Caving can be an excellent hobby for those that possess the spirit of adventure but it does with come a certain amount of risk. This is true for any extreme sport and it is important that anyone going into this realizes the risks involved.
If this sounds a little bit too hectic then you should just buy yourself a Optishot Golf Simulator and learn to play golf at home instead!
Have a look at this video to see some extreme caving footage.
The best way to get started is to attend a course with a professional instructor or to take your first adventure with experienced cavers. Do not go with your friends or your spouse! Following good methods and safety by watching those with experience is the first step. The type of cave you are exploring is also a factor and different formations require different strategies to maintain safety.
Most cave systems are nothing like terrain found above ground and for the most part you will find yourself traversing ground with slopes, loose pebbles and rocks as well as tight spaces. If you have any problems with claustrophobia then this is definitely not the sport for you. Making sure you have full attention at all times will ensure you do not slip or miss falling rocks. Injuries happen very quickly and can be life threatening in a caving system.
Navigating your way through caves comes with experience and this is another reason why you should not start out without professional guidance. Getting lost inside a large cave system can be fatal. With lower oxygen levels and a limited food supply you cannot afford to make mistakes. You will often find cavers with limited experience lost close to the entrance as it looks different on the way out than the way in.
You may even notice older signals like paintings on the rocks or string lying around that we perhaps used for navigation by others or from many years ago. Never trust these signals as they could be incomplete or they may even lead to an entrance that has since been blocked off.
Many modern caves have been well documented and you can buy yourself a map before you get started. I would advise ensuring you carry one in your first few adventures. Do not rely on your guide or instructor for everything. Even when you are having guidance try and figure things out for yourself. It really is the best way to learn!
Always use the best safety equipment you can afford – it is vital that you do this. Make sure you have a decent helmet with a light – I can’t tell you how many times a rock has fallen or I have slipped and the helmet saved my life. A concussion in a cave can be deadly, even in a large group it will not be quick to get out or expect a rescue. Always carry a compass.
Some caves are much harder than others so start off with something easy. As you become more experienced you can try outings that require advanced techniques like climbing chimneys or crawling through tighter spaces.
Caving is lots of fun, especially when you develop a close group of friends that can explore new systems as a group – just make sure you put safety first!