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Beyond the Deep: Deadly Descent into the World's Most Treacherous Cave [Hardcover]

William Stone , Barbara A.M. Ende , Monte Paulsen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 July 2003
The Huautla Caves system in Mexico has long been the "Holy Grail" of cavers. Fighting floods, cave-ins and Mazatec Indians who believe the caves are holy, caving teams have competed every year to be the first to prove the cave's depth. No-one has gone further than Bill Stone, the world's foremost caver, whose 20-year obsession nearly ended in disaster. He first explored Huautla in 1976 during the frontier days of caving. Over the next 15 years he stayed at the top, inventing clothing and equipment to help in his obsession. Finally, in 1994, after years of preparation, Stone and his 44-member team entered the Sotano de San Augustin sinkhole at Huautla. It was the beginning of a journey that would untimately claim the life of one diver and force every member of the team back - except Bill Stone and team member Barbara am Ende, who forged on alone, with no hope of rescue, to set the record for the deepest cave dive in the Western Hemisphere.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company (3 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446527092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446527095
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 463,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

* 'A riveting account of one of the most treacherous cave decents ever.' - Buzz Aldrin * 'Beyond imagining.an epic to stand beside classics by Jon Krakauer and Sebastien Junger.' - jeff Long, author THE DESCENT

About the Author

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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Barbara Anne am Ende watched the early morning sunlight stream through barren tree branches and speckle the walls of the large bedroom. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A memorable expedition. 21 Jan 2011
Format:Hardcover
'Beyond the Deep' clearly communicates that Bill Stone and his team of exceptional cavers and divers, are pioneers. The extraordinary journeys of such people have a lot to teach us, and not just about exploring one of the deepest and most incredible cave systems in the world.
We may learn about the technical logistics of a mission beyond the frontiers of the known planet, but make no mistake, at its heart this is a human story. This is a terrific account, an inspiring book.
Whats more, I felt that the reader was being challenged at every precipice, to consider whether or not they could be on that team. Could you eat that food and stay sane, could you cope under those circumstances, could you stare into the darkness with them. Whatever it takes for humans to go beyond the frontiers of the known planet and to explore space, it will take people with the stamina and spirit of deep cave explorers. And if Sistema Huautla is indicative of what might be out there, they will certainly need 'the right stuff'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. 17 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'd been waiting until I went on holiday to download this book and I was not disappointed.After reading Blind Descent I was interested in reading this book.The book describes the 1994 San Agustin Expedtion.Although I am not an avid caver,the book was written so no real knowledge was required.All in all this was a great read and if you are looking for a true adventure read on your holidays you need not look and further.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars......... excellent 12 May 2008
Format:Hardcover
Having done a bit of caving in the UK I found this book a fantastic read.

I highly recommend it!

The dust jacket quotes

" Impressive....before reading this riveting account of one of the most treacherous cave descents ever, I'd thought there could be no enviroment as alien as the lunar surface. No more"

I think that sums it up really.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Belief 31 Aug 2007
Format:Hardcover
If you are interested in stories of original exploration within this overcrowded planet of ours, then they do not come much better than this. Essentially, the story is about an expedition to the cave system of Huatla in Mexico. A multi national party of cavers and cave divers descend the cave hoping to 'push' it beyond its known end. Tragedy interrupts the expedition when an ace British cave diver is lost in strange circumstances. The expedition is greatly affected by the loss of 'Rollie' but the author Bill Stone and his then partner continue pushing the cave system 'Beyond Deep'. This book is up [down?] there with Jean Cadoux's book 'One Thousand Metrres Down.' The description of the divers camp next to the waterfall, the noise of which which caused the walls of the cave to vibrate, and the attempts at sleeping, armed with ear plugs to block out the sound of the tumbling waters is excellent. To understand the sport of expeditionary caving, read this book. It is so good.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Accurate Account 12 Aug 2002
By Richard Pyle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a personal friend of both Bill & Barb, as well as several of the key players in this story, my original reason for purchasing this book was more as a token of friendship, than anything else. Although I have been a test-diver and active user of the rebreather technology it describes since 1994, I'd never had much of an interest in exploring caves. I had expected to skim through the pages, read a few paragraphs here and there, then add it to my bookshelf alongside other books of a similar vein. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
Even though I already knew most of the details of the expedition, and knew full-well in advanced how the story begins, develops, and ends...I was nevertheless held captive by it from the time I opened its cover and began reading, until I completed its last page. The motivation behind cave exploration never seemed to make much sense to me before, but now it all seems crystal clear. This is TRUE exploration at its most extreme -- something often boasted about, but seldom genuinely so. This one is as genuine as it gets.
Because it would be easy to discount my endorsement as merely a kind gesture to my friends, I leave you to make your own interpretations based on the comments of other reviewers having less direct associations with the authors and expedition participants. However, as somewhat of an insider, I would like to take this opportunity to vouch for the authenticity of the events as they are described. I have had many long (multi-hour) discussions with Bill, Barb, and Noel Sloan about what happened during this expedition, and have also had conversations with Kenny Broad and Jim Brown, as well as a number of other people directly associated with the events described in the book. Most of these discussions took place very soon after the expedition ended, when memories and emotions were still fresh. It's also fair to say that I have as intimate an understanding of the inner workings of these particular rebreathers and how to use them as just about anyone else. Thus, it is not without some measure of validation when I say that I was extraordinarily impressed with how precisely the details of these events as described in the book coincide with the facts as explained to me by many and varied sources.
The Authors' Note confesses to reconstructed dialog (which is understandable, as memories begin to fade), but it also correctly defends its fairness in describing those portions where memories and interpretations do not coincide in every detail. Virtually all such details are trivial in the context of the broader story - the most significant events of which are not in dispute by anyone, to my knowledge.
Each and every participant on this expedition - whether I know them personally or not - has earned my highest respect and admiration. This book has impacted my perception of cave exploration much more so than I had ever expected it to. For those who decide to read it (and I doubt you will regret such a decision), you should do so with the realization that these are very real, flesh & blood people, embroiled in a very real and harrowing situation. I am confident that they will earn your respect as admiration as well.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Samurai of Inverse Mountaineering 8 Sep 2002
By sweetmolly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Author Bill Stone points out that the world never knows how deep a cave is until someone "bottoms it out." The tallest mountain's height is a known factor before anyone attempts the climb, but the mystery of caving remains.
"Beyond the Deep" recounts Stone's expedition into the cave system of Systema Huantla in Mexico, which as of 2001 was rated the 8th deepest cave system in the world at 1,475 meters. As the deepest cave in the world, the Kubera Cave in Georgia (formerly USSR) is 1,710 meters, only 235 meters deeper than Huantla, we are talking about some extreme caving.
The main purpose of the expedition was to test out Mr. Stone's "rebreather," an artificial breathing device that allows an underwater diver more than six hours of oxygen as opposed to 45 minutes in the average scuba tank. This amount of time is needed in caves with large "sumps" or underground water passages where the surface can be a great distance away. The problem with the rebreather, aside from its experimental nature, is its complexity, an added component of difficulty to a diver's already altered state of awareness.
The expedition was a diverse group consisting of five divers (these are extreme guys!), five top-of-the-line cavers, and Stone's girl friend, Barbara am Ende, a PhD geologist, but less experienced cave diver. The story unfortunately begins in Maryland where they assembled the group and the gear. I say "unfortunately" because it is an overlong section that leaves us a long time to wait before we get to the cave. Once at the site, the book is engrossing and exciting. Excellent maps are included that are vital to the understanding of what they were doing and where they were at any given time. Stone's descriptions of the types of caving and diving required are outstanding. I have never willingly been in a cave (my claustrophobia kicks in just reading about it!), yet I could easily visualize exactly what was going on. The dangers, particularly of diving, are appalling. After finishing the book, I looked up "most dangerous sports" and was surprised #1 is bull riding, #2 water speed records and #3 cave diving. After reading "Beyond the Deep," I was certain nothing in this world (and possibly the next) could be more dangerous than cave diving!
The book has weaknesses mostly in the format. Mr. Stone chooses to use the third person singular, i.e. "Bill Stone says--" when he is talking about himself, something I find irritating and pretentious. The author states at the beginning that the dialogue is not exact, only an approximation. It is extremely stilted and when the author tries to get off a good joke that "cheered everyone up," it falls flat as a flounder. Guess you had to be there. Ms. am Ende is portrayed as almost walking on water; her patience is unremitting, her cheerfulness amazing. This is in contrast to the other members who were displayed in a much more three-dimensional, interesting manner.
This is one of those books you feel like you don't quite have the whole story. Mr. Stone is an enthusiastic proponent of his rebreather, yet I felt the divers' concerns and uneasiness were quite understandable and to the point. The author is clearly a driven person and whether he showed bravery or a blatant disregard of safety by continuing the exploration with the inexperienced Ms. am Ende is something the reader will have to decide for himself.
A good, interesting read with glossary, index and notes.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, well paced, beautifully written. 4 July 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is an incredible insight into the world of caving. I knew nothing about the sport or what drives people to do such a thing until after I had read this book. This book really gave me a feel for this incredibly demanding (both physical and emotional) activity.
Don't worry if you are the claustrophobic type, you can read this book and enjoy the cave exploration but be glad that you are not there.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caving/Diving Adventure at its best! 24 July 2002
By Darren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It was hard to put this book down once the caving and diving actually got going. Being a keen scuba diver I thought I would only be interested in the extreme diving and the trial of the newly-invented rebreather but actually found all aspects of the adventure extremely interesting. The writing flowed very well and gave me a feeling of being there, alone in the cave/diving etc. The pictures certainly helped show the beauty and mystery of the Huatla (excuse spelling) Cave System. It must have been awesome standing alongside the underground waterfall where no other person had ever stood!
This book is a story about human endurance and the will to go on despite devastating setbacks (such as the death of one of your party members!) and the psychological affects this has on the different personalities involved. It is hard for us common-folk to understand why people would push themselves to the limit like that but this book definitely allows us to empathise with those that do, by describing, in detail, the bounty that awaits. Regardless of the bounty, I think I'll stick to openwater reef and wreck diving!
I HIGHLY recommend this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Story, But Flawed Construction 15 Aug 2011
By Jackie Q. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was really excited about reading this book because I love reading about cave diving, technical diving, and adventure stories. However, while reading this book I was often frustrated by its construction. I feel this book should have been written as a memoir. A lot of its awkwardness is due to writing what should have been a memoir as a third person nonfiction book. I wonder WHY it was written as such, since Bill and Barbara are the authors. I wish we had been allowed to get inside their heads. Especially Barbara, since she seems comes off as such a martyr without much of her own opinions.

Also, it was kind of hard to figure out the audience for the book. Some of the details were technical and presented in a way that made it confusing for me to really appreciate the quest. The book is kind of front-loaded with a lot of technical information.

At times I'd become frustrated with asides and side stories that seemed to reach no conclusion or point. They seemed interesting, but were under explained or weren't tied into the story. I also felt that the book ended kind of abruptly; since we followed Bill and Barbara so long I would have liked a more drawn out conclusion. For example (not trying to spoil the book), we're introduced to them as a couple, see the lengths they go through together, but it ends with a one-sentence line saying they broke up (yet presumably came together to write this book?).

I gave it 3 stars because I don't regret reading it and I found parts of it fascinating, but the above problems with the book prevented me from really enjoying the narrative.
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