers who spend a LOT of time underground. You can reach out to me directly if you want more info.
3. If you are ever in the Northern VA area, the BATS grotto also conducts monthly vertical practices in the area that I am happy to get you more info on as well.
4. If you are willing to go as far as GA, the Dogwood City Grotto and Huntsville Grotto ALSO do vertical practices, but I am not sure when or where. I can find out though. I am friends with people in both groups. Each group is extremely capable of teaching you the basics.

Cavers are very close knit group and are very willing to share their knowledge with others, but we also want to be sure that people are qualified to go underground on rope before we send people blindly rappelling down. No one wants a cave rescue and certainly not a body recovery.

Re: Vertical Caving in Virginia Area

PostPosted: Nov 20, 2014 5:03 pm
by Chief943
Did you ever find a place to do your vertical caving? If you did and you're comfortable with it and want to do project caving I may be able to help. I'm in Highland County.