home

Album / Pourpevelle '2004


all photoes

The fantastic team before we entered the cave: Moritz, mtc, Yura, Martin (from the left)            After three failures we finally did it. Our trip to the cave which is said to be one of the most beautiful and exciting caves in central Europe. Our team was small but just "fantastic": Yura digger down to his toes, Martin mainly known for his legendary helmet, Moritz the one who always wants to take pictures and everybody has to wait and finally as special guest Martin the caver. One of the really legendary cavers of Switzerland. The one with many names: Martin-the-husband-of-my-cousin (mthomc) or Martin-the-official-guide-of-Hoelloch (mtogoh) or just Martin-The-Caver (mtc).
           The weather was not to bad, but finally we found a slot with no risk of precipitation. We left Switzerland with excitement towards Soye, close to L'Isle-sur-le-Doubs. And mtc told us all ugly stories about the cold water, very very narrow passages, long climbings and finally just paradise in "station plaisance". Lots of stalactites and little ponds.
Flying in the big dome            We entered the cave finally at 4 p.m. It started with a short pitch of about 10 meters, crawling, another pitch and crawling again. But then we already reached the first highlight: "Puits Nord", a big pit with free abseiling in the center of a huge 35m dome. It was just like flying. You could see the tiny head lights of the others from high above.
Martin and Yura: Ok, its not that cold (yet)            From there we reached "Reseau Sud" with the first contact to the element we shoudn't be missing for the next hours: Water! It was also the first test of our clothing. Mtc and Yura where wearing pontonieres and warm underwear. Martin and me only had neoprene suits. Maybe not the perfect thing? It felt pretty ok in these first ponds. But worse was yet to come... The tunnel was pretty wide and comfortable in this region. It was really a joy climbing along the pools and the nice structures on the wall.
Moritz on the ring: Look hands free!            We finally arrived at a pretty deep pool. Nothing for a pontoniere. But fortunately somebody had left there a comfortable ring to sit on. We could sit on it and pull ourselves on a rope through the pool. Like on hollidays!
Galerie des Cristaux with tons of small glimmering crystals. Wonderful to see  horrible to dig through.            There was really plenty of water. So we crossed "delta de l' Amazone" and went further towards "Pourpelui 1". There we had to find a tricky turning facing to the feared "galerie des cristaux". It started nicely with a lot of mud. We really could slip on it comfortably. I really could not understand why my aunt told me that this cave also has some nice tortures. But then they came. Nicely covered with small shiny cristals all over. Trying to make it sweet for us.
Martin in the "Galerie de la Voute Mouillante"            But finally just a piece of narrow ugly crawling. It is narrow enough to make you crawl on your belly. But that is not enough. The whole ground is made of small tubs, which nature has been building up for 10'000s of years with passion. Made to make you suffer. Some with cold water in, others just there to make you stick. Transport bags, carbide lamp and SRT gear wonderfully jam in each of them. A real pleasure. But all this crystals smile and glimmer at you and make you shout: Cool! And finally it really is. Then the cave opens up again. We're coming to the mud ...before it gets narrow. Martin-the-Caver (mtc) taking a rest in the Galerie de la Voute Mouillante... again. The "Galerie de la Voute Mouillante". I remember what mtc had told us: A muddy parcours before it should end in a very narrow 50 meter high chimney. Climbing up there is said to be even more anoying than the "galerie des cristaux". This chimney should end on a low horizontal plate. Most people finally find out how they can make this 90 bend in their spine to turn into this crack. This crack will get narrower than your helmet. The last real exam before we should reach the fantastic "station plaisance". Open domes, stalacties, pools, all lovely (loveleeyyyy) arranged. Paradise. But we are not yet there. But already the "Galerie de la Voute Mouillante" is a nice setting. It starts with some muddy holes, but it has some wonderful little pools, too.
           But after a while it started to get narrow again. Water, mud and dried out tiny pools to get stuck in again.
           Martin and me where still stuck in these passages when we heared that Yura and mtc reached the place where the big chimney starts. It opened up a bit so we could see them trying. There is a syphon in front of the chimney. It still had a bit too much water from the rain in the week before. mtc tried to get through it. He did a good job and was really fighting. But there was not much space left above the water. When he was in the water up to his right ear and felt how the cold water poored into his pontoniere he somehow seemed to loose his sense of humor. A loud shouting and he gave up. Too risky. We could get through it somehow. But some more rain would be enough to cut the way back. We decided to turn back shortly before paradise.
Tiny stalactites hanging from the ceiling in the "Galerie de la Voute Mouillante"            So let's dig back through the nice places of "Galerie de la Voute Mouillante" and "galerie des cristaux". I probably don't have to describe how it was in there, do I? I got now colder and colder in the neoprene suit. We've been already four hours in the cave when we turned back. We now took a bit more time to take pictures. For example of the nice stalactites hanging from the ceiling or the nice structures on the walls. Also short brakes where I could warm up a little bit again.
Taking a brake            So we dig through all the way back. And even on the way back we had to stop many times and just watch amazingly the manifold pictures which the cave presented to us.
           Then something amazing happened: Yura found a frog! We where already pretty close to the entry, but still below the very high pit of of "Puits Nord". The frog must have found some cracks form the top, because it would never survive a fall down the high pit. It was pretty famished, but still looking ok. So Yura decided that he will rescue it. He caught it and found a place inside a box in his transport bag. From there on they travelled together.
Martin-the-Caver (mtc) on the ropes            I was completely frozen when we finally reached again the bottom of the high pit "Puits Nord". Really glad to have something which normally heats you up more than you like. It is possible to go in this cave with a neoprene suit. But I would recommend to wear some additional suit over it. The continuous evaporation cools down too much. The pit helped a bit, but not too much. We climbed it one after the other. It is so nice on the SRT, hanging completely loose and not beeing pulled by the rope into a narrow crack all the time!
           After 8 hours we came back to the entrance and Yura let the frog jump out to his new freedom. We had a fantastic trip, even without the dessert of the "station plaisance". But one thing is for sure: We will come back!
           Thank you mtc, it was a great trip!

Moritz Lechner, April 9th, 2004 © Novosibirsk Diggers

home