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So You Want to Go Caving. . .

To some, caving is an insane activity where only lunatics participate.  Others view caving as dirty and unappealing.  Chances are, if you are reading this, you have a different view on the subject. Perhaps you have visited a few local caves where you live and were enticed by the excitement of exploration.  Whatever your views, the fact remains that caving is a potentially dangerous sport that should be treated with cautious  respect. 

Caving has changed over the years. The gear is far better, however more expensive. There are more cavers and fewer landowners willing to provide access. Some caves are seeing more traffic than they can support.  We do encourage new people to join the sport, consequently the more cavers there are the greater the potential for caves and sensitive cave environments to be damaged. To protect this from happening, as a grotto we strongly advocate conservation and preservation, companioned with exploration and recreational caving.  We welcome new members and try to help them fit in, including receiving proper training - so we can all safely enjoy the sport together.

  • Join the NSS and the Cullman Grotto
    (or other grotto in your area). Your chance of doing any real caving without joining an organization is not recommended. Opportunities for new and different caving experiences, along with training, equipment needs and methods are more available as a member of a chartered organization and as a member of the NSS.

 

  • Go caving with organized cavers.

    Our grotto offers a cave trip every month for grotto members (friends) and frequently has additional trips during any given month. We offer horizontal trips for beginner and youth groups throughout the year with education and instruction on proper caving techniques and best practices.  We also regularly schedule advanced cave outings which require vertical rope expertise - in dry and wet environments.

 

  • We love it, but it's not for everyone.

    Caving does not require expensive equipment right off the bat. Take your time, be sure you are going to enjoy the sport. We've watched new comers acquire expensive things only to quit the sport after a few trips. After several outings, if you know you want to stick with it, then start working on getting your own gear. We usually have gear you can borrow until that time.

 

  • Don't jump into vertical caving without specialized training and equipment.

    As stated, many of our trips are vertical. Whether it's pit bouncing or multi-drop caves, vertical rope skills are  involved in these activities. We teach vertical classes and hold training sessions regularly.  You must have prior training before attempting vertical trips.

 

  • Treat the caves and their owners with the respect they deserve.

    Ask permission from the landowners and respect their wishes, pick up trash, remove graffiti when possible, leave no trace. Keep your caving low-key. Resist the urge to turn all your friends into cavers until they can have an appreciation for the sport.

 

GROTTO TRIP RULES

We follow the rules and practices as define in, "A Guide to Responsible Caving" and "Safe Caving" (published by the NSS). We adhere to these standards and expect all participants on grotto-sponsored events to do the same. You are encouraged to be familiar with these guidelines prior to participating on a grotto trip. We will help you understand and correct any bad practices through mentoring, and if necessary, by corporal punishment (and not necessarily in that order :moses:​​).

All participants must sign the Grotto's release form prior to participating in a grotto-sponsored trip. For grotto members, the release form will be signed yearly at the time of membership renewal or at the time of any given trip, if participant has not signed beforehand.

Miscellaneous Rules

If a person is not known by a grotto member, that individual may be required to produce proof of  qualifications.

On all grotto trips there will be no in-cave smoking. Smoking is permitted only outside of caves and pits, and not in the presence of non-smokers.

No alcoholic beverages at any time during a trip.

Trip leader will be the acting safety-leader for any given trip in the absence of a safety-advisor. He/she shall enforce the rules set forth on grotto-sponsored events.

If any person willfully violates the rules, a warning will be given. If the warning is ignored and rules continue to be ignored, the person(s) involved will be subject to reprimand, including grotto expulsion.

Cullman Grotto of the National Speleological Society