American Caves and Caving: Techniques, Pleasures and Safeguards of Modern Cave Exploration

Halliday, William R.
Year Published: 

"Every sport eventually develops its definitive standard. A comprehensive study of American caves, spelunking techniques and equipment by the director of the Western Speleological Survey, this book should become the manual of American caving.

The book describes the types of caves available to spelunkers in North America. Lava tubes, glacier caves, and other lesser-known structures, as well as the popular limestone caves, are analyzed to expose their respective delights. Finding caves can be difficult, and the reader is given geological clues for locating each type of cave.

Equipment is meticulously discussed. The assorted types of brake bar rigs for rappelling, mechanical ascending devices, and ropes are examined. An entire chapter is devoted to the types of headlamps available and divulges their weaknesses and strengths.

Proper protection from wind, water and abrasion is necessary. Dr. Halliday computes chill factors and encourages adequate preparation by informative suggestions. The debate regarding synthetics, wool and cotton is renewed in respect to the particular demand of caving.

Techniques of vertical caving – ascending, descending, belaying, and exploratory procedures – are covered. Optional techniques and frank reasons for the author's preferences of when and where to use what are related. The author has many anecdotes that illustrate his points and illuminate his irrepressible humor.

Two chapters are of special interest, “Cave Medicine and First Aid” and “Cave Search and Rescue”. The author's experience as a physician is immediately apparent. His first-hand experience in rescue provides important dos and don'ts when faced with an emergency."