Laying in the darkness, surrounded by walls and mud, you listen to nothing. You hear a drop of water falling in the distance and making an echo that would put the splashing of the waves to shame. You turn your light off to save the power and wait. Slowly, you see a light in the distance. Is it a light, or is it your imagination? Then you start hearing voices in the distance? Is that all in your head? But the voices grow louder, and the glistening of the light tells you that your team is returning and your rest time is over. It’s time to take your pack and continue your journey. 

A caver protects himself from the cold wind and drips by staying under the tarp and behind a boulder while waiting for other cavers to climb the shaft.
Resting and waiting are two crucial parts of caving. Here, cavers are taking a breather while waiting for the gear to be pulled up by a shaft.
During a cave exploration, cavers often wait long for a shaft to be rigged. In the photo, a caver found a comfortable position and got some rest.

When asked why caving, most cavers emphasize that it takes you where no one has been before, enables you to explore the ultimate frontier in the world, and discover what no one has seen before. Although these are fair reasons, there is so much more to caving. Keep on reading to learn what drives us to go where several don’t dare to go. 

A caver assesses the depth and potential of the pit that leads further into the cave and farther from the surface. Photo: Katarina Kosič Ficco
A skelton of a pleistocene feline was found in a cave in Virginia.
Cavers looking forward to what the cave will bring. Montenegro. Photo: Mike Ficco

Caving, particularly exploration caving, requires you to become a climber, mountaineer, hiker, rope expert, surveyor, prospector, explorer, contortionist, rock expert, geologist, hydrologist, and most importantly, team player.  

A caver is traversing over a 70 m (210 feet) deep shaft. Photo: Phillip Moneyhun
Cavers are descending a mountain after a week long expedition with 40 kg (80 pounds) backpacks. Photo: Mike Ficco
Tommy is rigging a rope. Photo: Jeff Wade
During rest days, cavers take the opportunity to dry their cave gear and improve the sketches done in the cave. Photo: Sara Fleetwood

Caving also requires you to practice patience, persistence, and perseverance. Sooner or later, it brings you to your limits and forces you to overcome them and carry on. Since if you don’t, you will remain in the cave.

A caver hanging on the rope.
Contorsionist or a caver? Photo: Jeff Wade

Caving makes you realize you are so small and insignificant yet so important. Without cavers, no one would ever know what lies underneath, and without cavers, several crucial resources would go unnoticed and unused. 

Još Trideset Metara Cave, Montenegro 2022. Photo: Philip Schuchardt