During these times of COVID, meetings are still held on a weekly basis. Meetings are temporarily hosted on Zoom, to meet university guidelines, instead of at UREC.
At meetings members discuss the trips that happened the weekend before, talk about upcoming events, and sign-up for the upcoming cave trip.
MUSG holds several vertical practices throughout each semester. They are on the rock wall at UREC. Students will be taught proper, safe techniques to rappel and climb rope that is used to negotiate pits underground. The gear is owned by the grotto, so no special equipment is needed for trainees. All you need to bring is a pair of gloves to protect your hands.
In the spring semester MUSG hosts a weekend called the Spring Fling. It is usually held at a location a couple hours from Harrisonburg in an area with a lot of caving opportunities. The weekend involves camping Friday and Saturday nights with caving on Saturday, sometimes Sunday. MUSG always provides a free Saturday night meal for all members attending.
In the fall semester MUSG hosts a weekend called the Fall Ball. It is usually held at a location a couple hours from Harrisonburg in an area with a lot of caving opportunities. The weekend involves camping Friday and Saturday nights with caving on Saturday, sometimes Sunday. MUSG always provides a free Saturday night meal for all members attending.
Regional Caving Events
Carter Caves Winter Adventure
In late January the Carter Caves State Park in northeastern Kentucky host the annual Winter Adventure. Mid-Atlantic cavers flood this event to cave in a new area and meet new cavers. Several caves are nearby to visit. If not into the crawl-a-thon that the area caves provide there is the famous rock climbing destination, the Red River Gorge, nearby. The Red is not only popular with rock climbers, as there are over 100 natural sandstone arches in the forestland accessible on or from established hiking trails.
Each year the Virginia Region (VAR) hosts a springtime event called the Spring VAR. The location of the event changes each year as different member grottos of the VAR host the event, either in Virginia or West Virginia. This gives people an opportunity a new place to visit and cave. On Saturday evening there is a free meal and program. To attend, you must be a member of a grotto that is apart of the VAR. Attendance usually runs from 200-400 cavers. The Spring VAR usually has a few vendors that sell cave gear and the like.
Each year the Mid-Appalachian Region (MAR) hosts a springtime field meet called the Spring MAR. The location of the event changes each year as different grottos of the MAR host the event, either in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware or New Jersey. This gives people an opportunity a new place to visit and cave. To attend, you must be a member of a grotto that is apart of the MAR. Attendance usually runs from 150-300 cavers.
SERA Summer Cave-Carnival
The Southeastern Regional Association (SERA) has annual Cave-Carnival usually in early May. A different member grotto of the SERA hosts it each year, thus rotating the event between Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. Caving in TAG is different than the Virginias’ as multi-drop caves and open-air pits are common. You must be an NSS member, or be sponsored by one, to attend. The turnout of the Cave-Carnival is usually 400-600 people.
Speleofest started in 1972 by the Louisville Grotto. Proceeds from the event have funded the purchase the Lone Star Preserve in Bonnieville, Ky., which functions as a permanent location for the event and a year-round educational facility for caves and karst. The Lone Star Preserve has grown to 126 acres in recent years and has 6 caves on the property, 3 of which have over 500 feet of passage. To attend you must be an NSS member, or be sponsored by someone who is. Attendance is usually 150-300 people.
The WVACS Classic is a weekend event held in either in June or July is hosted by the West Virginia Association of Cave Studies (WVACS) in Renik, W.Va. Its purpose is to give an an introduction to project caving to those interested. There are several courses available — learn how to read survey instruments, learn how to sketch, learn digging techniques, learn vertical techniques, and several survey trips go out as well. The fee is usually $35, which includes a meal and presentation on Saturday night. No affiliation necessary for attendance.
Karst-O-Rama (KOR) is the annual caving event every August hosted by the Greater Cincinnati Grotto. It takes place at The Great Saltpetre Cave Preserve near Mt. Vernon, Ky. KOR runs from Friday through Sunday and features guided cave trips, caving vendors, the Guano Grill (snack shack), kids activities, contests, and more. On Saturday evening there is a banquet, program, and door prizes followed by music and a dance party. To attend, you must be an NSS member, a member in good standing of a grotto, or sponsored by someone who is. Attendance is usually 150-300 people.
Old Timers Reunion (OTR) is the largest annual gathering of cavers in the U.S. The event lasts for five days over Labor Day weekend each year near Beverly, W.Va. Attendance is usually around 1,400 cavers.
Each year there is a theme ranging from pirates, to Steampunk, to Halloween. OTR is the place to go to meet new cavers, shop multiple caving vendors, see live music, participate in a parade, visit the sauna, roam the campground, and of course: GO CAVING.
To attend you must be sponsored by a member if you’re not a TRA (The Roberson Association) member. The OTR website has instructions on how to obtain a life-time membership.
Each year the Virginia Region (VAR) hosts an autumn event called the Fall VAR. The location of the event changes each year as different member grottos of the VAR host the event, either in Virginia or West Virginia. This gives people an opportunity a new place to visit and cave. On Saturday evening there is a free meal and program. To attend, you must be an NSS member or a member of a grotto that is part of the VAR. Attendance usually runs from 200-400 cavers. The Fall VAR has no caving vendors.
Each year the Mid-Appalachian Region (MAR) hosts an autumn field meet called the Fall MAR. The location of the event changes each year as different grottos of the MAR host the event, either in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware or New Jersey. This gives people an opportunity a new place to visit and cave. To attend, you must be an NSS member or a member of a grotto that is apart of the MAR. Attendance usually runs from 150-300 cavers.
TAG FALL CAVE-IN
The TAG Fall Cave-In is an annual event, sponsored by the Dogwood City Grotto out of Atlanta, Ga. It is held in northwest Georgia on Lookout Mountain, in the heart of TAG (Tenn/Alabama/Georgia). The Cave-In is the second largest gathering of cavers in the U.S. with attendance ranging from 700-1,000 cavers. To be able to attend you must be an NSS member or be sponsored by one.
TAG offers an abundance of pits and multi-drop vertical caves. There’s also plenty of horizontal caves. A perfect place for the novice caver or the advanced SRT skilled!
Bridge Day is held annually on the third Saturday in October to commemorate the October 1977 completion of the New River Gorge Bridge. The Bridge is the longest single arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere; 3rd longest in the world.
The New River Gorge Bridge is 876’ above the New River, the 2nd oldest river in the world. Bridge Day offers people the opportunity to rappel on a team of experienced “long-ropers.” To qualify, you must get on a team and complete a number of long rappels. The participation fee runs around $150.
Bat Ranch Halloween
The Halloween Party at the Bat Ranch as been going on for decades. Since the 1980s caver(s) have lived in this particular farmhouse in Giles County, Va., and thus, keeping the Bat Ranch tradition alive. The annual celebration of cavers usually culminate with the turnout of the active student grottos (VPI, MUSG, WVUSG) of the area. A large fire, live music or D.J., and festivities keep the campers awake into the night. There is no fee and no requirement for attendance.
National Caving Events
Hosted by the National Speleological Society (NSS) the NSS Convention is annual summertime event. The event moves around the country, in different states, offering members introduction to a new area of caving. The week-long event is full of talks (historic projects, life-long cavers), presentations (US Exploration, local exlopration, international exploration), seminars (geology, hydrology, mineralogy), contests (photography, video, music, art, cartography, vertical), and training (vertical workshop, survey course). Attendance is usually 600-900 people. To attend you must be an NSS member.
Local Project Caving Organizations
Butler Cave Conservation Society
The Butler Cave Conservation Society (BCCS), group of cavers dedicated to the conservation, exploration, and survey of the caves in and around Burnsville Cove, Va. They actively explore and find new caves “in the cove” and welcome experienced cavers to join in their efforts. Work weekends are sporadic during the year; best to check their website for dates. They have the Homestead, which provides shelter for sleeping, or you can camp on the multi-acre property; there is no running water.
Germany Valley Karst Survey
The Germany Vally Karst Survey (GVKS) meets the second weekend of every month near Riverton, W.Va. There are multiple exploration projects going on at any time. Some of the largest projects are Memorial Day Cave, Shoveleater Cave, Hellhole and Kimble Pit. There is no membership involved and everyone is welcome to participate. There is a Fieldhouse to stay in and costs $5 per night; there is no drinking water, no hot water, and no showers available.
The West Virginia Association for Cave Studies (WVACS) has official work weekends on the second weekend of every month. Everyone is welcome, you do not have to be a member to attend, but you will need a member to sponsor you if you want to stay and use the facilities. Cost per night for non-members is $7 a night and $1 for a shower. WVACS concentrates their efforts in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. There are multiple projects going on at any time, with plenty of new cave out there to discover!