What is Caving?
Caving is a recreational activity in which a natural cave system is safely explored. Usually visiting commercial caves that has a ticketing system in place are not considered as caving. Technical caving in India is almost in its infant stage.
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Types of Caves
Talus Caves – When huge rocks and boulders fall on each other, the gap between them are called Talus caves. Some times, the boulder field is in a river or stream’s path. The flowing water will wash away the debris between huge rocks. Thus creating a Talus Cave.
They are usually beginner friendly, they will have multiple entries. So air is not a problem. The most common caves that we see in South India are Talus Caves. eg:- Edakkal Cave, Golora Cave, Antaragange caves, Pakshipathalam etc.
River Caves – Underground stream flow causes to cut the ground and form a River Cave.
Eg: – Belum Cave, Mayavi Cave etc.
Limestone Caves – The most beautiful ones. When there is good limestone deposit on the ground, when rain water gets mixed with limestone, the water become Acidic. This acidic water has the capability to corrode rocks. Such caves formed by acidic water is called Limestone cave.
It needs very special condition to form. Limestone deposit, Good rain fall. Sandstone rocks instead of granite. Such geographic regions are called Karst.
Eg: North East of India, China, Asia Pacific region etc.
Both Lime stone and River caves will have formations in them due to mineral deposits. Formations like Stalagmite, Stalactite, Moon milk, cave pearl etc.
Lava tubes – There are many types of caves formed by lava and they are collectively called lava caves. Lava tubes are the most commonly seen lava cave. When the hot lava is flowing, the out layer gets cooled down very easily while the inner layers are still flowing. The inner layer will flow away leaving a tube like structure with the cooled down outer layer as a hard crust.
Sea Caves – aka Littoral caves are formed by repeated wearing caused by sea waves. They are usually visited during low tides often using a sea kayak.
Challenges in Cave Explorations
Depending on the cave, there are many different challenges in caving. Absence of light beyond the entrances is definitely one of the challenge. Apart from that, there might be squeezes to negotiate, rocks or rockwalls to climb over, there might be multiple pitches to climb, there might be water hazards, some caves might experience reduced oxygen level in air, typical GPS systems may not work inside a cave.
Skills required for Caving
Some folks jokingly say “Caves are Canyons with a roof”. It just points to the fact that many caving skills overlap with those required for canyoning (aka Canyoneering). Apart from canyoning the required skills overlap with mining, urban exploration, climbing etc.