NSS-CDS Training Program

Advanced Sidemount Cave Diver


At one time we considered using sidemount an advanced cave diving activity. Now at least as many students learn to cave dive in sidemount as in backmount. In fact, sidemount is so mainstream, the CDS no longer offers a “regular” Sidemount Cave Diver specialty course.

Still, there is a form of sidemount cave diving which goes far beyond simply using sidemount equipment. To do it, you must be able to answer questions such as:

  • How do you deal with restrictions so tight you must drop one or both sidemount bottles to get through them?
  • What do you do if you discover you can’t back out of a particular passageway due to the “ratchet effect?”
  • You and a buddy are negotiating a long passageway so tight you can only go through single-file. Now one of you gets stuck. What do you do?
  • Does advanced sidemount cave diving require a different approach to gas management? (Hint: The answer is not “Yes.” It’s “Hell Yes!”)

If any of these questions gave you pause to think, you understand why proper training is essential for this sort of sidemount diving. The Advanced Sidemount Diver course is where you get it.


  • Be at least 18
  • Be certified to the full Cave Diver level or equivalent by a widely recognized training organization
  • Have at least 50 non-training-related cave dives past initial Cave Diver certification
  • Have logged several sidemount cave dives


  • Typically two days
  • Typically three or more dives

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Course Standards

Form These are the standards instructors must follow when teaching this course. It includes information on student and instructor prerequisites, course content, skill requirements and limits of training.