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  1. #1
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    Gue vs side mount?

    Hello folks,

    As someone interested in learning caves, I have a choice. I can train with some high level GUE cave instructors who teach in backmount. They are very well reputed and their training is second to none. It appears however that backmount is becoming a thing of the past when it comes to caves so I will be spending a lot of money learning from experts whose methods are already becoming obsolete. I should then find a side-mount instructor and train with him/her. That certification may not have the same "brand value" but it side-mount is a superior way to get into caves.

    Can anyone please explain why one would be a better choice than the other? Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    Established TDF Member OutOfTest's Avatar
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    Hey mate,

    Why are you trying to get into caves?

    A few that immediately spring to mind are:
    1. You're trying to improve your diving
    2. You want to experience cave diving
    3. You want to explore (actually explore, as in, stuff nobody has ever done before) submerged caves.

    1. If you want to improve your diving:
    Learning backmount with GUE may improve your diving. They are very good. Simply being in a cave may improve your diving as it's widening your range of experience. But you can take on too much, and simply by adding sidemount into the situation whilst you're trying to learn cave diving may mean you don't actually learn as much, as well.

    There's nothing to say you can't do a GUE course and later look into sidemount.


    2. If you want to experience cave diving, lets keep it simple, just do your GUE course. Plenty of places in most places you'd do a course are suitable for backmount configurations with GUE procedures.

    3. You want to explore caves:
    What caves do you want to explore? American? French? Backmount will probably be fine. Mexico? mmmmm...sidemount seems to be the go to out here. UK? I'll let you read this...

    http://www.cavedivinggroup.org.uk/Essays/Scoff.html
    Last edited by OutOfTest; 20-05-2017 at 02:21 PM.

  3. #3
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    Great points. For me, the motivation is to photograph the interior of caves. I am not getting into cave diving to improve my backmount skills. I feel I can accomplish that with GUE Fundies and other skill based courses. I am already Advanced Nitrox and Deco certified so we do a lot of drills and shut-downs etc. If I go into caves it will be to go into caves. Exploring virgin caves sounds exciting but I feel I am too far away from it at this point. The very thought of penetrating and photography some of the well known caves is exciting enough right now.

    Now I am not close to caves. The closest cave dive is 14 hours straight drive for me. This means one week long cave diving trip a year. I am wondering if it would make sense to learn side mount so that it will only see use once a year for seven days? My proficiency in that rig would be compromised since I will be in backmount for almost all my other dives.

    GUE training is three to four times more expensive than a cave course in side mount. To spend this kind of money to learn DIR only to abandon it later does not make economic sense. If I was to go side mount, Id rather spend that money diving.

    Makes sense?

    Most of my diving will be in Florida caves and then Caribbean in Mexico and Bahamas.

  4. #4
    Established TDF Member Chrisch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinbad the Diver View Post
    ...
    Most of my diving will be in Florida caves and then Caribbean in Mexico and Bahamas.
    Pretty much standard back mount diving then. I don't know where you get the idea that backmount cave diving is going anywhere - it is very much here to stay. The idea of sidemount is to get though smaller places and you will need to do a full cave course (backmount) before you can do your sidemount cave. There is a fad for sidemount diving in open water. It is a triumph of marketing over need. Mainly to get you to buy lots of new kit as far as I can see.

    Learn to cave dive and forget about sidemount. Go photograph some of the superb caves that are available. Have a great time. You can train with any recognised agency and if you want to go the GUE route it is worthwhile, but you can get adequate training to get in and photograph lots of caves with other training organisations. Go do a GUE experience day and see if it is for you - they are 25 quid.

    Seriously, forget about sidemount - it's bollocks.

  5. #5
    Established TDF Member OutOfTest's Avatar
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    For the money, the skills you gain from GUE cave diving will be transferable to sidemount diving (sidemount diving requiring a common sense/analytical mindset rather than a course in my opinion) but doing a sidemount course will not give you many transferable skills to backmount diving.

    Sincerely,

    A pretty diehard sidemount cave diver who's never done a GUE course in his life, nor intends to, but has done some projects with GUE bods.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    GUE Tech and Cave Instructor johnkendall's Avatar
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    It's interesting that you think backmount is becoming a thing of the past. I think this belief really only exists in some pretty small parts of the internet.
    As someone who teaches GUE Cave training, as well as travelling a lot for both classes and projects, that is not my experience at all.
    As OOT says above, GUE cave training will give you a great base onto which you can build your experience. And for sure if you are only going to be able to do one week per year of cave diving, then you really want to stay out of the small sidemount only caves.
    When I'm in Florida or Mexico I pretty much only dive backmount. In France, I mostly dive backmount and in the UK caves I only dive sidemount.

    HTH
    John

    Sent from my HTC 10 using Tapatalk
    John Kendall
    GUE Instructor Trainer, Tech and Cave Instructor www.johnkendall.com
    www.divinganalysers.com - Nitrox, Trimix and Single Gas Analysers
    www.santi-store.co.uk - Santi Drysuits, Undersuits and Accessories

  7. #7
    Established TDF Member Iain Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinbad the Diver View Post
    For me, the motivation is to photograph the interior of caves.
    I am not getting into cave diving to improve my backmount skills.
    Exploring virgin caves sounds exciting but I feel I am too far away from it at this point.
    The very thought of penetrating and photography some of the well known caves is exciting enough right now.

    I am not close to caves...
    one week long cave diving trip a year.

    I am wondering if it would make sense to learn side mount so that it will only see use once a year for seven days? My proficiency in that rig would be compromised since I will be in backmount for almost all my other dives.

    Most of my diving will be in Florida caves and then Caribbean in Mexico and Bahamas
    All of these are excellent reasons to backmount. If (like me) you're a relatively infrequent cave diver, you want to be using equipment and protocols which mirror your OW diving as closely as possible. That way your OW experience transfers seamlessly to the cave environments, allowing you to concentrate on the things which make you want to be there. You may not see cave diving as a means to improve your backmount skills (but, believe me, it will!) but your ability to maintain the required skills will be much better than if you're using relatively unfamiliar kit.

    As for Mexico...there's an awful lot of backmount cave to dive before you run out of space!

    What do you see as the potential advantages of sidemounting for the sort of cave diving you want to do?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iain Smith View Post

    What do you see as the potential advantages of sidemounting for the sort of cave diving you want to do?
    I have never been in a side-mount but by talking to a few cave divers,I understand

    a) more stream-lined for overheads
    b) easier to reach valves
    c) easier to gear up as long as you are doing a shore dive. Walking down the hill with two doubles in your back may not be very desirable for some people.

    For me the biggest disadvantage would be to be switching to this configuration once a year when I am in caves. I think it makes sense to keep the configuration consistent on most dives to gain proficiency.

  9. #9
    Established TDF Member OutOfTest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinbad the Diver View Post
    I have never been in a side-mount but by talking to a few cave divers,I understand

    a) more stream-lined for overheads
    b) easier to reach valves
    c) easier to gear up as long as you are doing a shore dive. Walking down the hill with two doubles in your back may not be very desirable for some people.

    For me the biggest disadvantage would be to be switching to this configuration once a year when I am in caves. I think it makes sense to keep the configuration consistent on most dives to gain proficiency.
    Dealing with each of your points in turn:
    a) Just nope. If you're in a big passage, it doesn't make a blind bit of difference whether your backmount or sidemount. Streamlining is a buzzword for people trying to sell you crap. Source: dive a backmount breather and sidemount OC. I also don't pay people with nothing of value to say money.
    b) Yeah, I'll give you this. But it's not the end of the world not reaching a valve instantaneously. You've got a team mate there, with GUE probably two, they've both got gas for you, as well as your own gas that you'll reserve plenty quickly enough with proper training, continued practice and attention to detail.
    c) Man up.

  10. #10
    Established TDF Member Iain Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinbad the Diver View Post
    I have never been in a side-mount but by talking to a few cave divers,I understand

    a) more stream-lined for overheads
    b) easier to reach valves
    c) easier to gear up as long as you are doing a shore dive. Walking down the hill with two doubles in your back may not be very desirable for some people.

    For me the biggest disadvantage would be to be switching to this configuration once a year when I am in caves. I think it makes sense to keep the configuration consistent on most dives to gain proficiency.
    A) As an inexperienced cave diver, you shouldn't be going anywhere that you can't comfortably get through with a black mounted twinset. As a more experience cave diver, you'll discover that you can get into more places than you realised... Then, once you run out of backmountable cave, yes, you might want to move into SM...but remember that you're still going to be juggling that damned camera rig! :-)

    B) you mentioned something about doing Fundies. If you can't comfortably reach your valves by the time you've passed that, GUE QA will be wanting a word with your instructor!

    C) For the places you've expressed an interest in diving, there are many sites where you can virtually build your set on the tail of your truck and fall into the water. I'd also contend that (at least on the surface) it's easier to carry D12s on my back than hand-carrying single cylinders. (Obviously portage through dry cave may impose different considerations.)


 
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