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Caving initiation workshop - October - November 2022

Between October 22 and November 20, 2022, Modules I and II of the fourth edition of the Initiation to Speleology Workshop were held in Santiago, Chile.


After this edition, no more workshops are planned until after April next year, since Natalia, who has led the workshop so far, will participate in the Ultima Patagonia 2023 expedition of the French association Centre Terre from January 9 to March 19, 2023.

Aerial view of the Egg estuary (Bien Nacional Protegido Archipiélago Madre de Dios), starting point for the Última Patagonia 2023 exploration teams.

Photo courtesy of Centre Terre


In terms of training, a total of nine modules were held this year. The main objective of the modules in which the workshop is structured is to share the basic technical and theoretical aspects of caving with the aim of promoting safe exploration of the underground environment.


Caving is a relatively unknown activity in Chile, partly because Chile is not a country with large known underground systems and a challenging geography. However, there are places to explore with potential and we are preparing for this.


In this edition of the workshop we have worked with two groups that have done several modules in a row. The great interest they have shown in continuing to delve into the fascinating world of speleological exploration is one of the greatest rewards we can have as an association. Only with a solid and committed team will we be able to continue planning the next steps.


MODULE I - keep it going!: 22-23 October 2022

Photos courtesy of Daniela Oyarzún and Natalia Morata

This excellent group wanted to continue with two more modules before the training circuits were unrigged.

Photo courtesy of Daniela Oyarzún and Pablo Cortés


MODULE II - basic self-rescue manoeuvres: 05-06 November

Montse Jiménez participated in this module as an assistant. Montse has completed all the levels convened to date and is actively involved in the "Training" commission of our association.

In addition, Alejandro Aguilera, a member of our association, visited us during this module, allowing us to enrich the record of activities with the perspective of a professional who is also a member of the incipient "Communication" commission.

Photo courtesy of Alejandro Aguilera.


Reinforcement MODULE: 19-20 November

The team was so impressed that several of them wanted to take advantage of the ropes being installed to reinforce their knowledge, refine their technique and learn new caving manoeuvres and "tricks".

Technical circuits were linked, the technique of the foot blocker was worked on, self-rescue techniques were reviewed and new ones were seen.

Photo courtesy of Daniela Oyarzún, Patricio Ulloa, Pablo Cortés and Natalia Morata


TRAINING FOR A CLOSED GROUP - GOPE

Because caving is a little known activity in Chile, getting started in it with a good technical base is crucial to minimise the risk of accidents (and over-accidents) in the future. It is equally important to start working on what, later on, will become caving rescue in Chile and its articulation within Civil Protection. It is therefore very positive to be able to work from the beginning with professionals from the Chilean rescue corps, creating links for the future.


With this objective in mind, closed days were organised for a highly technical group that, professionally, works in the rescue unit of the GOPE (Grupo de Operaciones Policiales Especiales de Carabineros de Chile, or Special Police Operations Group of Carabineros de Chile).


MODULE I: March 03-04

Despite their training and specialisation in the area of rescue, we approached the training from scratch to ensure that we all used the same concepts and techniques. We progressed very quickly, which allowed us to work on the fluency of all the manoeuvres and address more focused theoretical aspects in the field of caving rescue.

Photo courtesy of Natalia Morata


MODULE II - advanced self-rescue manoeuvres: 17-18 November

In caving we differentiate between three concepts that, in Chile, are often used differently:

- Fortune: es el conjunto de recursos y técnicas que aplico cuando me quedo sin algunos de mis implementos (se me cae el bloqueador de puño, falla mi descendedor, no me funciona el bloqueador ventral, etc.). Las técnicas de fortuna son recursos que conviene conocer para poder sortear una situación puntual que puede tornarse compleja, pero que nunca deben usarse sistemáticamente en sustitución del equipo o de las técnicas propias y validadas para una práctica segura de la actividad. Son parte del módulo I.

- Self-rescue: this is the set of manoeuvres that I apply when I must free a partner who is suspended on the rope as quickly as possible. They are not rescue techniques. Knowing self-rescue techniques is part of basic caving training. In addition to increasing the safety autonomy of exploration teams, it also reduces the complexity of an eventual rescue operation. They are part of module II.

- Rescue (cave rescue): speleological rescue operations are carried out by specialised speleological rescue groups that intervene after the activation of an alert through the emergency system that exists in each country. Cave rescuers are experienced speleologists who are familiar with the environment, who have received specific rescue training and keep their knowledge fresh because they regularly participate in exercises and drills. The validity of their training is guaranteed by practice, not by certificates. In Chile there is still no caving rescue team, which makes it all the more important to start caving responsibly and after having received basic training, thus minimising the risk of accidents in the underground environment.

Photo courtesy of Natalia Morata


If you would like to be informed about the next calls for any of the workshop modules, we suggest that you sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media.


If you would like to organise a workshop in your region, please write to espeleopatagonia@gmail.com for options, formats, schedule and conditions.


The proceeds from the training workshops go to the Asociación Espeleológica de Patagonia and, in particular, to the organisation of more workshops.



Guide used for the course:

"Manuel technique de Speléologie", 2018, 3ème édition,






This activity supports the International Year of Caves and Karst: http://iyck2021.org/index.php/events/#




Useful links:

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