POT 2 (from another
POT 2 (from another perspective)
Scialet de Malaterre
Le Trou qui Souffle
Grotte de Gournier
Scialet du Pot 2
Grotte / Gourge de l’Olette
Grotte in gourges du meaudret With resurgence sump.
Unnamed Grotte with sump.
Grotte de Goule Vert
Grotte de Goule Blanche
Gorge du Furon 1
Gorge de Ecouges 2
Scialet De Pot 2
Sciolet De Pot 2 is an inviting looking pot in a stunning situation high up in Le Purgatoire Foret Domaniale du Vercors. After the two entrance pitches of 12m and 4m, one is confronted by a 303m vertical shaft. About 20m wide at its widest point and 1m diameter at the top. It’s like the space you would have if an enormous ballpoint pen wasn’t there and reaching the bottom of this space was the reason we had each carried 20kg of rope and metalwork through the forest for 3 hours. I only wish the French couple we had passed could know they were a part of this. Perhaps then they would be more at ease with their disquieting encounter with Darlek.
We spent the night at Col de La Sena, about half an hour from the dirt road, in a tent that felt smaller that it was. The next morning we stashed the tent and sleeping bags under a bush and were underway by 6:45.
The walk to the cave was uneventful, for us. Not so however for the French couple, who had escaped the madness of their daily lives by camping on the Plateau d'Herbouilly, only to be confronted, pre dawn, with another madness more terrifying. “Vulez du pain?” Dalek opened with. The tent rustled, “Nous sommes du Netto…” and Dalek continued to offer bread in his best French. “Do you speak English?” was the response. “Yes we are from Netto we have bread for you, we don’t just deliver to your door, we deliver to your tent…” and so on. “No” was the gist of the barely
audible response from inside the tent. After some persistence on the matter from both sides, we were able to continue on our way, yet still with more bread than we could eat in a day.
Finding the cave:
Finding the cave is notoriously difficult. The walk in, to the Lambert grid reference, given in the caving guides took 3 hours, and after a little more than three hours searching we finally found the cave, about 150m away. You would not think this a particularly large area to search. Imagine then a limestone pavement, of huge clints and grikes, with a dip of around 10O, cliffs and depressions every where, of 5 to 15m high/deep and sparsely forested with pine trees. It was at the back of one of these cliffs , under some pine trees that I found the hole.
From the tip of one of the higher cliffs I was able to get phone reception and ring Steve Gray (who was collecting us at the end of the day), to say we were entering the cave late and to confirm the callout time. However when we reemerged later than expected we no longer had phone reception – factors that nearly lead to a callout…
From the outside it does not look like much (in fact I nearly walked past it) and from the inside it doesn’t look like much either, that is until you got to the top of the 3rd pitch (the one that is as deep as 3 football pitches end to end). “Throw a stone down it.” I said to Dalek, he did, and nothing happened… nothing at all save for profound silence… after 6 long seconds – try counting them in your head - a great rumbling echo came clattering up the sides of the shaft towards us, whilst the stone continued clattering downwards to the floor. Now consider that in 6 seconds of free fall the stone had traveled about 180m and still had over 100m to go. Traveling at around 100 mph when it hit whatever it hit, it’s no wonder it made some noise.
Dalek started off down the pitch, with the 200m length of club rope and when this ran out I took over, with another 120m (3 ropes tied together). The going was slow as we did not want to burn the ropes and neither of us were used to rigging on spits. We had been advised to put in lots of rebelays, and tried to, however many of the rebelays were just 1 spit and many of the spits were a bit iffy. One free hang was over 100m and the last about 50m, with 2 knots to pass. We probably had 6 to 8 rebelays, but could have (and should have) made 4 to 6 more.
The bottom of the shaft is a flat floor of shattered stones, about 6m by 12m and pretty unremarkable.
On the way up it was clear why more rebelays would have been a good idea, and I had plenty of time to take photos, de-rig and pack the ropes, whilst Dalek fought his way up seemingly never pitches. The adrenalin had been going now for some time - we hadn’t reached the bottom till 4:30 and so clearly weren’t going to make the expected exit time of 5pm - and the cave was starting to get to me. At the bottom of the biggest pitch I had a little time to relax, this was about 120m up, and the cave at this point was quite noisy, not least because any noises echoed, a lot. I had placed a tin can under a drip on the floor, which made a terrific DING. This ding and the distant puffing and panting of Dalek joined the natural sounds of the drips that were prevalent in that part of the shaft. I tried turning my lamp off and quickly turned it on again.
The ascent was otherwise quick and smooth enough, even hauling the 350m of rope and metally bits was largely straight forward, using Steve’s pulley jammer and techniques I had leant big walling.
I think it was 7:30 pm when we pulled the last bag to the surface. I had dashed out before Dalek to ring Steve, but the previously good reception had vanished. So I returned to help Dalek with the gear, then we packed up as quickly as possible and started heading down. We had agreed a call out time of 10, and with and anticipated descent of 2 hours 30mins, (all going well) it was going to be very tight.
I got phone reception at times on the descent, but the phone would dial without connecting. In the mean time, Steve had been trying to ring me, and was getting a ringing tone. This suggested to him that my phone was on the surface, but I was not. We have no explanation for this unusual behavior. I had to turn keep my phone off most of the time, as most of its battery had been used trying to find the pot with GPS. I tried Steve again when I had a reception window at just past 9pm and got a very relieved reply. Steve remembered deciding on a callout time of 9pm and had been going through the possible scenarios and timings, yet the only thing that seemed to fit was that we were stuck under ground and had been for around 3 hours longer that anticipated. We got to the road (and pickup point) at 10pm so had I not been able to ring him it is most likely he would have raised the alarm. I have certainly learnt from this.
So In conclusion it is a brilliant hole, go and do it, but take more people, thinner rope, do more rebelays, leave more time and don’t rely on technology.
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