Blind Descent

James Tabor's Blind Descent.

James Tabor’s Blind Descent.

..But cave explorers like Vesley and Farr could not see the route and so could not anticipate the dangers, a partial list of which includes drowning, fatal falls, premature burial, asphyxiation, hypothermia, hurricane-force winds, electrocution, earthquake-induced collapses, poison gases and walls dripping with 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.

Super caves 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.

Holy Crap.

I read this while laying in bed and it frightened me more than I could ever tell you.

I live in an area on the Canadian coast that I’m pretty sure has NOTHING remotely close to what was just described. We have a lot of forests..maybe some wild animals. Actually, a coyote attacked and killed a hiker late in 2009. When I read stuff like this, it only intensifies this fear I have of nature. I don’t even like going to the beach anymore. That water belongs to the creatures of the ocean. I’m not going in their house! Also, I can’t swim – so that kind of makes me live bait for anything that has the munchies.

I can’t understand why anyone would want to go caving. Well, let me rephrase that. I cannot understand why anyone would want to go somewhere where they cannot see any further than a few feet in front of them. The laundry list of dangers involved with going that deep into caves is just terrifying.

Last year, I suffered through some pretty relentless panic attacks. Some nights, I couldn’t sleep – I might manage 2 or 3 hours total but it would be in short spurts. Nothing really brought them on; I’d like to think I have a great life that is as comfortable as you could possibly imagine, so it was pretty upsetting that I was having this problem. It has since been rectified but what they describe in regards to The Rapture, is quite possibly one of the most chilling things I’ve ever heard of.

I’m not saying “all cave explorers are insane and shouldn’t do this”. Aside from everything I alluded to earlier, I still found the book fascinating. I had no idea that by going that far down, you were subjecting yourself to dangers such as electrocution or horrific diseases. I just assumed that maybe it was just a bunch of sharp rocks and perhaps some bats. You might even stumble upon Bruce Wayne. I didn’t expect powerful winds and deadly waterfalls.

It’s certainly not in my all time favorites as I felt it was pretty dry in spots. However, the sheer amount of danger involved kept me interested throughout.

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