A Message to the Caving Community

Geary Schindel
PresidentNational Speleological Society


As the coronavirus spreads through our communities, it is very important that we follow social distancing guidelines. As much as we may want to go caving or attend a grotto meeting, practicing self-restraint is important to minimize the spread of the virus. Remember that most caves have limited airflow and create close quarters. Cavers may be at heightened risk because of limited exchange of air and close contact with other cavers. Just riding together in a car for a few hours to your closest caving area creates a risk. However, ridge walking with house mates may be an acceptable undertaking. Getting out and getting fresh air and sunshine, where allowed, can be good for your health and your soul.

Be vigilant and careful. In the event of an accident (car or cave), response times and personnel may be very limited. Doctors and hospitals are being inundated with Covid-19 cases in many areas and may not be able to quickly or effectively treat you.

So, here are some recommendations:

  • I’m encouraging our NSS members to stand down from caving for a few months as we get control of this pandemic and can get back to a new normal quicker.
  • After your basic needs are met, use this time to draw your cave maps, write a grotto or NSS News article, work on your vertical gear, clean and organize your equipment (or house), watch many of the excellent webinars on the NSS website, prepare a talk on your favorite area or project, or write a paper. Remember that many of Isaac Newton’s greatest contributions to science were formulate while he was escaping the plague.
  • Sort your photographs, scan your slides, write a friend, reestablish old friendships, give blood, check on your fellow grotto members, recycle or re-purpose some of your old camping and caving equipment, practice your presentation skills.
  • Attend an online grotto meeting – offer to make a presentation. Just because we are social distancing doesn’t mean that you can’t reach out and socialize.
  • Fact check everything you see on the news and on the internet – especially social media and try and maintain a good attitude and sense of humor.

Don’t forget the NSS. The society can use your help in many areas. Volunteer, renew your membership, and donate.

I promise to give you all a hug when this is over.

Geary Schindel
National Speleological Society

The National Speleological Society 
6001 Pulaski Pike, Huntsville, AL 35810