|TITLE: CAVERS IN
© 2005 by John and Susy Pint Updated
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
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
Ahmed on wire. Cable ladders are especially useful
here because so many desert caves are 10 to 12 meters below the surface.
Problem: how to get a big BIG man like Abdulrahman
through a little slot. Will he make it?
.and out pops Abdulrahman! But can he also do it
in the dark?
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.
Who can tie a figure-eight knot fastest: Saeed,
Rami or Mohammed? Knot-tying is an essential part of the training.
First we do it in a tree and only later in a cave.
Mohammed works on his "frog" ascending system.
Can Mahmoud really climb eighty meters in a
With the help of a pulley, it can be done and
here's the perspiration to prove it.
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.