RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 38 Number 1 Article 17
April 2001


Some Thoughts from A Veteran Caver

Being the last people left on the site, after we had waved off the Davis family, I had been presented with the expedition log by Jim who obviously didn't want the responsibility of caring for it even though we had another three weeks in France ahead of us. Having got it I feel I should write something in it, especially as I have just done my first foreign trip with the Club after 45 years.

Unfortunately I have no epic tales to tell of through trips. My last SRT trip before this was so long ago I can't remember when it was. For that reason I had been determined to get a trip in before setting out for France. This idea was clobbered when, six weeks before the off, I did my back in and even getting underground at all seemed very doubtful. Fortunately my back recovered to its normal state of inflexibility and painfulness.

My first trip, down Trou Mile was accomplished with much help from Andy and Bill pointing out which bit of gear went where and what I was supposed to do with it. An interesting trip, dropping down 220m in a relatively short distance and then having to reverse it. The only trip I did which hasn't been recorded already was the de-rigging of "Heretiques" which I did with Slug and Marion. Slug did all the de-rigging; I make no claim to having helped. He also joined my list of heroes who have dug me out of dodgy situations e.g. double line on Bar pot "100" that wouldn't pull through and a ladder left at the bottom of Stream Passage "120". In this case I discovered at the entrance I had left my helmet behind. Despite my protestations that I would have to sit and wait for them, Slug insisted I should wear his, saying, "It's not the sort of hole that needs a helmet." He went down with the protection afforded by the strap of a Petzl head torch.

Another interesting trip, arriving at the same place, is the Trou Mile trip but descending down an enormous chamber this time.

Our five week trip ended in the Vercors where I did three more trips (with SRT), easy ones but with some good formations very near the surface. There are lots of deep trips in the Vercors apart from the Berger for those who fancy it.

For those who may be interested and who don't already know, Jonah and his mate Mick set off to do the traverse while the weather was still doubtful and having "pulled through" Trou Mile, turned back on seeing water in the Trou du Vent, exiting via the fixed traverse lines and some free climbing. Having waited three days for the weather to improve they then entered via Heretiques and surfaced after 15 hours having gone round in circles for three hours in Pène Blanque. Having only the one car had made things a bit difficult, but on the first trip, having exited Trou Mile with the car waiting at Pène Blanque car park, they thumbed a lift from some French cavers who took them right to the car. Before the second trip they had recc'ed a walk through the woods which reduced the walk up to Heretiques from 10km to 3km. a great advantage with a 15 hour trip still to come.

A very enjoyable two weeks I reckon. A pity I wasn't confident enough in my fitness to do more.

Roy Breakell

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