This photo shows my younger son, Stuart, at the beginning of the climb 52 meters (175 ft.) straight down into the La Trampa cave. Yesterday's photos showed the same ladder from the bottom looking up to the cave entrance. The safety rope clamped to a harness around his waist and held by a park service employee is clearly visible.
Visitors need to arrive at the park by noon to permit enough time to walk up to the cave entrance and to climb down, explore the cave, come back up, and then walk back to the car and drive back down to the park entrance before it gets late in the afternoon.
It is necessary to have a guide to walk visitors up to the cave entrance and escort through the cave. The guides can be hired at the park entrance building at a cost of about $30 USD. That also covers the cost of the employee who sits at the entrance and holds the safety rope to catch you if you slip on the ladder. The guide also supplies you with a hard hat with a light attached to it. Our guide also gave us a bottle of water to drink on the hike back when we finished the water we brought.
Several readers left comments yesterday saying that they would not have climbed down into the cave. I can understand their reluctance. My willingness to go down was due in part to (1) my son wanted to go, so it was something we could do together, (2) I did a fair amount of cave exploring as a youth, when I lived in Missouri, which is sometimes regarded as "the cave state" because its limestone bluffs are laced with caves, (3) I wanted and needed the exercise, and (4) we had a local guide to lead us, every step of the way.