National Speleological Society
The Diablo Grotto is a chapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS), a national organization devoted to the exploration, study, and preservation of caves and cave-related phenomena. Members are primarily from the Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in the Eastern San Francisco Bay Area, California.
If you share an interest in caves, read on and see what the Diablo Grotto is all about...
What is so special about a grotto?
We all like to be around people who enjoy the same things we do. This is one purpose of a grotto, the NSS term for a chapter. We get a chance to be around folks who know and love caves. But there is more than friendship and good times.
A grotto brings us a nationwide network of cavers and a world of caving news through the NSS.
A grotto helps us enjoy caving more and do it better and more safely through training sessions and information on caving equipment.
A grotto has knowledge of caves and their locations, and often has access to caves unavailable to the individual.
A grotto gives us an opportunity to do things—long trips, difficult caves, mapping, special projects—as a group that we could not do alone.
And a grotto enables us to preserve and protect caves and educate others effectively.
What about the Diablo Grotto?
The Diablo Grotto is composed primarily of cavers from the East Bay and Contra Costa areas of Northern California. Our name is taken from Mount Diablo, a prominent peak in the area. Most cavers in our group are from such cities as Walnut Creek, Concord, Berkeley, and Oakland, but we have members from the North Bay, Peninsula, and Central Valley areas.
We hold regular meetings on the second Thursday of each month at various rotating locations. The meetings are informal, and cover some grotto business, reports on recent trips and plans for upcoming trips. A program caps off each meeting, often slides of caving trips, scientific presentations, safety workshops, or films of interest to cavers.
In addition, we publish an occasional newsletter, the "Devil's Advocate", full of grotto news, trip reports, trip schedules, and other articles about caves and caving. All members are invited to contribute articles and artwork to the newsletter.
Training is a very important part of grotto activities. Sessions are held regularly to train new cavers and old in safe caving and climbing techniques. It is grotto policy that everyone learns proper techniques above ground before trying them out in a cave.
And then there's the caving...
The Diablo Grotto tries to offer trips for all members' interests — novice trips in the Mother Lode caves, to vertical caving in Lost Soldiers, to hard work and bruises in Church, to mapping and (sometimes) wetsuits in the Marbles. Diablo Grotto trips are regularly scheduled for the Mother Lode and Sierra Nevada caving areas of California. But that's not all...
Diablo Grotto works closely with the Cave Research Foundation on projects at Lava Beds National Monument and at Lilburn Cave in Sequoia National Park. Cave mapping, cave inventory, and geological, hydrological, and biological studies are among the projects the grotto participates in. This work not only gives cavers a chance to contribute to a scientific endeavor, but also helps the parks!
On longer weekends there is almost always an extended cave trip planned. Trips have been made to Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. Members have gone caving in Mexico, Belize and Borneo, too!
If you have a cave-related interest, chances are that someone in Diablo Grotto shares it. There are members who are serious about cave photography. Members with a journalistic bent lend their pen to our newsletter, the "Devil's Advocate". Other members enjoy composing and performing cave ballads. And there are those ready to sit down and discuss some serious geology, biology, or debate conservation issues.
Plus, Diablo Grotto is a member of the Western Region of the NSS, and members are active in both the regional and national organizations. We get together with other region cavers each fall for a fun weekend of caving, good food, and talk. In addition, every few years the region holds a Speleo-educational Seminar with presentations and workshops, all about caving.
Many of our members also go to the national convention, held in a different caving area around the country each summer.
How do I join Diablo Grotto?
Diablo Grotto welcomes nonmembers at our meetings and on our cave trips. We want you to feel comfortable and know what the grotto is like before you join. We are looking for cavers who are supportive of the grotto and its activities through regular attendance at meetings and participation in trips and training sessions. We believe in careful, conservation-minded caving and support those who do, too. Please visit this cave conservation page to learn more about our caving philosophy.
We support the NSS and require that all members belong to the NSS (Regular NSS membership dues are currently $40).
You are invited to join Diablo Grotto once you have:
Gone on two Grotto trips
Attended two meetings
Joined the NSS.
Diablo Grotto yearly dues are $10/individual, $15/family. A "newsletter subscription-only" membership is $5. Hardcopies of the newsletter are an additional $15. (The newsletter is available to members and subscribers for free online.) Optionally you can also become a member of the Western Region for an additional $10.
Where can I reach the Diablo Grotto?
We also invite you to come to one of our meetings!
Diablo Grotto meetings are on the second Thursday of each month, usually at one of our members' residences. Recent locations include Oakland and Union City. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for meeting locations and information, or check our calendar the week of the meeting date.
Other Nearby Grottos
SFBC—San Francisco Bay Chapter, Peninsula-area
MLG—Mother Lode Grotto, Sacramento/Mother Lode
SAG—Shasta Area Grotto, Shasta/Northern California
Redwood -- Redwood Grotto, North Bay Area