How many trips do cavers make annually?

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How many trips do cavers make annually?

Postby ohiocaver » Dec 19, 2019 10:09 am

Does anyone have a figure, based on some solid information, on how many trips underground cavers make in a year? Did NSS ever do a study or survey of same?
Or does anyone have figures that could be used to estimate that number? It could be:
1- Reported trips per caver?
2- Reported trips per grotto?
3- Total estimated trips by all NSS members
4- Total estimated trips by all cavers
5- Other figure.
If someone has a realistic figure based on their grotto’s trips and participation, that would be a great start (i.e., something akin to: Our 50-member grotto had 450 person-trips underground last year).
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Re: How many trips do cavers make annually?

Postby artsmarse » Feb 3, 2020 6:57 am

Compiling any sort of summary figures seems unlikely to be feasible.

Even a solid information source like the records from my (European) caving log are at best potentially misleading. Conclusions drawn from picking any of these years in isolation won't apply to a number of other years and even counting trip numbers tells a different story to looking at trip hours - a few of these years include longer camping trips, which brings the hours up, but most don't. And even if you pick my most regular caving buddies, they won't share more than maybe 20% of trips across the period, so my figures will vary hugely to theirs.

You can export and paste these somewhere and split by the commas to see them in a columnar format.

Year, Count Of Trips, Total Trip Hours, Average Hours Per Trip
2002, 18, 58.5, 3.3
2003, 30, 113, 3.8
2004, 28, 170, 6.1
2005, 32, 135.5, 4.2
2006, 20, 74.5, 3.7
2007, 28, 152.5, 5.4
2008, 25, 109.5, 4.4
2009, 44, 162.25, 3.7
2010, 45, 157.33, 3.5
2011, 43, 161.83, 3.8
2012, 43, 301.16, 7.0
2013, 41, 231.75, 5.7
2014, 41, 157.5, 3.8
2015, 50, 200.08, 4.0
2016, 39, 157, 4.0
2017, 29, 172.5, 5.9
2018, 36, 104.5, 2.9
2019, 53, 235.25, 4.4
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Re: How many trips do cavers make annually?

Postby ohiocaver » Feb 4, 2020 4:16 pm

Thanks - it gives me a great start, some data to add to my findings, and a good baseline. See you underground soon! :clap:
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Re: How many trips do cavers make annually?

Postby artsmarse » Feb 4, 2020 4:36 pm

You are welcome - moral of the story is that you can never start to keep a trip log too early.

Is there something in particular you are looking to achieve with this exercise? I also have access to a handful of different datasets for cavers visiting different project sites, though the only real conclusion they give is that the more cavers that are involved, the more varied the attendance rates appear to be.
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Re: How many trips do cavers make annually?

Postby trogman » Feb 5, 2020 6:15 am

artsmarse wrote:
Year, Count Of Trips, Total Trip Hours, Average Hours Per Trip
2002, 18, 58.5, 3.3
2003, 30, 113, 3.8
2004, 28, 170, 6.1
2005, 32, 135.5, 4.2
2006, 20, 74.5, 3.7
2007, 28, 152.5, 5.4
2008, 25, 109.5, 4.4
2009, 44, 162.25, 3.7
2010, 45, 157.33, 3.5
2011, 43, 161.83, 3.8
2012, 43, 301.16, 7.0
2013, 41, 231.75, 5.7
2014, 41, 157.5, 3.8
2015, 50, 200.08, 4.0
2016, 39, 157, 4.0
2017, 29, 172.5, 5.9
2018, 36, 104.5, 2.9
2019, 53, 235.25, 4.4


I think I see a trend here. :big grin: You have certainly increased your caving with the passage of time. As have I as well.

The other factor for me is that there is actual caving vs. caving-related activities. A lot of days I go ridgewalking, but don't actually find anything that could rightly be called a cave. With the use of LIDAR in the last couple of years, those trips are becoming fewer and fewer, however.

The nature of my cave trips has also changed. I used to do a lot of "tourist" trips into known caves, which would often last anywhere from 3 - 10 hours or more. Nowadays, I mostly explore and survey new caves that I have discovered, most of which (unfortunately) are small and/or short caves. There is an occasional longer and more significant project cave, but those are rare.

If I had to put a number on it for myself in recent years, I'd say that I am doing a caving or caving-related trip ~45 to 50 times a year.

Trogman :helmet:
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Re: How many trips do cavers make annually?

Postby Caving Guru » May 7, 2020 2:22 am

I would say that there is a wide range as to how many caving trips cavers do annually. It depends on how close you are to caves, what kind of physical shape you are in, how much time you have, and how much money you have to spend (mainly on traveling). I would think that the VPI Cave Club in Blacksburg, Virginia, is the most active caving organization in the US. I have heard that their members organize cave trips as often as all 7 days of the week. It helps that the club is based at Virginia Tech, which has about 30,000 students who are young and fit. And it helps that there are a large number of caves within a 30 minute drive of campus that you can spend hours exploring. I believe that I recall a VPI member telling me that they had done as many as 200 cave trips in a year.

I have also heard that there is a caver by the name of Marion O. Smith that is said to go caving every day of the year. He is one of the most active cavers in the country, if not the most active. So he might do 400 cave trips in a year.

I believe that many members of the NSS are retired cavers that don't go caving very often anymore or at all. According to the NSS Members Manual, at least 50% of members became members before 1990 I believe. So that would make at least 50% of NSS members over the age of 50.

I would guess that the majority of the people who go caving in the United States on any given day of the year are not NSS members. There are currently only about 7,000 NSS members. Only the most active cavers join the NSS. So I would estimate that among the 7,000 or so current NSS members that the average member does less than 10 caves per year.
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Re: How many trips do cavers make annually?

Postby ohiocaver » May 14, 2020 9:06 am

While I'd agree that the majority of cavers (even of my cave-trip friends) are not NSS members, I don't think it's the most active cavers who join NSS. Your (correct) statistic about them being over 50 would seem to belie that. I think it's more a function of available cash or a willingness to part with cash or simply being approached to join. There are lots of great cave groups like SCCi, WVASS, etc. that have dues-paying members who are not in NSS. More than half the people on the NSS FaceBook page are not NSS members. Maybe it's free-rider syndrome.
VMI is extremely active - and blessed with caves just a few minutes away. For a Cleveland Grotto member to do serious caving, it requires a driving commitment of anywhere from 5 to 10 hours each way. Ditto a lot of folks in New England, Michigan, etc. But they join NSS.
This gets to the heart of my original question. Maybe it's just too scattered an group to get a realistic figure or a realistic population to extrapolate from.
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Re: How many trips do cavers make annually?

Postby ohiocaver » Jun 4, 2020 9:05 am

To add to the discussion, see the NSS's FaceBook page where people are chatting about the number of cavers spending 10,000+ hours underground. Some interesting comments there.
:cavingrocks:
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