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Present: Katherine, Stacey, George

The Grotte de Bournillon

This was reccommended as a good first cave in the guidebook, and so it was. The entrance was extremely impressive, being similar in size to 2 GG main chambers on top of each other (or 32.4 St Pauls Cathedrals). We started off by doing an exciting traverse above a pool, which the guidebook dosn’t mention, on the other hand though the caves are so big it isn’t really possible to write about everything. After this brief excitement we stomped on around very large boulders, and past some nice formations until we reached the sump after about 2kms. As I was wearing my wetsuit I resurrected the age old tradition of swimming in the sump (it was cold). We then stomped all the way back to the entrance.

Le Leoncel

DUSA go canyoning! This seemed like a good first canyon to do – There was: 15 pitches, 4 jumps, 4 climbs and 2 tobbogans, and it was 3km long, with plenty of swimming – The foundations for an epic trip were well and trully laid!

The trip got underway at the leisurely hour of 2pm, and we rigged down the first pitch, then the 2nd, and so on. Much fun was had at a rather sporting jump from about 5m – a tree trunk in the pool reducing the landing area! Me and Katherine jumped in about 4 times each, trying to get a good photo. And so we went on and on. Eventually we reached the last pitch, with several minor injuries between us, the most painful belonging to Katherine who had jabbed herself in the eye with a tree. Sadly this was not the end of the trip however!

I hadn’t really bothered to look at the walk back on the map before we set off, unfortunately as we discovered it was a very long way up endless hairpin bends which seemed to go on forever. After a small eternity we reached the car just as it was getting dark. It had been an excellent trip, with a surprising lack of cock-ups.

The Grotte de Gournier

This was undoubtedly the best trip I’ve ever done. The Grotte de Gournier is part of the Choranche show cave complex, so you need to ask permission before you descend. The girl on the desk asked if we had a boat, because the water is very cold – sadly I did not know the french equivalent of “boats are for wimps” Anyway we reached the entrance lake festooned with a slightly strange collection of gear, and I entered the water: “Bloody hell it’s cold” And then I left the water, and then I tried again. After about 40m there’s an obvious ledge on the LHS, where it’s nice to get out of the water. There’s then a short climb up and an exciting traverse above the lake until you reach the fossil gallery.

The fossil gallery is absolutely superb, we stomped past some enormous formations, and some enourmous gour pools, which flowed down the passage for about 100m in one place. As Stacey said “It’s like the places you see in photographs but don’t actually think exist” sadly our photos don’t do much for the place. anyway after quite some distance along this massive passage we came to a gert ‘ole in the floor. This we presumed was the 2nd access to the streamway, it was however a slightly loose and hairy climb down towards the roaring noise.

The streamway was without a doubt the best piece of cave passage I’ve ever been in. We traversed high above seemingly endless green/blue pools, and up many sporting cascades, in a massive meandering rift passage, it felt very remote as the cave goes up for another 700m, and we were over 2km from the entrance. eventually we reached a large chamber where a short swim lead to a massive waterfall, which marks the end of the cave for mere mortals. We then had the traditional snickers before the long trip back down the streamway, this time swimming many of the pools rather than using the strenuous wire traverses.

Following this there was the very long stomp back down the fossil gallery, prior to the final chilly swim in the entrance lake before emerging to a rather warm evening after about 8hrs of brilliant caving.

I reccommend this cave as an absolute ‘must do’ for anybody! :o)

Les Ecouges (Top part)

This is apparently one of the most famous canyons in France, with a reputation as being quite hard! However, although technically much harder than Le Leoncel, it was certainly far less tiring. The trip really was brilliant fun though, with lots of water, deep pools, very exposed traverses, and a big pitch at the end. The highlight of the trip may have been the absolutely superb swimming pool beneath the final cascade though!