Caving Training with Phil Bence
Recently James Falchetto of TRAKSPRO brought over one of the worlds most experienced cavers to train and go on an caving trip in Oman with our caving team MECET (Middle East Caving Expeditionary Team).
(A very big thanks to James for setting this up)
Phil is Team Petzl sponsored caver with many years of experience and vast knowledge on caving and the skills necessary to enter, progress through and exit these wonderful caves. I was very excited to have the opportunity to meet, train and cave with Phil this last week. A lot of the skills that Phil taught me I already knew; however he shared with the rest of the MECET Team and me a few alternative ways of doing each skill which and a few new ones as well
Phil’s expertise made him a wiz on the ropes. I watched him demonstrate each skill flawlessly and effortlessly; performing them with grace and very quickly. The skills and tips he taught us helped us to be more efficient on the ropes while maintaining safety. Having the ability to be efficient and safe on the ropes while in the caves is very important and this is why we train.
I asked Phil a few questions this is what he told me:
1. As one of the worlds most experienced cavers what do you think the three most important things a caver should know are?
- The most a caver knows the best it is ! for him, for security and also for the best caving experience. It’s really interesting to understand how this amazing and strange worlds works. geology, hydro geology, biology…All this help you also to discover new galleries. You have to know also about topographics, about technique and so much more if you want. That is why I like it, it’s sport, it’s challenges, you have to be strong for some passages but it’s also about knowledge and friendship.
When you share something hard in a cave with your friends it gives a link with them for the all life.
2. How much food and water do you typically take on an expedition and what do you take?
- An expedition for me is exploration, we use to spend 15 days to one month up into a karst mountain. What we bring deepened of the place for sure. Papua is different from Picos de Europa for example, pasta and rice are the basic and we try to found nice things to cook with. In cave, for a long trip (more than 15 hours) we take enough to do 2 meals.
3. What is the longest you have ever spent in a cave?
- The longest without sleeping is 22 hours and 3 days with 2 nights sleeping.
But we always try not to stay to long in cave if possible. It’s much more comfortable to sleep outside, mostly in cold and wet caves !
4. Caving is an extreme and dangerous activity; with great risk come great reward. What do you think the most rewarding thing about caving is?
- The most interesting for me is exploration, found new passages, discover new caves
I’ve already participate to more than a hundred kilometer of exploration in different countries and it gives you so much nice memories !
- I like to climb also, sport climbing or long routes, i like canyoning, mountaineering, skiing, diving also, I want to learn paragliding now most of my hobbies are about outdoor
Thanks Phil for sharing your expertise with us; it was a great learning experience and we all had a wonderful time. I hope we have the chance to meet again.
For more information about Phil check out his page:
Photos courtesy of Phil Bence©
More to come later about last weekends amazing trip.