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The Climbing Club • View topic - Beginner Caving Trip - Saturday, 11/9 - UPDATED

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
It is currently Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:02 am

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:33 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:32 pm
Posts: 5
Hi there folks!

My name is Josh Edwards, and I'm a new member of the UWCC. I'm ALSO a member of the Cascade Grotto, a local group which is dedicated to the preservation and exploration of caves! We often do trips for beginners to a beginner-friendly Lava Tube (NOT Ape Cave, significantly more fun) down in the Mt. St. Helens area, and I'm organizing one for UWCC members on Saturday, November 9th. Cave exploration is a fun outdoor activity that not many people are aware of that requires many of the same skillsets as mountaineering and rock climbing, and that affords you access to very unique environments.

The cave we'll be going to is in the same lava flow as Ape Cave, and is a totally horizontal cave (meaning no rope-work is necessary to enter or exit). Much of the cave is tall walking passage, but there is some scrambling and crawling, and there is a very fun erosional side-passage that you can, if you choose, go crawling in for a while. The temperature in the cave is ~40-45 degrees year-round, and it may be wet and drippy, especially as we approach the rainy season.


If you're interested in going, please post below with:
1.Do you have all the necessary gear? Do you need to try and borrow something? (listed below)
2.What is your experience level in general (not just caving)?
3.Please sign up for carpools on the following google doc (if you don't sign up you won't have a ride).



Meeting Place/Return
Since it seems to be pretty standard, I'm willing to meet up with everyone carpooling at the Burke Museum parking lot at 7:00am. It's a 3-3.5 hour drive down depending on traffic, we're driving to the Trail of Two Forests trailhead in Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. Expect to be back in Seattle in the evening, depending on how long we spend in-cave.


Gear Required
As caves are very unique environments, I've included below the information we normally send out to beginners about what to expect and what to bring. Make sure you read it all, since no one wants to drive 3.5 hours then not get to cave because they're inappropriately equipped. As a warning to the club officers, helmets that get taken caving DO get scratched up quite a bit, so if you loan out a bunch of helmets for this don't say I didn't warn you! That said, my Petzl Ecrin Roc has been in lots and lots of caves and is still just fine, aside from, well, some scratches. Let me emphasize here, if you'll be really upset if it gets ripped, don't wear it in the cave. Also, to answer a few questions already asked; if you have a climbing helmet, I would suggest wearing it instead of a bike helmet, unless it's one of those new-fangled Sirocco's, in which case don't bring that! Anything designed to be thrown away after one solid hit(like a lot of foam bike helmets) won't be acceptable. As for cave packs; I think a 28L backpack should be fine. This is a pretty open lava tube, so any daypack-sized pack is fine. Don't bring anything you'll use to carry your books/etc around though, since your back may get wet and muddy.

Last but not least, to entice you all to want to go, here are some videos made by my roommate. All of the footage is from caves in Washington. I have a bunch of pictures too, but they're all on the facebook and I'm lazy, so look me up there if you want to see some.


Lava tubes! This is near where we'd be going:
Gorgeous marble erosional formations:
Visiting the deepest cave in Washington:
Small marble cave:
Some lovely lava formations and my roommate looking very serious:
Why you want to make sure to wear appropriate clothing:


WHAT TO EXPECT
Caves are enclosed spaces which claustrophobic people generally don’t enjoy. They sometimes feature generous amounts of mud, sand, dust, dirt, and decaying organic matter washed down from the surface. Caves in the Pacific Northwest are usually wet and cold. Cave passages and chambers rarely have flat even floors and so a lot of climbing and scrambling is usually necessary. A cave’s passages can vary quite a lot in size and so a lot of crawling and squeezing is usually required as well.

Except at their entrances, caves are completely and totally pitch-black dark. Without artificial light sources you will not be able to see anything at all. Once illuminated you will find bizarre and beautiful geological formations and landscapes, challenging obstacles, and perhaps some otherworldly creatures.

Caving is generally rather strenuous, and can be potentially very dangerous. Once you have gotten past a few obstructions it is easy to imagine how much harder they would be to navigate back through with an injury or with an injured patient. Cavers generally maneuver using cautious and deliberate movements, not running or jumping and always maintaining three points of contact while climbing.

_____________________
WHAT TO BRING

HELMET
Every caver needs a helmet with more than two places where the chin strap connects to the dome (some construction and athletic helmets have single straps). The dome has to be solid and not Styrofoam - it will get repeatedly scratched and gouged! (A very tough hard plastic skateboard/bike helmet will do in a pinch, as long as any Styrofoam padding is totally protected inside - normal lightweight bike helmets break apart upon impact and don't take gouges well at all.)

PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
Also quite necessary is a pair of rugged shoes if not boots for each explorer (waterproof footwear is nice but expensive to beat up underground, flexible rock climbing shoes are unacceptable). The clothing everyone wears needs to be somewhat warm and of non-cotton material if possible with a base layer (the clothes against your skin) that is definitely not cotton. Cotton loses its insulative properties completely when it gets wet and hypothermia is the #1 cause of death underground so please take this suggestion seriously. Outer layers of clothing must be rugged and shouldn't be easy to tear. Coveralls are ideal, as is polypropylene or similar long-underwear and wool socks. It will be acceptable to show up in old sneakers and wool socks with non-cotton long-underwear under some old jeans and an athletic shirt with an old fleece jacket - anything less wet-friendly or more fragile would be a bad idea (and honestly cheap coveralls should be readily available and a quality base-layer is good to have anyways).

Everyone must have tough protective gloves that preferably won't soak up water - leather or rubber dipped work or gardening gloves work well. Also essential are a pair of knee-pads: some cavers prefer hard skateboard or construction style while others use softer flexible foam pads - any knee-pad will help since and you'll be doing some fun crawling if you’re lucky.
Note: the caves in the area we'll be going to maintain an average temperature of 40-45 degrees. It's much better to dress warm and take a layer off than to become hypothermic in the cave.

CAVE PACK, SNACK
Everyone should have a small pack with a full bottle of water in it that is preferably very difficult to accidentally crush or puncture. Also in your pack you should have some high-energy food (minimal crumbs, maximum energy) that will still be edible if it accidentally gets crushed beneath your body weight or against the ceiling/wall.

LIGHTS
Of absolutely paramount importance is that everyone have their own set of not one but three light sources! Your main light has to be a headlamp so your hands will be free for climbing and crawling, and it can be taped onto your helmet if there aren't any convenient integrated holders for the strap - just make sure the headlamp isn't going to fall off if your helmet gets jarred or banged against things. Bring extra batteries for at least your main light. The second and third light sources can be any style you prefer (cheap handheld flashlights are fine) - as long as you can see to walk in the dark well enough using them and they have fresh batteries. Some people will tell you that brighter is better all the time in a cave since your enjoyment will be relative to your ability to see your surroundings, but it is also important to know how quickly you will be killing your batteries and to be able to dim your lights down to conserve power. Lights that are known to be waterproof are preferential.

MISC
A camera or video camera can be a good idea to bring as well (hopefully safely protected from water and bumps in its own bag and/or case) with lights or flashes if you have them and perhaps a little tripod or a wide angle lens. Your trip leader might be bringing a rather large first aid kit, but if you already own a small personal kit it could be wise to bring some of it along. Maybe bring a hat to pack in and put on if you start to chill during the lunch break. A compass is handy to have underground too. Don’t make your pack too big though, or it will be hard to get through the squeezes!


Last edited by Josh Edwards on Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:00 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:33 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:46 pm
Posts: 4
Hey, I know we already talked via pm, but I'd definitely be up for this. I've only been up to cave ridge a few times so this sounds like it would be an entirely different experience, James' videos look amazing. Would I need to bring any vertical gear or would this be purely horizontal?

For anyone else out there who's never tried caving before, go for it! It's awesome.

EDIT:

Signed up for Jacob's car. I have all the gear required and some prior caving experience.


Last edited by Nate Redon on Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:22 am 
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UW Climber
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Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 5:43 pm
Posts: 494
Location: Seattle
Sounds interesting. What cave are you thinking of going to?


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:53 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:09 pm
Posts: 11
Sounds fantastic. I would be up for this!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:05 am 
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Raging Alpoholic
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Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:15 pm
Posts: 812
My husband, Nathan, and I would love to go on this trip! He has done lots of caving in Virginia, but never in Washington. I've only ever been in Ape Caves because I never knew that all of this stuff existed. Thanks for putting something like this together!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:46 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:31 pm
Posts: 22
I'm super down! Like Val, I have only ever been in Ape Caves but they have always intrigued me/seemed very enticing.

Questions:
- Would a climbing helmet work, or should I bring my bike helmet (aka one that I am willing to beat up more)?
- Is a 28 L daypack type backpack too big?

Thanks for organizing this!!!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:45 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:01 pm
Posts: 1
I would totally be interested! I'm also curious about what helmet would be best. I don't have a good one (besides a light bike helmet) atm, but should buy a new one anyway.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:42 pm
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I'd be very interested in going! I've got everything needed but the only pack I have may be a little large... Time to get another I guess!

Keep me in the know.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:53 am 
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The Pub Czar
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Location: too far from a pint.
Do it! Then we can change the club's tagline to "We do anything on (or in) a mountain."

_________________
good judgment comes from experience;
experience comes from bad judgment.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:12 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:43 pm
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I'd possibly be interested. Been caving once in the UK and it was really interesting - I'm not convinced whether I like it or not yet!


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:30 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:32 pm
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I updated the top post with details/sign-up info!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:01 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:09 pm
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1. I've got the gear
2. Experience level: Generally a competent outdoors person :-) Hiked, climbed, and caved before. Caved in Brazil (Buraco das Araras https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3kr-4HF_YQ), Bolivia (Toro Toro caves https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy9vocN50eg), and in Transylvania, Romania (a recently discovered, no-name cave).


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:54 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:49 am
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1) I should have everything I need.
2) I've only been in a few caves and it was a while ago. I keep reasonably active with backpacking/climbing/etc. and can generally take care of myself. If we run into cave monsters all bets are off.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:03 pm 
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Signed up as a driver. I can 3-4 with me (3 is better if it's a 3.5 hour drive with a bunch of stuff).


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:05 am 
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Raging Alpoholic
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1. I have all of the gear needed.
2. I have lots of climbing experience, but nearly zero caving experience (just a couple guided tours, Ape Caves and wondering into old mining shafts in the Olympics).


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