A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

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A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby BillRigg » Aug 11, 2017 12:15 pm

Hey all! I have to say first and foremost, holy crap, cave diving seems terrifying. :yikes:

I wanted to ask however, is it really as scary/dangerous as it seems? I've read a little online that says if you follow protocol and are trained properly its statistically unlikely to die while cave diving, and yet I hear about fatalities and the danger of it. Is it really the "deadliest extreme sport in the world"?

That's a problem for me, as I want to explore and map out caves and I know there will be sumps in those caves. Rather than get turned around, I'd love to add this skill to my repertoire, but lord is it intimidating.

Any tips or info at all for someone considering adding cave diving to his spelunking experience? How would one get started in this regard - doing normal scuba dives, I suppose?

And, on a sidebar, I'm surprised there aren't remote drones that you can use for something like this. Wouldn't that be much safer? I guess the remote connection is an issue with so much rock potentially between you and the drone.
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Re: A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby chac » Aug 11, 2017 1:07 pm

Hi Bil,

Are you a trained SCUBA Diver? If so, I would suggest you have a lot (300+) of open water dives under your belt before participating in a cave diver training program. The initial cave diver training programs just prepare you to make informed decisions about proper equipment, dive planning procedures, emergency procedures, navigation in underwater caves, etc. Diving sumps in dry caves is a highly specialized activity. Yes there are occasions when people get in over their head in cave diving. Education exposes you to the problems encountered in caving and cave diving.

There are a number of cave diving books in the NSS bookstore, the Cave Diving Section of the NSS bookstore (or on Amazon web site for that matter). First, spend some time to absorb the best dry cave practices, advice and training you will get from your grotto or personal experience. You will learn a lot more about caves in a shorter period of time if you find a grotto or good mentors. You will start to collect good caving habits. Having a tool chest full of good underground habits and knowledge is essential. Learn about the dry caves first, then check out cave diving scene if this still excites you. If you want to map and explore, the caves will always be there. Stay excited!

Jim
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Re: A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby BillRigg » Aug 13, 2017 7:04 pm

Thanks for the tips and encouragement, Jim! I'm going to do exactly that - start with the dry caves. I'm just trying to get a full perspective on some of the places I might need to go in my later cave experiences. I am curious though if there are any drones on the market for underwater cave exploration - if not it could be a good investment, as I could see that being useful and saving lives.
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Re: A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby chac » Aug 13, 2017 7:59 pm

Hi Bill,

Yes there are underwater drones so to speak. Bill Stone and collaborators have built AI (artificial intelligence) probes programed to do tasks in many environments. These probes have collected all sorts of data in caves and in the frozen lakes of Antarctica. Start with the below concerning his "drones":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zacaton

Have fun!.

Jim
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Re: A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby FW » Aug 14, 2017 5:36 am

I am not so sure 300 open water dives are necessary. I have been cave diving for over 40 years, and I have less than 250 open water dives. The most important thing is that you are comfortable in the water. Most training agencies require a minimum of 25 open water dives. While I don"t think that is enough, you wouldn't really need 300+, if you are comfortable in the water.

If you plan to do sump diving, you need to pick an instructor that has done some sump diving. They are rare, so when you get serious, PM me, and I will tell you which instructors have done sump diving.

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Re: A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby Squirrel Girl » Aug 16, 2017 4:25 pm

After being a dry caver for many, many years, I went into cave diving. I went straight from open water scuba into rebreather cave diving. It wouldn't consider it ideal, but it can be done. You need a very healthy respect for all that can go wrong, and you need a healthy respect for not destroying the cave through bad techniques.
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Re: A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby Squirrel Girl » Aug 16, 2017 4:28 pm

(Stupid website is broken and I can only post very short messages)
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Re: A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby Squirrel Girl » Aug 16, 2017 4:28 pm

One thing you need to consider. I estimated it takes about $10,000 to become a cave diver. You can skimp a little, but I don't recommend it. The equipment and training is there to save your life. If you are involved in a project that has group gear that can help, but it's also really good to have your own equipment and get really comfortable with it.
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Re: A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby Squirrel Girl » Aug 16, 2017 4:28 pm

Though some dry cavers are stopped when they come to sumps, it doesn't really happen that often in the US.
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Re: A Newbie asks about Cave Diving

Postby BillRigg » Aug 24, 2017 4:56 pm

Interesting - thanks for the replies everyone!
FW, I will be getting in touch - it just might take a few years of dry caving first to fortify my spirits! :P

And thanks Squirrel Girl, I did figure there was a large price barrier. I wouldn't want to skimp at all - far too risky to be cutting corners. The sheer scope of the threat scares me quite a bit, but I've always been comfortable in the water and I don't want a cave exploration to get halted by a sump, so I plan to ease myself into that territory over a long period of dry caving and scuba training.
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