Review: Blind Descent

Blind Descent

James Tabor




Imagine the very worst place on earth you can think of.  Now multiply that by a hundred.  Add to it the threat of starvation, dehydration, hypothermia, falling hundreds of feet, hallucinations, drowning, losing your sanity and literally getting stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Finally, picture all of this happening in the utter darkness over one mile straight down into the earth.  Know this: people choose to endure this willingly, and we get to watch them do it in James Tabor’s Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth.

This entertaining true story is about two teams of cavers trying to discover the deepest cave in the earth.  The two supercaves (yes, that’s the scientific name) in question are over one mile deep and eight miles in length.  We follow the two teams through each of their major discoveries: one led by a brash American, Bill Stone, and the other by a soft-spoken Ukrainian, Alexander Klimchouk.  Each team goes through multiple expeditions, deaths and injuries to finally get to the bottom of their respective caves in the mid-2000′s.  It’s like they’re competing in the ultimate obstacle race: scaling cliffs, scuba-diving through underwater lakes and bending their bodies around tiny passages.

I got the creeps about a million times while reading this book.  If I wasn’t claustrophobic, I am now.  And that is completely because Tabor does a brilliant job explaining what it was like to be so far into the depths of the earth.  While I was sufficiently creeped out, this was a very entertaining read for me about something I’ve never thought about before.  Blind Descent is enthralling and yet an easy read.

By the way, did I forget to mention that one risk of exploring supercaves is called The Rapture?  If a downside to exploring these caves is something called the freaking Rapture, count me out.  It is great fun reading this book in an above ground, open, climate-controlled living room.


About zach

Staring out across the hazy mountain range on his latest summitting of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Zach saw with a clearness he had not yet seen. "People should tremble at the very sound of my name", he thought. And it was so. "I should master the manly arts of the world, such as barehanded hunting and blacksmithing". And it was so. "People should call me Z$". And it was so.

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