Vercors Caving Conference, August 2008

Blog

Vercors - August 2008
A two week trip to the Vercors National Park in the French Alps as part of the 4th European Caving Conference held in Lans-en-Vercors.

Monday 18th August 2008
Via Ferrata Cascade de l'Oule, Le Grand Diedre - Crolles

Our 1st year anniversary and we decided to celebrate by doing what the guidebook describes as probably the most difficult route in the book. It was sustained strenuous climbing with amazing views across the whole valley. The protection was excellent and it was a thoroughly good day out. At the top we watched the paragliders take off before walking down the side of the funicular railway.

Tuesday 19th August 2008
Grotte de Gournier, Choranche

An absolutely classic trip. Excellent fossil passages and an active streamway more resembling a canyon. The entrance lake was crossed with ease by using an inflatable boat kindly lent to us by the Wessex Cave Club. A short, high level, traverse then got us into the large and decorated fossil passage. After a short walk and scramble across boulders we dropped down into the streamway via the 1st access point. Following the river upstream it was constant fun with cascades, climbs and swims in crystal clear, but cold, water. The return trip was just as fun as a number of the climbs on the way in turned into big jumps into plunge pools on the way out.

Wednesday 20th August 2008
Le Furon 1 Part 2 & Le Furon 2, Sassenage

A late afternoon trip to do the nearby Furon canyon from Engins to Grenoble. Also, my first canyoning trip. We didn't realise just how long the walk along the river would be between Furon 1 and Furon 2 and it was quite amusing climbing out the canyon at the bottom in the outskirts of Grenoble as we walked back to our car in wetsuits while everyone else was dressed for a night out!.

Thursday 21st August 2008
Les Ecouges Part 2, St Gervais et Rovon

The second canyoning trip of the holiday was met with road closure problems so we were only able to do the second part of the trip. There were a lot more impressive waterfalls to abseil than the Furon but also a good number of jumps and slides.

Saturday 23rd August 2008
Le Furon 1 Part 2

Another trip down the Furon which was more fun as we now knew which of the waterfalls we could jump without having to check them out first.

Sunday 24th August 2008
A 53 mile bike ride from Autrans to Lans-en-Vercors and then down to Grenoble and back up the other way. We met up with a local cycling club on the way down which proved interesting on the corners as they all knew the road extremely well.

Le Furon 1 Part 2
A quick evening trip to do the upper part of the Furon again and to cool off from the days cycling.

Monday 25th August 2008
Grotte de Bournillion

An easy day to visit this impressive cave which boasts the largest cave entrance in Europe. We also went into the cave as far as the siphon temporaire.

Scialet de Malaterre
On the way back across the Herbouilly Plateau we stopped off to look at the Scialet de Malaterre entrance pitch.

Tuesday 26th August 2008
Le Cascade de Moulin Marquis

Not really a canyon but an entertaining 380m abseil down a shear cliff with a waterfall pouring over the top. The first pitch was rigged with caution as the first place to clip in was to a tree hanging directly above the 380m drop. After this we were fully committed as we pulled our ropes down and from here on down the abseils were onto small ledges or hanging re-belays.

Wednesday 27th August 2008
Gouffre Berger

As this classic deep pothole was rigged for the caving conference we thought we'd best do at least one trip in there. It took us quite a while to find the entrance as we missed one of the smaller paths heading across the limestone pavement. The entrance series of pitches down to the big Puits Aldo pitch resembled more of a cold alpine cave with slippery meanders in between the pitches. After the pitches we walked through the (dry) Lac Cadoux although there were boats there just in case it rained. From here the cave turned into more impressive proportions as we entered the Galerie Petzl and onto the Salle des Treize (Hall of Thirteen). This was all fairly easy going cave passage. We ended our trip at the Le Vestiaire (about -650m) and the start of the wetter sections. The way out was surprisingly easy considering we were so deep into the cave.

Thursday 28th August 2008
A rest day after our long caving trip and a chance to see the Speleo Secours Francais (SSF) - French Cave Rescue in action on a nearby cliff.

Friday 29th August 2008
After cycling up Alpe d'Huez two years ago as part of the triathlon it was Helen's turn to experience the famous Tour de France climb. We started our ride from Le Mure of the Grenoble to Gap road. We then had to pass the 1300m Col d'Ornon, in the Ecrins National Park, before out descent to Bourg d'Osians and the foot of Alpe d'Huez. The climbing then really began as we tackled the 21 hairpin bends in the midday heat. It was very tough going and we were very dehydrated by the time we got to the top where we sat for about 30 minutes and just drank lots of fluids. It was then time to get back on the bikes for the exhilarating descent we had just climbed, reaching a maximum speed of 43 mph. Unfortunately that wasn't the end as we still had to climb back over the Col and cycle back to Le Mure. Overall a 75 mile trip in stunning scenery but with a hell of a lot of height climbing.

Caving Logbook

Caving: Grotte de Gournier (19-Aug-08)

  • Helen Brock, Tim Lamberton, Sarah Timmis, Will Stewart

  • Grotte, de, Gournier

  • 04:00 hours
  • 1,953:30 cumulative hours

An absolutely classic trip. Excellent fossil passages and an active streamway more resembling a canyon. The entrance lake was crossed with ease by using an inflatable boat kindly lent to us by the Wessex Cave Club. A short, high level, traverse then got us into the large and decorated fossil passage. After a short walk and scramble across boulders we dropped down into the streamway via the 1st access point. Following the river upstream it was constant fun with cascades, climbs and swims in crystal clear, but cold, water. The return trip was just as fun as a number of the climbs on the way in turned into big jumps into plunge pools on the way out.

Caving: Grotte de Bournillion (25-Aug-08)

  • Helen Brock, Tim Lamberton, Sarah Timmis

  • Grotte, de, Bournillion

  • 01:00 hours
  • 1,954:30 cumulative hours

An easy day to visit this impressive cave which boasts the largest cave entrance in Europe. We also went into the cave as far as the siphon temporaire.

Caving: Gouffre Berger (27-Aug-08)

  • Helen Brock

  • Gouffre, Berger

  • 08:30 hours
  • 1,963:00 cumulative hours

As this classic deep pothole was rigged for the caving conference we thought we'd best do at least one trip in there. It took us quite a while to find the entrance as we missed one of the smaller paths heading across the limestone pavement. The entrance series of pitches down to the big Puits Aldo pitch resembled more of a cold alpine cave with slippery meanders in between the pitches. After the pitches we walked through the (dry) Lac Cadoux although there were boats there just in case it rained. From here the cave turned into more impressive proportions as we entered the Galerie Petzl and onto the Salle des Treize (Hall of Thirteen). This was all fairly easy going cave passage. We ended our trip at the Le Vestiaire (about -650m) and the start of the wetter sections. The way out was surprisingly easy considering we were so deep into the cave.

Related Blogs

Strava Stats

Recent Last 4 weeks

8 nr
97 mi
16:20:15
15,229 ft
0 nr
0 mi
00:00:00
0 ft
0 nr
0 mi
00:00:00

Year-to-date

123 nr
859 mi
118:31:27
56,264 ft
4 nr
18 mi
03:21:46
862 ft
0 nr
0 mi
00:00:00

All-Time Stats

567 nr
3,889 mi
570:30:01
416,267 ft
775 nr
4,281 mi
327:37:53
310,426 ft
34 nr
43 mi
30:50:12

Social