Ask Cavers: How Do Folks React When They Find Out You’re a Caver?

February 20, 2013

Surprise! Photo by Joshua Rappeneker/flickr

Inspired by last weeks Ask Cavers question which asked how your group attracts new cavers, this week we want to know how people react when they discover that you are a caver.

Do they seem intrigued or impressed, fear for your safety, question why, or call you crazy? What are some of the strangest reactions you’ve received?

Share your thoughts and comments in the discussion below.

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Comments (14)

  1. Bamabookwyrm
    February 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Honestly, around here the reaction you get is either “Oh, yer one o’ them spee-lunkers?” or possibly “Hey, you ever been to Bangor?” My parents are sure that i am trying to kill myself. And my friends (the non-caving ones) just think i’m wierd.

  2. Yiorgos Gadanakis
    February 21, 2013 at 8:25 am

    The most common reaction is surprise and then … is there enough oxygen?

  3. Clinton Barber
    February 21, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I usually get, “that’s dangerous, you’re gonna get killed”. To which I reply, “no more dangerous than getting on the highway. I’m the only idiot I have to worry about in a cave, and I’d much rather go out doing something I love than in a car on the way to work.” That usually shuts them up.

  4. Tom Griffin
    February 21, 2013 at 9:01 am

    First it’s usually one word “Really” followed by 2 words “not me”. Then lots of questions with an invite by me. I enjoy the interest and sharing pictures .

  5. February 21, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Seeing as most folk I know are cavers, its no bigge!

    My kids get a lot of different reactions though – one of their teachers thought that my daughter was “very brave”. My son’s peers think that its “cool” that he goes caving with his “Owd man” – rather than kick an inflated pig’s bladder round a field for 90 mins trying to put it in a fishing net!

  6. David
    February 21, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Them: Oh! So you’re a spelunker!
    Me: (sigh) Uhh, yeah, something like that.

    Them: How do you keep from getting lost?

    Them: Aren’t you afraid of snakes? (Earthquakes, spiders, etc.)

    Them: Why do you need all that gear? I thought all caves (around the world) were exactly 60°

    Me: Here’s a picture of a buddy squeezing through a fairly tight spot. In the really tight spots, you don’t have room to use a camera.
    Them: (Look at me funny.) You’re nuts! (walks away shaking head)

    Them: WOW! That’s Cool! Can I go?

  7. Michael Pringle
    February 21, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    My folks already knew I was interested in going caving; they forbade me from going. I went within weeks of my eighteenth birthday. They were then not OK with my becoming a vertical caver; so I picked a time they would be out, and ran to the outdoor store where I had ordered 300′ of rope. Had it coiled up over my shoulder, and walked into the house to find my mom sitting in the living room reading, she had come home while I was out. Eyes the size of dinner plates upon seeing the rope, but they got over it. I got interested in caving because my folks both read “The Caves Beyond”, and I read it while they had it out of the library.

  8. Henry
    February 22, 2013 at 9:14 am

    “Ooooh, I couldn’t do that, I’m claustrophobic.”

    Also, I definitely come across the “So you go spelunking??” question a lot, and I’ve not been able to think of a polite/ unpretentious way of saying, “I hate the word spelunking and it should die. Spelunkers are amateurs! I’m a caver!” Any suggestions?

  9. Nathan
    February 22, 2013 at 10:13 am

    A lot of people ask me if I’ve seen The Descent or Sanctum, I tell them both movies are comedies. Most people find it cool, all depends on the type of person.

  10. February 23, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Most common question I get is, “are you not afraid of it caving in on top of you?”

    Another amusing comment someone made recently after watching a bit of video I shot in a cave was “gosh, it looks quite dark! Are they all as dark as that?”

    Quite often the reaction is a simple “WHY?”

  11. Rodney Tennyson
    February 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    I’ve heard everything from: “You’re out of your mind.” To: “Wow, that’s cool!”
    I have always taken lots of photos, both above and below ground, and keep my PC at work well stocked with a variety on the screensaver; many times I come back to my cubicle and find people staring as the pictures scroll across the screen. Few want to go caving but I get a lot of positive feedback and some cave leads!

  12. patti livery
    April 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    i have been adventurous all my life-so no one is too surprised.

  13. May 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    “Oohh, so you’re a spelunker?”
    (I always correct them)

    “Not me, I’m so claustrophobic”

    “So you are like, Lora Croft!”
    (I never played this game too much, and I’m not aware of a cave in this movie??)

    Most people know I am a bit crazy and adventurous so it doesn’t surprise them.

  14. Reves
    November 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    “So, spelunking?”

    “No, caving.”

    “What’s the difference?”

    “Cavers go in to rescue spelunkers.”


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