StationR Logo

I started caving as a kid in Huntsville, Alabama around 1970. We did everything wrong. We used flashlights gathered from glove boxes or hall closets, knotted ropes, and even a rope ladder made from household electrical cable. We were lucky. Nobody got seriously hurt or embarrassed by having to be hauled up a pit we couldn't climb with our knotted rope (although there were some close calls).

In some ways caving is different today than when I started. The gear is far better, and far more expensive. There are more cavers, and fewer landowners willing to provide access. Some of the caves are seeing more traffic than they can support. But at the same time, there are never enough people who understand the fragile beauty of caves, and why they need our protection.

If you're sincerely interested in caving, consider the following:

After looking at an updated list of American Caving Accidents, it occurs to me that I should mention that despite my own nonchalance about easy caving can be, you can still get yourself killed. People are still dying in caves every year, usually from making the same cliche mistakes. Want to die in a cave? Try climbing a pit in a waterfall (doesn't have to be a big pit or a big waterfall, either) without proper gear or training. Rig a rope that's too short for a pit and rappel right off the end. Stand in the rockfall zone at the bottom of pits, or under ice formations in the entrance. If every would-be caver would just read the accident reports (unfortunately, the complete reports are still not published where the public can see them), almost no one would ever die caving.

Here's one for free: Don't ever, ever put a rope down a cliff or a pit without putting a knot in the end first, even if you can see the rope on the bottom. Make it a habit and tell people why you're doing it. This is so simple, and yet almost every year someone dies because they didn't do it.

If you need specific help or advice (other than cave locations, which I probably won't give you even if I do remember), e-mail me at and I'll try to help.

Water | Caving | Hang Gliding | Backpacking | About

Live while you are alive!
e-mail link
Copyright © 1996-2013 by Rodger Ling.
All rights reserved.