A lot of this page has been adapted from our Caving Without Tears handbook – check it out if you want to see more detail, including about history of the club, caving safely, conservation and extra caving items.

 

Do I need experience?

For our Give It A Go’s (GIAGs) and most trips near the beginning of the semester, nope! They’ll be fairly easy horizontal caves with some crawling and easy climbs, so if you’ve never been caving before, we’ll take you on interesting trips which require less technical ability than when yu’ve been with us for a while.

However, a lot of our trips are in vertical caves that require ascending, descending or traversing ropes, so we ask you to learn how to use the equipment to do this at training beforehand.

A typical caving trip

A caving trip will normally last about four hours; it may be more, may be less, depending on the nature of the cave itself. In any case we normally are underground by around 1:00pm and out in time for a curry. 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 oversuits, 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!

Warm clothes (and a spare set, including socks and underwear, to change into after caving)
NO JEANS OR CHINOS & 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 joggy 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
Towel
Money *optional*
We normally go past our favorite 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*

A pdf copy of this checklist is also avaliable

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.

Where and when to meet

Everyone will meet at 9:00am (ish) for day trips and 6:00pm (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.

Weekend trips

Our most infamous and popular trips! Generally ran 4 times a term, leaving Friday evening and returning Sunday evening. We all head to 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 the 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 the 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).

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 2018…
– Annual LUUCaS (student club) membership – £15
– Semester LUUCaS (student club) membership – £8
– Day trips – £10
– Weekend trips – £30
– GIAG – £15

Costs may vary from trip to trip, this will be advertised in the accompanying Facebook post

Membership will allow you access to day and weekend trips, use of the club tackle 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 12pm Wednesday before a trip – if you have missed out, there may be spaces still available so ask. GIAGs (and some trips) do not require membership.

Caving Safety

While caving can be a risky activity, we take many steps to prevent anything bad from occurring – that said here are things that you should be aware of.

Firstly, as you approach a cave entrance be aware that wet limestone open to daylight can be ridiculously slippery due to algal slime, so be careful with your footing.

When underground, pitches can pose a danger especially when cavers are above causing lose rocks to rain down, so be careful and don’t knock or kick rocks. For that reason, never stand directly below a pitch, and if you here the ear splitting yell of “BELOW!!!” (meaning rocks are impending) DON’T LOOK UP, instead get yourself out of the away and avoid the urge to protect your head with your arms, your head will 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.

FINALLY there is a requirement that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS both above and below ground. You must make your own judgement. 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. The trip leader is there to guide, train and supervise. The rest is up to you!

Cave conservation

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 want to learn more about caving see newtocaving.com or check out Caving Without Tears Handbook.

Admin

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 members), risk assessments, our code of practice is available at ulsa.org.uk/documentation.