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Cavers Bookshelf No. 6

Vertical Caving by Mike Meredith

64pp.  17 plates.  169 drawings. £2.50

This book does not set out, to cover Single Rope Techniques in as much depth as Thrun or Montgomery. Provided one accepts that its scope is limited to "French" systems and Petzl equipment, then it becomes a good publication to read in conjunction with practical experience.

The ethics of using bolts in the number and with the frequency advocated on the continent is of course a matter of debate.  Whether in ten or twenty years this amount of discretion will be looked back on with distaste or acceptance of the method as essential for the sake of safety, only time will tell.  The fact is that Mike Meredith's book gives a sound and very clear description his chosen techniques, with only one exception.

It is a shame that there is one area of apparent contradiction when he comes to deal with the use of the "Shunt".  He quite correctly states that because this device will absorb shock loading by sliding to a stop on the rope, rather than having a cutting cam, it is very suitable for use as a "dead man's handle" while abseiling etc.  However on page 29 he states:-

“A shunt cannot be safely used for self life-lining and on page 37 he says that a shunt should not be used as a safeguard when bolting a traverse line at the head of a pitch"

This apart, this book represents good value for money, by today’s standards, must be compulsory reading for continental expedition members.