How-to Books Worth Reading

By Bill Mixon, NSS #5728 (Austin, TX)

Vertical. Alan Warild.
    Comprehensive guide that describes all climbing systems equally well and fairly. Rigging section emphasizes European style. Warild is fond of solo trips to the bottom of 1000-meter-deep caves, doing all the rigging himself, so his ultra-lighweight "cord technique" is included. I think this is the best book on vertical techniques available.

On Rope II. Bruce Smith and Allen Padgett.
    The American vertical caver's bible. Particularly good on the ropewalker system of climbing. Frog system thoroughly discussed in substantial detail. Rigging sections moves to a more complete discussion of a modem technical approach. Includes some fairly esoteric subjects like very long rappels and highlines. A new chapter includes rope use by Arborists, Water Rescuers and other Industrial Users.

Single Rope Techniques. A guide for vertical cavers. Neil R. Montgomery.
    The first real vertical caving how-to book, and probably had much to do with the popularity of the term SRT. But now getting rather long in the tooth. For instance, the frog system is described using Jumars as the ascenders. Looking through it, though, I'm surprised to see how little things have really changed in twenty years.

Vertical Caving. Mike Meredith and Dan Martinez.
    This small British book teaches the European system of rigging and climbing almost exclusively, but it does a pretty good job of that for its small size. The original edition (undated) by Meredith alone was translated into a number of languages, including at least German and Croatian.

Single Rope Technique. A training manual. Dave Elliot.
    Another little British book giving the basics of European-style vertical caving.


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