Gouffre Berger
Sunday, 24 August 2014

Yes! Yes! We got to the bottom of the Berger. We attended the joint RRCPC and CSCA (Combined Services Caving Association) trip to the Berger which turned out to be highly successful, with around 40 people bottoming the cave! Amazing considering how unlucky other clubs were with the hideous weather this year.

So Noel and I arrived into Autrans straight from Austria at 6pm on Saturday 23rd August after finishing the derig of the CUCC expo on the Friday. We arrived to the news that we were on the bottoming derig trip going underground at 8.30 next morning. This meant a 5am start. Only a trip organised by the army would ever plan such an early morning start (and perhaps Sam Allshornmy).

Headed underground on time with Sam Allshorn Lieberman and Bill Nix and made our way down the Berger. The water levels were pretty low compared with the last time we were here, with no lake and the water levels in the canals noticeably lower too. So low even that we didn’t realise we were at the bottom of Hurricane, which was very friendly and pleasant. At the bottom Bill and I headed to the pseudo sump, whilst Sam Allshorn and Noel decided they’d rather stay dry. Getting to the pseudo sump we decided there was no way we were going any further without any neoprene and turned around.

We then commenced the derig. This involved pulling out the previous group’s rope (a French group from Paris) whose rope we had been using as they had been unable to derig the cave due to the weather. This was rigged in true lightweight alpine style – 9mm rope and krabiners. In some places 4mm dyneema cord had been used to tie the rope to anchors (much to Noel’s annoyance as he tried to remove this). Unfortunately, with 40 cavers having been up and down their rope over the last 20 days, some of this rope was a little worse for wear. Better out than in though!

Soon we were at camp 2 and met up with the second derig team – Emma Key, Ales Hrabec and Adam Milward, who supplied us with hot drinks and then took over from here. So we headed out and I had a paddy with all the traverses and tyroleans in the canals with my tacklesacks.

By the time we got to camp 1 I had announced that I didn’t want to see another cave for quite sometime (I’m over it now though). But Ales kept our spirits high by describing his amazing sandwich to us and how excited he was to eat it. Disappointment came when it wasn’t waiting for him at camp 1, but luckily it was hanging on the bottom of Aldo’s.

At Aldo’s Noel and I did the unthinkable and left our derig bags at the bottom. Oh the shame, the shame! But we didn’t feel too guilty as a troop of soldiers were coming in to get the bags the next morning (or that morning as it was now sometime after midnight). And a mention must go to these lads who bottomed the Berger after 32 hours, following a rigorous training schedule of indoor SRT, Wookey Hole and Manchester Hole. Ideas for the Training Officer perhaps?!

We exited the Berger after 18 hours. It’s a great trip, definitely one every caver should have on their tick list. Now we can retire.

Comments

Quote 1

Getting to the pseudo sump we decided there was no way we were going any further without any neoprene and turned around.

Quote 2

Yes! Yes! We got to the bottom of the Berger

Does not compute

When are we going back to finish it off for you?

Beardy

Monday, 22 September 2014

Are you organising an ULSA trip to the Berger?

Holly Bradley

Tuesday, 23 September 2014