Volume 42 Number 2 Article 1
Dent de Crolles
1 : Trou de Glaz to Grotte Chevalier
25 September 2004
David Foxton, Dinny, Beardy (c3hrs)
A long weekend trip, flying from Liverpool to Geneva, we met Mr Foxton at Geneva Airport and sped off in our hire car. After a ridiculously expensive evening meal we bivi'd near the Col de Coq and descended for breakfast to a nearby village on the Isere side of the hill. Returning to the Col de Coq we set off at around 11am for the hour walk up to the Trou de Glaz. Once kited up we sped off down the entrance gallery. After a couple of hundred metres we took a side passage on the right (up a 1.5m climb) which quickly led to the Puits Lantern. Three pitches followed in rapid succession, after which an obvious hands and knees crawl led off. Soon the passage enlarged and we reached the PL4 pitch, which dropped us into the second level. Almost immediately was a fun traverse around the P36, including some interestingly placed P bolts for foot holds. A steep hand-line climb led to the continuation of the 2nd level and soon we arrived at the Puit de Lac. This pierces the second level and you continue by a traverse on the left with a tall aven soaring upwards and a large shaft below.
Just beyond here the Voie Classique to the Guiers Mort leaves by a crawl in floor on the left hand side of the gallery. Where this leads off is a small stone with an inscription left by the original explorers. Continuing in the main gallery, the next obstacle is the Puit 60, again passed by a traverse on the left. Shortly beyond was a junction where we turned right, the following gallery led to the 25m Puit Ferdinand. This dropped into a gallery where an obvious traverse line rose up into the Diaclase Annette which chopped and turned until we reached its far end where a Puits (15&5) dropped down into another gallery.
We soon reached the Puits de la Vire, turned by a traverse to the left and some 30m beyond we came to an obvious meandre, gained by a short climb down. The meandre was small and sporting and we soon gained the base of an upward P10, here we donned prussiking gear and raced up the pitch. A short crawl led to the head of Puits Maurice (P55) whose pitch head was gained by an entertaining climb up. The in-situ rope was a little lumpy and towards the base of the pitch we had to pendulum into a parallel shaft to gain the correct base of the pitch. A handline dropped into the Meandre Nadine which continued for a couple of hundred metres until we reached the Puits de l'Oubliette (P10-P20). The second pitch was only descended for a few meters until a serious traverse led into the Gallerie Soupirs. At the far end of this gallery we descended the Puits Toussaint and dropped into the spectacular Grand Gallerie de la Grotte Chevalier, this immense gallery rose steeply towards the entrance almost half a mile away and the gallery was forty yards wide or more through most of its length. The entrance was impressive, if not a little loose. Dave, Dinny and I sat here at the base of the immense cliffs of the Dent and enjoyed the view down to the Isere whilst enjoying a quick snack. The trip had taken just three hours, compared to the guidebook time of eight - all of the pitches had been equipped with in situ ropes.
2 : Trou de Glaz to Grotte Annette
26 September 2004
David Foxton, Dinny, Beardy (c2hrs)
The following day we returned to the Trou de Glaz. This time we were aghast to find fifteen French speleos about to descend. We rapidly changed and sped off into the Gallery before the French team had finished eating their dinner. Although we nearly came close to abandoning Mr F at this point. Soon the three of us were covering the same route as the previous day at a fast rate of knots. Mr Davies missed the turning to the Puits Lantern (apparently he is ashamed). The next section was followed without incident to the gallery after the Puit de la Vire. Here we ignored the small gallery in the floor and stayed in the main gallery.
Not far beyond was the Puits de la Vrappe, an upward pitch of 10m. Above was a fossil gallery, a veritable labyrinth. However this section sported some fantastic rock architecture. At the far end we found the Puits de la Gnole which was rigged by a series of small drops. Below this we followed a very well worn and marked route through the fossil Gallerie de la Grotte Annette and after twenty minutes of caving we emerged from the tremie (choke) shored up with some sturdy road barriers. The entrance again was in an impressive location with the steep cliffs soaring up above and dropping down to the Isere valley below. A pleasant walk back to the car was enjoyed followed by dropping Mr Foxton off at the Gare in Grenoble while Dinny and I enjoyed a sporting Via Ferrarta in the centre of Grenoble. Again all the pitches were found to be rigged, hence the slashing for the guidebook's 6 hour time.