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Blind Descent

July 19, 2010

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth, by James Tabor, is unforgettable real life adventure.

In 2004, two cave explorers take very different approaches to find the lower limits of super caves. American Bill Stone leads caving expeditions in Mexico, of Cheve and Huatula Caves. He pushes the boundaries of cave diving, and of his crew’s endurance. In the republic of Georgia, Ukrainian scientist Alexander Klimchouk organizes well thought out and methodical explorations of Krubera Cave. Very different men, but both fascinated by caves and new techniques of exploring and diving them. I thought I liked caves, and had visited some big ones, such as Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. I’d like to visit Carlsbad Caverns, too. But not these caves. It takes a week to hike, rappel, squeeze and dive down and through the cave to approach uncharted territory, most of the time while being cold, dirty, and often wet from rappelling next to waterfalls. Then at night, driven to conserve batteries, sleeping or dozing in complete and utter darkness. Cavers may spend a month underground, and start losing a pound a day, no matter how much they eat, and start to deteriorate physically and mentally, just like mountain climbers. So, I don’t want to visit there in real life, but it’s fascinating reading.

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