An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

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An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 24, 2012 1:26 pm

The purpose of this tale is not to encourage bad behaviour or unsafe practices. The NSS and its members proclaim the message of safety loudly and persistently. Listen to them.
My intention is to gauge the reactions of fellow cavers to the sins I committed Wed. afternoon. If you read this, try to seperate yourself from the conditions that you normally cave in, and think about my circumstances. I ask this because it is my intention to eventually publish a complete report on the caves of my county, and I intend to include narratives that describe my trips and photos that reveal our attire. I want to know if these will portray me as a irresponsible, dangerous, disrespectful idiot, or if cavers in general have the ability to make reasonable judgements based on individual situations.

After looking at topo maps, I picked a previously unchecked area with features similar to those where several other local caves are located. Clad in jeans and cotton shirt, I headed that way. I very responsibly obtained permission from a major landowner to walk his property. We found numerous surface sinks and checked them all with no results until we reached the property line. There, of course, I saw just across the fence, the most promising sinks of the day, which I promptly stepped over to have a look into. One of these yielded a tiny entrance among a pile of sticks and leaves. So after digging the junk out of the way, in we went, (I and another anonymous fiend) with one Energizer headlamp strapped to each of our helmetless noggins, and pretty pink glowsticks as station markers. The cave was of typical Ohio extent, 99 virgin feet, 9 virgin inches. We took 2+ hours to survey, though, since it was a very challenging little thing. Great fun was had, including wedging our way along the ceiling in 15' canyon passage, squeezing through impossible cracks on my side with a cold compass in my armpit, rounding a bend with my head to the floor to come face to face with considerable deposits of furry turd, and using the lone bat we saw as a station (we didn't disturb the little creature). We made it out alive, and reported to both the fellow who gave us permission and the jovial vicim of our tresspassing, who was tickled to learn that he was a cave owner. The only really non-typical part of this trip was the lack of backup lighting. I usually carry two lights.

I ask you for your thoughts. Would you allow me to join your caving trip if I asked? Would you assume that I always wear jeans? That I am always unprepared, unsafe, or unwise? I personally feel that my methods are entirely appropriate for the area I cave in. And I'm accomplishing a lot. Since last spring, we have finished 18 original surveys, 7 of them of virgin cave. To present a respectable report to the caving community, though, must I strictly adhere to the very sound and practical (but in my case restrictive) guidelines set forth for general caving safety?
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby BrianC » Feb 24, 2012 2:54 pm

That is how it happened for many years before quality equipment and standards have been adopted. It is good that you reached the proper land owner and claimed what you did. Fortunate he was ok with it. I feel strongly that you have been doing this long enough to carry with you the proper attire and safety equipment. Jeans are great in that area, as long as you don't see much water, then poly would be good.
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby BrianFrank » Feb 24, 2012 3:10 pm

You can join my team anytime! I think if we were honest many on this forum would have taken the same devastating actions that you did.
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All TAG cavers join http://www.SCCI.org. A small price for a GREAT resource.
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby David Grimes » Feb 24, 2012 5:13 pm

I would assume the overwhelming majority of cavers have decided to "have a peek" at that new hole they found while out hiking or ridgewalking without proper gear (helmet, backup lighting, etc). I am guilty of it, especially on my own property. I have spent countless hours walking through the woods behind my house checking all the valleys and sinks for signs of a cave, I usually only carry a single bright headlamp and maybe a handheld flashlight. I generally wear jeans and a t-shirt while walking my property looking for caves. If I came across a small entrance while looking around I would definitely have a look inside, I might limit the extent if I am by myself but with a partner I would probably spend a little time exploring.

As for proper attire, I don't think there is universal proper caving attire. Some caves I have worn jeans and a t-shirt, these caves were all dry and mostly walking passage. I have seen cavers wear everything from shorts to coveralls to wetsuits (depending on the cave). Personally I have worn dress clothes while bouncing a small pit near my property line with my brother-in-law, he was wearing shorts. That cave is just a small pit and you can easily keep from getting dirty while entering and exiting the cave.
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 24, 2012 7:12 pm

David Grimes wrote:Personally I have worn dress clothes while bouncing a small pit near my property line


Bravo!
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby SuckinOnSodaStraws » Feb 25, 2012 8:09 pm

I had a similar problem when I had the same idea of creating a book and using pictures from the first few cave trips. I'm definitely no saint when it comes to proper cave attire. But the only reason I would have a problem being pictured seemingly "unequipped" is if the cave I was pictured in/near truely called for proper gear.

I have been on and off again about wearing my cave suit, I always push my batteries to the final drop of juice. I rarely have 3 ready sources of light, seeing as I could exit most of these caves in total darkness (which is fun to do in stable, formationless caves).

If it really worries you a bit, just go back and get some "mock" photos of the trip...

I like to say, my 3 sources of light are: Lowe's, Walmart and the internet.

Save my photon blasters for Lech... :)
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby batrotter » Feb 25, 2012 9:27 pm

I smoke a pipe. So many times the pics of me, I have a pipe in my mouth. Not so PC, according to the anti-smoking nazis and other PC type jerks. I say do what you want and to hell with all these doogooders trying to tell you what the official caving uniform is supposed to be.
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby SuckinOnSodaStraws » Feb 27, 2012 9:32 am

batrotter wrote:I smoke a pipe. So many times the pics of me, I have a pipe in my mouth. Not so PC, according to the anti-smoking nazis and other PC type jerks. I say do what you want and to hell with all these doogooders trying to tell you what the official caving uniform is supposed to be.


Ah-men.
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby BrianC » Feb 27, 2012 9:35 am

batrotter wrote:I smoke a pipe. So many times the pics of me, I have a pipe in my mouth. Not so PC, according to the anti-smoking nazis and other PC type jerks. I say do what you want and to hell with all these doogooders trying to tell you what the official caving uniform is supposed to be.


At least protect your friggin noggin, or suffer the agony! As far as 100 foot caves, you hardly get into twilight, but a good source of light will help protect yourself as well as the cave.
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 27, 2012 6:41 pm

BrianC wrote:At least protect your friggin noggin, or suffer the agony! As far as 100 foot caves, you hardly get into twilight, but a good source of light will help protect yourself as well as the cave.


I'm normally able to refrain from pounding my head into the rocks. I have a helmet. I use it when on rope or when climbing, especially around loose rocks.
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Re: An afternoon in the life of a convicted spelunker.

Postby SuckinOnSodaStraws » Feb 28, 2012 5:26 pm

After about 5 hours of caving, I stopped at a spot I thought I could squeeze and took my helmet off. I put the helmet through first, but it was a bit too tight for me. When I went to grab my helmet, off it rolled. Luckily the small squeeze was underneath an easily passible breakdown boulder if you climbed over it. Unfortunately I forgot about the 5' ceiling. Yep, I bashed my head the ten seconds my helmet was off. And I'm sure a few of you know about those real nice goose-eggs and drawing a bit of blood. I am definitely all for proper gear.

Ware yer safetee hats.
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