Author Topic: Book about exploring a cave system?  (Read 6734 times)

Offline Annoying Twit

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Book about exploring a cave system?
« on: January 16, 2011, 05:50:06 pm »
Hi all.

Can anyone recommend me a good, easily available, book on "adventure and discovery" underground?

I'm not sure how to describe what I'm looking for exactly. But, I've just finished reading Edmund Hillary's "High Adventures" about the conquest of Mount Everest, and I've just ordered Thor Heyerdahl's book on his crossing the Pacific Ocean on the raft Kon-Tiki. Something along those lines, but on exploration/adventure underground.

So, something factual. Perhaps a first exploration of something important.

It doesn't have to be recent. It doesn't have to be of a cave system in the UK. And I prefer reading about eventual success, not "death and destruction". A book which, as a side effect, increases my knowledge of caving would be good.

Offline graham

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2011, 06:12:16 pm »
Subterranean Climbers by Pierre Chevalier. 1940s exploration in the Dent de Crolles

1,000 metres down by Jean Cadoux. original exploration in the Gouffre Berger in the 1940s/50s.

Both classics

The three volumes that cover the Flint Ridge - Mammoth explorations in Kentucky are also good

The Caves Beyond by Roger Brucker and Joe Lawrence jnr

The Longest Cave by Brucker and Richard Watson

Beyond Mammoth Cave by Brucker and James D. Borden

Google Roger Brucker and you'll find where you can source these three from the US. For the first two try Abebooks.org.uk
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Offline jarvist

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 06:23:22 pm »
Personally I'd recommend 'Beneath the Mountains', a tale of Oxford Uni CC's 1979-85 exploration in the Picos, Spain.

There's also a lot of very good historical stuff out there (such as '10 years under the Earth' and 'Subterranean Climbers'), but Beneath the Mountains is directly relevant to today's SRT exploration.

The first six chapters (covering the exploration of Xitu) are absolutely gripping. They're also an excellent familiarisation with deep Alpine style exploration and caving expeditions in general. All that's really changed in the last 25-30 years is that we've now got LED lights!

There's lots of hard copies around and it's freely available from the OUCC website:

http://www.oucc.org.uk/btm/beneath.htm

The exploration history of Xitu is suddenly very current with the success of the Culiembro (the big resurgence out there) cave diving expedition last summer (http://www.casj.co.uk/index.php/culiembro-expediton), which reached the 'terminal sump' pool of Xitu.
I also believe the Oxford Uni CC plan to go back to Xitu this summer, so one hopes that there'll be a few more pieces of the jigsaw to add by the Autumn!

Online paul

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 06:26:26 pm »
Ghar Parau by David M. Judson
Down to a Sunless Sea by J M Boon
The Descent of Pierre St Martin by Norbert Castaret
Ten Years Under the Earth by Norbert Castaret
Subterranean Climbers by Pierre Chevalier
Memoirs of a Speleologist by Robert de Joly
The Cave Explorers by Jim Eyre
The Darkness Beckons by Martyn Farr
Underground Advebture by A Gemmell and J O Myers
Of Caves and Caving: A Way of Life by John E Gillett
Potholing by David Heap
The History of Mendip Caving by Peter Johnson
The Caves Beyond by Joe Lawrence Jr. and Roger W Brucker
Beyond the Deep by Monte Paulson, William Stone and Barbara em Ende
Deep Secrets: The Discovery and Exploration of Lechuguilla Cave by Stephen Reames, Lawrence Fish, Paul Burger and Patricia Kambesis
Beneath The Mountains by David Rose and Richard Gregson

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Offline SamT

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2011, 06:39:10 pm »

Out of all the above recommendations I think of which I've read quite a few..

"Beneath the Mountains" - basically, Oxford Uni students exploring new deep caves in spain in the 1980s is probably my favourite, the one that really got me hooked on caving, and the one that I think would appeal most to a non caver. Its got a very british feel about it (assuming your from the uk).

Its actually available to read online here...

http://www.oucc.org.uk/btm/beneath.htm

if you fancy a quick squiz at what its all about. Deffo worth reading in order.

Offline Elaine

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2011, 06:58:32 pm »
Yochib: The River Cave by C. William Steele.

Published in1985, ISBN 0-939748-09-6

A blinking good read.
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Offline mrodoc

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2011, 07:17:10 pm »
I also would recommend Beneath the Mountains. David Rose is now a respected journalist and the book is an excellent read.

Offline Annoying Twit

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2011, 07:45:35 pm »
Thanks for all the recommendations. Given its easy availability, I've started on Beneath the Mountains. I'll read it in order, but read the glossary first! It seems to be written in quite an informal manner, e.g.

Quote
Choss:
    Loose rock. Very common in the Picos. Occasionally applied to bowel movement:
    "Doctor, I am frightened by this cave and my stool has turned to choss."

Also, this is from Chapter 1. Would people here agree with this image of cavers? :)

Quote
In fact, I was one of the best-dressed in the party. Quite unlike climbing, where the better you are the more flash and poncy your gear is, caving kudos can only be gained by putting up with gear that is constantly about to fail. The more holes in your wetsuit the tougher you are, the dimmer your light the obviously more vast your experience. Sometimes in a popular cave you come across a party of potholers who are blundering along dressed in rags and with only one yellow glow from their leader's lamp for them all to see by. In your bright new wetsuit and with your bright new light shining down the passage you press yourself against the rock and let them pass, in awe.

Once I've finished reading Beneath the Mountains, then I'll think about what to read next.

Thanks again.

Offline droid

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2011, 07:54:57 pm »
For your next book I'd reccommend the David Judson book, Gar Parau.

Both books are excellent records of the atmosphere of 70's/80's expedition caving.

I was on a couple of the very early YUCPC trips to the PIcos, on the other side of the mountain to OUCC, and reading Dave Rose's book really brings back some memories.
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Offline kay

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2011, 08:28:10 pm »
Hardly "caverns measureless to man" but the memoirs of a Moldewarp is excellent reading:

http://www.broomlee.demon.co.uk/memoirsall.html

An extract:

"By now there was a good flow accompanying my progress, but I didn't really notice it, as my body acted as a plug - however, after a few metres a side passage, which we had not explored, came in on the right, and brought in an absolute torrent of water .... I was emerging head-first into a rift 1.2 metres high with a metre of racing water; it was like entering a water turbine. Going downstream, fast, would have been only too easy - return would have been impossible, and drowning a near-certainty. The only thing to do was to turn round; easier said than done! The crawl was too narrow, so I had to extrude myself into the rift, and turn round whilst clinging like grim death to the walls."

Now available in print as well as on the internet.

Offline SamT

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2011, 08:45:11 pm »

I'm guessing you've heard about/read Joe Simpsons Touching the Void and subsequent Game of Ghosts.

If not they are an absolute must.

Also - on a diving note - 'Diver' by Tony Groom is a riot of a book about underwater bomb disposal and Deep Sea Sat(uration) Diving.

Offline Littlemig

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2011, 08:47:33 pm »
I've got to catch up on newer works but the books of casteret are what inspired me and filled that abyss of time between sunday trips as a young lad. - 10 yrs under the earth, decent de la gouffre de la henne morte, my caves etc, don't know whats still in print, his exploits in montespan and the first decents of gouffre de pierre st martin where his great friend marcel loubens fell to his death in the enormous entrance shaft are rivetting.

Offline Annoying Twit

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2011, 09:21:25 pm »

I'm guessing you've heard about/read Joe Simpsons Touching the Void and subsequent Game of Ghosts.

If not they are an absolute must.

Also - on a diving note - 'Diver' by Tony Groom is a riot of a book about underwater bomb disposal and Deep Sea Sat(uration) Diving.

I haven't read the Simpson books, but have seen the film Touching the Void twice, including once on youtube recently, as well as his TV documentary, "The Beckoning Silence", which concentrates on the North Face of the Eiger.

Which reminds me, since I now have a very good list of books about caving/underground exploration and am on the second chapter of "Beneath the Mountains", are there any DVD/Films about or featuring caving? I subscribe to LoveFilm.com, and might (or might not) be able to obtain things. Documentaries/Realistic fiction, perhaps even How-Tos would be interesting. Any recommendations?

Offline Les W

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2011, 11:23:35 pm »
In my opinion, Subterranean Climbers is without doubt one of the best caving books ever written.
Pierre Chevalier manages to capture the mood of the exploration of what was at the time, the deepest cave in the world. The book is an understated account of the exploration, whilst dodging the Germans during the war and at the same time inventing SRT and pioneering one of the greatest through trips in the world.

A good yarn, and all the better for actually being true as well.  :thumbsup:
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Offline Brains

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2011, 12:09:15 am »
Jim Eyres books should keep you entertained... pity there arent more
Has anyone mentioned Gemmel and Myers Underground Explorers?
Race against time is a gripping read as well

Offline David Rose

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2011, 11:17:50 am »
I am delighted that people still like Beneath the Mountains. As someone who recently got very interested in caving again (after years wasted on rock-climbing and mountaineering) it means a lot to me - when I look back at it myself it does bring back incredibly vivid memories of some great days, and I think on the whole we did a reasonable job. I am currently recovering from a broken leg (stupid skiing accident) but hoping to be down Xitu again in the summer. 

Offline Annoying Twit

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2011, 11:32:48 am »
I'm greatly enjoying Beneath the Mountains. I've finished six chapters so far. I'm reading it once, and after a recent D'oh moment when I noticed that it DOES have maps of the caves, I'm going to read various bits again. Though, I think I get the best of both worlds if I read it twice, as while the maps help me understand the cave and route, they are a bit of a spoiler. And on my current read through, while various bits are being explored, I don't know what comes next or how much more cave there is.


Online paul

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2011, 12:13:04 pm »
Jim Eyres books should keep you entertained... pity there arent more
Has anyone mentioned Gemmel and Myers Underground Explorers?
Race against time is a gripping read as well

Yes - see my list above.
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Offline caving_fox

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2011, 02:40:21 pm »
I'm going to add Darkworld to the list. Martyn Farr's recounting of pushing the far ends of the Llanggattockkkk caves.

Are there any recent exploration books? Most of these seem to be recounting discoveries in the 80s or before.
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Offline moorebooks

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2011, 04:57:05 pm »

Jim Eyre's books are greatly entertaining his original The Cave explorers was one of the first I ever read and couldn't stop laughing :lol:

Beneath the Mountains I usually have a deal for a couple of quid at Hidden Earth although down to the last few copies now

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Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2011, 06:06:45 pm »
David Heap's ~ Potholing Beneath the Northern Pennines'. Beautifully written. On my bed side table.
I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

Offline Kevlar

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2011, 06:33:58 pm »
The Adventures of Another Pooh by David Yeandle is great and I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned yet.

Offline Annoying Twit

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Re: Book about exploring a cave system?
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2011, 10:25:06 pm »
Beneath the Mountains I usually have a deal for a couple of quid at Hidden Earth although down to the last few copies now

Do you have "1000 Metres Down" by Jean Cadoux for some price in the ballpark of the £8.50 including p&p that I can buy it for on Abebooks?

 

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