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52 Ways to Die in a Cave

52 Ways to Die in a Cave

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3.8

(99)
|Views: 37,606 |Likes:
“A phenomenal story of exploration and science. Stunningly fascinating." – Jon Stewart

Did you know there are at least 52 Ways to Die in a Cave? James M. Tabor's new book, Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth is a fascinating real-life adventure story.

In 2004, two great scientist-explorers attempted to find the bottom of the world. American Bill Stone took on the vast, deadly Cheve Cave in southern Mexico. Ukrainian Alexander Klimchouk targeted Krubera, a freezing nightmare of a supercave in the war-torn former Soviet republic of Georgia. Both men spent months almost two vertical miles deep, contending with thousand-foot drops, raging whitewater rivers, monstrous waterfalls, mile-long belly crawls, and the psychological horrors produced by weeks in absolute darkness, beyond all hope of rescue. Based on his unprecedented access to logs and journals as well as hours of personal interviews, James Tabor has crafted a thrilling exploration of man’s timeless urge to discover—and of two extraordinary men whose pursuit of greatness led them to the heights of triumph and the depths of tragedy. Blind Descent is an unforgettable addition to the classic literature of true-life adventure, and a testament to human survival and endurance.

Visit http://www.BlindDescent.com to learn more.
“A phenomenal story of exploration and science. Stunningly fascinating." – Jon Stewart

Did you know there are at least 52 Ways to Die in a Cave? James M. Tabor's new book, Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth is a fascinating real-life adventure story.

In 2004, two great scientist-explorers attempted to find the bottom of the world. American Bill Stone took on the vast, deadly Cheve Cave in southern Mexico. Ukrainian Alexander Klimchouk targeted Krubera, a freezing nightmare of a supercave in the war-torn former Soviet republic of Georgia. Both men spent months almost two vertical miles deep, contending with thousand-foot drops, raging whitewater rivers, monstrous waterfalls, mile-long belly crawls, and the psychological horrors produced by weeks in absolute darkness, beyond all hope of rescue. Based on his unprecedented access to logs and journals as well as hours of personal interviews, James Tabor has crafted a thrilling exploration of man’s timeless urge to discover—and of two extraordinary men whose pursuit of greatness led them to the heights of triumph and the depths of tragedy. Blind Descent is an unforgettable addition to the classic literature of true-life adventure, and a testament to human survival and endurance.

Visit http://www.BlindDescent.com to learn more.

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Publish date: Feb 15, 2011
Added to Scribd: May 14, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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bragan_8 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
An account of several expeditions that set out to explore some truly massive cave systems, and their attempts to set a new record for the deepest known cave. It's an absolutely fascinating topic, but I found the book itself only just OK, in large part because it often seems far more interested in the cavers than in the caves. Early on, Tabor quotes one of the expedition leaders as taking exception when a reporter asks him about his "adventure," insisting instead that what he does is exploration with the goal of bringing back new data. But Tabor himself largely disregards this point, focusing mostly on the adventure aspects and the personalities involved. There's very little here about cave science, and, surprisingly, very little in the way of real description of these caves until very late in the book, except for their record-setting dimensions and the obstacles they present. Some of the stories here are kind of exciting, but I can't help but think that the whole thing would have been a lot more effective with more context and less gossip. And possibly less of a sensationalistic emphasis on the (very real) deaths and injuries that occurred on these expeditions. Tabor makes a habit of starting each section with a description of the worst accident(s) on each expedition, only then going back to fill in the story from the beginning. I know this is a very common technique in non-fiction these days, but if not handled well, it can come across as manipulative, even exploitative, and I think it does a little bit here. Mind you, I have to admit to a degree of bias against Tabor's writing, as he managed to get off on the wrong foot with me from the very first sentence on the very first page. The sentence in question being, "As the fifteenth century began, we believed, absolutely, that the earth was flat." Now, OK, he's really just trying to make some rhetorical point about exploration there, but the incredible historical ignorance of that statement inevitably makes me wonder what else he's ignorant about and hasn't bothered to fact-check, and that made the rest of the book far less engaging for me than it should have been.
mtrumbo_2 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I like to do a little "armchair" adventuring once in a while. Decided to try out some supercave exploring. Wow, had several moments of claustrophobia just reading it. Still not sure whether to be impressed or horrified at what these cave explorers put themselves through. Though a bit dry and technical at times still a nice solid read
msf59 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Total darkness is scary, or at the very least unsettling. Now add arduous climbing and repelling, scuba diving in pitch-black sumps, slippery surfaces, hypothermia, deafening waterfalls, claustrophobia and mind-numbing fear. Not only is this hilarity measured in hours, but also in days and sometimes weeks. Welcome to deep cave exploration. Sounds like a blast, huh?This book follows an American named Bill Stone, on his lifelong mission to find the world’s deepest cave in Mexico and then later in the story a Soviet explorer named Alexander Klimchouk, obsessed with finding his own deep cave in Russia.This is an exciting, true-life adventure. After reading Krakauer’s "Into Thin Air", I thought extreme mountain-climbing was the most dangerous thrill, but now I think extreme deep-caving takes that coveted title. I like the outdoors, but I prefer experiencing this insanity from my own comfortable armchair.
marcush_42 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Tabor tells two stories that share a common goal: find the world's deepest cave. The story begins with Bill Stone, an American speleologist who commits his life to establishing a cave system in Mexico as the deepest cave in the world. Stone's story focuses on the struggles of leading the expeditions, the dangers of exploring supercaves, and the personal turmoil his own obsessions create. The second half of the story discusses Alexander Klimchouk's explorations in a supercave found in the Republic of Georgia. Klimchouk's exploration focuses less on personal drama and more on the drama of the exploration. Together both stories come together to form a very thrilling, extraordinary looking into the earth and into the psychology of discovery.
reading_fox reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Overly dramatic - could be a lot better, if the author were writing from first hand experience, and not trying to glam up the dangers.It definitely feels as if it was written for a TV show, with advert breaks every 5 minutes, and false cliffhangers inserted to keep the 'hook' going. Its just not necessary to end chapters after a page or two, and then to pick up where you left off in the next one. Also all of the dangers - especially the routine "Big Scary Drops" were massively exaggerated. Caving is dangerous at times, and the extremely exhausting nature of these long trips made things worse, but although they sound impressive, the pitches are among the least dangerous aspects of it. Unfortunately the author, couldn't express the seriousness of the other dangers very dramatically, so there were never ending references to Deadly Drops and 500ft holes. (Especially annoying were the almost trivial 500ft pitches in America, that suddenly became extremely challenging death defying 500ft pitches in Mexico). Also contrived was the entire sense of a 'race'. Race implies a deadline, a finish point and time. There is no such thing. The deepest cave on earth at the present time is an achievement, but if yours goes deeper next year, then that's the new achievement. It is pointless to talk about trying to get 'there' first. A lot of this might have been alleviated if the author had been on any of the trips involved.That said the rest of the book is very good. The first team is the American one led by the brash Bill Stone, and this gets the majority of the attention - mostly because the author could access primary sources, and didn't require them to be translated. The actual descriptions of the caving passages are good, but very limited - again probably due to the author having not travelled down any of them. Obviously however, he has been a proficient cavers in the past and does have quite a lot of understanding about the techniques and dangers involved (hence why the exaggeration is particularly annoying). Many of the cave sections are referred to by name. Unfortunately there is no map, showing how these relate. Given that both teams were scientifically driven, and specifically mention surveying the new finds in many places, a map does exist, and it seems a bizarre omission not to have included it. There are a few pages of colour photographs of the cavers, taken from the expedition logs - given the grueling nature of the trips, this is impressive, even if the pictures aren't by themselves that much to look at. Cave photography being a difficult art at the best of times. A short acknowledgements section and the more comprehensive notes to each chapter detail the exhaustive list of primary sources the author accessed, including interviews with all the major participants, published and unpublished journal logs and reports. However none of this quite makes up for the lack of direct involvement. A further reading guide includes some of the trip journals from the principles. These are almost certainly worth seeking out.The highlights are probably the short sections at the end of each expedition when all the preparations are made and the final push for that trip goes ahead. These are well recorded from interviews with the participants and capture not just the nature of the challenges but the personalities and spirits of those involved at the time. Throughout the book the author generally does a good job of focusing on the people, what they felt and how they interacted - this especially differentiates the two teams. Enjoyable and enlightening reading - it always nice to hear about my hobbies getting wider recognition, and there is space for many more such books, best written by those who'd been on the trips.
marywj reviewed this
Rated 3/5
The story here is interesting (tho not a race between Russians and Americans, as in the description), but told in a disjointed, jerky way. No explanation of motive, no info on the science they say they are doing; but the adventure is good and the story is interesting, if somewhat badly told here.
asawyer_21 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Ok, so I may be a little biased having a few years of my life where getting underground was a top priority. But, I loved this book. It brought back all of the wonder, excitement, fear, and physical demands of climbing, repelling, or crawling into a cave... though much more extreme than I can ever imagine.
arcticdrift reviewed this
This one was very interesting. Strangely, I've never had the urge to read stories about climbing Mount Everest, which is by far the most popular "extreme exploration" topic, but the instant I heard about this, I wanted to read it. It is as the title says, and how that gets done it by following an expedition leading searching in Mexico for the first half and another one searching in Georgia for the second half. Individually, the stories about various expeditions and team members experiences were very good. Taken together.... well, they lack a certain flow, and it was difficult for me to sort out the big picture of cave exploration in my head. Still, I'd recommend this book.
arthwollipot reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Interesting. But the language was a little stilted at times, making it less than the easiest read. The subject matter made up for it though.
willowone_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Blind Descent is about two men and their quests to find, explore and map a supercave that ends up being the deepest place on earth. For centuries man and woman have explored our planet and others. They have looked and found the longest, shortest, widest and a variety of other things. The special few that found these things have gotten their names attached to them. People like Columbus & Lewis & Clark are a few of these.In the 20th and 21st centuries we have American, Bill Stone and Ukrainian, Alexander Klimchouk who are both expert spelunkers (cave explorers). While many cavers look at caves to see how our planet was/is formed, the science of the cave and the life forms that inhabit these dark, damp, underground worlds. There are some who explore for the danger and the notoriety.The book begins with Bill Stone and the supercave known as Cheve Cave outside of Oaxaca, Mexico and also Huautla Cave in the same region. Bill Stone has spent decades hoping to prove Cheve Cave is the deepest place on earth. His obsession with Cheve Cave has many believing he wants the title at any cost and with several deaths during his many expeditions, this may be true. He on the other hand believes it shows that he tackled insurmountable odds to make a great discovery like explorers before him.Alexander Klimchouk, Bill Stones polar opposite, at the same time has devoted his life to another supercave known as Krubera. Krubera sits in the Abkhazia region in the former Republic of Georgia. He also strives to find the deepest place on earth. The differences in their approaches are quite evident. Bill Stone went into his field or knowledge all to be able to explore caves while Alexander Klimchouk does everything in the caves in order to forward his science background.I was interested in this book because caves and caverns have always held an unknown mystic to them. From what we know as the beginnings of man caves have been places where we took shelter from danger, we lived, we worshiped, mined precious metals and stones and looked at the ecology of our planet. If you have an interest in caving, science and/or exploration of the unknown you will probably like this book as much as I did. Not only does it speak to man's endless need to explore and find, but also what drives some people to do this type of work or play.

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