Explore a caveGeneral Description

Caves are an extreme environment. They are foreign or even hostile to humans.

We want you to go on an expedition and explore the beauty of a natural cave. Experience total silence and darkness like you’ve never experienced it before, and explore stalagmites, stalactites, underwater lakes or even crystals.

What You’ll Need

  1. A natural cave: one which is without electricity, without paved ways, without commercial guides.
  2. At least 2–3 other people to accompany you. Never go alone!
  3. A good headlamp with fully charged batteries. Just in case, take an extra set of batteries. Or like hobby covers do: always bring candles and a lighter or matches.
  4. A helmet (with a chinstrap) to protect your head against injuries from bumps (when creeping through passages with a low ceiling) and from falling rocks.
  5. A watch to keep an eye on the time. Exploring a cave is like diving: An hour feels like 10 minutes.
  6. Robust and waterproof shoes with a good profile. They will protect you tripping and slipping on wet rocks.
  7. Robust, waterproof and warm clothing to protect you from water, abrasions and getting too cold. This is especially important if something happens and you need to spend a longer time in the cave than expected.
  8. Work gloves (ideally waterproof) to protect your hands against injuries from sharp rocks.
  9. Waterproof pack or at least a rain cover for your backpack to keep your spare gear dry and undamaged.
  10. Some food and water.

Steps to Success

  • Inform yourself about the chosen cave: ask the locals before entering or consult the list of explored caves.
  • For your first few challenges avoid steep or narrow cave entrances which obviously require abseiling skills, ladders and / or climbing equipment.
  • Go in a group of at least four people and stay together. Not only is it more fun to share your new experience, it’s also much safer!
    • It’s extremely unlikely that all four headlamps die within the same 1–2 hours.
    • Some climbing parts may require assistance from your companions.
    • It’s easier to remember the way out.
    • In case of emergency one person should stay with the affected person and the other two can get help and assist each other on their way out.
  • Remember the route. The way out looks different from the way in, so getting lost is easy. Since GPS devices don’t work in caves, bring pen and paper to note the turns you took. Additionally memorize key points and leave marks like pieces of colourful clothing or stacks of rocks to help you find your way back.
  • Save battery power by setting your headlight to the lowest setting which is still bright enough to explore the cave. If you come to more difficult terrain you can switch to a brighter setting temporarily.
  • Listen to your body and mind. Agree ahead of time that the entire group will return to the entrance if one person feels exhausted, uncomfortable with the depth or darkness, or if the situation is too hazardous. Claustrophobia is nothing to joke about!
  • The entrance of some (commercial) caves is strictly prohibited without a guide. Obviously, get a guide or look for a different cave.
  • Tipp: If you don’t feel comfortable with the idea of exploring a cave on your own take a local or an official guide or join a guided tour.

Take Precaution

Be aware that entering a cave on your own is a very rewarding, but also dangerous undertaking. To minimize the chances of things going wrong, follow these steps:

  • Notify someone about your plan (host, campground owner etc.) and when you plan to be back.
  • Don’t enter a cave when it’s raining and leave immediately if you realize that it’s raining outside. Rainwater can collect and flood a cave very quickly or at least cut off your way out.
  • Walk carefully so you don’t slip and fall. Many lava rocks are very sharp and can break your clothing and hurt you.
  • For cases of emergency you might want to pack one or more survival blankets and a mobile phone (in a waterproof bag) to call for help immediately after returning to the surface.
  • Learn about caving in general and about cave safety (e.g. 1, 2).

Finally, respect the cave environment. Be quiet (so you don’t disturb sleeping or hibernating bats or other creatures), don’t touch stalactites and stalagmites, don’t break away any stones to take with you and most importantly, take all your trash back with you.

Exploring a natural cave

Coming Soon: Add this Challenge to Your User Profile!

Take a few pictures or a short video of you working on the challenge. After you are finished log into your account and click on “Submit a Challenge Attempt.” If our members find that you did a good job, they’ll vote for your attempt.

We’ll consider any attempt with 25 or more votes as successfully completed, and will add it to your user profile. This way you can share your unforgettable experiences with anyone and serve as inspiration for them!

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