I have some underground travel (walking/climbing) by humans that I need to calculate time for, so I am looking for some "baseline" to go by. As such, I'm trying to figure out the average speed of those who are involved in caving. For my purposes here, it is the most useful to have an idea of the different speeds between level, mainly horizontal cavern travel (which I'll label as spelunking for purposes here) and more vertical cavern movement (which I'll label as cliff-climbing).
However, useful answers that detail some "average" speeds through various known caverns is fine as well. Additional details on how much vertical vs. horizontal movement is required in those caves might help to pinpoint differences between the two types of movement speeds by inference.
If answering for the two types specifically:
- Spelunking: Given a cavern that is unexplored (this is not wholly the case in my instance, but for sake of speed calculations here), without any major obstacles (major chasms or underground lakes to cross, etc.), but has uneven ground, with some rises/falls in elevation (including at times short climbs of say body height or less that requires no equipment, or occasional squeezes to pass through), with the spelunker alert for possible dangers (large holes/cracks to avoid, even perhaps dangerous creatures lurking in the dark, though this is rare), what speed would be a base average for such travel?
- Cliff-climbing: Assuming equipment roughly equivalent to a cruder form of devices used for modern climbing (rope, pitons put in by hammer, and other aid climbing instruments) where one does not already have such things in place, and assuming essentially vertical cliffs with only some slight overhangs to overcome, what speed when scaling up or descending down (I'm assuming the speeds will be different, but maybe not) would be a base average for such travel?
If answering for a general caving speed, still consider the above points when choosing example caves (so if they are primarily horizontal, or primarily vertical, state such; if the cavern complex is a mix, if possible, estimate the percentage horizontal vs. vertical aspects to the caving).
For any answer, please give the speed as both Imperial and Metric units, for whatever units makes sense (miles/km per hour or feet/meters per hour).
- An expert and a newbie (consider either in physical enough shape to do so), but travelling together (though if you want to give me speeds for each, and let me "speculate" on the speed between the two, that is fine).
- No magic or other technology involved.
- The goal is not "exploration" (mapping, etc.), but merely moving (from a known destination to a known destination, just that the caverns often may change slightly, so moderate care is needed)
- Lighting is equivalent to headlamps.
- They have adequate provisions for food/water.