Reseau de la Diau
a group. of us from Cave & Crag and BUUS visited
the Reseau de la Diau intent on doing the
classic through trip. The Diau is a large and impressive river cave situated at the base of the Parmalan plateau near Thorens in the
On reaching the campsite at Nantizel, we encountered a large contingent of
du Bel Espoir,
5000ft up on top of the Parmalan plateau, is notoriously
difficult to find
We did a recce
trip in the Grotte de la Diau,
then ferried tackle up to the top entrance.
After a rest day we were all to do the trip through to the Diau. The first party rigging the rest of the cave through to the Diau, a second, smaller team of Chelsea members following, and our party going in last and de-rigging the cave as we went down — save for the upper pitches which could be de-tackled from the surface later.
Below the Salle des Rhombaedres, a massive boulder-strewn chamber, is the Puits de Echoes, the longest pitch in the cave and split into three sections of 21, 6 and 45 metres. A really superb shaft with spacious ledges on route. Below, one in the Affluent des Grenables, 1500 metres of narrow, winding streamway with numerous short pitches and cascade’s — all very attractive and sporting caving. The final pitches are 8, 30,16 and 12 metres. Clambering over a huge roof fall then leads to a long muddy tunnel that emerge into the vast gloom of the Diau river. Shouldering tackle bags we made our way downstream towards the entrance, two and a half kilometers away.
Large river galleries deep dark water; the massive Chaos Chamber; deep, wide, si1ent canals; the interesting fossil Labyrinth series; more deep water wire traverses; cascades; the roaring Spinning Top; the stemp1e climb; the journey through the Big Blower; more deep, cold water; fixed ladders in the Salle de la Carene; and finally struggling over the boulders of the vast entrance chamber, to be greeted by. a sky full of heavy rain, thunder and lightning. Fortunately we were out before the rain affected the level in the Diau. Seeing the entrance arch lit in silhouette by lightning was a memorable sight.
Conclusions? The trip had taken the main de-rigging party of six people l0 and a half hours. Whether or not rigging the cave is necessary ( for safety escape should the Diau become impassable) is debatable. Exit from the Salle des Rhombaedres would be very difficult on SRT alone. The cave is rigged for double-line through trips, and provided one has done a recce in the Diau first, route finding is no problem. Watch out for the weather though. In all, an excellent trip spoilt only by the muddy upper pitches.