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30/11/2003: It continues behind the sump in the "Fagnoules"!
Concentration... Jacques Petit just before the dive of the narrow, muddy and difficult sumpThe month november has been a fantastic one for Caving club Avalon. After the very recent discoveries in Chawresse, Grotte des Emotions and Bois de Waerimont, the icing on the cake followed yesterday, in the Chantoir des Fagnoules  (ex-Goelasnuf).  This time with two Belgian cavedivers as the "stars of the day".

Michel Pauwels and Jacques Petit both passed the narrow terminal sump (13 m) and a second shorter sump (5 m). Then, during several hours, they explored a big continuation that totals appr. 200 metres in length.   A big fossil gallery (between 3 and 10 m wide !) was  explored, as well as an active part.  The most spectacular bit was an 8 m. high waterfall in which the main river crashes down, before it finally disappears into a new sump.  This new sump will most certainly be one of the goals for the next exploration, which is scheduled in two weeks.   More information about the cave and the dives can be found here (you can even see a 30 sec. videoclip of Jacques, surfacing again after the succesful dive, and very excited!).


After the sump! 15 nov 200315/11/2003: The terminal sump of the Grotte des Emotions has been passed... dry!
The Grotte des Emotions ends with a sump, dived in 1997. Trying to bypass this sump has been one of the most difficult projects we ever undertook.  This dig was soon called "the Pigs Hole". We started working in 1997, and this dig has, over the years, been one long series of disappointments, frustrations and risks. But SC Avalon has one very important rule: once you've started something, you must go on to the bitter end!

And indeed, 6 years later, more precisely last Saturday 15/11/2003, we had the great pleasure to get passed that damned sump.   After the "Pigs Hole" we visited about 75 metres of quite big gallery, that had been partially seen by the divers in 1997. So the adventure continues. Read more about it here! 



You can contribute to the exploration of new Belgian caves by supporting Caving Club Avalon!

Indeed, SC Avalon is again selling wine. Yes, exploring caves costs a lot of money and by buying some of this excellent wine you can support us.  Our "connaisseurs" have chosen a red, French  Merlot 2002 and a white Galetis (the same as last year).  The price is also unchanged: 4 Euro per bottle.

And of course, each bottle has again an original label, designed by Annette. These labels are really becoming collectors items! 

Make sure you don't "fall dry" on the upcoming Christmas days.  A box of 6 bottles only costs 24 Euro (elementary maths) .

Thanks in advance and cheers!


Yesterday Rudi and I discovered and surveyed 90 m in the Chawresse (during a long and difficult 11 hour trip). The cave system has passed the 5 km mark and now measures  5015m. We remind you that we are (since many years now) resurveying the entire cave system. This work is finished for appr. 80 %.  The old figure for the cave was 2700m, which clearly shows the need for a resurvey. 

We will give more information about this exciting new discovery on the "Journée de l'Explo" (Brussels, january 2004i)


360° Panorama
Here you can see a beautiful 360° panorama of the Anialarra mountains (Pierre-St-Martin)

Articles & Docs ... new section
In this new section of our site I plan to put some articles about caving (in PDF-format) that I have witten over the past years, mostly for publication in several caving magazines.


Sima de las Puertas de Illamina...BU56 (-1408m) - a succes!

Bottom the BU56 in less than a  week... it was ambitious.  But we did it, and it was just fantastic. The biggest, deepest, longest and most spectacular cave we ever did. But not the toughest, nobody surfaced as a zombie, because the preparation, the execution and the team were "the Avalon-way".   But, we worked for 7 days in a row, all the way, the speed throtlle pushed down  to the floor. 

Saterday 18/9 we carried a lot of gear to the entrance (a 3,5 hour walk). Sunday 19/9 did this again, and on top of that we already rigged the entrance pitches all the way to -380m.  On monday, we went down the cave and that evening we slept at -800m, in Salle Roncal.
Tuesday we made a 14 hour bottom-trip to the sump at -1325m. We were six and all six arrived at the sump (sump? A giant, boiling jacuzzi, yes!). That night we slept again in our -800m camp.  The next day, wednesday, another 14 hour trip to get out of the cave and because we were still feeling fit (humm... fit??) we de-rigged the biggest part of the entrance pitches too. And we got out two kitbags full of garbage and old ropes from other caving parties  (there is still the equivalent of  about one hundred  kitbags of garbage waiting to be removed.. but we did our part of the job!).  In total we stayed 62 hours in the cave, of which 38 hours of real progression.
Thursday and Friday we carried everything back to the valley again...  heavy stuff.  Saterday evening 20/9 we were back in Belgium!

So, a hectic week. But what a cave! Incredible, awesome. Everybody started with some idea of the cave, having read some descriptions of it.  But when you are hanging on a tiny stalagmite, 20 metres high in Canyon Belagua at -1100 m, while a raging river howls beneath you, white water passing by at speeds of over 60 km/h, the air virbrating.... then  you know what the discoverers of the cave meant when they wrote "emotion guaranteed". 

But, it must be said that the water levels were still very high, because only 5 days before, one of the biggest floods since 13 year devastated the region.  
And then the location of the entrance. What a magnificent spot. 2000m high, the roof of the Pyrenees. Beautiful weather, 7 sunny days in a row. But please, for the next couple of weeks, don't talk about Mars or Snickers bars or Grannies biscuits anymore because we just hate that food now!

It was a very intense week, with a high adrenaline and endorfine production, and it flew by as in a dream. A dream that ended to soon.

We made a lot of pictures, and we have a lot to tell. So please re-visit these pages in the next weeks for some more pictures and a detailed story of our trip.

Participants: Annette Van Houtte, Mark Michiels, Rudi Bollaert, Mario Lebbe, Paul De Bie, Koen Mandonx


The BU56 project
A bunch of crazy Avalon members will very soon make an attempt to bottom one of the worlds big classic caves: the BU56 (-1408m).  Click here for the "avant-premiere"

Our 7th expedition was one of the best ever. It was quite difficult, but we are all happy with the results. Here you can read a first report about what we did and found there.

JUNE 2003


Michel prepares his gearCoup de théatre, yesterday 29/6/2003 in the Chantoir des Fagnoules (discovered by Avalon in april 2002 and also known as "Goelasnuf"). 

 Exactly one year ago;  (see Hotnews 2002) Lucienne Golenvaux attempted to dive this sump. After 7 meters it was totally blocked.  At that time, this was a big disappointment for us all!
But yesterday, after several tries, Michel Pauwels managed to get through the sump, which proved to be very narrow, 15 m. long and with a severe squeeze halfway.  After another short sump, Michel could walk into a gallery  (2 x 2 meter) that he followed for about 30 meters.  There he returned, but the gallery still goes on!

For us this is great news. There is real hope that Michel will be able to explore a big cave system behind this sump.

Click here for a live report of the dive (in Dutch!)!

The distance to the resurgence is over 3 km. and the depth potential is +/- 135m!  In the cave a real streamway appears at -20m.  The total length is +/- 700m. To be continued...


Dreaming of the BU56 (seen from Anialarra)THE 7th ANIALARRA EXPEDITION ... AND THE BU56

In a few weeks, end of July, the 7th Anialarra-expedition begins. Organized by Avalon but with participation of members these clubs: Avalon, Hades, Marginal, De Grotters, Styx, Speleo NL.  The expectations are high; last year we did a big discovery: the Réseau Nostradamus. In that giant galery there are probably many more things to explore. And maybe, we will finally finish that dig in AN60, with a depth potential of over 400m.

After this bit of "training" in and on the Anialarra, five die-hard Avalon members return to the mountains there, to make a classic trip in the BU56-Puertas de Illamina.  With its -1408m of depth this cave is still the deepest of the PSM-massif; and once (in 1980) it was even the deepest of the world!  It is a huge cave, difficult and with a very spectacular underground river. To bottom this cave with only 5, possibly 6 people is ambitious. We only have one week time; everything must work out exactly as we planned. But we'll do our best.


MAY 2003

14 years after our first through-trip in 1989 of the Verneau (Doubs, Frankrijk) we repeated this magnificent experience.   One of the longest through-trips in Europe (8500m long and +380 m of denivellation); in a beautiful underground streamway.
The weather was excellent, but thunderstorms had been announced in the late afternoon. To limit this risk, we started early (7h15) in the Grotte Baudin en we went in upstream direction (Baudin to Bief-Boussets): this way we would be out of the very dangerous downstream part of the cave in the afternoon.  Who could have known that in the afternoon... we would already be out of the cave!

We were six this time (Annette, Paul, Mario, Jos, Mark & Frank). We knew the cave quite well; we were in good shape and despite our "high" average age (4 out of the six have passed 40)  we raced through the cave. After only 9,5 hours the first three surfaced in the Bief Boussets entrance; the other party of three arrived about 1 hour later.   A great trip, something to be repeated. But at a more relaxed pace then, which would give us the possibility to take some pictures. 

By the way, just as in 1989, we used pontonnières and not neoprene suits. OK you' get wet but if you keep going then you just don't have the time to get cold. Neoprene is no good idea in a 8,5 kilometer trip in which 90% of the time you are walking in dry galleries or only shallow water.   Also interesting: we avoided the dangerous middle part of the streamway (between Puits du Vieux Fou and Salle du Gnome) by taking the  Galerie de la Cote Jamey,  a parallel river which has been connected to the Galerie Lacuson in 1996.  A safe, fast en very beautiful alternative! 

Finally: thanks goes to the Spekulozen because they were so kind to let us use their ropes in the Bief Boussets!


MARCH 2003

Over the past months we have done a lot of work in the area of Liège.  We have a dig going in Grotte Veronika.  Wait and see...  Then we have done quite some work in Fissures (with help from GRSC and CRSOA) in order to find a new upper entrance.  Time being, 20 metres of new gallery but not very much perspectives anymore in that dig. In Perseverance we are working for weeks and weeks now, 50 metres  were found yesterday. We are asking everybody to stay out of our dig there, because it is a terribly dangerous boulder collapse. A warning sign is in place.

New picture gallery Gouffre Berger!
In the past you could already admire here a picture gallery about the Gouffre Berger.  I have redone this completely. Instead of 20, there are now 53 pictures. They are also much bigger and of better quality than before.  So don't wait and start your virtual trip to -1000m right now!  (to fully enjoy this gallery, a 1024x768 screen resolution is recommended!)

SpeleoBase 2.4.1 is there!  
Several new features make SpeleoBase even more powerful and user-friendly. Just some examples: there is now a powerful built-in search engine that will allow you to search caves on any word you like.  There are new print-outs, you can now sort the cave table on any column, there are tooltips and so on. Download here an give it a try!

Avalon website honored!
Our site has been mentioned in the "Easy Computing Guide" that gives a short review of the most interesting Benelux internetsites. On page 398, in between  the UBS and VVS websites (the only two other caving websites mentioned), the Avalonsite was one of the few outdoorsites to receive three stars.

Cave Protection pages
I have received many, many positive reacties from all over the world, on our section "Cave Protection" and the Powerpoint presentation about Cave Protection issues. Thank you all!  Volunteers have offered to translate this presentation in even more languages. Currently it is available in Dutch, English and French, but Italian, Spanish and Russian versions are in the pipeline as well!   As for me, I feel very happy to have been able to make a small contribution to the internation protection of caves!

JAN 2003

The past few days I have been working on this important topic of our website,  especially completing the English translation.  Your positive remarks, from different corners of the world, are a stimulation to keep up my work.  You can now find a unique series of 15 cartoons by Serdu, illustrating the Caver's Code of Honour, by clicking here.

I have finally found (or made) the time to make a big section in our website about cave protection.  Most of it is still in Dutch, but the English translation is going on.  But one the most interesting parts is already available in English: a big slide presentation, that you can download for free and use in your club or anywhere you want. The presentation covers most aspect of cave protection, with dozens of pictures. Even well-trained cavers that already cave in a very careful manner, might learn some new things of it.. so don't hesitate and download this now!   

Enjoy the reading and "Cave Softly"!


Contacteer/contact us:  SC Avalon vzw
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