Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby graveleye » Oct 30, 2012 7:56 am

I can't imagine not wearing a helmet in a cave. Hell I put a helmet on when I crawl under my house.
I've whacked my head in a cave hard enough that I saw stars even though I was wearing a Petzl Ecrin Roc.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Oct 30, 2012 9:01 am

GroundquestMSA wrote:I'm really not trying to be subversive, I just don't feel that helmets need to protect us from bumping our heads. It isn't that hard to watch where you are going. I wear one when on rope, or when in the company of those who would be otherwise irritated. Ohio caves are indeed made of rocks. They are also mostly crawls. Helmets are a pain in crawls, and how much damage can I do to my own head while crawling? Even if I did have the tendency to whack my head on the rocks, I'd rather have some bumps and scrapes and gashes than always have to mess with a helmet.


No offense intended here, but your above quote makes it clear that you have not done much caving, at all. I consider myself pretty careful, and I always "watch where I am going," and I have had my life saved by my helmet more than once. As you start to do more caving, the sheer amount of time that you spend underground will lead to incidents of head bumping, rocks hitting your helmet, and you will fall, eventually. None of this means you are an unsafe caver, it just happens.

Please start to cultivate safe practices now, and then the gear will be there to help you when you end up needing it. You may not want "to mess with a helmet," but as Scott implies, rescuers (other cavers) do not want "to mess with rescuing you," because you decided to ignore a well-established, basic caving safety practice.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby BrianFrank » Oct 30, 2012 9:10 am

Scott McCrea wrote:
GroundquestMSA wrote:Even if I did have the tendency to whack my head on the rocks, I'd rather have some bumps and scrapes and gashes than always have to mess with a helmet.

You should laminate this quote on a card that you can hand to the rescuer that hauls you out.

I was with an experienced caver who after resting, quickly stood up and thought he was 1' further in front of a rock overhang than he was. He was wearing his helmet and banged his head with full force as he stood up and fell back down seeing stars. That could have been a serious accident. By a careless mistake we can injure our head even when it is not in a tight crawlway. A helmet is always a good idea.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby BrianFrank » Oct 30, 2012 10:24 am

One of the greatest. As in these pics, many of the pics I have seen of Marion O Smith caving, he has a spare light around his neck. If he does it, then it is good enough for me.

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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby ian mckenzie » Oct 30, 2012 12:13 pm

Is Marion caving with four lights? A bit much for pit-bobbing.
I wonder if the three-light-rule was developed when lights and batteries were not so reliable. Two seems reasonable now, except when soloing.
The comment about helmets restricting your vision and height perception leading to more clunks than without are correct, although most cavers agree that a helmet's protective benefits far outweigh their marginal drawbacks.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby BrianFrank » Oct 30, 2012 12:49 pm

ian mckenzie wrote:Is Marion caving with four lights? A bit much for pit-bobbing.
I wonder if the three-light-rule was developed when lights and batteries were not so reliable. Two seems reasonable now, except when soloing.
The comment about helmets restricting your vision and height perception leading to more clunks than without are correct, although most cavers agree that a helmet's protective benefits far outweigh their marginal drawbacks.

I don't know why he has 3 on his helmet other than to light up large rooms or as one goes dead he uses the next one. I have read that many of his cave trips are many hours underground at a time.

But, you can take a dozen clunks on the head with a helmet on, while one good clunk without a helmet on can ruin your day...or life.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 30, 2012 2:45 pm

Anonymous_Coward wrote:No offense intended here, but your above quote makes it clear that you have not done much caving, at all. I consider myself pretty careful, and I always "watch where I am going," and I have had my life saved by my helmet more than once. As you start to do more caving, the sheer amount of time that you spend underground will lead to incidents of head bumping, rocks hitting your helmet, and you will fall, eventually. None of this means you are an unsafe caver, it just happens.

Please start to cultivate safe practices now, and then the gear will be there to help you when you end up needing it. You may not want "to mess with a helmet," but as Scott implies, rescuers (other cavers) do not want "to mess with rescuing you," because you decided to ignore a well-established, basic caving safety practice.


I'm not offended, compared with you I haven't done much caving at all. I counted up the trips I've done in the past two years a couple of days ago, and I only ended up with about 70. It's important to me to be safe. But the fact that a rule is basic and well-etablished doesn't mean that folks shouldn't be given the dignity to use reasonableness and their own common sense when deciding a course of action. Perhaps I didn't provide enough context. My practices have been shaped by my environment. A typical caving trip, for me, involves hiking the hills and dales until I find an undocumented hole and survey it. A typical cave will be 50' - 500' long, and be 90% crawlway or dig. Let me ask you, why would I carry a helmet on such trips? Is there any reasonable chance that I could be incapacitated in these caves due to my lack of a helmet? A helmet is a real hindrance, in these cases, to easy and conservative travel. I care more about the straws on the ceiling than I do my own scalp.

Scott, your argument is sound. The work that goes into a rescue would be bitter indeed if the rescued was a victim of his own blatant stupidity. Do you think I'll need a rescue from a 98' crawl because I neglected to wear my helmet?

I respect the fact that many have avoided serious injury because they were wearing a helmet. If I had the privilege to meet and cave with you folks in a "real" cave, be sure that I would wear mine. I'm not against helmets, just thoughtless adherence to occasionally pointless laws.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 30, 2012 3:04 pm

BrianFrank wrote:One of the greatest. As in these pics, many of the pics I have seen of Marion O Smith caving, he has a spare light around his neck. If he does it, then it is good enough for me.


Does that mean Wal-Mart Energizers are good enough for you as backup lighting? :big grin:

I've been corresponding with Marion for a couple of years by letter. When I first wrote him, I had no idea who he was, had never heard of him. I saw a picture of him online and was attracted to his obvious disregard for frills. He's put me in contact with more helpful people, suggested more reading, and gave more good, common-sense advice and encouragement than the rest of the caving community combined. I think he's a good example of a fellow who can use his own brain to decide what will work for him instead of doing what everyone else does/says.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby Extremeophile » Oct 30, 2012 3:14 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:
GroundquestMSA wrote:Even if I did have the tendency to whack my head on the rocks, I'd rather have some bumps and scrapes and gashes than always have to mess with a helmet.

You should laminate this quote on a card that you can hand to the rescuer that hauls you out.

The only uses for a helmet are to have some place to mount your light ... and to protect your brain. Not really worth the hassle for some.

I'm a strong proponent of having a second helmet-mounted light for when the primary fails, but believe 3 is overkill. I think there are more comfortable places to carry a 3rd source of light than on the head. I see a lot of people using the elastic band around the neck trick, which is convenient, but I don't really find this comfortable. The 3rd light source is so very rarely needed anymore due to reliable and efficient LEDs that I carry a very small light and bury it deep in my pack. I went to two total sources for a brief period, but got nervous near the end of an 8-day expedition when I found out the backup wasn't working (turned out to be a little corrosion on one of the battery terminals). I didn't like the idea of having to rely on other cavers for something as critical as light so I've grudgingly gone back to 3 sources.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 30, 2012 6:25 pm

The only uses for a helmet are to have some place to mount your light ... and to protect your brain. Not really worth the hassle for some.


Well done Derek. It's good to see that your fine safety habits have preserved your own brain and its ability to formulate these keen insights.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby Amazingracer » Oct 30, 2012 8:35 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:
The only uses for a helmet are to have some place to mount your light ... and to protect your brain. Not really worth the hassle for some.


Well done Derek. It's good to see that your fine safety habits have preserved your own brain and its ability to formulate these keen insights.


It is a very keen insight, people such as yourself have decided that its not worth the hassle. And instead took a me first approach. Way to go dude.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 30, 2012 9:07 pm

Amazingracer wrote: And instead took a me first approach.


I'm sorry, I don't understand this sentence.

Stay calm. I was only picking on Derek a bit for belittling my viewpoint instead of considering the context of my comments. This thread is supposed to be about the all important question of backup light placement. I should have known better than reply. Perhaps I should start a seperate topic in which folks can chide me for my obvious lack of regard for safety.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby Lava » Oct 30, 2012 11:52 pm

I'm of the opinion that two lights should be on the helmet. Numerous times I've had my main light spontaneously fail (mostly back during bulb days :laughing:), and on those occasions it was critical that I had the ability to reach up with one hand and quickly turn on my backup light. Failure is much less likely now that we're all using LEDs, but it's still very much within the realm of possibility. When your light fails you don't want to have to sift through your pack in the dark with one hand while halfway up a sketchy climb.

I'm also of the opinion that the third light should not be on the helmet. I was convinced of this when Andy Zellner told me that he temporarily lost his helmet when he set it down briefly on the balcony of Fantastic Pit, requiring him to crawl around pawing in the dark right next to the sloping edge of a 510' drop! :yikes: The neck is a great place for the third light - if by some horrible flood, fall, or other speleo-catastrophe you lose both your pack and your helmet, that light around your neck will likely still be there.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby BenS » Oct 31, 2012 12:01 am

Personally I have 2 mounted on my helmet and 1 in the pack. I definitely think I will have one around my neck in the future though. 4 lights might be overkill, but even though I trust them all I still would like the extra security. One will definitely be a Princeton Tec Amp 1L just because it could go through any amount of water and still work, plus I have a bottle opener if I want a beer after I get out!
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby graveleye » Oct 31, 2012 8:09 am

I see the merits of having your third around your neck, but I would worry about some freak accident happening and getting strangled more than losing my light.
Unlikely, but in a cave environment, the unlikely can be likely.
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