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CAVING IN BELGIUM: THE BELGIAN CAVE GUIDE
Système Chawresse-Veronika - Tilff (No. 5) 


 

LOCATION:
Province: Liège
Locality: Tilff
Coordinates:  Chawresse: 237.260/139.370/182m      Veronika: 236.750/139.350/158m
Map: 42/5-6
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

HISTORY:
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.

In Puits Boubou (Grand Puits). Photo by Helmut Wirkner, Germany
I
n 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)

ACCESS:
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.

DESCRIPTION:
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 Chawresse is very easy: always straight ahead (following the "Fil Rouge"). 

The Chawresse 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)

RIGGING:
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.

 

COMMENT:
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

SURVEY: Click here to see the (old) survey

Contacteer/contact us:  SC Avalon vzw
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