Are you afraid of the dark?

Have you noticed how it never really gets dark in Pittsburgh? Even when the sun goes down, the sky is still glowing from all the light pollution. Caving is the best way to get away from it. :-) In a cave, when you turn off all the headlamps and flashlights, you can experience a level of darkness like nowhere else. Also, getting there is fun.

Caves are always at a temperature of around 55 or 60°F, regardless of what the outside temperature is like. They are nice and cool in the summer, and nice and warm in the winter, so we can go caving in all seasons. (Although, walking back to the car, soaked, with snowflakes falling on your head, is a bit disconcerting.)

There are many caves within a few hours drive, and we have plenty of headlamps and helmets. Join the caving mailing list to hear about upcoming trips.

Check out some photos and stories from a sampling of our trips here.

Explorers Club Caving Chair

The Explorers Club is currently looking for a motivated and experienced member to fill the position of Caving Chair. If this is something you think you might be interested in, please contact us!

NOTICE: White-Nose Syndrome

Currently in the United States, bats are being threatened by the spread of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a deadly, infectious fungal disease affecting several endangered species of bats. The disease was first found in New York, spreading north east to New England and then south and west. This has prompted several organizations to close caves in states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.

Hibernating bats are in danger of death from WNS; an estimated 400,000 bats have died in hibernation periods since 2006. It can be observed as a white fungus on their muzzles, and has a mortality rate of 70-100% for most bat populations. Bats with the disease deplete their fat stores long before the hibernation period is over, and often exhibit changes in behavior, such as flying outside of the cave during the day or clustering near the entrance in subzero temperatures. 

Transmission of the disease is poorly understood. Bat to bat transmission is highly likely. While humans are not affected, scientists have recommended the closure of many caves as a precaution, until they can determine whether WNS can be spread by humans. 

Because of the dangers posed to bats, the Explorer's Club has decided to postpone any caving trips until the situation improves. The Club promotes outdoor activities as long as they can be enjoyed in a sustainable way, and until the situation improves we cannot endorse caving as a club-sponsored activity. We hope that the precautions taken by caving and conservation organizations will help restore balance to North American bat populations. 

More information can be found at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html,http://www.caves.org/WNS/, and http://www.karst.org/wns.htm. There was also a good summary article in a recent issue of the Sierra Club Sylvanian: White-Nose Syndrome.pdf.

The latest as of 08/2010: http://arstechnica.com/...