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Thread: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among them

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* LowWorm's Avatar
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    Default Four cavers die in UT - only one light among them

    Four young adults went caving in an obscure cave up on "Y" mountain on Friday...these guys and girls were not professional cavers and didn't have the proper equipment. One professional caver said that they should have had, at a MINIMUM, three sources of light per person. Rescuers only found one flashlight in the cave.

    I don't know if flashlights would have saved their lives (God bless them and their families), but I was wondering what kind of lights would be recommended for this kind of excursion?



    Full story at The Deseret News .

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Grox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    That's tragic, in the true sense of the word. Needless, preventable deaths. I don't mean to be callous or heatless but it's totally pointless too. If you're caving, do it properly. One of the girls in that story said that she'd passed out on a previous caving trip. Wouldn't that be sign enough to prepare better and to take the right safety precautions. I feel sorry for their families.

    Stories like this remind me of the need to be prepared...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    Tragic indeed. Based on the illustration, wouldn't you need some sort of diving light to successfully navigate those caverns? Or a light that was at least waterproof.

    I have no such light so i would not have attempted to go in there.

    God Bless them & their families.

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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    Grox said:
    That's tragic, in the true sense of the word. Needless, preventable deaths. I don't mean to be callous or heatless but it's totally pointless too. If you're caving, do it properly. One of the girls in that story said that she'd passed out on a previous caving trip. Wouldn't that be sign enough to prepare better and to take the right safety precautions. I feel sorry for their families.

    Stories like this remind me of the need to be prepared...

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I agree. All the equipment and numbers in the world can't replace experience, training and common sense. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* voodoogreg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    Terrible. I really feel for the families. heart felt prayer's for all. Be thy with the Lord. VDG

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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    If you stir up mud in the water it does not matter how many lights you have.
    (and BTW, it is not a cave).
    When going through a short sump like this one (following a line or rope), a torch/flashlight could be more hindering than helping.

    And the fact that they only found one light does not necessarly mean that there were not more with them (but too less anyway)

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    Enlightened Teh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    I bet none of them were flashaholics, and I wonder what was the one light they had.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    I don't think there was any way to search every inch of the cave. Just because only one flashlight was found, doesn't mean more weren't scattered about or buried in the mud.

    Anyway though, I thought cavers like wearing helmet-mounted headlamps, not using handheld flashlights.

    If I were to go caving with the minimum 3 light sources, I think I'd choose, based on lights that I actually own:

    1) helmet mounted headlamp (right now the only headlamp I have is a PT Aurora but I think cavers like more powerful ones)

    2) Long-throw powerful handheld light, ranging from a Streamlight TL3 to an MC85 (or USL?) in a belt holster, depending on how much weight I was willing to carry.

    3) Long-running emergency backup, e.g. CMG Infinity or Tektite Trek Lithium, on a neck lanyard under my shirt.

    Of course being a flashaholic I'd have a few other lights besides those. Come to think of it, that underwater tunnel deal would have called for dive lights. Better leave the not-so-waterproof MC85 at home.

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    * The Arctic Moderator * Sigman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    4 young lives lost - a real tragedy! I always try to tell my sons, if it doesn't feel right, don't do it. Think about it, are you really prepared to "do" what you are about to do...peer pressure...just being untrained, unprepared, uneducated...

    Sad indeed! Thoughts & prayers to their families for sure!

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    Flashaholic* LowWorm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    PeLu said:
    If you stir up mud in the water it does not matter how many lights you have.
    (and BTW, it is not a cave).
    When going through a short sump like this one (following a line or rope), a torch/flashlight could be more hindering than helping.

    And the fact that they only found one light does not necessarly mean that there were not more with them (but too less anyway)

    [/ QUOTE ]

    PeLu, what is the definition of a cave?

    And yes, the water in the "cave" was very dirty, which they said could affect visibility drastically. That's why I was wondering if any lights, at all, would work for such a situation.

    And no, only one light (and a few unlit candles) was found underground with these folks. They drained the water and searched the area thoroughly.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    This is really a shame. My prayers are with the families.

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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    From what I have heard this wasn't a cave but a mine adit. The term "caver" should be used for people who actually have some idea what they are doing; the derogatory term "spelunker" would be more appropriate here though I think the term "dumb kids" is best.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    Spelunker is a perfectly good, non-derogatory word for caver, from everything I can tell.

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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    Spelunker is a perfectly good, non-derogatory word for caver,from everything I can tell.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Among cavers it is a derogatory term applied to people who don't know what they are doing. A synonym for "spelunker" is "flashlight caver".

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    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    Spelunker is a non-derogatory term - as Paulr noted above.

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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    Anyway though, I thought cavers like wearing helmet-mounted headlamps, not using handheld flashlights.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    They do, hence the use by cavers of the term "flashlight caver" for someone who doesn't know what they are doing.

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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    Spelunker is a non-derogatory term - as Paulr noted above.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    No, its a derogatory term, has been for about 40-50 years.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    Spelunker:
    http://www.umsl.edu/~joellaws/ozark_...ss/spelunk.htm

    Sometime in the 1960s (according to Joe Walsh, and probably during an earlier upsurge of interest in venturing underground), spelunker began to take on the connotation of rank amateur, while those "in the know" but not degreed scientists began to refer to themselves as cavers. Steve Knutson (editor of American Caving Accidents) makes the same distinction in a 1995 article given at a Risk Management conference:


    ..."Note that I use the term "spelunker" to denote someone untrained and unknowledgeable in current exploration techniques, and "caver" for those who are."
    Spelunker, at this time, carries with it the image of a tennis-shod explorer, caving in cotton clothing by the light of a hand held flashlight, with butane lighters for backups. They are notorious for descending freehand, on cotton or manila rope, with little thought for the ascent. Pushing Coleman lanterns in crawlways is another favorite spelunker trick. Spelunkers differ from novice cavers in that (usually) the novice is attempting to learn correct techique. According to Clive Keen of British Columbia, "calling someone a spelunker up here is a serious insult." In the States, one wishing to be taken seriously avoids the word in self-reference, corrects others who accuse him or her of being a spelunker, and proudly displays the bumper sticker, "Cavers Rescue Spelunkers."

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    *Flashaholic* bwaites's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    Wow guys, way OT here.

    This was a tragedy, regardless. More of what I would expect from 18 year olds than a 28 y/o and 24 y/o!

    They made a mistake, in this case one that had fatal consequences.

    My prayers and heart go out to their families. I have a 20 year old and an 18 year old and I can only imagine the pain those families are in.

    If anything, maybe it will serve to alert those who consider caving an amateur sport. Even amateurs need proper guidance and preparation.

    However, this was not caving, or even spelunking, these kids were just goofing off and paid the ultimate price for a misjudgement.


    Bill

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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    I don't know if flashlights would have saved their lives (God bless them and their families), but I was wondering what kind of lights would be recommended for this kind of excursion?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    OK, back on topic. It is quite possible that no lights would have saved them. What they were doing is called "sump diving" and it is very hazardous even for people who are highly trained. A common event in sump diving is that fine sediment on the bottom is stirred into the water resulting in zero visibility and disorienting the diver to the point that he can't even tell up from down, the diver then needs to follow the guidline that he has laid to find the way out. Also sump divers use some sort of SCUBA, they don't attempt to free dive the sump.

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    * The Arctic Moderator * Sigman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    ...thanks for bringing this back "on track" folks!

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    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    cave diving or going through a sump or whatever is the single most dangerous thing you can do in a cave or mine or whatever it was. As others have noted once you stir up the silt you can't see at all. The only option is to wait for it to settle which can take hours or more.

    The only option for 99.9% of us would be to never put your head under water in a cave unless your guide is there and clips a safety line to you.

    I hope this will result in bars being installed across the entrance to whatever this is so that no others have to suffer the same fate. The fact that this has been around and known for so long without any such thing is doubly tragic.

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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    I hope this will result in bars being installed across the entrance to whatever this is so that no others have to suffer the same fate.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Well, since we have strayed off topic again. I find this type of comment annoying. Why do you take this paternalistic stance? If others want to risk their lives attempting to free dive a sump they should be permitted to do so.

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    Flashaholic* LowWorm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    David_Campen said:
    [ QUOTE ]
    I don't know if flashlights would have saved their lives (God bless them and their families), but I was wondering what kind of lights would be recommended for this kind of excursion?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    OK, back on topic. It is quite possible that no lights would have saved them. What they were doing is called "sump diving" and it is very hazardous even for people who are highly trained. A common event in sump diving is that fine sediment on the bottom is stirred into the water resulting in zero visibility and disorienting the diver to the point that he can't even tell up from down, the diver then needs to follow the guidline that he has laid to find the way out. Also sump divers use some sort of SCUBA, they don't attempt to free dive the sump.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Thank you, this answers my question...although I can't imagine entering into any dark mountain crevice without a light, it's good to know that there are some situations (read: sump) in which even the best lights won't cut it.

    The follow-up reports on the accident said that the first person returning through the sump most likely blocked the way for the others, who were following closely. So the density/darkness of the water, combined with the crowding of the bodies and the close confines of the area would mean that even the pullrope in the sump could not be counted on to save anyone. And I see now that using a flashlight as a life-saving tool wouldn't have been very easy or even possible under the circumstances.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    David_Campen said:
    [ QUOTE ]
    I hope this will result in bars being installed across the entrance to whatever this is so that no others have to suffer the same fate.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    I find this type of comment annoying.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I agree absolutely. Exactly that thinking of closing everything which an armchair politican thinks is dangerous causes sometimes accidents.

    Besides that: It is not necessary to carry millions of torches/flashlights .-)
    I prefer 2 relyable ones. And not necessarly very bright ones. I spent many, many hours in caves with usually some 2-4lm (old ActionLight I on medium setting).
    (In the former millenium I used to use some 500lm).
    Since using the AL1 I never ever needed a backup light and I have at least 5 weeks a year dedicated to caving and several more weekend trips.

    And further, going through a shallow and short sump without any SCUBA gear is quite common practice and nothing special.
    But you need a rope to follow (not only a guideline) unless the siphon is only half a meter long.
    But I have even seen people in this short distance to loose direction.
    A torch/flashlight (hey on topic again!) may help if the buddies show you the way with it.

    In a report from the oldest cave diving attempts in Great Britain, one diver writes that he stirred up the silt so fast that he thought that his light's bulb had blown.....

    They main reason for accidents like this one is panic. One person might have had the feeling that he/she can not do it and turned around and everything turned into a mass.

    I know a case where two (experinced) cavers met each other in the middle of a maybe 3-4m long sump. They had some misunderstanding about rope signals.
    Due to their experience they stayed calm and nothing bad happened, actually the had a lot of fun afterwards about that occasion.
    A novice might panic and let the rope go.

    Back to bright lights: In some occasions they might blind you, so more is not always better.

  26. #26
    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    [ QUOTE ]
    David_Campen said:
    [ QUOTE ]
    I hope this will result in bars being installed across the entrance to whatever this is so that no others have to suffer the same fate.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Well, since we have strayed off topic again. I find this type of comment annoying. Why do you take this paternalistic stance? If others want to risk their lives attempting to free dive a sump they should be permitted to do so.

    [/ QUOTE ]


    I didn't say it had to be sealed forever against anyone visiting it. I said it shoudl have a locked door. We lock all sorts of doors to places that are dangerous, but if you ask someone and they see you're prepared they will let you in.

    Same thing in most cave systems, if you visit a national park show cave you'll get the safe tour, but if you're a pro and want to explore the off limits area you have to go chat with the people that have the keys to the doors.

    This is a place that should have a key and someone who can come out and let you into it to explore if you're an adult and want to do it. Problem is that when the door is just open, people and children go wandering in and exploring that have no business being there.

    I'm not suggesting it be legislated, I'm suggesting that you give the key to some local folks with the experience to manage it like in so many other places all over everywhere. If there was an open sump on my property, or an open well, or an open mine i'd be expected to keep it locked up and safe so that people dont wander in that dont know how to be in there safely.

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* LowWorm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four cavers die in UT - only one light among t

    James, they actually did seal the entrance after recovering the bodies. Didn't want the area gaining notoriety and didn't want to run the risk of a repeat tragedy.

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