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Want to sound like a caver?

By Steve Whitney,
NOLS Instructor

Here are some terms to get you started:

Caver: Someone who explores the underground environment using appropriate gear and practicing impeccable Leave No Trace ethics while moving.

Spelunker: An ill-prepared underground explorer who gets rescued by a caver.

Caver’s Kit: Equipment that any good caver must possess. Everything must be compact, tight, organized and functional. “Good Kit… Good Caver.”

Speleothems: Secondary cave formations that are made of dissolved limestone.

Calcite: Primary mineral of 90% of all speleothems.

Stalactite: Speleothem that drips and/or grows from the ceiling. They begin as small delicate “soda straws” and gain size depending on many growth factors.

Stalagmite: Speleothem that grows from the ground up. Usually from stalactites that drip water onto the cave floor. Over time, stalagmites grow upward and outward.

Other speleothems: Shields, helectites, cave pearls, popcorn, drapery, flowstone.

Nylon Highway: Term used to describe technical caving that requires ropes and other safety gear.

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