The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Post cave-related articles published in the mainstream media here. Please observe copyrights, posting only short excerpts with link to full article.

Moderator: Moderators

The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby Ernie Coffman » Apr 30, 2012 11:29 am

This article, from Alabama, http://blog.al.com/strange-alabama/2012 ... battl.html gives forth with pictures and a story on the differences between spelunkers and cavers. :rofl: We've been saying the same thing for years, right? "Cavers rescue spelunkers" and all sorts of other explanations between the two.
Ernie Coffman
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1145
Joined: Sep 10, 2005 12:07 am
Location: Grants Pass, Oregon
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby PeterFJohnson » Apr 30, 2012 10:37 pm

We have been saying the same thing for years, but I for one vote we give it a rest.

For one thing, the word spelunker is fun to say. And the non-caving general public seems genuinely glad to show that they know the word when you tell them you spend your weekends underground. I tend to cringe a little on the inside everytime I have to pedantically explain to an outsider that we prefer "cavers" instead of engaging their enthusiasm.

And yes, of course there are people who are heading underground with nothing but a $10 flashlight and a case of beer. But despite their sins I think they probably are sticking their head in dark places for the same reasons I am. Which are probably the same reasons people did it 1,000's of years ago - and they had nothing but bare feet and a cane torch. So rather than ostracize non-cavers by using some special code word I would rather engage them with the hopes that maybe they can realize that heading into a cave unprepared and running amok like a bull in a china shop is a bad idea. The alternative, telling them they aren't "real" cavers, is only going to alienate them and make them look at me like some sort of elitist stick in the mud.

So while I certainly can't tell others what to do, I think caving has more shibboleths than it needs. The world can have the word spelunker back.

your skillful spelunker,
User avatar
PeterFJohnson
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 110
Joined: Nov 12, 2010 6:29 pm
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Colorado Grotto + GVKS
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby Ernie Coffman » May 1, 2012 12:29 am

Geeezzz, Peter, I don't recall anyone saying we had to address the differences between "spelunker" and "caver," for yours truly used to be called a "spelunker," also. Then, when we started--don't rightly know when it started--saying that "cavers rescue spelunkers," for that's about what happened in a number of different situations, I guess I must have gotten caught up in that hype, also! No big deal, as you seem to have made it in your thoughts.

You're in a great grotto and in a fantastic part of the U.S. for caving, so...call yourself anything you want to. As for being a "skillful spelunker," I would hope that you'd be a member of the NSS, for that's what most of us are on this CaveChat, and I surely hope that the person involved with the Membership Committee has invited you to be just such a person. By the way, in your message, you indicated that folks are "telling them they aren't 'real cavers,' but I don't believe that's so. The big thing has been those who have gone into a cave with one or two flashlights between a group of five or more individuals...and using those old-fashioned batteries, to boot. Thus, they wear out in a couple of hours and these individuals get into trouble, in various ways, so...that's what it's all about.

By the way, most difficult to teach an old dog a new trick, like you're suggesting. As for all of those shibboleths that you think are in caving, you might want to address them in a fun-type of book for us. We had a caver's restaurant guide going for several years, but it finally went by the wayside, sad to say. It was really pretty cool and definitely worth the $$$ that we put out for one.
Ernie Coffman
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1145
Joined: Sep 10, 2005 12:07 am
Location: Grants Pass, Oregon
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby Mudduck » May 1, 2012 1:54 am

Will this evermore b a touchy subject? :shrug:
I think I can...I think I can...I think I can
Mudduck
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Jan 1, 2008 6:56 pm
Location: Columbus, MS
Name: Bill Reed
NSS #: 60046
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Currently a Lone caver
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby NZcaver » May 1, 2012 3:15 am

I think Peter has a point, and yes this will always be a touchy subject for some.

Overall Kyle Crider's Alabama blog article is reasonably comprehensive and includes good info on conservation, safety, and the cave environment. Just a brief mention of bats, and nothing about WNS (which would have potentially doubled the length of the article and added controversy). The photos are nothing special, but at least they show people having fun safely.

I don't have a problem with explaining caver and spelunker terminology, but I think it could have been done better and less divisively. The title "Cavers vs. Spelunkers: The Battle for Alabama's Underground" smacks of sensationalism to me. It could have been worded much more appropriately with something simple like "Cavers and Spelunkers: Exploring Alabama's Underground." The very first paragraph sets the tone, and I don't think it's the best look for the public face of caving. Simple adjustments could have toned it down, but perhaps I'm over-thinking this. :crazy:

If you think "spelunking" is the proper preferred term for exploring caves, think again. Those who explore caves with proper safety equipment and precautions refer to themselves as "cavers." To a caver, a spelunker is someone who thinks proper caving gear is a six-pack and a handheld flashlight ventures into caves without being adequately prepared. Cavers rescue spelunkers.


I've always found that old "Cavers rescue spelunkers" cliche rather irritating. Of course many of us hashed out all the caver/spelunker stuff previously in this topic and several more going back through the years.

For the casual non-caver reader, I have to wonder if the take-home message is "wow, that sounds cool" or "jeez, those cavers sound like elitist d-bags." :shrug:

Just my 2 cents, of course. :waving:
User avatar
NZcaver
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 6364
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby Dave Luckins » May 1, 2012 4:46 am

NZ Caver wrote: "For the casual non-caver reader, I have to wonder if the take-home message is "wow, that sounds cool" or "jeez, those cavers sound like elitist d-bags."

That's an interesting question. NSS Member Crider's hope, I suspect, was the take-away would be "wow, that sounds cool." Sure there's some hype and it's a bit on the sensational side but the message is basically sound and it sure conveys the enthusiasm we all feel about caves and caving. I vote for cutting him some slack and saying, “nice job.”

We all have different writing styles and approaches, but it’s my sense that Kyle knew his audience and aimed his Blog accordingly.

Dave Luckins, OVP
Dave Luckins
Frequent Poster
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Sep 19, 2005 2:14 pm
Name: Dave Luckins
NSS #: 14010
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Michigan Interlakes Grotto
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby NZcaver » May 1, 2012 5:23 am

Thanks for your input and extra info, Dave.

I agree Kyle did a "nice job" overall and implied so in the first part of my previous post, but I may have soured that a little with my subsequent thoughts on caver vs spelunker rhetoric.

Like you said, perhaps he knows his audience across the internet and most readers will take this in the good spirit it was intended.
User avatar
NZcaver
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 6364
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby trogman » May 1, 2012 6:25 am

PeterFJohnson wrote:We have been saying the same thing for years, but I for one vote we give it a rest.

For one thing, the word spelunker is fun to say. And the non-caving general public seems genuinely glad to show that they know the word when you tell them you spend your weekends underground. I tend to cringe a little on the inside everytime I have to pedantically explain to an outsider that we prefer "cavers" instead of engaging their enthusiasm.

And yes, of course there are people who are heading underground with nothing but a $10 flashlight and a case of beer. But despite their sins I think they probably are sticking their head in dark places for the same reasons I am. Which are probably the same reasons people did it 1,000's of years ago - and they had nothing but bare feet and a cane torch. So rather than ostracize non-cavers by using some special code word I would rather engage them with the hopes that maybe they can realize that heading into a cave unprepared and running amok like a bull in a china shop is a bad idea. The alternative, telling them they aren't "real" cavers, is only going to alienate them and make them look at me like some sort of elitist stick in the mud.

So while I certainly can't tell others what to do, I think caving has more shibboleths than it needs. The world can have the word spelunker back.

your skillful spelunker,


Dittos to the above.
I have said this before as well, but will repeat it here: The 2nd "S" in NSS stands for "Speleological." So if anyone out there really despises the term "spelunker," you might not want to be a part of the NSS. Or see if you can get it changed to NCS (National Cavers Society). I agree wholeheartedly also with NZ's points about the poor wording of the title of the article. We need to get away from worrying so much about semantics and focus on the important stuff- things like safety and conservation.

Trogman :helmet:
User avatar
trogman
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1015
Joined: May 2, 2008 8:35 am
Location: North Alabama
Name: Stephen Brewer
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Gadsden Grotto
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby PeterFJohnson » May 1, 2012 1:45 pm

Ernie Coffman wrote:Geeezzz, Peter, I don't recall anyone saying we had to address the differences between "spelunker" and "caver," for yours truly used to be called a "spelunker," also. Then, when we started--don't rightly know when it started--saying that "cavers rescue spelunkers," for that's about what happened in a number of different situations, I guess I must have gotten caught up in that hype, also! No big deal, as you seem to have made it in your thoughts.


Ernie, I apologize. My response may have overshot my conviction. While I do still stand by what I said, I don't mean to condemn anyone or act fanatically. So if I did, my apologies as I said. I will most likely continue to use caver out of habit, but I think I will start using both if the need comes up.


Ernie Coffman wrote:You're in a great grotto and in a fantastic part of the U.S. for caving, so...call yourself anything you want to.


Was in a great club and area. I have since moved out west but I was fortunate to have started my caving career in a place where there were great people to show me the ropes and caves to do it in. My life hasn't really been the same since. I have however found a good second home in Colorado with the Colorado Grotto

Ernie Coffman wrote:We had a caver's restaurant guide going for several years, but it finally went by the wayside, sad to say. It was really pretty cool and definitely worth the $$$ that we put out for one.


This sounds like a great idea. I have a couple to suggest if you are still taking submissions. I am not sure I am up to the challenge of the shibboleth book, but it would probably make for a good thread.

NZCaver wrote:Of course many of us hashed out all the caver/spelunker stuff previously in this topic


NZ,

That previous thread seems to cover it pretty well so I will go back underground now, if you need me, I will be with my clink-dinkers waiting for the Oompa Loompas(Previous thread reference). Be honest, if I continue to follow your "previous thread" links will I end up in some sort of endless loop paradox? It seems as though every time a topic comes up you post a link to a relevant previous thread and within that previous thread you have a link to a relevant previous thread. I am scared to click too far...
User avatar
PeterFJohnson
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 110
Joined: Nov 12, 2010 6:29 pm
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Colorado Grotto + GVKS
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby NZcaver » May 1, 2012 3:28 pm

PeterFJohnson wrote:NZ,

That previous thread seems to cover it pretty well so I will go back underground now, if you need me, I will be with my clink-dinkers waiting for the Oompa Loompas(Previous thread reference). Be honest, if I continue to follow your "previous thread" links will I end up in some sort of endless loop paradox? It seems as though every time a topic comes up you post a link to a relevant previous thread and within that previous thread you have a link to a relevant previous thread. I am scared to click too far...

Ha! Yes, I've been criticized before for providing too many links to old topics and causing readers to get bogged down in ancient history. :doh: What can I say, I'm a history and research guy. :big grin: It is indeed possible to get stuck in an endless loop paradox without any source of light at the end of the tunnel. The only way out is to accept the darkness around you, and close your browser for a while.
User avatar
NZcaver
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 6364
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby Chads93GT » May 1, 2012 4:06 pm

I think the difference may be that spelunkers dont sit around on the internet, arguing in 10941924 threads, about how stupid cavers are.
User avatar
Chads93GT
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2294
Joined: Jun 24, 2008 1:27 pm
Location: Missouri
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby Mudduck » May 1, 2012 8:19 pm

Chads93GT wrote:I think the difference may be that spelunkers dont sit around on the internet, arguing in 10941924 threads, about how stupid cavers are.

amen
I think I can...I think I can...I think I can
Mudduck
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Jan 1, 2008 6:56 pm
Location: Columbus, MS
Name: Bill Reed
NSS #: 60046
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Currently a Lone caver
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby submassabielle » May 2, 2012 2:10 pm

As someone totally new to caving (not sure if I can justly claim either term for myself yet...), and as someone who frequently comes into contact with the Latin language, I think, from an etymological point of view, this debate is kind of funny. I am not sure from which language the term came into English, but according to Cassel's Latin Dicitionary:
"spelunca, -ae f. a cave or a den"
While there is also the term "specum" which seem to lack the association with the term "den", "cave" is still one of the possible definitions.
Ergo,
"cave"-er = "spelunca"-er / "cave"-ing = "spelunca"-ing
Of course, many a chef wouldn't want to be called a cook...
In any case, I do have to agree that when I mention my interest in caves, people seem very proud of the fact that they know the word "spelunking."
submassabielle
Frequent Poster
 
Posts: 59
Joined: Mar 18, 2012 8:49 pm
NSS #: 63943
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby Jon » May 8, 2012 1:29 am

Hey as long as some are taking offense, so will I. I take offense that commercial cave guide wisdom is that tites hold tight to the ceiling and mites "might reach the ceiling" . You could say that mites might reach the floor. so that is not a valid explanation. The only thing worse is the spelling lesson about "c" for ceiling and "G" for ground. "Mites might trip you" is far easier to remember and makes more sense. :off topic:
User avatar
Jon
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 241
Joined: May 22, 2010 11:29 pm
NSS #: 60164
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Cochise County Cavers
  

Re: The difference between spelunkers and cavers

Postby trogman » May 8, 2012 9:16 am

Jon wrote:Hey as long as some are taking offense, so will I. I take offense that commercial cave guide wisdom is that tites hold tight to the ceiling and mites "might reach the ceiling" . You could say that mites might reach the floor. so that is not a valid explanation. The only thing worse is the spelling lesson about "c" for ceiling and "G" for ground. "Mites might trip you" is far easier to remember and makes more sense. :off topic:


While we are off topic...What is wrong with the "c" for ceiling and "g" for ground method? It always worked for me.

Trogman :helmet:
User avatar
trogman
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1015
Joined: May 2, 2008 8:35 am
Location: North Alabama
Name: Stephen Brewer
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Gadsden Grotto
  

Next

Return to Caves, Caving In The News Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users

cron