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National Speleological Society 2011 Convention

The National Speleological Society’s NSS 2011 Convention is coming to Glenwood Springs, Colorado,
July 18th – July 22nd. The convention will bring together cavers worldwide for a week of presentations, discussions, programs, socializing, and recreation.

Dave Lester, one of the principle NSS convention organizers, reports that Glenwood Springs should expect somewhere between 1000 and 1200 convention attendees.

Prior to the convention, NSS is planning community outreach events for Glenwood, which will include presentations to local service clubs and to schools. For schools, their Project Underground is a science-based curricula which teaches students about caving, how caves form, and other cave science topics.

About half the convention attendees will use a campground which will be set up between the high school and the Roaring Fork River, others opting for local lodging.

The NSS is encouraging a low-impact visit to Glenwood Springs. They are encouraging attendees to bring bicycles, which can be used on the bike path which runs in close proximity to the primary convention activities. NSS is also planning to bring loaner bikes for use by their members.

According to Lester, “members of the public are welcome to register for single day sessions or the entire week.”

Convention activities are still being planned, but a preview list includes:

  • An opening welcome dinner and dance party (aka “Howdy Party”) combined with the NSS 70th Anniversary Party, to be hosted by Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on top of Iron Mountain in Glenwood Springs
  • Trips to wild caves in Colorado during the convention, with both horizontal and vertical (technical climbing) caving trips
  • A decontamination station at the convention site – cavers participating in convention trips will be required to decontaminate their equipment
  • Geology Field Trip with cave stops. Beginning in Glenwood Springs, continuing to Redstone then Marble, then to El Jebel, before returning to Glenwood Springs
  • Convention sessions & workshops on a wide range of cave topics– exploration, biology, equipment, cave geology, cartography, archaeology, photography, paleontology, hydrology, karst management, ecology, and technological advances in communication and sensing equipment which aid in cave exploration
  • White Nose Syndrome (WNS in bats) presentations from cavers, land managers, and biologists on the issue of WNS in western states, for the purpose of improving communication and understanding
  • Vertical Climbing Workshop where students are given a basic overview of climbing equipment, techniques, and safety considerations. Covers knot tying, belaying, rappelling, and several ascending systems
  • Vertical Climbing Contests, 30 to 120 meters, for both men and women, separate age groups, and a team relay
  • Cave Art Salons, including cartographic, ballads, fine and cover art, video, multimedia, photographs, and t-shirt designs
  • NSS Board of Governors Meeting, and the Congress of Grottos meeting of the grottos, sections, regional associations, and surveys of the NSS
  • Kids activities, including trips for the Junior Speleological Society (JSS)
  • Convention auction/fundraiser for the NSS, supporting everything from Save the Caves to exploration
  • Campground Party at the Glenwood Springs High School, directly next to the campground, featuring the Terminal Syphons, a popular “caver band”
  • Public Session, featuring the IMAX adventure film Journey Into Amazing Caves. In this film, two accomplished cavers explore unusual caves, such as ice caves in Greenland and underwater caves in thejungles of Mexico, looking for important clues about the Earth’s past and microorganisms that inhabit its most extreme environments. (The film will be shown on a non-IMAX screen at the Glenwood Springs High School auditorium and is free to the public.) Two stars from the film will answer audience questions.

For more information, convention organizer Dave Lester recommends the following websites:


Alpine Coaster is open with new green sleds!