The Lottery for Registration has been completed. A waitlist has been created of the remaining registrants. We are not adding to the waitlist at this time.

About this Seminar

This NCRC Small Party Assisted Rescue (SPAR) seminar is an intensive three-day introduction to cave rescue techniques that a party of six or fewer people can perform, using minimal gear that can be carried on caving trips. Topics covered in the class include preventing and preparing for common caving-related problems, basic medical skills, moving patients through obstacles, helping people who are stuck on rope, and building and operating haul and lower systems.  

Students will need to study some material in advance so that the sessions reinforce and elaborate on existing information. Students will practice skills in a rope gym setting, and then will build on those skills at cliff and cave sites. The course will be demanding, with long days and evenings, but will provide participants with valuable skills that they can use to help themselves and others when they are needed most.

For safety and class efficiency, students should already be competent and comfortable with knot-tying and vertical-caving skills. Before taking the course, students must successfully demonstrate the knot-tying and single-rope-technique (SRT) skills described in the Level 1 Entry Skills Guide. We encourage students to contact an NCRC instructor to complete their skills demonstration prior to the class. We will also hold a skills demonstration session at the course site on November 30, 2023, between 6 and 9 pm. 

Those under 18 will need to contact the course coordinator to make arrangements prior to registration.

The course fee, which includes meals (Friday and Saturday, three meals; Sunday, two meals) and on-site tent camping, is $225 for members of the National Speleological Society (NSS), and $275 for non-NSS members. Non-NSS members may pre-register at the NSS member rate by first joining or renewing NSS membership. NSS offers significantly discounted membership rates to individuals under the age of 26.

Course Details
Click on the titles below for more information about the course.

Course Location

We will hold part of the class at the Little River Property, as well as local cave and cliff sites.


  • Thursday, November 30: Check-in and entrance skills from 6pm - 9pm (Eastern)
  • Friday, December 1: Onsite demonstrations (morning) and cliff day. Evening sessions at Little River Property until roughly 9pm (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner provided)
  • Saturday, December 2: In Cave Exercises all day. Evening sessions at Little River Property until roughly 9pm (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner provided)
  • Sunday, December 3: In Cave Exercises all day. Conclude 5pm, and depart from the cave. (Breakfast, Lunch provided)

Students should come prepared each day with snacks, water, and appropriate gear and clothing for gym, and cave activities. The schedule is subject to change at the discretion of the instructors.

Required Personal Equipment

(All gear must be clean and in good condition) 

  • HELMET. A caving or climbing helmet is preferred. Must have a 3 or 4-point non-elastic chinstrap.
  • LIGHTS. Three dependable, helmet-mountable, and independent sources of light. 
  • RUGGED CLOTHING. Cave suit optional. Must have insulating layers, and an outer protective layer.
  • GLOVES. Must have leather (or sturdy synthetic equivalent) palms and full fingers.
  • BOOTS. Sturdy, lug-soled boots with good support. NO tennis shoes!
  • FOOD. Quick energy, ready to eat (trail mix, candy bars, cheese, etc.).
  • WATER. 2 liters minimum capacity.
  • SMALL PACK. Rugged enough for the cave environment.
  • TWO CARABINERS. Two extra locking carabiners that are not part of your SRT gear.
  • WEBBING or ACCESSORY CORD. 20+ feet long, at least 15 kN minimum breaking strength (MBS).
         - Commercially sewn seat harness.

     - Mechanical ascending system that includes:
         - at least two ascenders connected to the seat harness (either directly or with a cowstail/tether);
         - a second cowstail/tether connected to the seat harness, with a carabiner (non-locking OK) at the free end.
      - Descender connected to the seat harness - 4-bar micro-rack with hyperbar, bobbin with braking device, standard rappel rack, or Scarab-style device. 

  • RESCUE GEAR. Any pulleys, Prusiks, or small rescue gear that you normally carry in your cave pack.

Recommended Personal Equipment

  • One or two large garbage bags (contractor weight, 55 gallon works best)
  • Small candle and matches/lighter
  • Wrist watch to be worn underground (cell phones for time keeping aren’t recommended)
  • Paper/pencil for underground use (e.g., small notebook with golf pencil)
  • Personal first aid kit (small)
  • Camp chair or sit pad
  • Balaclava/lightweight hat to wear under helmet

White-Nose Syndrome

All gear brought to the seminar must be clean. The caves that we will use for the in-cave exercises are located in an area where the fungus responsible for causing White Nose Syndrome in bats has been detected, so all gear used in the cave should be cleaned and disinfected after the seminar, according to the latest protocols:

Meals and Lodging

The course fee covers meals for the weekend (Friday breakfast through Sunday lunch). We will do our best to accommodate dietary preferences and restrictions that you share when pre-registering, but please remember you are ultimately responsible for your own health. Students should bring their own snacks for the field exercises on Saturday and Sunday.

Tent camping is available at the Little River Property. Showers and portapotties will be onsite.

Cancellation Policy and Fees

Student initiated cancellations will incur the following fees:
 Before November 10: $25.00.
 November 11 - 23: 50% of course fee.
 After November 23: no refund.

Covid-19 Considerations

We will be following local and state recommendations. At this time, masks are optional, and we fully support anyone who chooses to wear one. If you suspect you may have Covid and/or show Covid-like symptoms, please be respectful of your fellow course participants and do not attend the course (we will waive any cancellation fee).

About NCRC

The National Cave Rescue Commission is a commission of the National Speleological Society (NSS), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. NCRC serves as NSS’s representative on issues of cave rescue training and operations. By design, NCRC is not an operating cave rescue team. Rather, its mission is to provide training and development opportunities for persons and organizations engaged in cave rescue activities. All NCRC officers, instructors, and staff are volunteers.


For questions regarding gear, prerequisites, or seminar material, contact the lead instructor: Michael Hopkins, [email protected]. For questions regarding registration or course logistics, contact the course coordinator: Kyle Gochenour, [email protected].


Class size is limited to 12 students. To make the course registration process more equitable and accessible, we are conducting a pre-registration process. The pre-registration window is open now, and runs through 10 pm Eastern on October 29, 2023. After the pre-registration window has closed, if more people have pre-registered than there are places available, we will select registrants for open slots by random drawing. By completing this page, you agree that this payment information will be used to process your payment for the full amount if you are selected through this process. If selected, you will be charged for the course; be sure to read the cancellation policy before pre-registering. If you are not selected, we will automatically add your name to the course wait-list.

  • This is ONLY for NCRC course instructors and staff who are helping with this course. If you are not in this group but register using this category, we will cancel your registration!

Personal Information

By checking this box, I agree to take steps to protect myself and fellow participants from Covid-19 and if I display symptoms, test positive, or have other reason to believe I have Covid before the class, I will withdraw with no penalty.

In the event I am exposed to or even contract Covid-19, I agree to hold harmless the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC), and my fellow participants.

The NCRC highly recommends all participants be vaccinated against Covid-19.

In consideration of being allowed to participate in any way in the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC) and National Speleological Society (NSS) program, related events and activities, the undersigned acknowledges, appreciates and agrees that:

The risk of injury from the activities involved in this program could be significant, including the potential for permanent paralysis or death, and while particular rules, equipment and personal discipline may reduce this risk, the risk of serious injury does exist; and,

I KNOWINGLY AND FREELY ASSUME ALL SUCH RISKS, both known and unknown, EVEN IF ARISING FROM THE NEGLIGENCE OF THE RELEASEES or others, and assume full responsibility for my participation; and,

I willingly agree to comply with the stated and customary terms and conditions for participation. If however, I observe any unusual significant hazard during my presence or participation, I will remove myself from participation and bring such to the attention of the nearest official immediately.

I, for myself and on behalf of my heirs, assigns, personal representatives and next of kin, HEREBY RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS THE NATIONAL CAVE RESCUE COMMISSION and THE NATIONAL SPELEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, their officers, officials, agents, instructors, and/or employees, other participants, sponsoring agencies, sponsors, advertisers, and, if applicable, owners and lessors of premises used to conduct the event ("Releasees") including but not limited to the Oak City Townhall and USFS, WITH RESPECT TO ANY AND ALL INJURY, DISABILITY, DEATH, or loss or damage to person or property, WHETHER ARISING FROM THE NEGLIGENCE OF THE RELEASEES OR OTHERWISE, to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Images of me taken can be used for promotional, educational, and commercial purposes.


Above is the NCRC waiver, which must be signed to complete registration. Additional waivers for the West Fork Little River LLC, SCCi, and Georgia DNR will need to be signed before attending class.

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