Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beyond the Deep by William Stone & Barbara am Ende (CBR-V #25)

Cannonball Read V: Book #25/52
Published: 2003
Pages: 352
Genre: Memoir/Nonfiction

Apparently I'm on a cave kick right now (after recently reading The Deep Zone and Blind Descent) but I think I'm starting to get burnt out. Beyond the Deep is written by Bill Stone, who was one of the men featured in Blind Descent. His journey through the Huautla cave in Mexico was a large part of Blind Descent, but this is a much more in depth account of that journey.

Bill and his then-girlfriend, Barbara, are leading a team to try and extend the depth of Huautla. Bill believes that it has the potential to be the world's deepest cave after some non-toxic dye was placed in the river at the mouth of the cave and it exited in a river miles away - he just has to find a way through. However, Bill isn't the best leader. He's gruff and focused more on the goal than the people who are helping him get there. He seems to be more suited to solo caving expeditions, but he really can't do one of this caliber without a lot of help. After the death of a well-liked team member, most of the crew is hesitant to continue, so he and Barbara end up doing the last leg of the descent alone. 

This book is VERY in depth. It's full of caving lingo (there's a glossary in the back to help) and so detailed that you have to read slowly to really picture what's going on. I think in this case Blind Descent was better because it was more condensed. Four hundred pages of rocks and cliffs and ropes gets repetitive after a while and it gets a little hard to follow all of the sumps and passages even with the handy maps that are included in the book. 

I also wanted a little more character development. Blind Descent took the time to really flesh out the two men it followed. I actually think I learned more about Bill Stone from that book than the one he actually authored. Beyond the Deep was almost strictly action oriented and I had a hard time telling a lot of the cavers apart. When one of the crew dies, I knew that he was well-liked the rest of the crew but I didn't feel like the author showed the reader that.

It's an incredible story though. I may just be burnt out from reading so many caving books recently. 

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