CAVING IN BELGIUM:
THE BELGIAN CAVE GUIDE
Système Chawresse-Veronika - Tilff (No. 5)
Coordinates: Chawresse: 237.260/139.370/182m
Take motorway Liège-Luxembourg (E25) (direction South). Take
exit Beaufays-Cortil. Take right and descend direction Tilff. After 500
m, take small road left that leads to the abandoned dump of Cortil (closed
with barrier). Park the car there. VERONIKA: Walk down the hill, downstream
of the dump. When you arrive in the bedding of the Chawresse river, go
upstream where you are soon stopped because the whole valley has been filled
by the dump (the river flows through a low tunnel - don't enter it!).
At your left you'll see the obvious steel door that closes the (other)
tunnel in which the Grotte Veronika is located. CHAWRESSE:
pass the barrier, follow the path through the dump, keep left and follow
a narrow trail upstream. After +/- 300 m, the trail passes very close
to the river. The entrance is situated IN the river, a sort of pile
of stones containing an inox pipe: that's the entrance!
Entrance of Chawresse
Probably there is no other cave in Belgian where so many different
clubs have worked and made significant discoveries!
* ABIME DE LA CHAWRESSE: The "Classic part", going upstream,
was discovered in 1972 by Speleologische Stichting Deurne. The same
club discovered some years later (1976) an important prolongation, featuring an
oblique "P50" (in reality P30). Then the SC de Schaerbeek pushed this part further,
discovering the "Chicanes". In 1980 Caving club Persephone found
new passages going downstream. In 1984, after dozens of weekends of hard
work, the G.R.S.C. found the continuation of the Réseau Persephone,
and connected the cave with another cave; "Grotte Veronika". A very
sporting and long through-trip was born... In 1986 the S.C.U.C.L. found
an enormous new part beyond the S.C.S. terminus, baptized "Rézo
B". In the 90ties SC Avalon started working in the cave, resulting
finally in 1995 in a new bit: "Réseau des Anversois", and in 1997
in the "Bolero". In 2002 and 2003 Avalon discovered a new and important
part, Rezo BB, that even offers new possibilities of another junction with
Veronika! This junction was realized in November 2006.
Puits Boubou (Grand Puits). Photo by Helmut Wirkner, Germany
*GROTTE VERONIKA: this important fossil cave was found in 1972 by the
C.R.S.O.A., after they had reopened a small cave that was found during
the construction of a tunnel.
In the beautiful tubes of Veronika (P. De Bie)
The Chawresse is freely accessible. The Grotte Veronika is situated
inside a tunnel that is generally closed. Contact Pol Xhaard (tel.
+32 4 368 80 97), Bois des Chevreuils 15, 4130 Tilff who lives nearby
and has the key.
Length: >5200 m, Depth: -85 m
It is not possible to give a good and complete description here of
what is one of the most complex and difficult caves in the country!
Grotte Veronika is quite easy: it is a fossil and horizontal cave, featuring
long bedding planes: don't forget your knee-protectors. But, despite the
long crawlways, it offers beautiful fossil phreatic passages. The rock
is very white and full of big fossils. Please, do not visit this cave with
carbide; the white ceilings have already suffered a lot and are heavily
stained with black carbide marks. The way on to the junction with
very easy: always straight ahead (following the "Fil Rouge").
is completely different. It is a tremendously sporting cave, formed in a
giant oblique bedding plane. Lots of pitches to be free-climbed and narrow passages.
Very complex, a real maze. Some highlights: the impressive 30 metre pitch (Puits Boubou),
going down very steep (you'll need a rope for the last 25 m!). The
"Chicanes"; very peculiar passage. The "Galerie des Ecureuils"; an
80m long and 2m large phreatic tube.
Just below the 5 m deep entrance
pit of Chawresse (that can be free climbed down ) you can either go
upstream (Classic Part, Réseau SSD, Réseau SCS, Rézo B) or downstream (Réseau
Persephone and Réseau des Comblennois).
In Grotte Veronika (P. De Bie)
Although there are several pitches that can be rigged, experienced
cavers can do the whole cave "free-climbing". Some fixed handlines
are present. However, here's a list of what you might need:
- 20 m-rope for the first pitch (Puits Dany, 17m).
- 40 m-rope for the oblique P30 "Puits Boubou"
- 10 m-rope or ladder for the final part of the Cheminee de l'Espoir (Classic part)
- 20 m-rope for the Puits de l'Espoir (P15 in the "Réseau SCS")
- in the through-trip Chawresse-Veronika, fixed ropes and handlines are present.
Though lots of people hate this cave, there is a small minority of
Belgian cavers that adore the difficulty and the complexity of this system.
In the far regions of the cave, rarely visited, one still has the impression
to be the first one to enter. Anyway, if you're unfamiliar with this
cave, better find yourself a guide. There is a real danger in loosing your way. Don't underestimate this
cave: 10-12 hr trips are possible so take enough drinking water (the water
in the cave is polluted), food and light with you. Remember also
that, in case of an accident, there is absolutely no way to get an injured
caver out of there...
Since 1996, SC Avalon is resurveying the whole cave system. The
work is, anno 2006, almost finished.
MORE INFORMATION: click
here to see the (old) survey