CAVING IN BELGIUM: THE BELGIAN CAVE GUIDE
Trou Bernard - Maillen (No. 2)
Locality: Maillen, Assesse
Coordinates: 188,82 116,08 Z:225m
Leave the village of Mont-sur-Meuse heading towards Crupet. Park the car
in a pasture, just after the last house at your left. The cave is
in a large sinkhole, at the lowest point of the pasture.
The entrance was cleared by Bernard Magos (S.C. Belgique) in 1949, who soon
reached the sump at -128m. In 1967 the Meandre S.S.N. was found by members
of the S.S. Namur who did not climb the obvious aven (5 m) at the end...
In 1968, the Centre Routier Speleo climbed out a series of avens and chimneys,
near the final sump of the cave. They probably realized the biggest
ascent in Belgium ever, starting at -110 m and reaching -20. The "Number
One" series was born! One year later, they repeated their performance,
this time at the end of the Meandre SSN. Again they reached the -20
level: the Number Two. In 1994, members of SC Avalon (Antwerp) and
a member of SSN (Ph. Lacroix) realized a junction between the top of the
Number Two and Puits Franz, near the entrance. A few weeks later,
they also connected the bottom of the Number Two with the "Grand Puits".
This is one of the few "big" caves that has no access restrictions and is
not gated. However, Federation rules apply: no guiding of large groups
of novices. The cave is absolutely not suited for it.
960 m, Depth: 140 m (-12 diving)
The Trou Bernard is Belgiums deepest cave and one of the rare vertical caves
where one can practise S.R.T.-techniques. It can be divided in three
parts: the Central part, the Number One and the Number Two.
1) The Central Part:
Series of fine pitches, separated by pretty tight squeezes. First
pitch: Puits Franz (+/- 15 m) leads to a very narrow rift that plunges 20
m deep: the famous Chicanes. The walls are polished by the thousands
of cavers who have struggled their way up here! Then two possibilities,
but the Puits de l'Oppo (P8) is far more popular than Salle Olive.
One arrives in a small chamber, a vertical squeeze gives immediately into
Puits du Cureton, +/- 12 m deep. At the bottom, one can (at the right)
climb up some boulders, pass over a deep black hole (handline!) and
reach the top of the "Grand Puits": one of the finest shafts in the country
(P28). One can also descend into a hole in the floor of the Salle
du Cureton and reach "le Nid d'Aigle" which is sort of a balcony dominating
the Grand Puits. However, descending from here is hardly a 20 m drop.
At the bottom of the "Grand Puits", a steep rift, 8 m deep, must be descended
and leads to "la Cave". In this Chamber, one can enter a pretty complicated
labyrinth of meandres, leading to the final sump.
2) The Number One
In the labyrinth near the sump, an impressive and wet aven exists: it is
the first pitch of the (ascending) Number One series. This beautiful,
cylindrical aven is 30 m high and must be scaled using artificial climbing
techniques. At the top, a very risky traverse must be made, often
complicated by water falling down the roof. The rest of the Number
One is less difficult and can be "chimneyed" up. Some squeezes add
to the fun.
3) The Number Two
Originally, this Series were also climbed up, starting in "La Cave".
It can still be done of course and it is a very sporting trip indeed.
However, other possibilities exist since 1994:
In the very first pitch of the Trou Bernard, Puits Franz, a passage was
opened: it is only 3 m below the top of the pitch! This leads to the
upper regions of Number Two: a large gallery (Le Grenier). Soon, a
first small pitch (5m) is reached: it can easily be shunted (or you can
use a 10 meter rope). Another, deeper pitch (P7+P6) is reached, one
can go down straight away or (carefully!) step over it. One passes
near Salle Rouge, a small chamber with very red mud. Near Salle Rouge
a series of 4 pitches starts: "Puits des Fous". They end in a long
and narrow rift (very straight!) which finally connects through a very difficult
squeeze and a 6 m. drop with the "Grand Puits" of the Central part of the
Instead of going down the "Puits des Fous", one can climb down some easy
pitches and then arrive at the top of the "Puits des 3 Pedales". This
15 m Pitch starts with a very tight, vertical squeeze. Then a nice,
14m deep shaft is reached: Puits du Visionaire, leading through (again!)
a squeeze (Veuve Cliquot) to a 10 m drop in Salle du Chantoir. Here,
the long and winding Meandre SSN begins, leading to "la Cave", at the bottom
of the "Grand Puits"...
It is clear that two parties can perform some nice roundtrips in this
cave, rigging the central Part and one of the two possible ways in Number
Remark: the Central Part of the cave can be done "free climbing" all
pitches, but of course life-lined! By simply "self-assuring"
with your Petzl jammer, you can see how good your climbing techniques are!
1) Central Part: Puits Franz: C25 / Chicanes: C20 / Puits
de l'Oppo and small pitch just after it: C20 / Puits du Cureton: C20
/ Grand Puits (high route) and rift: C45 / Grand Puits (Nid d'Aigle) and
2) Number One:
2x35 m dynamic rope + all gear for artificial climbing
3) Number Two: First 5m pitch: C10 (can be shunted) /
P7+P6: C15 (can be shunted)
- Puits des Fous: C45/ P6 near Grand Puits: C10.
- Visionnaire+3 Pedales: C45, Salle du Chantoir: C15
A great cave! Only 128 m deep, but the presence of multiple squeezes
make it a sporting trip. This cave can be dangerous in case
of very wet weather; two boys died in the 60ties in a flood pulse. Don't
do this cave in large parties: you'll spent too much time waiting.
here to see the survey