Cannonball Read V: Book #22/52
I decided to pick up this book after reading and enjoying James Tabor's first try at adventure fiction with The Deep Zone. Blind Descent is a non-fiction book that follows two main cave explorers as they try and find the deepest cave on earth.
Bill Stone is convinced that the Cheve cave in Mexico will win the title of the deepest cave if he can overcome some pretty major obstacles and explore a little deeper. This isn't an easy task either - Stone literally spent decades and hundreds of thousands of dollars on trying to prove that his theory about Cheve was correct. When he wasn't exploring the cave, he was trying to invent a new type of rebreather to be used for deep cave exploration. Rebreathers are sort of like scuba tanks, but much more efficient because they recirculate the air allowing for hours of underwater time.
On the other side of the world, Alexander Klimchouk has been leading teams into a freezing cold pit in the Republic of Georgia called Krubera. He believes that he can prove Krubera is the deepest cave on earth.
Klimchouk and Stone are very different men.This kept the story from becoming too repetitive and I liked seeing the contrasts between the two. Stone is tall and muscular who is hard to get to know on a personal level. Klimchouk is a more slight man who is more friendly and easy going. Like the men, the two caves are also very different. Cheve is in southern Mexico, so it's not too cold underground. It's also a more open cave with larger passages. Krubera is filled with freezing water and tight spaces.
Both caves have the usual dangers - tight passageways that are barely larger than a human, deadly falling rocks, dangerous rappels, large bodies of water to cross underneath (called "sumps" in cave lingo), literal absolute darkness, not to mention the danger of just being injured so far away from the surface. A single mistake can be deadly.
Caves are fascinating and this book was just as thrilling as Tabor's fiction cave adventure. He's a talented writer and the fact that he's a caver himself really shows.