Tis the Season to Cave

Small History of Vertical Caving

Vertical (or pit) caving was pioneered by British geologist John Beaumont (and yes he is french) who gave an account of his descent into Lamb Leer Cavern in 1681. Then another french  (the french are always inventing new extreme was to die) caver Edouard-Alfred Martel was the first descent and exploration of the Gouffre de Padira, as early as 1889 and the first successful descent of a 110 m (360 ft) very wet vertical shaft in 1895. He developed his own techniques using ropes and metallic ladders (that would suck). In the 1930s, as caving became increasingly popular in France, several clubs in the Alps made vertical cave exploration into a recognized outdoor sport.

During World War II, a team composed by Pierre Chevalier, Fernand Petzl, Charles Petit-Didier (sound familiar) explored the Dent de Crolles cave system, France, which became the deepest known cave in the world (658 m (2,159 ft)) at that time. The lack of available technical equipment during the war forced Chevalier and his team to innovate and develop their own ( I love Petzl gear!!).

In the late 1950s, American caver Bill Cuddington, A.K.A. “Vertical Bill”, developed the single rope technique (SRT) in the US. In 1958, two Swiss alpinists, creating the first rope ascender known as the Jumar. In 1968, Bruno Dressler asked Petzl, who worked as a metals machinist, to build a rope-ascending tool, today known as the Petzl Croll ( I love mine), that he had developed by adapting the Jumar to the specificity of vertical caving. Pursuing these developments, in the 1970s Petzl started a small caving equipment manufacturing company, which is today a world leader in equipment for both caving, mountaineering and at-height safety in civil engineering.


Today, the deepest cave in the world is Krubera Cave in the country of Georgia. The difference in the altitude of the cave’s entrance and its deepest explored point is 2,197 ± 20 meters (7,208 ± 66 ft). It became the deepest-known cave in the world in 2001.

Caving is starting to explode with popularity and safety equipment.  Now is the time to learn more of whats under our very own feet.  There are plenty of caves to discover and explore.  Tis the season to CAVE ON!!!


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