The Huautla in Mexico is the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere, possibly the world. Shafts reach skyscraper-depths, caverns are stadium-sized, and sudden floods can drown divers in an instant. With a two-decade obsession, William Stone and his 44-member team entered the sinkhole at Sotano de San Augustin. The first camp settled 2,328 feet below ground in a cavern where headlamps couldn't even illuminate the walls and ceiling. The second camp teetered precariously above an underground canyon where two subterranean rivers collided. But beyond that lay the unknown territory -- a flooded corridor that had blocked all previous comers, claimed a diver's life, and drove the rest of the team back. Except for William Stone and Barbara am Ende, who forged on for 18 more days, with no hope of rescue, to set the record for the deepest cave dive in the Western Hemisphere.
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BILL STONE is the world's most accomplished caver invented the Cis-Lunar rebreather enabling cave divers to stay underwater for up to 24 hrs. BARBARA AM ENDE has a Ph.D in geology and is a member of the National Speleological Society.From Booklist:
Set in stygian gloom, this account of a 1994 caving expedition in southern Mexico produces what adventure readers crave: danger, dissension, death, and ultimate success. Led by author Stone, the spelunkers sought the furthest reaches of a cave system, the Sistema Huautla, which plunged a kilometer and a half down and stretched out for tens of kilometers. To go the deepest, the coveted "booty" in the caving community, Stone developed a special "rebreathing" apparatus for swimming through submerged passages called sumps. As the saga unfolds (dramatically assisted by admittedly reconstructed dialogue), the riskiness of the enterprise becomes apparent as the cavers survive various snafus, which rattle some group members who come to resent Stone's hard-charging style. A cheerful wisecracker named Ian Rolland is not daunted--but soon pays the final price for this adventure. After much acrimony about whether to continue, Stone and his then-girlfriend press on, their course marked by helpful diagrams of their progress. The technicalities of this death-defying recreation, and the raw honesty with which this episode is depicted, will win over extreme-sport fans. Gilbert Taylor
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