Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

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Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby alirenegade » Sep 22, 2011 8:28 pm

Hi there,
I'm wondering what to do if you've done everything wrong...i.e. no one knows you've gone caving and you don't know which way you came from (maybe you're disoriented, maybe you just forget, maybe you were dropped in the middle of a cave by aliens! - point is, you have no way of knowing how you got where you are or how to get out.) What do you do? Are there telltale signs of how to go out? Is there a way to decide which direction to go? I've read that following water up or downstream is a crapshoot - no way consistently leads out.
If you have the option of traveling up or down (regardless of water), would "up" be the way to go, assuming you're underground? Is there a better chance of finding light and an exit in that direction?

Any other thoughts or ideas on what to do if you're lost and you must find a way out?
Thanks!
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby Chads93GT » Sep 22, 2011 10:35 pm

Look for surface debris, and follow the passage "upstream (relative term)" until you find where they are coming from. most cave entrances are accidents, ie collapses. finding your way out in such a situation will be an accident as well.

As for wandering in a cave and simply getting lost..........pay better attention. Its hard to get lost if you actually pay attention to where you are going and make a mental picture of intersectoins, markers, and uh....foot prints ;)
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby Marduke » Sep 22, 2011 11:08 pm

And most importantly, don't go into a hole where someone doesn't know to eventually go in after you.
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby Stridergdm » Sep 22, 2011 11:19 pm

I would say a lot "depends".

I mean if you're dropped into the middle of say Wind Cave with no idea where you are ("beamed in by aliens"). Well, let's just hope they left you a LOT of supplies.

One cave I was in, we found an entrance simply by pausing and at one point feeling a warm breeze and following it. (Of course that cave had something like 30 or 40 entrances, so we were bound to find one eventually. ;-)

Otherwise, as said, look for debris, or human signs, etc.

Finally of course.. just look around for string and follow that out. Everyone knows that any string you find in a cave will always lead you out. :laughing:
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby DeanWiseman » Sep 23, 2011 3:17 am

alirenegade wrote:If you have the option of traveling up or down (regardless of water), would "up" be the way to go, assuming you're underground? Is there a better chance of finding light and an exit in that direction?

Any other thoughts or ideas on what to do if you're lost and you must find a way out?


Having done "everything wrong" sounds like an abysmal setup in the first place...sort of Sanctum-esque, I believe. Or worse, 127 hours. Try REALLY hard not to do everything wrong... ounce of prevention kind of thing. Just that simple.

But if you insist, then the biggest thing is... patience. I once found myself seriously turned around in Mammoth Cave, where I was scouting out old survey lines ahead of the rest of the survey party, honestly not expecting to get out of shouting distance. :doh: Got into a room/canyon complex with passages going in every direction, and survey lines all over the place. Trouble. The key for me in that exceedingly rare situation was to simply calm down, sit down, and work backwords in terms of the motions I went through (climb up, cross a room, down left, through a crawl, stand up) to get to that particular spot, and just work it out. If you're truly lost, there's no point in burning a lot of energy and wasting time bouncing off the walls only to find yourself dealing with the same problems (or more) than you had before you began panicking.

But to answer your question a bit more directly in terms of a hard-and-fast rule... if you were THAT lost, it implies that you are exploring a truly massive cave system. Wind and airflow, maybe. :shrug: But a rule-of-thumb like "follow the water" doesn't mean jack in a complex hypogenic cave (like Lechuguilla), or a lava tube cave complex. I, for one, would consider using an environmentally-minded, removable route-flagging system in such cases==> Back to my first statement about prevention: Flagging tape, or little reflector thingys (I've seen popsicle sticks with reflector tape applied to them).

Good luck... you'll need it. :tonguecheek:


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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby Cody JW » Sep 23, 2011 7:39 am

One simple thing that most cavers know is if you are in a cave and come to an intersection is to look at it from the opposite direction as you are coming in ( like you are going out) because sometimes an intersection or level change can look different depending on the direction you approach it. Or sometimes you are walking down a large passage and need to go into a smaller passage or climb up or down into a smaller passage when the large passage continues we normally set a small rock pile (carin) to mark the spot. I have noticed in my 30 years of caving that some people are good with directions and some people are not. Do not get in a hurry and take time to pay attention to any turns or climbs . Also most oragnized cavers have access to maps and will have some kind of idea as to how complex a cave will be before going in. Always leave a responsible person above ground a note as to what cave you plan to go and what your planned time frames are and who to call if you are late. Also it is a good idea to call that person when everybody is out of the cave so if you get tied up going home they will not call out a rescue when a rescue is not needed. Most cave rich areas of The US have trained cave rescue teams in that area but these teams can only legally go when the local agency in charge directs them to go, these agencys in charge can differ from area to area. The best thing to do is if you are new to the sport find a local NSS grotto and go to their meetings and go with people who know what they are doing , most groups will welcome new members.
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby LukeM » Sep 23, 2011 8:57 am

Just follow the arrows. Arrows always lead out...or was it in? :rofl:
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby self-deleted_user » Sep 23, 2011 12:04 pm

Use a go pro and record everything off the back of your helmet and reverse to follow it out :P

Arrows are supposed to lead out I thought...but I've seen arrows in Howard's Waterfall and Pettijohn that...I have no clue where they go to LOL
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby Marduke » Sep 23, 2011 12:37 pm

LukeM wrote:Just follow the arrows. Arrows always lead out...or was it in? :rofl:


They always lead the "direction you want to go", whatever that may be.

Works fine until you come across a double ended arrow...
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby Stridergdm » Sep 23, 2011 2:06 pm

Marduke wrote:
LukeM wrote:Just follow the arrows. Arrows always lead out...or was it in? :rofl:


They always lead the "direction you want to go", whatever that may be.

Works fine until you come across a double ended arrow...


Hey, some people go both ways. Nothing wrong with that.
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby agosnell » Sep 25, 2011 12:43 pm

I have been in caves that the out arrow was pointing in, and the in arrow was pointing out. I can imagine someone thought it funny.
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby wendy » Sep 25, 2011 3:26 pm

LukeM wrote:Just follow the arrows. Arrows always lead out...or was it in? :rofl:


green arrows for out and red arrows for in :rofl:
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby self-deleted_user » Sep 25, 2011 3:40 pm

Stridergdm wrote:
Marduke wrote:
LukeM wrote:Just follow the arrows. Arrows always lead out...or was it in? :rofl:


They always lead the "direction you want to go", whatever that may be.

Works fine until you come across a double ended arrow...


Hey, some people go both ways. Nothing wrong with that.


Definitely!

I don't think I've seen a double-ended arrow in a cave ever. I want a photo now!
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby Marduke » Sep 25, 2011 7:54 pm

Sungura wrote:I don't think I've seen a double-ended arrow in a cave ever. I want a photo now!


BS, I showed you one in Limrock in the Raceway!
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Re: Lost in Cave - No Idea Way Out

Postby self-deleted_user » Sep 25, 2011 9:17 pm

Marduke wrote:
Sungura wrote:I don't think I've seen a double-ended arrow in a cave ever. I want a photo now!


BS, I showed you one in Limrock in the Raceway!


OH RIGHT! :doh: yup now I remember it. sorry! :sad:

...guess that means I don't remember Limrock well enough and we should go again :woohoo:
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