Wet Caving

What Do I need to Know?

All caving that involves water should be considered advanced caving. Do not attempt a wet cave without proper training and skills. This section will give you a some basic rules and a simple checklist of skills you should develop before exploring wet caves. You will develop most of these skills by actively participating in cave trips with more experienced cavers and watching how they move.

Basic Rules

  • Never enter a wet cave if it has rained or is threatening to storm
  • Stay out of the water for as long as possible
  • Never enter swift moving water without rope or other specialized gear and the knowledge of how to use it correctly
  • Do not wear cotton or other clothing that will not stay warm when wet
  • Always carry spare clothes in a waterproof container in case of emergency

Wet Caving Techniques

You Should Learn to:

  • Negotiate mud banks
  • Get through stream crawls
  • Know when to wade and what dangers to look for
  • Swim so that your head stays out of the water

More Advanced Skills

  • Proper use of rafts and inner tubes
  • Negotiating low airspaces
  • Going through duck-unders
  • Negotiating waterfalls
  • Getting into and out of plunge pools
  • Crossing streams and rivers

References

This site is not designed to teach you all the techniques involved in exploring vertical caves. Below are several very good references to help you learn more.

Cave Exploring by Paul Burger. 2020. Good beginning to intermediate book on cave exploring.

Alpine Caving Techniques by Georges Marbach and Bernard Tourte (translated into English by Melanie Alspaugh) Speleo Projects (2002) Excellent guide to European-style caving with good sections on technical rigging of waterfalls and stream passages.