Spelunking Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of Spelunking, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

Spelunking Overview

Spelunking, also known as caving, is the recreational sport of exploring caves. Spelunking is similar to mountaineering and diving in terms of getting both exercise and the opportunity to explore.

Spelunking History

Caving was established by Edouard-Alfred Martel who was the first to explore the Gouffre de Padirac in France as early as 1889. Using his own techniques based on ropes and metallic ladders he explored caves in England and America. In the 1930s, when caving became more popular it began to become both an exploration and recreational activity. Due to the lack of equipment during World War II, explorers began to experiment and create their own equipment, leading to new grassroots technical innovation. In 1941, cavers formed the National Speleological Society in order to advance the exploration, conservation, and understanding of caves. Cavers mapped out caves and discovered safe underground climbing routes. Today, due to the innovations of the first cavers people can enjoy recreational spelunking. There are currently over 200 National caving associations in the United States.

Spelunking Rules

It is recommended that one does not spelunk by themselves incase of injury. Even if you are experienced you should go with at least two other people. Government parks usually offer regular tours as well as caves mapped out for spelunking. In the United States alone there are more than 100 caves that are open to the public for guided tours and expeditions. In order to preserve nature, spelunkers should leave the cave the way that they found it. In some cases touching the natural structures in caves can stop their development.

Spelunking Tips

The best way to learn how to spelunk safely is to go with an experienced caver and observe what they do. Many cavers get lost. In order to avoid this, one should look behind them every couple minutes, and take a snap shot in their mind of where they came from. Bringing a compass can also prevent getting lost. One should not go caving if they are afraid of bugs, small places, heights, or ledges.

Spelunking Equipment

Spelunkers should wear a helmet with a head lamp, non slip shoes, and protective clothing. They should bring along food, water, a compass, and a small first aid kit. If one has a map of the cave they should bring it with them.

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