Frequent Q and As
A typical caving trip
A caving trip will normally last about four hours; it may be more, maybe less, depending on the nature of the cave itself. In any case, we normally are underground by around 12:00 pm and out in time for a curry. Caving is a unique combination of crawling, stooping, climbing, exploration – something you have to try out once! If you come to our training sessions we’ll be able to teach you Single Rope Technique, how we get up and down in more vertical caves. Once back on the surface, everyone changes into their spare set of DRY CLOTHES. It is possible that there will be a bit of a wait here as different caving parties return (or not), and you may get a bit hungry. Sandwiches are quite useful at this point though you will have to fight off the ravenous scavengers who failed to bring any of their own. We generally aim to be back in Leeds by the evening, where we’ll often head for a curry or to the pub – we cannot guarantee the time we’ll be back in Leeds, so bear in mind that if you need to be back in Leeds by a certain time.
Stuff you need to bring
Although we provide caving equipment, such as over suits, SRT kits, wellies, helmets etc., we require you to bring some stuff too. Failure to bring the correct kit (especially underlayers) may mean we cannot take you caving! More layers are better than too few, you can always take off extra layers if you’re too warm.
- Warm clothes (and a spare set, including socks and underwear, to change into after caving)
- NO JEANS OR CHINOS, basically avoid cotton, synthetic materials are ideal since they retain heat better when wet
- Preferably old clothes that you don’t mind getting muddy
- Includes… long-sleeved tops, fleece/jumper, warm trousers (like polyester jogging bottoms), base layers or thermals
- Search around charity shops, Primark etc. for cheap layers, or ask the Facebook group
- Lots of socks
- Thick, higher length socks (like hiking socks) are best, make sure you bring spares for after getting changed so your feet stay happy
- We would encourage you to buy your own wet socks after a few caving trips
- Hat/ buff/ other method to keep your head warm
- Bobble/elastic band to tie up long hair (or put it in a plait)
- Medicine (e.g. asthma inhaler) if needed
- Inform your group leader if you need to bring these into the cave
- Caving snacks
- Normally packaged sweets or some kind of way to get your energy back up if you feel tired e.g. mars bars, flapjacks, strawberry laces
- Money *optional*
- We normally go past our favourite café in the Dales for a big breakfast before going underground, so bring a bit of cash to have either a really good breakfast or a really good second breakfast! Please make sure you eat a big breakfast or a packed lunch before caving
- Caving/gardening gloves *not essential but recommended*
- Caving knee pads *not essential but recommended*
Weekend trip extras
- Sleeping bag
- Possibly roll mat too, depending on where we’re staying i.e CHECC
- Changes of clothes
- For when the first set get wet and you don’t want to wear them again
- In case we go to the pub or stop off at a service station
- We provide 2 breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday, and 1 dinner on Saturday night in the ticket price, it may be a good idea to bring some food for the Friday or Sunday night Normally we have a bit of a party Friday/Saturday night, so bring your own booze (if you want to)!
We do not recommend taking phones into caves! Waterproof pouches or water-resistant phones are not necessarily cave-proof and there is a high chance of you breaking the screen or the entirety of your device.
Weekend trips away
Our most infamous and popular trips! Generally ran 4 times a term, leaving Friday evening and returning Sunday evening. We all head to a cave-heavy region of the UK and spend the weekend doing as much caving as we can while spending the nights partying together at a caving hut (think a more chaotic hostel!). We even include breakfasts and dinners so there’s no excuse to miss these events! Friday night is typically a fun one – we don’t usually provide dinner on Friday night so make sure you’ve eaten beforehand (or bring food with you). We provide a solid and filling breakfast on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, as well as a very welcome dinner on Saturday night Subject to the weather (and the number of ‘under the weather’ cavers), we’ll be caving on both the Saturday and Sunday. The type of caving we do will depend on where we’re going, and our weekend trips are a brilliant way of experiencing caves that you wouldn’t get to if you only come on our Dales day trips. When you come on a weekend trip with us, there are a few things you’ll need to bring with you, in addition to the items you’d take on a day trip. The most important is a sleeping bag – we usually stay in caving huts that are owned and operated by caving clubs based all over the country and while they all have beds (of sorts), you’ll need a sleeping bag if you want to stay warm. If you don’t already have one then sleeping bags can be picked up quite cheaply – just ask someone if you need some shopping advice. You’ll also want to bring a few other essentials – some cash, snack food, any medication you might need, and alcohol (if preferred).
Where and when to meet for trips
Everyone will meet at 9:00 am (ish) for day trips and 6:00 pm (ish) for weekend trips at ‘The Chapel’. You will hear people mention The Chapel quite a lot – this is where we (as well as a few other outdoor clubs) store our gear and equipment. It’s situated just over the road from The Edge sports centre, in an old church building.
Check our Facebook page for a more accurate leaving time.
Paying For Trips & Membership
For most of our trips, we operate an online ticket purchasing system. In the week (or two) prior to a trip (day or weekend), tickets will be available to buy from the club’s LUU webpage. You simply need to log in using your student ID number and password and then add the tickets to your basket. This is the same place you buy membership, and for insurance reasons you have to buy membership prior to coming on trips (the exception being Give-It-A-Go and day trips that are advertised as not requiring membership). There will always be a limit to the number of spaces available on any one trip so although we will try to accommodate everyone, make sure to get in quickly if you’re keen.
- As of September 2020…
- – Annual LUUCaS (student club) membership – £18
- – Semester LUUCaS (student club) membership – £12
- – Day trips – £10
- – Weekend trips – £30
- – GIAG – £20
Costs may vary from trip to trip, this will be advertised in the accompanying Facebook post
Membership will allow you to come on day and weekend trips, use our club kit store, public liability insurance, access to Edge training sessions (for Uni of Leeds students, additional cost for others).
Tickets for our trips are available on the LUU shop till 12:00 pm Wednesday before a trip – if you have missed out, there may be spaces still available so ask. GIAGs (and some fresher’s trips) do not require membership.
Keeping safe whilst caving
While caving can be a risky activity, we take many steps to prevent anything bad from occurring – that said here are a couple of things that you should be aware of…
Getting to the cave entrance often involves walking over some unkempt terrain. Sometimes wet limestone open to daylight can be ridiculously slippery due to algal slime, so be careful with your footing.
The terrain underground (and on the approach to caves) can be uneven possibly leading to trips so, again, try to keep an eye on your footing.
When heading down more vertical sections of cave, there may be some loose rock above so be careful and try not to knock or kick rocks down. If you kick a rock, of any size, yell “BELOW!!!” immediately – even if you aren’t sure whether or not you kicked anything.
For that reason, never stand directly below a pitch! If you hear “BELOW!!!” do not look up and instead get yourself out of the way, look away from the direction of the yell, and avoid the urge to protect your head with your arms (you’ll already be protected by your helmet).
Fatigue often goes hand in hand with being cold, this has a simple solution if caught early… eat, drink, put on warm layers, and most importantly tell other group members how you’re feeling. Every caver would prefer to abort the trip safely than to continue until the only hope of getting out is by being rescued.
To put it simply, you are ultimately responsible for your own actions, both above and below ground, and you need to make your own judgements.
For instance, if you feel uncomfortable with a section of a cave, let your trip leader know so you can work through a solution together. If you are unwell or your fitness is not up to scratch on a particular day do not come caving, the caves aren’t going anywhere, and you will be putting others at risk as well as yourself. It is up to you to ensure that you eat a proper breakfast in order to have the endurance to participate in what can be a very strenuous activity. It it is ultimately up to you to bring the correct kit (as described above).
Trip leaders and seconders are happy to guide, train and supervise to the best of their ability, however they need to know when you want a hand!
As a society, we are dedicated to the conservation of caves. We, therefore, try to limit the damage that our presence inevitably does to the underground environment.
Crystal formations such as calcite stalactites and stalagmites look far nicer in their natural underground setting than on a mantelpiece. Similarly trampling mud into delicate, clean, brimstone pools ruins them forever. Many cave formations have taken many thousands of years to form. We hope that they may last for thousands of years to come
If you have any of symptoms of COVID-19 (new persistent cough, a high temperature or new loss of taste or smell), do not attend trips, training or any socials under any circumstances – follow NHS guidance.
If you develop symptoms anytime between a club trips and 2 weeks afterwards, follow NHS guidance. As soon as possible, inform the club’s committee and they will take appropriate measurers.
Documents and other important bits This page is meant to be a summary of everything you need to know, however further documentation of what we expect of our members (including freshers and GIAG attendees), risk assessments, our code of practice is available at ulsa.org.uk/documentation.