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The recreational sport of cave exploration. Within the caving constituency it is known as ‘spelunking’, a term adopted among US cavers in the 1940s and 1950s. Caving as a leisure pursuit and athletic challenge is an activity of the modern era, dependent upon technological equipment and scientific knowledge of the cave; it is not romantic exploration. Climbing and crawling are necessary skills for the caver, and have been since the pioneering cavers of late 19th-century France developed appropriate techniques. France provided the first national association for the overseeing of caving, the national Société de Spéléologie Society being founded in 1895 along with a specialist journal. A variant in the north of England, referring to vertical caves, is ‘potholing’. Classified as one of what sociologists and sport analysts have called extreme sports, caving is seen by its committed practitioners as more established, more responsible, and more mature than that label implies.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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