Caving article in the New Yorker

Someone handed me the New Yorker magazine for April 21, 2014, which has a nice article on serious-ass caving. (Written by Burkhard Bilger.) … ntPage=all

These are people trying to set the record for deepest cave exploration, as measured vertically down from the entrance. They’ve been working their way down a cave system in Oaxaca for thirteen days. It’s the kind of expedition where you need teams of helpers running supplies in behind you.

(Long stretches of the system are underwater, so this is cave-diving too. Cave-diving kills a lot of people.)

The descriptions sound familiar:

Worth a read.


Serious ass-caving. That brings very unpleasant images to mind.

Ass-caving aside, just the text of the original post (quotes and all) is enough to make me feel claustrophobic. I applaud the men and women who are capable of doing this sort of thing - like deep-sea diving, it must be like being in an alien world, cut off from everything we hold familiar, with accidents, serious physical harm and death always a possibility. For me, it would be a living interrement; for them, it’s a passage to a new reality, theirs for the taking, and for the exploring, and in the case of some brave souls just for them to say “I did it because I could”.

Hmm. I just learned something about myself. Fear and claustrophobia make me wax lyrical.

God, I miss caves. Why do I not spend more time in caves.

(Yeah, yeah, ‘because caves in the West fall neatly into three categories: those that you are not allowed into at all, those which require serious technical skills and equipment to avoid getting yourself killed, and those where there’s a hand-rail and a tour-guide and a whole bunch of other tourists.’)

A friend has offered to take me to Mammoth Cave next year. Despite knowing that it will be full of tourists, I am quite excited. (I have been there once before, but I was quite young and did not make the appropriate connection (possibly because I hadn’t played Adventure yet, though it seems unlikely.))

Thanks for linking the article!