Author Topic: The Rapture?  (Read 1374 times)

Offline Joe Duxbury

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The Rapture?
« on: September 04, 2020, 10:58:11 pm »
I'm reading 'Last Words' by Michael Koryta (about a girl's body brought out of a cave in Indiana) and he refers to 'The Rapture', mentioned in another book, 'Blind Descent', by James Tabor. Tabor says this is a 'particularly insidious derangement unique to caves'. According to him it's 'like a panic attack on meth.' In 'Blind Descent' he quotes one instance of how it affected someone. But have any of you lot experienced it?
Tabor's term is very inappropriate: 'rapture' means ecstasy, bliss. Not a devastating experience like a panic attack.

Online Fulk

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2020, 11:01:17 pm »
According to Wikipedia:

Narcosis while diving (also known as nitrogen narcosis, inert gas narcosis, raptures of the deep, Martini effect) is a reversible alteration in consciousness that occurs while diving at depth. Maybe something to do with this?

Offline Joe Duxbury

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2020, 11:08:07 pm »
Yes, I'm aware of 'the rapture of the deep', and the impression I have is that it causes divers to become euphoric. The effect Tabor talks about is anything but.

Offline langcliffe

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2020, 11:30:47 pm »
The results from a quick Google give the impression that it is a phenomenon that only Tabor has recognised... He says that "those who have suffered from it describe it as being similar to an anxiety attack while on methamphetamines."

I get the impression that he is referring to a standard anxiety attack which may be suffered by anyone prone to them who are outside their comfort zone.

He also says that there are more than 50 ways of dying whilst exploring caves. I can think of 50 ways of dying whilst walking down the road.


Offline Pitlamp

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2020, 09:08:59 am »
The most likely cause of a panic attack is on a long trip when someone checks their watch and says: "If we're not quick, we'll miss the pub". That's when cavers turn into racing snakes . . .

Didn't the term "rapture of the deep" originate from Cousteau's early writings? There is perhaps a sort of connection here because, although inert gas narcosis at (considerable) depth can result in euphoria, it can also very quickly turn to feelings of fear and panic. Both are dangerous for the affected diver, as (s)he will find problem solving / gas monitoring etc compromised.

But I agree; a panic attack could never be properly referred to as "rapture".

Online PeteHall

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2020, 09:26:58 am »
The closest to panic attack I have experienced underground has been caused by CO2. I have on a few occasions found myself gasping for breath with only one thought, get out fast!

On two particular occasions, I recall the sensation being completely consuming and as close as I can imagine to panic. It may well have been a life saving sensation, but fortunately afforded me enough self control to extract myself from my predicament.
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Online mikem

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2020, 09:32:31 am »
Rapture of the deep is compared to "pleasant drunkenness":
https://www.liveabout.com/what-is-nitrogen-narcosis-2963052

The "Rapture" is something else again:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture

It was talked about at the time:
https://www.neatorama.com/2010/07/29/the-rapture-a-terribly-way-to-die-in-a-cave/

Offline tamarmole

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2020, 10:11:06 am »
I fear that the good Mr tabor is talking out of his nether regions.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2020, 10:16:51 am »
I agree with Pete Hall. An encounter with carbon dioxide induces severe feelings of panic as I have discovered on a couple of occasions. It causes the same problem when diving if your blood carbon dioxide levels rise with exertion and you can't breathe fast enough through your regulator. It is known as 'beating the lung' and the only way you can deal with it is control your breathing. It is not nice.

Offline Steve Clark

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2020, 02:18:17 pm »
Nitrogen Narcosis ('Rapture of the deep') affects divers breathing nitrogen at higher pressures. Diving normal compressed air (79% nitrogen), this starts to become an issue beyond about 30m depth. Similar to being drunk, but affecting mental rather than physical ability, it manifests itself in different ways depending on the situation. In warm tropical waters, diving to 30m may feel like having a couple of pints. 40m, maybe 4 pints. That's all fine if everything is going well and you don't need to respond quickly and rationally to a problem. It becomes a serious hindrance beyond 50m, with people not even remembering the dive properly. In a situation where someone is apprehensive, or even scared, nitrogen narcosis will amplify this in an unpleasant way. People may revert to primal instincts, which is never a good thing in an unnatural underwater overhead environment. 

Nitrogen Narcosis is the main barrier to people diving deeper than 30-40m. The solution is to replace some on the nitrogen in the breathing mix with Helium. This is effectively inert and doesn't affect people in the same way. The downside being that Helium is very expensive. A cylinder of compressed air, may cost £5 to fill. Adding 45% helium may add £50 to the cost.

Personally, I've seen people make serious mistakes whilst under the influence of nitrogen narcosis (e.g. marking incorrect exit directions when cave diving). Helium makes a huge difference to clarity of thought when you have opportunity to directly compare breathing with/without.

Online Fjell

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2020, 05:12:11 pm »
One of the best things about Nitrox32 is you can’t go below 30m odd, which is a jolly good thing all round. Along with not diving anywhere you can’t do in a T-shirt. All happy.
Average age of diving fatalities in the UK a year or so ago was 56 I seem to recall. Bit disconcerting.

Offline Robert Scott

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2020, 09:27:38 pm »


The "Rapture" is something else again:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture



That type of Rapture was discussed on "In our Time" https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0008p2k
which I remember listening to some years ago walking from Birkwith to Horton. I became  convinced the US Vice President is in the Do-laaly brigade.

(I should add that I receive no financial benefit from the BBC, but I think that this series alone is worth the annual pittance that I contribute)

Offline ZombieCake

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2020, 11:05:20 pm »
CO2 isn't nice, experienced it's delights a couple of times digging etc. Bad headaches and feel like rubbish for a day or two.
Anyway I quite like Blondie's version of Rapture.

Offline Joe Duxbury

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2020, 11:19:12 pm »
Thank you all for joining in. Plenty of explanations of the effects of breathing nitrogen, and of high CO2 levels, but no-one has admitted to experiencing what Tabor was on about.
In his statements on the 'a terrible way to die' website (thanks, Mikem), Tabor carries on (digs himself deeper) with:
"At some level, everyone's brain will start to say, 'I don't belong here. This is a very dangerous place.' It's an ancient primordial instinct and it just says, 'You have to get me out of here, right now'" Well no, my brain has never said that. Have any of you other cavers' brains said that? Sitting in a large, dry chamber, lights out, with water drops going 'plink, plonk' in the distance is incredibly peaceful.
I agree with Tamarmole; I think, like Langcliffe, Tabor has inflated just one person suffering from 'a standard anxiety attack' into this semi-mystical, cave-induced experience.

Online mikem

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2020, 11:42:51 pm »
Well, it definitely happened in The Descent movie...  ;)

Tabor is an outdoor journalist, not one of the expedition cavers (or the professor of religious studies, who has a different middle initial!)
« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 11:55:24 pm by mikem »

Offline maxf

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2020, 05:57:37 am »
Thank you all for joining in. Plenty of explanations of the effects of breathing nitrogen, and of high CO2 levels, but no-one has admitted to experiencing what Tabor was on about.
In his statements on the 'a terrible way to die' website (thanks, Mikem), Tabor carries on (digs himself deeper) with:
"At some level, everyone's brain will start to say, 'I don't belong here. This is a very dangerous place.' It's an ancient primordial instinct and it just says, 'You have to get me out of here, right now'" Well no, my brain has never said that. Have any of you other cavers' brains said that? Sitting in a large, dry chamber, lights out, with water drops going 'plink, plonk' in the distance is incredibly peaceful.
I agree with Tamarmole; I think, like Langcliffe, Tabor has inflated just one person suffering from 'a standard anxiety attack' into this semi-mystical, cave-induced experience.

In the context of the book it is likely to arise within people who have even underground for several days and likely to be pushing further into the cave and  cannot simply 'get out' in a couple of hours, not your average UK caver doing a 4 hr from surface UK trip so I don't think he has inflated it.

Offline maxf

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2020, 08:30:01 am »
Bill Stones Ted lecture also mentions something similar:


https://www.ted.com/talks/bill_stone_inside_the_world_s_deepest_caves?language=en

Again reference to multiday trips in deep caves

Offline Emsy

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2020, 09:15:29 am »
 :coffee:

Offline alexchien

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2020, 09:18:42 am »
It's a term made up by the Yanks in an attempt to make them look good/better/stronger when describing multi-day trips underground, such as on expeditions to Mexico.
They seem to think it works well in books, and when enticing the younger generation on these trips.
Little do they realise that Europeans and others laugh at such tosh.

There's a stark contrast in the Tabor book between the Russian stuff and Yank stuff. Most of the Yank stuff is rubbish and barely credible, chasing a depth record that is long gone. Whilst the Russian stuff contains some really interesting and hard expedition caving. The only thing that has some truth (Yank stuff) to it is an expedition leader chasing a young girl around a cave like a lost puppy, whilst the expedition divers wait for him to be ready to go and push the bottom of the cave !!

Funnily enough after 12 days underground in Huautla , the last thing I wanted to do was return to the surface, maybe reverse 'Rapture' ??

Offline maxf

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2020, 10:15:06 am »
Perhaps 'panick attack on meth' is an over the top description but denying that there is a psychological element to such trips would also be a failing in portraying the situation, after all the book is written for the general public.

Offline maxf

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2020, 10:48:26 am »
It's a term made up by the Yanks in an attempt to make them look good/better/stronger when describing multi-day trips underground, such as on expeditions to Mexico.
They seem to think it works well in books, and when enticing the younger generation on these trips.
Little do they realise that Europeans and others laugh at such tosh.

There's a stark contrast in the Tabor book between the Russian stuff and Yank stuff. Most of the Yank stuff is rubbish and barely credible, chasing a depth record that is long gone. Whilst the Russian stuff contains some really interesting and hard expedition caving. The only thing that has some truth (Yank stuff) to it is an expedition leader chasing a young girl around a cave like a lost puppy, whilst the expedition divers wait for him to be ready to go and push the bottom of the cave !!

Funnily enough after 12 days underground in Huautla , the last thing I wanted to do was return to the surface, maybe reverse 'Rapture' ??

So that's what scooping booty is ?!

Offline Joe Duxbury

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2020, 12:35:00 pm »
In the context of the book it is likely to arise within people who have even (sic) underground for several days and likely to be pushing further into the cave and  cannot simply 'get out' in a couple of hours, not your average UK caver doing a 4 hr from surface UK trip so I don't think he has inflated it.

But the single event Tabor uses as an example of the existence of this phenomenon didn't happen to someone who had been 'underground for several days'. I think he's just churning out psycho-babble.

Offline David Rose

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2020, 09:27:39 am »
I understand from someone who knows him that Tabor was encouraged to "sex up" his text by his publishers to make caving seem more extreme, and cavers even tougher than we actually are (hard though it is to imagine this could be possible). In any event, the passage about The Rapture and its context deserve reading in full. Apparently you get this nasty condition worst in what the author calls "supercaves". These passages are possibly the most risible things ever written about underground exploration. Unfortunately, there are other parts of this book that are just as bad.

Two years ago I went on an expedition to Huautla led by the indomitable Bill Steele, a really great guy. It was a hugely enjoyable - and very successful - experience. But what was weird was that some of the younger members of the team had read this book and believed this rapture thing might be real, and before big trips discussed whether they might be afflicted by it with some anxiety.

Anyway, here is what to expect in supercaves, which

"present more hazards than any other extreme exploration environment. Just descending into and climbing out of them is exorbitantly dangerous. Recovering a body, dead or alive, from deep within any cave is even worse, increasing that danger by an order of magnitude."

What might those perils be? According to Mr Tabor, they include:

"drowning, fatal falls, premature burial, asphyxiation, hypothermia, hurricane-force winds, electrocution, earthquake-induced collapses, poison gases and walls dripping sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. There are also rabid bats, snakes, troglodytic scorpions and spiders, radon and microbes that cause horrific diseases like histoplasmosis and leishmaniasis. Kitum Cave in Uganda is believed to be the birthplace of that ultragerm the Ebola virus. Caving hazards related to equipment and techniques include strangulation by one’s own vertical gear (primary and secondary ropes, rappel rack and ascender connections, et cetera), rope failure, running out of light, rappelling off the end of a rope, ascenders failing on muddy rope, foot-hang (fully as unpleasant as it sounds) and scores more that, if less common, are no less unpleasant. One final hazard, so obvious that it’s easy to forget, deserves mention: getting lost."

Foot hang, eh? Very nasty. Interesting that when Mark Sims and Sandy Wright made a breakthrough in the cave known as 27/9 in the Picos last year to find and descend a big pitch, they called it Foot Hang. I wonder why?
 
No wonder supercavers risk going bonkers - and are hence prone to the rapture:

"Supercaves create inner dangers as well, warping the mind with claustrophobia, anxiety, insomnia, hallucinations, personality disorders. There is also a particularly insidious derangement unique to caves called The Rapture, which is like a panic attack on meth. It can strike anywhere in a cave, at any time, but usually assaults a caver deep underground. And, of course, there is one more that, like getting lost, tends to be overlooked because it’s omnipresent: absolute, eternal darkness. Darkness so dark, without a single photon of light, that it is the luminal equivalent of absolute zero.”

Not a single photon of light. Strewth, we are brave. Or suffering from "personality disorders".

Below you can see Mark about to descend Foot Hang, fighting off The Rapture with every ounce of his strength.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2020, 10:33:43 am »
Thank you all for joining in. Plenty of explanations of the effects of breathing nitrogen, and of high CO2 levels, but no-one has admitted to experiencing what Tabor was on about.
In his statements on the 'a terrible way to die' website (thanks, Mikem), Tabor carries on (digs himself deeper) with:
"At some level, everyone's brain will start to say, 'I don't belong here. This is a very dangerous place.' It's an ancient primordial instinct and it just says, 'You have to get me out of here, right now'" Well no, my brain has never said that. Have any of you other cavers' brains said that? Sitting in a large, dry chamber, lights out, with water drops going 'plink, plonk' in the distance is incredibly peaceful.
I agree with Tamarmole; I think, like Langcliffe, Tabor has inflated just one person suffering from 'a standard anxiety attack' into this semi-mystical, cave-induced experience.
The one time this happened to me I was in Morocco in a tube at the bottom of a stream sink surrounded by rotting vegetation. My breathing rate shot up and I scrambled out in a blue funk. The thing that nearly did for me that I was in such a tizz that I skidded on a slippery boulder nearly falling backwards off it which would have unpleasant to say the least.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2020, 10:35:26 am »
As a non sequitor Bill Steele does creditable Neil Young covers!

Offline Mike Hopley

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2020, 11:23:14 am »
Foot hang, eh? Very nasty.

That might actually be a real thing. Some American ropewalker systems suspend the caver upside-down from their feet, if the chest-roller fails. Obviously that's due to bad practice, as they should be using a third safety jammer -- but it's something their books warn about.


Quote
Below you can see Mark about to descend Foot Hang, fighting off The Rapture with every ounce of his strength.

I can clearly see the abject terror and sense of impending doom in his eyes.

Online Fulk

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2020, 11:57:20 am »
I think I've mentioned this elsewhere on this forum, but I can't find it, so I'll post it again:

In an old edition of American Caving Accidents there is a first-person account by a guy who had a bizarre accident when on a solo trip.
It seems that he was prusiking up a ~70-feet entrance pitch using the Texas Prusik, which is a little bit like the Frog System but which uses a jammer to a sit-harness and another to foot-loops, which is relatively short and is installed on the rope below the harness-jammer. When he was nearly at the top of the pitch:

‘My [harness] karabiner flexed and came undone; I tipped upside-down, and for a short time hung there in my foot-loops, before my feet slipped out and I fell ~65 feet to the bottom of the pitch. When I came to, I thought I’d broken my neck.’. (He hadn’t, fortunately.)
Well, there was a pile of branches and stuff at the bottom of the shaft that cushioned his fall. By the half-light filtering down the shaft (his lamp being broken) he managed to cobble together some sort of rope-climbing system and get out.
What could he deduce from this? Well, ‘My karabiner had failed on two previous occasions, (my italics) but I had a sentimental attachment to it’ (pity it wasn’t reciprocated) ‘so I guess I’d better get a new krab. Also, had I had “chicken loops” round my ankles, I’d have hung upside down until I could sort out the problem.’

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2020, 02:58:25 pm »
I'm reminded of an expression which Stuart Davey used to come out with many years ago: "Kamikaze caver".

Offline andybrooks

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2020, 03:08:56 pm »
I believe that the fatality in Swildons in 1959 was caused by hypothermia, aggravated by hanging upside down on a ladder on the Forty.

Online mikem

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #29 on: September 07, 2020, 04:03:12 pm »
Yes, was much more common on ladders than SRT

Offline droid

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2020, 06:18:17 pm »
35 years ago I shared a house with an American that was on the Huatla/Nita Nanta expeditions, and of all the things he talked about (and there were many) none referenced any form of 'rapture'.
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Offline JasonC

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Re: The Rapture?
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2020, 07:15:06 pm »
Coming out of Link Pot, I came close to experiencing 'The Rupture'

 

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