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Cavers in Training

November 20, 2000

TITLE: CAVERS IN TRAINING        2005 by John and Susy Pint  Updated September, 2013

November 20, 2000

Several months ago, a large box filled with specialized caving gear arrived in Jeddah. Shipped to Arabia by Inner Mountain Outfitters, this equipment is designed to help a team of six enter, explore, survey and safely exit Saudi Arabia's typical caves, which are vertical shafts known as "dahls."

Now the equipment is out of the box and in the hands of six Saudi geologists who are learning their caving skills from John Pint of the NSS.

Says Pint, "These young Saudi geologists are as enthusiastic as any trainer could want. In fact, climbing cable ladders and rappeling off rooftops seemed like great fun to all of them right up to when we went out to the karst and looked down the black maw of a real dahl. In an instant, an awareness was born that cave exploring is a life-and-death game... and when we went back to Jeddah to continue the training, I saw an earnestness that told me: "Now they know what they've got themselves into."

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Ahmed on wire. Cable ladders are especially useful here because so many desert caves are 10 to 12 meters below the surface.

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Problem: how to get a big BIG man like Abdulrahman through a little slot. Will he make it?

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.and out pops Abdulrahman! But can he also do it in the dark?


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Belaying means protecting a climber with a rope, ready to catch him if he falls. Mohammed is putting on the brakes with his left hand.

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Who can tie a figure-eight knot fastest: Saeed, Rami or Mohammed? Knot-tying is an essential part of the training.

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First we do it in a tree and only later in a cave. Mohammed works on his "frog" ascending system.

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Can Mahmoud really climb eighty meters in a three-meter-high garage?

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With the help of a pulley, it can be done and here's the perspiration to prove it.

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THE NEXT STEP IS DOWN - Saeed leans back on his rappel rack, ready to apply all that training to a real cave. For more on what happens next, see the accompanying report on SGS Cave Field Trip Number One.