It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
The activity of exploring caves on a non-commercial basis is called spelunking--aka caving or potholing! Usually undertaken by trekking enthusiasts, this is considered by many to be an extreme sport. It involves delving into well-mapped as well as unexplored caves, and can be rather dangerous!
While man has explored caves for millennia now, caving as a hobby has only taken off over the last hundred years or so.
In order to go spelunking, one needs to make sure they have the right gear. Hard hats are a must, as they protect from falling rocks and hard surface bumps. Typically, a light is mounted on the hard hat in a set-up similar to that in a miner's hat. These lights are usually electric, but LEDs and halogens are also used.
A caver also has to ensure he is properly protected with suitable layers of clothing. This largely depends on the weather conditions in the cave. In colder caves, a caver should ideally wear a warm base layer made of fleece or polypropylene. The over-suit is the most important part of the attire and is typically made of thick resistant materials like Cordura or PVC. As for footwear, cavers preferably wear neoprene socks and rubber shoes. They also tend to wear gloves, elbow pads and knee pads and also carry ropes with slings, bolts and carabiners.
This activity is clearly for the dedicated few who can brave tough and unexpected conditions. To add to this, cavers even have to carry first aid kits, food and containers to transport urine and faeces!
It's far from a recreational activity, with climbing or crawling often necessary, and ropes being used extensively for the safe negotiation of particularly steep or slippery passages. As for the risks, there are many, but the most common are hypothermia, falling, flooding, and physical exhaustion. Add to the fact that rescue crews often face those same risks and you've got a "sport" that clearly attracts a very specific breed of individual!
-Picture courtesy Thinkstock-
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