I'm new to caving, and need some specific advice.

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I'm new to caving, and need some specific advice.

Postby reachrishikh » Jul 30, 2013 3:20 am

Me and a few friends have decided to explore the world of spelunking and caving in December this year. We're all from India, and plan to head toward the Indian state of Meghalaya for a small caving adventure. This is the only place in our country that has caves suitable for the purpose. There are likely to be 4-6 of us (final number yet to be decided).

When I first stumbled upon this website, I thought it was an international website catering to caving enthusiasts and experts from around the world, but after reading through many posts, it's evident that this is more local to the United States.
However, since I searched online for other caving forums a lot, hoping to find any local resources pertaining to India, and couldn't find any caving forum apart from this one, I'm forced to ask my question here -
Is anyone here familiar with the caving scene in India? Has anyone here been caving in Meghalaya? Does anybody know any experienced caver in that region who could agree to be our local guide when we do go there?
Since this is our first time caving, as well as in visiting the state of Meghalaya, we'd need a local guide who knows both - the lay of the land; as well as knows his way around the inside of a cave, what to do, and so on.

My next question is -
What kind of equipment do we need as a bare minimum to enjoy our caving activities? I have been through some threads on this board, and also some other links and resources online, and, to be honest, got quite lost in the whole barrage of gear available (and recommended) for even the most basic of spelunking outings. There are so many items that you're told to carry, and then you have to contend with a hundred different features and variations for each item depending on the particular purpose it may be used for, and when in the end, if at all, you've come to a decision as to which item you want, you have to contend with a thousand different brands to choose from. In the end, all this information-overload was quite overwhelming, so I'm leaving myself at your expert hands for recommendations on basic gear we need, and if possible, any tips on where we can find them in India.
Please note that I prefer not to carry too much gear, I'm a bit more in favor of the natural way of doing things. And the prospect of carrying too much gear which many never even end up being used in a simple trip makes it quite cumbersome to carry them around.
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Re: I'm new to caving, and need some specific advice.

Postby Steven Johnson » Jul 30, 2013 8:24 am

Yes, this tends to be a USA-centric cave forum. I'm sure there are many others focused on other areas of the world but I don't know of any India-centric ones.

Last week, at the ICS 2013 (speleo2013.com) there was a presentation on cave exploration in Meghalaya by an international team. There are fantastic caves there but it's not clear to me how many are suitable for beginners. That said, it's probably worth contacting them to see if they can offer recommendations; I believe their website is at http://indiancaving.org.uk/wiki/doku.php

As to what gear you need... well, that depends on the caves. Are they warm? Cold? Wet? Dry? Will you need ropes + vertical gear to deal with drops and ascents? Is there a significant hike to get to the cave entrance in the first place? How long do you plan to be in the cave? Sorry to be unhelpful, but all of these are critical to recommendations.

(If you have never been caving before, I'd *highly* recommend finding someone who has some experience to take you on a first trip.)

(BTW: most English-speaking cavers tend to avoid the term "spelunking"; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caving#Etymology)

EDIT: Some basic suggestions here: http://caves.org/safety/techniques.shtml
Last edited by Steven Johnson on Jul 30, 2013 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I'm new to caving, and need some specific advice.

Postby trogman » Jul 30, 2013 9:18 am

Steven Johnson is correct, in that there are lot of of variables that will determine the answer to the question "what equipment do I need to go caving." That being said, there are a few items that are bare minimums when it comes to caving safely. 1) Helmet or hardhat with a chinstrap. 2) At least three reliable sources of light, one of which must be a headlight mounted to the helmet. (don't forget extra batteries!) 3) Sturdy clothing, including boots with soles that have good traction. 4) Water, the amount depends on the length of the trip. 5) Food, again the amount depends on the length of the trip.

I have probably forgotten to mention something, but that will give you a starting point.

I wish you and your party success in your quest! Have fun, and cave safely!

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Re: I'm new to caving, and need some specific advice.

Postby reachrishikh » Jul 30, 2013 10:42 am

Hi Steve, and Trogman,
Thanks for your quick responses.

The thing is, I'm not entirely sure about the nature of the caves we're visiting, so can't really be sure about what circumstances we're gonna be facing in there. Which is why I was looking for someone with knowledge about my local region.

We've selected four caves in the region we'd like to explore. Various internet and travel/adventure sites list out the descriptions of these four places -

Krem Lubon
In the Sutnga/Sakhain area (near N25°1708'; E92°2731), situated at the foot of a 30m high waterfall is a resurgence cave Krem Lubon, with an impressive rectangular entrance measuring 16 m wide and 8 m high. The cave entrance hidden behind the waterfall is reminiscent of the legendary 'Phantom Cave'.
The large passage gradually deteriorates in size to pass high level breakdown chambers characterized by unstable boulders before it continues into a wet flat-out crawl. The cave is 687 m in length.

Krem Umthloo
Walk down to the slope from Tongseng village, and reach to a sink which is free climbable and will take you to a very unstable boulder blocking. The downward passage leads to the dream of cavers, of big stream-way passages.
The cave system has numerous entrances of 50 or 60 m deep potholes like Krem Myrliat, Krem Moolale, etc. to a dendritic pattern of stream cave passage, which all resurges at Krem Ticha. It is a magnificent river cave with equally magnificent formations that would leave one spellbound.

Krem Iawe
The cave is situated on a spur protruding from the eastern flank of the Shnongrim-Tangnub Ridge into the upper reaches of the Litien valley.
The impressive daylight lit pothole entrance, measuring 10 by 15 m wide and 15 m deep, leads to a wet horizontal main passage which in turn leads to a very wet but incredible maze of intricate passages interspersed by orange coloured gours. This entrance pot hole could be avoided by entering through a free climbable slot in a sheltered nook below a leaning boulder at the edge of the pot-hole entrance. The cave has a number of beautiful fossil passages. It is 3398m in length.

Krem Ri-Blai
Today we drive to Wahlong Village (16km) in the south of Cherrapunjee from where we trek for about half hour to Byrong Village where the cave is. Approximately a 10 m free climb down from the entrance of Krem Ri-Blai Cave lies a 12 m vertical drop negotiated by using steel ladders to arrive at a rift passage (a narrow canyon stream way passage), a series of shorter vertical shafts, waterfalls, and chambers, which can be further explored using short safety ropes and rope ladders. It is an ideal cave for beginners interested in vertical caving.

We wanted to do a lot of things inside the caves, including advanced stuff like cave diving and advanced vertical caving, and camping overnight inside one for at least one night, but we decided not to get too ambitious on our first trip, and take it a bit easy. We hope to learn more about caving during this trip, and reserve the advanced stuff for more subsequent caving trips. We're still hoping to be able to camp out in the wilderness near the caves though, instead of sleeping in hotels. The first three caves lie in the same vicinity, and it's a bare hilly terrain, which could be ideal for setting camp. There are several villages nearby where we could get food and supplies.
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Re: I'm new to caving, and need some specific advice.

Postby caverdan » Jul 30, 2013 2:23 pm

Helmet, three sources of light, food and water and a good starting point for required equipment. Small first aid kit helps.....especially if you don't take a helmet. :big grin: (Bloody head wounds are no fun in a cave :doh: )

I believe Squirrelgirl has been to that part of India. You could PM her your questions if she doesn't notice this thread. I know there have been articles in the NSS News before. You can search for back issues on the NSS web site if you are an NSS member. You are more than welcome to join. :banana_yay:

There is a forum in the UK you could try. It's called http://www.ukcaving.com

Good luck in your quest for knowledge. :kewl:
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Re: I'm new to caving, and need some specific advice.

Postby paul » Jul 30, 2013 3:24 pm

I know some British cavers who cave in Meghalaya every February - see http://indiancaving.org.uk/wiki/doku.php. So it would be worth also asking on www.ukcaving.com as already suggested.

Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_research_in_India.
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Re: I'm new to caving, and need some specific advice.

Postby Wormster » Aug 2, 2013 1:41 pm

Hey, welcome friend!

It sounds like you might need the help of the Bristol Exploration Club, we have explored most of the caves that you are interested in. I suggest that you contact our caving secretary, or our librarian, they will be able to help you somewhat.


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Re: I'm new to caving, and need some specific advice.

Postby olde_adventurer » Jan 3, 2014 1:52 am


There are very small groups of cavers in India but yes they can guide and even help you. If you are still interested in some proper caving, then You may like to get in touch with Mr bhushan Poshe on 9820317247 who is the indian dealer for PETZL or Ms Richa Sharma on 9757231648. Most of the tour operators will only lead you to cave tours, which is hardly any real caving.

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