GUE Cave 1

Course Outcomes

GUE’s Cave Diver Level 1 course is designed to prepare divers for the rigors of the underwater cave environment and to establish an appreciation of its subtle dangers. Among its other outcomes: introduce divers to the principles of cave diving and the skills and knowledge required for limited penetration into underwater caves; instill environmental awareness; cultivate proficiency in dive-planning; cultivate teamwork; promote an understanding of cave environments; and teach stress management, navigation, conservation, standard and emergency procedures, cave-diving techniques, and an appreciation of the hazards of cave diving. 


Applicants for a Cave 1 course must:

  1. Submit a completed registration form, a medical history, and a liability release to GUE Headquarters.
  2. Be physically and mentally fit.
  3. Hold insurance that will cover diving emergencies such as hyperbaric treatment, e.g. DAN Master-level insurance or equivalent.
  4. Be a nonsmoker.
  5. Obtain a physician’s prior written authorization for the use of prescription drugs, except for birth control, or for any prior medical condition that may pose a risk while diving.
  6. Be a minimum of 18 years of age.
  7. Have earned a GUE Fundamentals “Technical” certification.
  8. Have a minimum of 100 dives beyond open water certification.


Course Content


The Cave 1 course is normally conducted over five days, requires 12 dives (at least 10 cave dives) and a minimum of 40 hours of instruction, encompassing classroom, land drills and in-water work.

Cave 1 Specific Training Standards

  1. Student-to-instructor ratio is not to exceed 6:1 during land drill or surface exercises, but cannot exceed 3:1 during any overhead diving activity.
  2. Gas consumption: 1/3 of the starting gas supply should be subtracted from the total gas supply and reserved for emergencies. Of the remaining amount divers may use up to 1/3 for penetration. This process may be continued until divers reach the minimum starting volume of 100ft3 / 2800 liters.
  3. Maximum depth of 100 feet/30 meters.
  4. Minimum 30 feet/9 meters of visibility to enter a cave.
  5. Minimum 100 cubic feet/2800 liters of gas to begin a Cave 1 dive.
  6. No passages in which divers are forced to travel single file for a prolonged distance. (i.e., approximately 10 feet /3 meters).
  7. No complex navigation (jumps, traverses, circuits).
  8. May navigate beyond one permanent intersection (also known as a “T”) and an unlimited number of temporary Ts. Permanent Ts are identified by the lack of a visible jump spool; temporary Ts provide visual access to a diver’s jump spool. All T intersections should be marked with non-directional markers.
  9. May navigate gaps; a gap occurs where the main line ends and begins a short distance later. Normally this occurs where the line has reached another entrance/exit point.
  10. No planned decompression
  11. No scooter diving
  12. No exploration
  13. No stage-cylinders


Training Materials

GUE training materials and recommended reading as determined by the course study packet received via online download after GUE course registration.


Academic Topics

  1. Introduction: GUE organization and course overview (objectives, limits, expectations)
  2. Environmental and cave conservation
  3. Guideline use and cave etiquette
  4. Dive team order and protocols
  5. Touch contact
  6. Basic navigation skills
  7. Dive planning
  8. Decompression theory
  9. Gas management
  10. Accident analysis
  11. Stress
  12. Environment
  13. Communication


Land Drills and Topics

  1. Guideline use and cave etiquette
  2. Guideline use during emergency scenarios, including touch contact and gas sharing emergencies
  3. Lost diver procedures
  4. Lost guideline procedures
  5. Basic navigation skills


Required Dive Skills and Drills

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in safe diving techniques; this would include pre-dive preparations, in-water activity and post-dive assessment.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of team member location and concern for safety, responding quickly to visual indications and dive partner needs.
  3. Demonstrate a safe and responsible demeanor throughout all training.
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in underwater communication.
  5. Demonstrate basic proficiency managing a GUE equipment configuration.
  6. Demonstrate safe ascent and descent procedures.
  7. Must be able to swim at least 400 yards/375 meters in less than 14 minutes without stopping. This test should be conducted in a swimsuit and, where necessary, appropriate thermal protection.
  8. Must be able to swim a distance of at least 60 feet/18 meters on a breath hold while submerged.
  9. Demonstrate proficiency in cave navigation, to include: visual reference, guideline use, limited and simulated zero visibility.
  10. Demonstrate proficiency in managing breathing system failures, including proper assessment and valve manipulation with regulator switching as appropriate.
  11. Demonstrate proficiency during gas sharing scenarios.
  12. Comfortably demonstrate at least three propulsion techniques that would be appropriate in delicate and/or silty environments; one of these kicks must be the backward kick.
  13. Demonstrate proficiency in the use of touch contact for limited and simulated zero-visibility situations.
  14. Demonstrate the ability to mentally record depth, time, and gas consumption during a dive and apply these parameters to future dive planning.
  15. Demonstrate the efficient deployment of a reserve light.
  16. Demonstrate the ability to search for a missing diver while performing a simulated missing diver drill.
  17. Demonstrate the skills needed to locate a lost line while performing a simulated lost line drill.
  18. Demonstrate good buoyancy and trim, i.e. approximate reference is a maximum of 20 degrees off horizontal while remaining within 3 feet/1 meter of a target depth. 
  19. Demonstrate diver rescue techniques, including effective management of unconscious diver.


Equipment Requirements


GUE base configuration as outlined in Appendix A, plus:

  1. GUE double tank configuration
  2. Primary and back-up lights
  3. Back-up mask
  4. One primary reel per team
  5. One safety spool with 150 feet/45 meters per person
  6. Six line markers; three directional and three non-directional


Explore GUE Standards

Prior to the commencement of class, students should consult with a GUE representative to verify equipment requirements and appropriateness of any selected equipment.