Trou des Anciens/Scialet du Brudour traverse
Monday, 29 June 2009

“With the opening of an upper entrance, the Christian Gathier system has become the most beautiful traverse in the Vercors, due to the route, the history, and the underground landscapes that are on offer. The river, finely carved, is our guide for two kilometers. Even if this traverse resembles the Trou de l’Aygue (Speleo 42), it is four times as long…and consequently more grandiose, with its streamway and its beautiful chambers. It is important, we emphasise extremely important, to respect the surface access arrangements, and also the ‘virgin’ aspect of the cave if we want to keep free access for this traverse.”

The above statement is ‘speleo’ magazine’s opinion of what was to be our first trip in the vercors, which has definitely got to be one of the finest traverses i’ve ever done. Patrick had done a lot of the leg work the previous day, namely finding the entrances and dropping a rope down the Brudour entrance. Good job really, as the Trou des Anciens didn’t appear the easiest entrance to find.

After a late one sunday evening, sat in the back of our rather gay white fiat 500 rental car (slightly damaged already….) and drinking copious amounts of beer, I awoke sweating profusely and cursing
camping in hot places……it is impossible to stay in bed past 8am…..oh well, at least it’ll be good for getting things done i thought!

A pretty efficient start, and of course no problems with route finding saw us underground in the morning……yep, that isn’t a typo, but more patrick’s influence on us.

A short climb led down to the top of the first pitch, complete with large scary levitating boulders at the top. Following this was a mixture of boulder chokes, short sections of crawling, impressive fossil tunnel and a section of involved narrow rift……good varied caving! Eventually, after a few very nice pitches, the streamway was gained…..and WHAT a streamway!!! I don’t think i’ve encountered such a varied stretch of streamway……one minute your walking, then climbing cascades, or pulling-through down one of the many short pitches………then the next you’re traversing deep pools, or swinging from hold to hold like a monkey. The shape is constantly changing, and in one section the streamway may only be a couple of feet wide, but the walls were dead parallel and disappeared off upwards out of sight……no roof could be seen. The formations in places were superb, and still clean and white!

Towards the end of the streamway, a couple of bigger, airy, and very impressive pitches provided added excitement as the streamway was left and large dry chambers were traversed. Just before this was an involved section of traversing above a deep canal – ropes in place, and a very exposed and exciting traverse high up in the streamway.

As we got closer to the Brudour, more well decorated streamway was gained and we started going up a few short pitches and roped climbs, interspersed between muddy crawls and well decorated passage. Eventually we gained the bottom of the entrance pitch, and we exited the cave after an excellent 6.5hr trip. A short walk back through the woods soon saw us back at the car.
Brilliant stuff! Highly recommended, having a bit of everything!