After Chartreuse Trip





Last summer, I went out to France to meet up with the second week of the club trip in the Chartreuse, I had an enjoyable time there, but it is the other week of my holiday that I shall share with you now.  Steve Gray kindly lent me a guidebook for the Vercours, so it made sense for me to start there.

The Trou Qui Souffle was a suitable start, and the kind of walk-in that I can cope with! The entrance had a rigid aluminium ladder, which seemed a bit odd, but down I went. After a while I met some French cavers, with ‘les enfants’, who told me it was their ladder, and that it would be possible for me to climb out without the ladder being there. I continued a short time, my notes say “5m down the 30m second pitch”, I can’t remember anything about the trip, apart from the entrance climb out being a doddle.  Next day I went in Brodour Grotte, where 30m in was some serious gating. Drove up the hill to Scialet du Toboggan, which took me a while to find. The entrance is a snug vertical pitch, and I continued to the first Metro. Had a bit of a struggle on the way up the entrance series.

Decided to start my journey home, so drove to the Ardeche.  OK, not strictly on the way home, but always worth a visit. Tried to find a couple of caves, but just ended wandering around the woods for a few hours – fortunately I had expected that to happen, so wasn’t carrying any caving gear. Next day, I found Aven de la Rouveyrette, which is basically a deep pit with a few pretties at the bottom. Managed to scare myself doing the rigging, as I was a bit out of practice.  Headed north, after a bit of a wash, er, swim, in the Ardeche, and a quick look at a couple of Dolmens.

Stopped at a place called “La Roche Qui Danse” near Valence at 2am. Very atmospheric ! The rocks that dance.

Next day took me to the Doubs area, for which I had the guidebooks (in French unfortunately).


Went to Grotte Sarrazine, and Source de Lison, both walk-in tourist caves. However, the Sarrazine does have some cave passage beyond the pool, so I returned the next day with caving gear. Rigged a traverse around the pool, and up the calcite cascade, which was thankfully dry. However, I couldn’t find the way on ( D’oh! ). I presume I had needed to climb all the way to roof level, but seeing as I’d needed to ‘leap-frog’ my three hangers to get across the pool, the prospect of a 20m climb using the same method didn’t appeal.  Still, I entertained the tourists, and guided some of the braver ones the 20m or so in, to see the pool. I’ll never know if they understood my ‘pigeon-frenchexplaination of what lies beyond.


That afternoon, I went to Gouffre de Granges Mathieu.  It had a tall fence around the pot, with a  sign saying you had to contact the Speleo Club Beaufort. As the cave  has houses next to it, I thought I’d best ask permission. I saw some locals walking their dog, and asked them, they suggested I go to the next town and ask in the town hall. So I drove the 5 miles to the town hall, and asked there, even showing them the book, so they could see what I was talking about….”we know nothing about it” was the response. So, I drove back up, trying to decide whether it was worth the risk to pirate  the trip.


I saw the same men returning from their walk, and spoke to them again, I told them that the town hail knew nothing about it, and referred them to the big sign saying that permission was required from the Beifort club. The local, with full blown French mannerisms said “Pah! Belfort es cent kilometres they will not know that you go in there.” Much relieved that the locals wouldn’t shoot me, I climbed the fence and set off down the 25m deep pot. The Beifort club have tried to turn it into a show cave, and there was a fixed ladder, with protective rings, unfortunately, partway down, a fallen tree had mangled the rings, which meant an interesting squeeze on the ladder, fortunately, I’d already decided to self-line on the descent. At the bottom of the pot was a gate, which fortunately wasn’t padlocked, and so I could continue my exploration. There were cables and broken lightbulbs everywhere, in their attempt at turning it into a tourist showcave, the Belfort club had turned it into a dump, however, the formations were stunning, and further from the entrance, there was less mess. One of the best decorated caves I’ve ever been in.


Next day I visited Gouffre Tresor, a large entrance next to the road, and Gouffre de Roy, which took a while to find, but was a nice little trip with some pretties.

One oddity I visited was Grotte de Remonot, a walk-in cave which has been turned into a small chapel !


Jonny Baker                                                                                                               Back to:- Contents