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There goes the Crux!

Kenilworth

New member
What about another sort of crux?

Carlsbad Caverns, US, is an astounding cave whose natural entrance series would serve to exclude the majority of visitors. It was navigated with ropes and ladders by the original explorers, and then partially bypassed by a shaft and bucket/winch. Now there is a paved path, road almost, not only disruptive of the natural beauty of the place, but utterly destructive of respect for its severity.

The cave is a national monument, so it is fitting that the national obsession with size and quantity should be manifest here. The Big Room is vast and so are many of its calcite features. It can be reached by walking down the natural entrance path, but since it is considered the dominant feature of the cave, this effort has been made unnecessary by the construction of an elevator, leading down from the surface through 750' of limestone (once down it is encouraged that you refresh yourself at the restroom, at the snack bar, at the gift shop)

These modifications are justified by the claim that Carlsbad Caverns are a wonder that the public deserves to see. I am baffled by this logic. In making Carlsbad Cave, a forbidding and fragile place, casually available, it has been degraded to something far beneath what it was. The sum of joy, wonder, and satisfaction available from it has decreased as the quantity of visitors increases.


 

Roger W

Well-known member
That, I suppose, is true of all show caves.  Walking-height passages are opened, level pathways and steps installed, with lighting throughout. 

But this is the only opportunity most people have to experience the underground world.  Should they be denied this privilege? 
 

Kenilworth

New member
Roger W said:
That, I suppose, is true of all show caves.  Walking-height passages are opened, level pathways and steps installed, with lighting throughout. 

But this is the only opportunity most people have to experience the underground world.  Should they be denied this privilege?

You have answered your own question by use of the word privelege. No one has a right to experience the underground world, except that self-evident in their initiative to do so. I believe that the opportunity to visit non-commercial caves is more or less unrestricted.

While it is true that most commercial caves are degraded, it was especially disheartening to visit Carlsbad. I really wish I had never seen it.

Some caves need more protection than others. If making a cave public is to sacrifice its definition, character, and health, then neither the diminished land, the guilty developer, nor the robbed consumer are being honored.
 

NigR

New member
Kenilworth said:
I believe that the opportunity to visit non-commercial caves is more or less unrestricted.

Maybe with you over in the States it is but that is certainly not the case here in South Wales, I can assure you!

Regarding your comments concerning show (commercial) caves, I generally concur but there are some I have visited (mainly in France) which do retain the 'natural' element better than others. Carlsbad certainly sounds like the ultimate example in the opposite direction and, as you say, is probably best avoided by cavers like ourselves.
 

Kenilworth

New member
NigR said:
Kenilworth said:
I believe that the opportunity to visit non-commercial caves is more or less unrestricted.

Maybe with you over in the States it is but that is certainly not the case here in South Wales, I can assure you!

I can appreciate that access issues in Wales are complex. My real meaning was that anyone who really wants to see caves can do so, even in Wales. No one has to rely on commercial caves for the "underground experience". That being so, the damage done to many commercial caves in the name of public interest is wasteful.

 
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