HUNTSVILLE GROTTO

Huntsville Grotto of the National Speleological Society

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • 19 Aug 2022 6:11 PM | David Michal (Administrator)

    This is just a partial list of known caving events.

    SERA Cave Carnival (This is the generic website. The actual event site varies from year to year.

    Speleofest

    NSS Convention

    Karst-O-Rama

    Indiana Cave Capers

    SMG CaveFest

    OTR (Must be a TRA member or guest)

    TAG Fall Cave-In  (Must be an NSS member or guest)

  • 19 Aug 2022 5:01 PM | David Michal (Administrator)

    There are multiple caving related Facebook groups you can join including Huntsville Grotto (Unofficial), T.A.G. Caver, Cavers of Facebook, Vertical Cavers, National Speleological Society Community, and SERA (Southeast Regional Assocation) of the NSS. However, some people don't do Facebook. Also it is sometimes hard to know who you are talking to and to prevent information from spreading farther than it should. Fortunately, the new grotto website provides an alternative. We have set up three discussion forums that are limited to Huntsville Grotto members only. The three forums are:

    Huntsville Grotto General: For most any subject related to the grotto or caving. Huntsville Grotto General Forum

    All Things Vertical: Specifically for vertical caving related discussion. All Things Vertical Forum

    Who's Been Caving?: A place to talk about past, present, and future caving trips. Who's Been Caving? Forum

    Any member can read, post, and reply within the forums. You can also choose to subscribe to a forum so that you will get email notifications when new activity occurs. Or don't if you don't like getting much email. We can add or subtract forums in the future depending on what people are interested in talking about. Please choose the most appropriate forum, keep it caving or grotto related, and above all be nice!


  • 18 Aug 2022 5:34 PM | David Michal (Administrator)

    The Classic 8 award is designed to promote proficiency in the 3-knot climbing system.

    Requirements:
    Descending and ascending 8 Alabama pit-caves on a 3-knot climbing system:

    1. All of which were more than 100 feet, single pitch
    2. Two of which were more than 200 feet, single pitch
    3. One of which was more than 400 feet (on rope) in depth
    4. Your climbing system must have three points of attachment and not include any mechanical device. Prusik or helical knots are acceptable. A quick attachment safety doesn’t count as a point of attachment - we encourage you to have a quick-attachment safety as part of your climbing system!
    5. Personally rigging at least one of these pit-caves
    6. Obeying reasonable safety and conservation practices
    7. Membership in the National Speleological Society

    Classic 8 Award Application


  • 18 Aug 2022 5:29 PM | David Michal (Administrator)

    The Vertical 8 award is designed to promote better cave owner relationships by reducing the traffic to some of the more popular caves. It is hoped that providing an award such as this will also encourage vertical caving proficiency.

    Requirements:

    Descending and ascending 8 Alabama pit-caves:

    1. All of which were more than 100 feet, single pitch
    2. Two of which were more than 200 feet, single pitch
    3. One of which was more than 400 feet (on rope) in depth
    4. Personally rigging at least one of these pit-caves
    5. Obeying reasonable safety and conservation practices
    6. Membership in the National National Speleological Society

    Vertical 8 Award Application


  • 18 Aug 2022 2:43 PM | David Michal (Administrator)

    The Horizontal 12 award is designed to promote better cave owner relationships by reducing the traffic to some of the more popular caves. It is hoped that providing an award such as this will also encourage caving proficiency.

    Requirements:

    1. Traversing the major portion of 12 Alabama caves that are more than one mile in length. There are numerous caves you can choose from to fulfill this requirement, as there are currently over 50 caves in Alabama that are over one mile in length. 
    2. Obeying reasonable safety and conservation practices.
    3. Membership in the National Speleological Society.
    Horizontal 12 Award Application


  • 16 Aug 2022 4:46 PM | David Michal (Administrator)

    The award was conceived by the Huntsville Grotto in honor of long-time member, conservationist, cave steward, and SCCI Director John Van Swearingen IV, who passed away in 2001. JV served for many years as the Fern Cave Access Coordinator, providing stewardship of the Fern Cave system and preserve for both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Southeastern Cave Conservancy.

    The purpose of the award is to meaningfully recognize the successful stewardship efforts of an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization that has provided significant stewardship activities for one or more caves, cave preserves, or karst properties, personally conducted over an extended time period. The award, sponsored by the Huntsville Grotto and the SCCI, is also intended to promote long-term cave conservation and stewardship activities and to encourage and thank those individuals and organizations who perform them.

    The award consists of a one-of-a-kind certificate, with one of JV's artistic photographic images in the background, and an honorarium in the form of a donation in the award amount of $250 or more made to the SCCI in the name of the award recipient.

    Past Awardees

    YEAR AWARDEE CITY STATE
    2022  TBD
    2021  No awardee
    2020  No awardee
    2019  Steve Davis  Bryant  AL
    2018  Annette Reynolds  Vestavia  AL
    2017  Andy Zellner  Bridgeport  AL
    2016  No awardee
    2015  Mark Ostrander  Madison  AL
    2014  Steve Hudson  La Fayette  GA
    2013  Chuck Henson  Rossville  GA
    2012  Nathan Williams  Huntsville  AL
    2011  SERA Karst Task Force (SKTF)  TAG Region
    2010  Tom Moltz  Bryon  GA
    2009  Jay Clark  Birmingham  AL
    2008  Buddy Lane  Signal Mountain  TN
    2007  Bill Overton  Pegram  TN
    2006  Bill Birdsall  Ocala  FL
    2005  Steve Pitts  Ardmore  TN
    2004  Lonnie Carr  Sparta  TN
    2003  Bruce Brewer  Tallahassee  FL
    2002  William Oldacre  Gainesville  FL 



  • 15 Aug 2022 4:34 PM | David Michal (Administrator)

    Yes, there is!  It is provided by the host for our website, Wild Apricot. The App is available for Android and iOS.

    Android App Info

    iOS App Info

    Please note that we don't do online event registration yet, but we are working on it.

  • 10 Aug 2022 2:43 PM | David Michal (Administrator)
    Friday Practice

    For those that are new to Vertical Practice it is a multi-faceted event; people new to vertical caving can become familiar with equipment, techniques, meet the people, and try out various systems; beginners may develop their skill on the self-pace training course, experienced folks can stay current, try new techniques and equipment, and socialize.  It is neither necessary nor advisable for you to have your own gear until you know what you really want.  There are lots of people willing to let you try their gear.  The grotto hosts Friday Practice once or twice each month.

    HCRU SRT Class

    This class is designed to introduce students to Single Rope Technique (SRT) basic skills. Students will be instructed on how to safely climb and rappel using SRT with hands-on training in both classroom and field settings. While the class is a group setting, the instructor to student ratio is about 1:2 to ensure safety; each learning station has a dedicated instructor.
    Topics covered include: rigging and equipment, climbing systems and their applications, ascending, descending, changeovers in both directions, and dealing with rope obstructions.
    http://www.hcru.org/srt

    OnRope

    A great book on vertical caving.

    OnRope from the NSS Bookstore

    Alpine Caving Techniques

    A european perspective on vertical caving.

    Alpine Caving Techniques from Amazon

    Derek Bristol YouTube

    Some interesting videos related to vertical caving.

    Vertical Caving Videos

    Grotto Vertical Trips

    The grotto conducts a vertical caving trip each month.  Some trips are more challenging than others.  You must have you own gear and sufficient experience for the trip.  Please contact the trip leader  to verify your eligibility.

  • 10 Aug 2022 2:20 PM | David Michal (Administrator)

    Yes, these are independent.  Though, to be a grotto officer you must have both.  It is recommended for everyone to do both.  With an NSS membership you get:

    1. Your own unique NSS id.

    2. Access to the NSS membership directory.

    3. A discount at the NSS bookstore.

    4. A subscription to the NSS News.

    5. Access to old NSS convention guidebooks.

    6. Access to American Caving Accidents.

    7. A discounted fee for attending the annual NSS convention.

    8. Ability to register for the TAG Fall Cave-In without having to be someone's guest.

    9. Eligibility to vote for the NSS Board of Governors

    https://caves.org/committee/membership/index.shtml

  • 8 Aug 2022 3:26 PM | David Michal (Administrator)

    The Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia caving region.

    Also sometimes short for the TAG Fall Cave-In, a large caving event held every year in October by the Dogwood City Grotto.

    See this video for a history of TAG. "TAG, You're It!" - TAG Caving

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