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Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Cave on Earth

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Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Cave on Earth Cover

ISBN13: 9780812979497
ISBN10: 0812979494
Condition: Standard
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Publisher Comments:

The deepest cave on earth was a prize that had remained unclaimed for centuries, long after every other ultimate discovery had been made: both poles by 1912, Everest in 1958, the Challenger Deep in 1961. In 1969 we even walked on the moon. And yet as late as 2000, the earth’s deepest cave—the supercave—remained undiscovered. This is the story of the men and women who risked everything to find it, earning their place in history beside the likes of Peary, Amundsen, Hillary, and Armstrong.

 

In 2004, two great scientist-explorers are attempting to find the bottom of the world. Bold, heroic American Bill Stone is committed to the vast Cheve Cave, located in southern Mexico and deadly even by supercave standards. On the other side of the globe, legendary Ukrainian explorer Alexander Klimchouk—Stone’s polar opposite in temperament and style, but every bit his equal in scientific expertise, physical bravery, and sheer determination—has targeted Krubera, a freezing nightmare of a supercave in the Republic of Georgia, where underground dangers are compounded by the horrors of separatist war in this former Soviet republic.

Blind Descent explores both the brightest and darkest aspects of the timeless human urge to discover—to be first. It is also a thrilling epic about a pursuit that makes even extreme mountaineering and ocean exploration pale by comparison. These supercavers spent months in multiple camps almost two vertical miles deep and many more miles from their caves’ exits. They had to contend with thousand-foot drops, deadly flooded tunnels, raging whitewater rivers, monstrous waterfalls, mile-long belly crawls, and much more. Perhaps even worse were the psychological horrors produced by weeks plunged into absolute, perpetual darkness, beyond all hope of rescue, including a particularly insidious derangement called The Rapture.

James M. Tabor was granted unprecedented access to logs, journals, photographs, and video footage of these expeditions, as well as many hours of personal interviews with surviving participants. Blind Descent is an unforgettable addition to the classic literature of discovery and adventure. It is also a testament to human survival and endurance—and to two extraordinary men whose relentless pursuit of greatness led them to heights of triumph and depths of tragedy neither could have imagined.

Includes a 16-pg full-color insert

From the Hardcover edition.

Synopsis:

US

Synopsis:

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.

Includes a 16-pg black and white insert

About the Author

James M. Tabor’s last book was the international award-winning Forever on the Mountain: The Truth Behind One of Mountaineering’s Most Controversial and Mysterious Disasters. The writer and on-camera host of the acclaimed national PBS series The Great Outdoors, Tabor was also co-creator and executive producer for the 2007 History Channel special Journey to the Center of the World. Tabor is a former contributing editor to Outside magazine and Ski Magazine; his writing has also appeared in Time, Smithsonian, Barron’s, U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many other national publications. 

From the Hardcover edition.

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

mkt42, August 6, 2012 (view all comments by mkt42)
There are plenty of books written by or about adventurers. James Tabor's _Blind Descent_ is different from, and more interesting than, most of them for two main reasons: he is writing about explorers, people who are literally going where no man (or woman) has gone before, mapping previously unknown terrain. These are not the mere adventurers or thrill-seekers travelling the well-trod terrain of Everest or Antractica; these are explorers who are literally expanding the zone of terra cognita.

And instead of seeking the world highest peak, or most polar extremes, the explorers in _Blind Descent_ are trying to go as low as possible: to find, and explore, the world's deepest cave.

Unlike the case of Mt. Everest, during the events in the book, no one knew where or how deep the world's deepest cave was. The book follows the leaders of two sets of expeditions, some largely composed of Americans exploring caves in Mexico, and some largely composed of Ukrainians exploring caves in Georgia (the Eurasian country, not the southern US state). They are engaged in almost a Scott-Amundsen race, each knowing of the efforts of the other, each knowing that the other has picked a different cave or route that they think will lead them to the new deepest deep.

Although there are no blizzards or avalanches underground, the hazards are just as extreme as those faced by Himalayan mountaineers and polar explorers. Rock climbing techniques are essential, as are scuba techniques. And these are among the most dangerous scuba dives imaginable, diving into unknown waters with tunnels that could turn out to be too narrow to navigate, in water that typically has a silt bottom which can instantly reduce visilibity to 0 -- with no way to simply float your way to the surface. Several fatalities occur in the book, often of experienced cavers and divers.

Tabor describes the techniques that cavers use and the stresses that they face, in an exciting, fast-paced style. My one negative remark about the book is that Tabor continually describes it as a race to find the world's deepest cave, as if whichever of the expeditions which sets a new low will have literally found the deepest cave. But in reality, that cave was simply the deepest one known at the time; there's always the possibility that there's another even deeper cave out there. Hillary and Norgay will forever be the first two men atop the highest peak. The explorers in the book were instead record holders; they had achieved the greatest depth at that time, but there is always the possibility that their find will be surpassed by an ever deeper cave.

A minor quibble is that Tabor describes a dramatic photo of a Mexican cave which even from the verbal descriptions has to be one of the most awe-inspiring of nature photos. But the photo is not included in the book, at least not in the edition that I read. However that edition does have a cover photo which is quite impressive so there is at least that consolation. And a month or so after I read the book I saw an ad for travel in Mexico which was dominated by a spectacular photograph which I'm sure was the one described by Tabor.
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Russell Kennedy, September 20, 2011 (view all comments by Russell Kennedy)
Blind Descent is what Sanctum should have been. While the the movie was fun, it was a bit unreal. This book is about the real thing. It is the true story of the search and subsequent race to find the worlds deepest cave by a US exploration group and a Ukrainian group. Full of surprise, adventure and death it reads like a novel and can't be put down. This is the ultimate underground adventure.
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Charlene, September 20, 2011 (view all comments by Charlene)
This book is the essential book about caving for public consumption. Although I have traversed a portion of the Greenland Ice Cap, and I've climbed a few not-too-serious mountains, I learned so very much about the passion and dedication cavers have for this relatively unknown sport. While their counterparts climb Everest, they delve deep toward the center of the earth...real Indiana Jones adventures. James Tabor has written a stellar piece not only for cavers and scientists, but also for those of us who like to read non-fiction adventures of our fellow men and women overcoming obstacles---both inside and outside themselves.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780812979497
Author:
Tabor, James M
Publisher:
Random House Trade
Author:
Tabor, James M.
Subject:
Adventure
Subject:
World History-General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16-PP COLOR PHOTO INSERT
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.01 x 5.16 x .68 in .54 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
History and Social Science » World History » General
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Caves and Caving
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Lore and Survival
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Stories and Essays
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Extreme Sports
Travel » Travel Writing » General

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Cave on Earth Used Trade Paper
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Product details 304 pages Random House Trade - English 9780812979497 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , US
"Synopsis" by , 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.

Includes a 16-pg black and white insert

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