Point Person / Lead Tape

The point person has numerous responsibilities on a cave survey team. They scout the route ahead looking for leads and the primary way on. They determine the most effective and efficient place to set the next survey station. They mark and label the survey stations. They provide a target for the front-sight instrument person to shoot towards and/or hold the measuring tape on the new station, and they often shoot back-sight measurements. Of all the team roles, the point person tends to get the most exercise so they stay the warmest, but they also become the most fatigued by the end of the day. The reward for performing all of these tasks is that they get to go first down uncharted passages. They leave the first sets of footprints in virgin cave.

Instrument person

The instrument person performs the critical task of reading front-sight measurements and communicating them to the sketcher. They will assist the point person in determining suitable places for the next station by determining what is in direct line-of-sight by either holding a point light on the previous station, or shooting the laser rangefinder ahead towards potential new stations. The instrument person will also often communicate left, right, up and down dimensions to the sketcher either through estimation, or by taking more accurate readings with a laser rangefinder. The instrument person may also take photographs or record a resource inventory if needed.

Sketcher / book

The sketcher or book person is almost always the busiest person on the survey team and the pace at which they are able to perform their task will usually dictate the overall pace of the survey team. The sketcher records the survey measurement data, draws or plots that data at a representative scale, and draws a representation of the cave passage either with pencil and paper or with a digital tablet/phone and stylus. In some cave projects they will only make a plan view (top-down) sketch, but in vertically complex caves they may also generate an extended profile sketch (side-view). They will also include information such as the presence and characteristics of any unsurveyed leads, the height of the passage, and they may draw cross-sections that shows the caver’s point of view and may include information on the geology of the bedrock in which the cave is formed. The job of sketcher is mentally taxing, but requires less physical effort, so the sketcher often must wear more layers to prevent getting cold. The demands and responsibilities of the sketcher often mean that they become the de facto team leader in that they set the pace of the survey, call for breaks, and direct the activities of the other survey team members.