Basic Beginner's Book Reviews!

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Basic Beginner's Book Reviews!

Postby Ozymandias » Feb 19, 2007 10:19 am

A couple months ago when I got really excited about this new sport, I purchased both of the books under the "Basics" category in the NSS Technique Library page. You can read the blurb about each book there. I've finished both books at this point. Learned a ton (although, as many here will tell you, "nothing can trump experience"). Here are two mini reviews.

1. Caving Basics, 3rd Ed 1992 (Thomas Rea)

This book is a collection of essays by various NSS members focusing on various areas of caving. This creates more problems than it solves:
-- The articles are often needlessly detailed and complex.
-- The first 30 pages are devoted to carbide lamp construction and maintenance.
-- The design and feel says that that the revised edition didn't change all that much from the original publication of the early '80s.
-- There's no unifying theme and construction to the book.

On the positive side, it does cover quite an array of topics. The chapters on biology, archeology, and geology were quite interesting -- and were not even touched in the book described below.

2. Adventure of Caving, 2nd Ed 1996 (David McClurg)

This book was only published 4 years after Rea's book, but it's far superior in many areas:
++ It has a broad coverage of topics with logical progression.
++ It has modern design and professional illustrations / photos.
++ Complete introduction that touches on everything you need to know.
++ Seems relatively undated even though it is over 11 yrs old.

This is an excellent book and a great introduction. Even after reading through most of the posts here, glancing through the PDF of Vertical Caving (Warild), and reading various websites for beginner cavers, I *STILL* learned things from McClurg. And he's an entertaining writer.

So, there are some recommendations for the bibliophiles out there!
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Re: Basic Beginner's Book Reviews!

Postby Dwight Livingston » Feb 19, 2007 11:34 am

Ozymandias wrote:So, there are some recommendations for the bibliophiles out there!


Thanks for the reviews. I like seeing books discussed.

I'd recommend Alpine Caving Techniques. Good information, and well presented.

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Re: Basic Beginner's Book Reviews!

Postby Tim White » Feb 19, 2007 12:24 pm

Ozymandias wrote:-- The first 30 pages are devoted to carbide lamp construction and maintenance.


Even in 1992, when Caving Basics was revised, carbide lights were still in common use.

Ozymandias wrote:++ Seems relatively undated even though it is over 11 yrs old.


IMHO, the SRT portion of Adventure of Caving was getting outdated by 1996.

I agree with Dwight, Alpine Caving Techniques is a good recommendation.
Be safe,
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Postby mabercrombie » Feb 19, 2007 3:54 pm

I have not had a chance to read Alpine Caving Techniques. But The Freedom of the Hills is a really good book. It is admittiedly a mountaineering book but there is quite a bit of information and technique that crosses over.
Im Marty Abercrombie
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Re: Basic Beginner's Book Reviews!

Postby Ozymandias » Feb 19, 2007 5:49 pm

Tim White wrote: IMHO, the SRT portion of Adventure of Caving was getting outdated by 1996.


Tim -- Are you talking about the 3rd edition, published in 1996? It didn't seem that outdated. Pretty decent descriptions / diagrams of the Frog / Rope Walker / Mitchell systems.

Not quite as nice as Al Warild's discussion, but not that different. My knowledge isn't good enough to compare, though...
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Feb 19, 2007 5:56 pm

One I found useful is Vertical, it probably won't be the same as everything you will see in the US, neither will Alpine Caving Techniques I imagine, vertical leans more to a European / Alpine style of rigging although advocates that the best approach is probably somewhere in between.

The entire book is available online here (follow the links for each chapter):
http://www.caves.com/
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