Geology Field Trip

The 2020 NSS Geology Field Trip will stop at five locations. The first three of these will be at the Bowden quarry area to discuss the Greenbrier Group Mississippian stratigraphy, at Smoke Hole Caverns to tour the cave and discuss the Helderberg and Tonoloway Silurian-Devonian rock units, and at Seneca Rocks for lunch and to discuss the Wills Mountain Anticline. We will then drive the length of Germany Valley and stop at Hellhole, where we will discuss the karst in the valley, the exploration that has taken place there, and the Ordovician stratigraphy. Our final stop will be at Seneca Caverns, which we visit.

The tour participants will receive an 80-or-so-page color guidebook that will include several auxiliary stops (if you want to redo the field trip in your car). These additional stops will include the the Hopeville Anticline, the Germany Valley Overlook on U.S. Route 33, and Nelson Rocks. This guidebook will also be available for non-participants from the NSS Book Store and the West Virginia Speleological Survey.

Vertical Contests Awards Ceremony

Hosts: Bill & Miriam Cuddington
Alternate: Terry Mitchell

Please join the Vertical Section in congratulating the Winners of the Vertical Climbing Contests, conducted on Monday and Tuesday! This continues our 53 year Vertical Caving Tradition!

In this formal Ceremony, these Winners will be presented their hard-won and treasured Award Certificates, plus Prizes! Each Category and Age Group will be presented.

Award Winners must be present, or send a representative, to receive their Prizes.

Everyone is Welcome to come, participate, and cheer!

Vertical Section Business Meeting and Presentations

Host: Gene Harrison, Chair
Alternate: Mike Rusin, Vice Chair

During the Annual Vertical Section Business Meeting, the Membership will formally conduct the official business of the Vertical Section. This continues our 48 year Vertical Section Tradition!

This Meeting includes reports about the Section’s financial posture, activities, new initiatives, and the annual election of Officers and Executive Committee Members. The Meeting usually ends before 10:00 AM.

Following a short break, the attendees will reconvene for the Vertical Session, including Presentations, which encourages participants to provide vertical caving related briefings and discussions, including new or updated vertical equipment and techniques, safety, developments, trip reports & adventures, and other
items of interest.

The Vertical Contests Awards Ceremony follows at 11:30.

Vertical Techniques Orientation Workshop

Event Leader: Kurt Waldron

The Vertical Section’s Annual Vertical Techniques Workshop is one of the most popular and fun learning events offered at the NSS Convention! Please reserve your slot before the Event is full, and be sure to arrive early Wednesday AM!

No previous vertical experience is necessary to attend this Workshop. It provides all cavers, beginner through experienced, with a basic overview of American-style Single Rope Techniques (SRT) in a safe and controlled environment. The Workshop is NOT intended as a complete training course, which should be obtained via local Grottos or other caving groups, etc. There are hands-on practical sessions in knot tying; belaying; cable ladder work; rappelling with the rappel rack and Petzl Stop descenders; and the
basic use of the most popular and useful vertical rope ascending systems.

All Participants MUST provide properly fitted climbing/caving approved gear, including as a minimum: helmet, seat harness with an appropriate load-bearing fastening, a locking carabiner, and rope-suitable gloves. Do not wear tank tops, excessively loose clothing, short pants, or anything else that might interfere with ropes or maneuvers. Avoid sandals, flip-flops, slip-ons, and other non-supportive footwear. Boots are recommended, although laced sneakers may be allowed. Participants with long hair should have a way to secure it away from rope/gear involvements. No home-made gear is allowed without Instructor approval. All other equipment is provided. Participants are advised to bring their own lunch.

PROMPT ARRIVAL & PROPER EQUIPMENT: All Participants MUST be at the Workshop site promptly before 8:30 AM to sign in and attend the mandatory Safety Briefing. All Participants must have previously signed the NSS Convention Liability Releases. Minors must have written parental permission. Wait Listees wishing to participate must also arrive promptly (and bring your fee, JIC!), in order to acquire any available open slots surrendered by no-show or improperly equipped registrants.

To attend this workshop, all Participants must sign up in advance at the Convention Registration Desk. Attendance is limited to 35 Participants, so please register early. The first 35 Registrants pay a fee of $25. If registration becomes full, a waiting list will be maintained. These additional Wait Listees do not yet pay a fee, pending Event slot availability. Since this Event must follow both Safety protocols and a tight time schedule, tardy or improperly equipped Participants may be declined, and their slots may be given to ready and properly equipped Wait Listees. Paying Registrants who are unable to participate may be eligible for a refund.

Vertical Climbing Contests

Event Leaders: Bill & Miriam Cuddington

One of the highlights at each NSS Convention is the Vertical Climbing Contest, where rope climbers of every age group can test their skills and equipment for ascending 11mm caving rope using Single Rope Techniques (SRT). This continues our 53 year Vertical Caving Tradition!

There are separate age groups for Men and Women, with categories for Mechanical, Knot, and Sit-Stand Ascending systems. Contests are run at distances of both 30 meters and 120 meters for each category. Climbers may take up to three attempts in each category, provided there is sufficient time.

The Vertical Climbing Contest is not only for trying to get a fast time. It is also a chance for contestants to see if their gear is working efficiently & effectively, and also to make any needed adjustments in a safe environment. There are usually other experienced vertical cavers in the vicinity that may provide helpful information for smart techniques and “tuning” systems.

In other words, it is a place to learn more about making your climbing rig, and you, better and safer for your caving trips!

There is also a Team Relay category, where 4 climbers must use 4 different systems to climb 30 meters each, in a relay-race format. The climbers on a given team must be members of the same grotto or organization for at least 6 months prior to the Convention. The team must also have at least one member of the opposite gender.

The Contests run from about 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Monday and from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Tuesday. Climbers, Please come early!! Runs concurrent with the Vertical Rebelay Course on Tuesday.

ARRIVAL: Participants may join us at any time during the day, and we appreciate Support and Coaches! All persons must have signed the NSS Convention Liability Releases. Minors must have written parental permission.


  • All 30 meter Climbers should arrive well before 3:00 PM, and
  • All 120 meter Climbers should arrive before 2:00 PM.

You will need allow time to sign in, gear up, wait for turn, climb, learn and enjoy! All Climbers must be ready to promptly rig in & climb when called, or you will be bypassed by the next ready climber.

Everyone is Welcome to come, participate, watch, cheer and learn!

Vertical Section – Rebelay

Event Leader: Gary Bush

The Vertical Rebelay Course provides demonstrations, instructions, and practice for climbing with the European style of rope rigging using rebelays. Instructors will be available throughout the day to assist students in learning and practicing the techniques necessary to negotiate rebelays safely and effectively. While the course is open, students may come by anytime to observe others, demonstrate their own
techniques, or to just practice.

Students should bring their own climbing gear. Homemade gear is subject to approval by the instructors. All gear will be evaluated by the instructors for safety, serviceability, setup, and “tuned” if need be for optimal performance while crossing rebelays. Loaner cowstails will be provided as needed. Runs concurrent with the Vertical Climbing Contests.

ARRIVAL: Participants may join us at any time during the day, and we appreciate Support and Coaches! You need time to allow time to sign in, gear up, wait for turn, climb, learn and enjoy! But Climbers should arrive well before about 3:00 PM to allow time to rig, maneuver, learn and enjoy! All persons must have signed the NSS Convention Liability Releases. Minors must have written parental permission.