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Book Review

A Pongo Book Review

Caves of Adventure

By Haroun Tazieff

(Hamish Hamilton, 18/6)

I think everyone will remember the accounts in the papers last summer of the accident in the Grotte Pierre St. Martin in which Marcel Loubers was killed.  This book is written by one of the members of the party who was in the cave when the accident happened.

The cave is the deepest in the world, and may well be imagined from the fact that the entrance shaft is just 1,000 feet, in which there is one small sloping shelf about 250 feet down.  That is quite a start for a cave, but it then proceeds to blossom out into a series of three vast caverns.  The end of these has not been reached, but when the party had to start back they were about a mile from the bottom of the shaft and still going strong.

The accident was due to the failure of the bottom clamps on the winch cable, and Loubens fell about 30 feet.  With a great deal of effort they managed to get the doctor down the shaft but the winch then packed up and 24 hours were needed for repairs.  Lobens died just as they were ready to start hauling him up and he is buried in the cave.  While the winch was being repaired the shaft was laddered to a depth of 800 feet – which was no mean achievement in itself.

As a final episode the winch broke down again with Tazieff about 250 up from the bottom and he hung there for 4½ hours under a young waterfall.

Tazieff was the photographer of the expedition, so there are a number of good pictures illustrating the book.

Please don’t get killed in the rush when Ifold announces that he’s bought it.


Britain Underground

(Dalesman Pub. Co. 7/6)

The successor to Pennine Underground, the scope has been widened to include Somerset, Devon, South and North Wales, Derbyshire and Scotland.  Some of the smaller Yorkshire caves have had to be left out to make room but none of these are important.

The inclusion of a National Grid Reference is very good as the descriptions of how to find the caves were sometimes rather lacking and the stiff cover of the new version should make for durability.



I am looking forward to Pongo’s review of ‘British Caving’ by ‘members of the Cave Research Group’ at 35/- which has been seen recently in a local shop.  The dust-cover carries a picture of Queen Victoria in Stoke Lane.