Beyond the Salle de la Verna
Saturday, 11 August 2007

Unfortunately, our last planned trip – the Gouffre Couey Lodge had been de-rigged before we could get a trip in, and so we decided to have a look at the passages beyond the Verna which lead to the bottom of the PSM cave at -1,342m. As we didn’t have the rope required to do the pitches (still in Lonne Peyret for another group wishing to do the trip), we decided to follow the meandre Martine as far as the final pitches.

A rather hot walk to the EDF tunnel from the bunkhouse (maybe we should have hired a car!??!) saw us at the cave for around 3pm. Soon underground and into the vast Verna chamber once more. The previous day we were lucky to see the chamber “lit-up” – An impressive sight, although funnily enough the chamber seemed smaller than I expected…
We then descended into the Verna and proceeded to find the Aranzadi wall. This found, fixed ropes were ascended into the spacious Aranzadi gallery with some fine formations. The start of the meanders is 40m before the end. Easy traversing with some short climbs and narrow sections soon led to a pleasant pitch into the streamway, adorned with what looked like moonmilk, but wasn’t as slippy.

A short section of streamway and a boulder-filled chamber follows before the start of around 400m of fairly straightforward traversing in narrow rifts with a 17m pitch in-between. This had an in-situ rope on it, dated 1993.

The traverses ended at a climb down into a pretty section of larger streamway adorned with flowstone. More streamway and cascades soon led to the top of the final pitches. Beyond (over the top) was
followed a short distance through boulders to another streamway, where we turned round. I believe there is around 1km of passage here.

Then back out! Interesting trip, although would have been nice to do the final pitches. Next time!!