Vertical Section

Introduction | Vertical Clinics | TAG and Other Vertical Trips | Borrowing Vertical Gear | Useful Links and Information

A happy group of WUSSes during a vertical caving trip to TAG country!

Caves are not always horizontal. In fact, many caves require some amount of vertical work to get in or out of them. Vertical caves require special training and unique equipment to enjoy their splendor safely. So here at WUSS we help you out by providing all the required gear for your vertical adventures as well as training so you may safely enjoy the world of vertical caving.

Vertical Clinics

WUSS understands that most people have never been on rope before, let alone been on rope in total darkness! For this reason we hold a variety of vertical clinics throughout the year to teach you the necessary skills to be a proficient vertical caver. Clinics are held to teach basic rope techniques including rappelling and ascending as well as advanced techniques including rigging drops, knots, anchor building and rescue. For information on the next vertical clinic, please consult our calendar or you can email us at {}.

TAG and Other Vertical Trips

A few times a year, WUSS will take trips that require vertical training. For the safety of the entire group, anyone wishing to go on these trips must have certain qualifications to be eligible to attend.

  • All attendees must be a member in good standing.
  • All attendees must be certified in vertical work through Level 2.
  • Any leaders for vertical trips must be certified in vertical work through Level 3.
  • All attendees must be able to climb a fixed distance in a reasonable amount of time, typically this is set at 30 meters in 5-10 minutes, but it can be adjusted based on the trip.
  • Further requirements may be implemented by the trip leaders as is required.
A caver rappelling into Neversink Pit, Alabama.
Borrowing Vertical Gear

WUSS has a large assortment of gear available for our members to borrow. Due to the potential risks involved with vertical work, anyone wishing to borrow a set of vertical gear must be a member in good standing and have completed their Level 2 vertical certification. To borrow ropes or rigging gear, the member (in good standing) must have completed, at least, their Level 3 vertical certification. Once these conditions are met, a member may check out gear with an officer. Gear check out is at the discretion of the officers and may be denied. Any checked out gear, must be returned whenever asked by an officer, as well as at the end of the academic school year. Members checking out gear are financially responsible for any and all equipment they borrow.

Our primary method of ascending rope utilizes either a Double Bungie Rope Walker or Frog system and we use Racks or Figure 8s to descend. However, we do have the equipment and skills required to build just about any other popular ascending system, including Mitchell or Texas.

Available Gear
  • Seat Harnesses (available in all sizes)
  • Chest Box with Roller
  • Petzl QAS or Jumars
  • Foot Ascenders
  • Stainless Steel 6 Bar Racks
  • 11mm Pit Rope (in lengths from 150ft. - 700ft.)
  • Tubular and Flat Webbing (in lengths from 15ft. - 150ft.
  • Rope Pads
  • Carabiners (both locking and non-locking)
  • Rigging Gear (including pulleys and steel carabiners)

  • Valhalla pit
    Two cavers climbing out of Valhalla Pit, Alabama.

    Useful Links and Information
    • WUSS Vertical Certification - a list of skills needed to be a proficient vertical caver, as well as the criteria WUSS uses to determine a caver's abilities and eligibility to go on advanced vertical trips, such as TAG and to check out vertical gear. (This file will not open properly in your browser, to view this file please right-click and select "Save As")

    • A Guide to a Simple and Safe Change-Over Procedure - a step-by-step guide to performing a change-over from ascending to rappelling and vice-versa using a Double Bungie Rope Walker.

    • NSS Vertical Section - the official page for the National Speleological Society's vertical section, includes back issues of their newsletter, Nylon Highway.

    • Vertical Section - great resource for all the technical knowledge surrounding vertical caving, including knot strengths, rope construction, and advanced rigging.

    • Knots Guide - an animated guide to over 200 knots. Every vertical caver should know how to tie a figure eight, a bowline, a water knot, a square knot, a double fisherman's, a clove hitch, an alpine butterfly and others.

    • Knot Terminology - a simple guide to all the common names used when dealing with knots and ropes.