"The Rapture": A Terrible Way to Die in a Cave

Explorer Bart Hogan stands at an entrance to the Cheve cave in Mexico. Author James M. Tabor writes about a 2004 expedition through the Cheve supercave in his new book Blind Descent. Photo: Frank Abbato

Add this to the list of why I'm afraid to go spelunking:

Drowning, poisonous gas inhalation and electrocution are perils of journeying through a supercave. Tabor says there are more than 50 ways for a person to die during these explorations.

There's also a danger of developing an illness known as "the rapture" — an extreme reaction to darkness and depth. Those who have suffered from it describe it as being similar to an anxiety attack while on methamphetamines.

"At some level, everyone's brain will start to say, 'I don't belong here. This is a very dangerous place.' It's an ancient primordial instinct and it just says, 'You have to get me out of here, right now,'" Tabor explains.

Guy Raz of NPR's All Things Considered has a fantastic interview with James Tabor about his new book Blind Descent, which describes the quest to find the deepest cave on Earth: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127937159

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Hmmm interesting: "... 50 ways for a person to die during these explorations." and according to Paul Simon, "50 ways to leave your lover". Coincidence? I think so!
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I think this used to be called panic, and was attributed to the Greek god Pan (hence the word) who was believed to be the cause of the often reported uncontrollable fear that would suddenly overtake men (and horses) who were traveling deep in the woods. Anyone know?
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