Ask Cavers: What is the Best Caving Book?

July 18, 2012
Old Books

Photo by Maguis & David/flickr

We love to read here at Caving News, and we were recently looking for a new caving book to enjoy.

In our previous searches we found that most caving books were only available online and very few actually had reviews. Not wanting to resort to “judging a book by its cover”, and knowing that the best recommendations come from cavers themselves, we’d love hear what you, our readers select as your favorite caving books.

So, how about it cavers? What is your favorite caving book to curl up with when you’re unable to be underground. Let us know in the comments.

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Comments (24)

  1. Les Williams
    July 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Subterranean Climbers by Pierre Chevalier.
    In my opinion one of the best caving books ever written…

  2. Joseph Lieberz
    July 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Subterranean Climbers is the first book that came to mind for the pure joy of reading.

    Cave Geology by Art Palmer is the must read book for any caver. I have found many answers to questions about caves I have visited. Seems I missed a lot of important details because I did not know what I was looking at.

  3. Thomas
    July 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    The Jewel Cave Adventure by Herb and Jan Conn is my favorite.

  4. Nick Schmalenberger
    July 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    “Beneath the Mountains” by David Rose and Richard Gregson (out of print but also free online at )

    • Caving News
      July 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Excellent, thanks for the link.

  5. Dave Hunt
    July 18, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Depths of the Earth will always be my sentimental favorite.

  6. July 19, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Caverns Measureless to Man by Sheck Exley

    Available here:

  7. til
    July 19, 2012 at 5:22 am

    “Beyond the deep” and “Caverns measureless to man” are my favorites (although i don’t know many others yet).

  8. Aaron
    July 19, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Caseret’s Ten Years Under the Earth

  9. Andy
    July 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Alpine Caving Techniques: A Complete Guide to Safe and Efficient Caving
    George Marbach, Bernard Tourte

  10. perce lister
    July 19, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Gaping Gill – 150 Years of exploration by Howard M Beck. Out of print, but copies turn up in book shops and on amazon now and then.

  11. Brenda Mitchel
    July 19, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Memoirs of a Speleologist Author Robert dr Joly

    The Adventurous Life of a Famous French Cave Explorer

  12. Marvin Miller
    July 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Undoubtably, The Longest Cave and Beyond Mammoth Cave are two of the best. Also, The Jewel Cave Adventure, 50 Years Under the Earth, and Caverns Measureless to Man made big impressions on me.

  13. anni
    July 21, 2012 at 5:21 am

    “It’s Only A Game” and “The Game Goes On”, memoirs of British caver Jim Eyre are fantastically funny, as well as full of harrowing adventures.

  14. John B
    July 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Best caving book: Adventure is Underground, by Wm. Halliday

  15. July 25, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Gemmel and Myers, Under Ground Adventure. A good read.

  16. July 26, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Subterranean Climbers by Pierre Chevalier.
    In my opinion one of the best caving books ever written…

  17. Dave Jacobs
    July 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Who has time to read?? My favorite – over more then 43 years! – has been Depths of the Earth, by the venerable Bill Halliday. Another, while not technically a caving book, was Shibumi, by Trevanian – there are some great cave adventures wrapped into a spy thriller. See:

  18. Mark F
    July 27, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Hard to pick one, but…
    One Thousand Metres Down. Jean Cadoux et al
    Exploration of the Gouffre Berger

  19. James Jasek
    September 13, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Three books that every vertical caver needs to read are:

    Yochib: The River Cave by C. William Steele

    Huaultla Thirty Years in one of the Worlds Deepest Caves by C. William Steele

    Beyond the Deep by William Stone

  20. Dan Chase
    September 22, 2012 at 1:01 am

    William R. Halliday’s “Depths of the Earth,”;
    Cave Geology by Art Palmer;
    Huaultla Thirty Years in one of the Worlds Deepest Caves by C. William Steele;
    Beyond the Deep by William Stone;

  21. anthony tl ledford
    March 27, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I’m a TN. Caver for now so Ive been going old school with Thomas c. Barr’s “caves of Tennessee” and the follow-up “descriptions of Tennessee caves” by Larry E. Matthews. Tennessee is where its at y’all! Over 8,400 caves found and est. Around 15,000 caves. We,be only scratched the surface!…..I LOVE IT!!!!!

  22. José Humberto M. de Paula
    July 4, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I’m cave Photographer in Goiás State, in Brazil. Then, my favorite caving book is:
    A Manual of Underground and Flash Photography
    By Chris Howes.

  23. Ernst H. Kastning
    July 7, 2013 at 6:19 am

    Perhaps the most impressive, historic book on caves is the classic by Edouard Alfred Martel: Les Abimes (trans. The pits). It is a massive tome in French by the explorer and prolific writer who is arguably considered the “Father of Speleology.” Martel’s maps, drawings, and photographs are incredible for 1894, when the book was published in Paris. To many of us speleobibliophiles this is the “Gutenberg Bible” of cave books. It was reprinted years ago, but copies are hard to come by. I was fortunate to obtain a magnificent leather-bound copy in the 1970s (along with most of Martel’s other books on caves). It is a treasure to anyone who sees a copy – exquisite eye candy!


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