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ANNUAL ACTIVITY REPORTS 
1997 Report


JANUARY
* Grotte des EMOTIONS: The last one of four picture-hunting trips. In all we took 340 slides. We used these slides to present the cave to the U.B.S and Région Wallonne . Pat and Mich did a "tourist"visit of the cave.
* Visit to the underground quarry of "Grand Malades" through the Trou des Charrues. To remark : some beautiful speleothemes.
* Fast trough-trip of the Chawresse-Veronika in a recordtime (2 hours).
* A team of six worked in the Grande Evasion (Trou de l'Eglise).
* Resurveying of the Galerie des Ecureuils in the Chawresse to fit our "Réseau des Anversois" on the map.

FEBRUARY
* We visited the new part of a cave in Rochefort discovered by Jos and Chris (Persephone). Surveying of the Salle Serre and taping off some beautiful zones.
* And again we dug (this must be the 20th time !!) in the Grande Evasion (Trou de l'Eglise). Later this month we went again, this time with 10 men!
* Grotte des EMOTIONS: working on different locations, but no big news.
* Some improvements at the gate of the Grotte Strauss.
* In the Dellieux Jaak and a friend tried to get higher in the pit "Grand Puits" (E31). Some weeks later Paul and Jaak went back and after some spectaculare stunts they discovered a small chamber above the pit. But it looks finished...
* Classic cavingtrip in the beautiful Grotte Heinrichs at Aisne.

MARCH
* Guided tour in the region of Couvin by Thierry Bouchez. We saw the biggest sinkholes of Belgium, but we think they are unpenetrable.
* We visited the impressive new part of the Trou Ozer.
* Paul helped with the people of SC33 with their explorations in the valley of the Lembree. Paul forced a fissure and found a nice 30 m long gallery.
* Visit at the Réseau de Fresnes guided by Claudine. She showed us the recent discoveries made by the SSN.
* Surveying in our beloved Chawresse. We decided to remap the complete cave. We remembered a very interesting desobstruction site in the "Réseau SSD".
* A lot of fun at our annual party in the Tsjaplin.
* 4-day trip in Ornans (Doubs). We revisited the Gouffre de Montaigu and went to -300m (beginning of the meander). Visit of the collector as far as the Salle des Dentelles in the Bief-Boussets. Visit of the Baume des Crêtes + collector (great work of Mark and Claudine) and finally we visited the Grotte Baudin where we went as far as the trémie in the Galerie Nord, a lot of wind but hopeless. So we did a lot in these four fine days, just like we did the whole month!

APRIL
* Chawresse: Guy and Rik started digging in the Réseau SSD. It is a crack only 15 cm wide with wind and there is the sound of a river. Spirits were high and they got 1,5 m in the right direction! Paul and other volunteers worked two sundays, remapping the Réseau SSD.
* Grotte des Emotions: We did some odd jobs and worked on the survey : we have now 1829 m and it is not finished yet. We also did a guided visit with Paul Xhaard.
* Visit in the Weron, after we saw that our dig of 1993 in theTrou Dury was obstructed again. But we know it for sure, we will not dig it open again !!
* Collaboration with the VVS-youth-group.
* The cavephone of Herman was used in the Dutroux case on the site of Jumet.

MAY
*10-days in the Herault (France) at our beautiful campingsite in Pont d'Herault. We visited: Aven du Bois de Bac (beautiful cave), Aven de la Cave de Vitalis (with the fantastic Galerie du Lac), Grotte du Garrel (formidable), Grotte de Verrière (hyper-speleothemes but much broken by vandals), Aven du Grelot (variation and impressive), Aven de la Combe de Buis (beautiful freatic galleries and greenblue lakes) and last but not least The Classic of Classics: the Bramabiau. A very succesful holiday!
* Guy, Rik and Jo spent a weekend in the Alps where they explored a sink.
* The beginning of a new adventure: Paul and Rudi discovered unintentionally a new part in Dellieux, located upstream of Le Beau Meandre. Two weeks later there was already more than 200 m new cave !!
* Chawresse: And again we worked innumerable days in the small crevice, baptised the "Bolero". At last a pit of 3 m was reached! But it continued again in a small crack! So everything started again (just like the Bolero from Ravel)…
* We changed tactics in the Grande Evasion (Trou de l'Eglise): a trio went working. So the dug out sediments were not transported outside the dig but sticked against the walls of our 30 m long passage!
* Grotte des Emotions: digging had to be stopped in the afternoon because the water was rising rapidly.

JUNE
* Dellieux: We worked four weekends in the new part (it was baptised the Topo Foutue) and we doubled it again. We discovered some impressive pits.
* Grande Evasion (Eglise): they won't stop: three new days digging-days. After +/- 3 years we emptied a 35 m long gallery but it still goes on…
* Chawresse: Guy and Rik worked on and see now a deep and interesting pit. Some others did a "tourist" trip in the cave.
* And after 15 years waiting we could finaly visit a very famous but closed Belgian cave. They asked us not to say the name but it was fantastic.
* And again Wilfried worked a weekend with the Youth-Group of the VVS.
* The Avalon website "SC AVALON - The Yellow Pages of Caving in Belgium "started on the internet.

JULY
* Dellieux (Topo Foutue): many boring surveying days! To get out of the rut, and also because of our own convenience, we make a junction between our new Series and the "old and classic" part of the cave. We call this junction the "Bingo Passage".  Our new Series can now be reached a lot quicker and easier, only 15 minutes away from the entrance of the cave.   We also spend 1 day to guide Yves Dubois (SC de Belgiqiue) around, one of the original discoverers of the Dellieux Cave.
* Chawresse: At last, after 11 weekends of carzy and hard work, Guy and Rik got through their "Bolero": a nice P13 is descended. At the bootom a small river flows, but it soon disappears in a narrow crack...
* Because of the unstable and bad weather, we can't do a lot in the Emotions Cave. To save the day, we visit in one day, 7 different (small) caves in  Ferrières and Durbuy.

SUMMER CAMP (JULY-AUGUST)
* For 3 weeks in a row we camp in the beautiful Pierre-St. Martin area (French Pyrenees). Of course some classic stuff is done as well, such as visiting the famous Pierre-Saint-Martin Cave, via the Salle Verna to Puits Lepineux; or abseiling the 150 m high supsension-bridge of  Holcarté. But the main purpose of our stay is "exploring".  We re-explore the Gouffre Gaspi and push the extremely narrow final meander from -250m to -285 m, where the cave ends in a narrow sump. We also spend over a week re-exploring Pozo Estella (AN3), a -700 m cave that ends in a pile of unstable but extremely ventilated breakdown.  A giant and tough cave, in goold old PSM-tradition!   But we also search for new caves, and one of the last days of our stay, a small hole is found (AN506), that after 30 minutes of work is soon big enough to be explored. One day later, we are already at -160m in the middle of a giant pitch (estimated over 200 m deep!). Unfortunately it is the very last day of our holiday, so further exploration will have to wait untill 1998...

AUGUST
* Emotions: hard work in the very muddy Salle du Collecteur: finishing the survey, derigging, collecting all gear etc.
* Dellieux - Topo Foutue: one big bang makes a "motorway" of the Passage Bingo.  We still continue the never ending survey.  We dig through a new passage (called Diana's Passage) and thus make again a junction with the Bowling Series, a classic part of the cave.
* Guy and Rik participate at Spelemedia in Switserland

SEPTEMBER
* Emotions: superweekend! A big fluoresceine dye-test shows that the remaining and unknown 2 kilometres between the main drain of the cave, and the resurgence, could very well be "dry"; since the dye passes relatively fast (36 hours).  One of Belgium's best divers, Luc Funcken, dives the final sump of the cave, a muddy sump with a very strong current (100 litres/second!).  He passes at his third try and explores +/- 50 m of promising passage!  The cave is not finished yet!
A couple of weeks later, the sump is dived again by Luc and Serge Delaby. They stay 4 hours behind the sump, make a 20m climb and survey a bit. They are very optimistic!
We also dig again in several sinkholes in the valley. All this inspires is to undertake one of the craziest projects in our history: trying to pass the sump by digging in an incredibly muddy hole, the "Swines Hole". We also start a big dig at the end of  Galerie Ardeche.
* Dellieux - Topo Foutue. Some surveying, some digging here and there.
* The "Speleological Days" (organised very 2 years by the Caving Federation): we guide both on saturday and on sunday teams of brave cavers around in the wettest Belgian Cave, "Bretaye", that we discovered in 1991-1993. Guy gives surveying-classes. Herman & Co give a demonstration of the Cave-phone and Wilfried & Jaak go caving with the juniors. In one word: Avalon at it's best.
* We start to help two friends of ours Jos & Chris (SC Persephone) in Rochefort. They discovered in '96 a big continuation in a cave (where, in 1996, we already gave them a hand), but in their own clubs nobody is really interested or motivated enough to work in the cave. Many day are spend surveying the cave, especially by Guy.

OKTOBER
* Emotions: last digging-day in the Swinehole, because of the approaching wet season.  Perspectives are low... massif rock has been reached!  Also, in Galerie Ardeche, two more days of digging, but there also we aren't optimistic.
* Paul gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance and helps Luc Funcken when he goes diving in the Réseau Sud (Grotten van Han), a cave that is normally not accessible for cavers. Very impressive and big cave!
* Dellieux: last (?) works in the Topo Foutue. The survey is now finally finished: it totals  615 m...
* Rochefort: together with Jos and Chris we risk our life, trying to dig through a terribly unstable and ever moving pile of breakdown that leads to a big room,  "Salle du Prisonnier". But everything collapses over and over again.  We also start digging in another cave, situated lower in the same hill. Guy, Yvan & Co continue their boring surveying job...
* Some classic caving: Trou de l'Eglise and Abime de Beaumont.
* 10-day trip in the French Pyrenees. Main objective was a visit to Europe's most beautiful cave, the 27 km long Réseau Lachambre, in which we made two long (guided) trips: absolutely astounishing!!  Some other caves were also visited:   Grotte de Vida-Tripa, Grotte d'En Gorner, Sylvia 2 and some smaller stuff.  We also climbed up the highest mountain of that region, Mont Canigou (2784 m), covered in thick snow as from 1700 m.

NOVEMBER
* Emotions:  Jos & Chris are guided around in every corner of this beautiful cave.   Other members continued the dig in  Galerie Ardeche and found a small chamber.
* Rochefort: again, a few TONS of rock are shifted to free the entrance to the Salle du Prisonnier. A very unstable and threatening rock bridge is eliminated. Meanwhile the others dig in another cave nearby.  One week later we're back again to take the exact measures of the unstable passage and to make a rough survey of  Salle du Prisonnier.  At home, a construction of aluminium tubes and panels is pre-fabricated. One week later a 9-men strong team transports the whole lot into the cave, and the unstable passage is stabilized forever (we hope ) with the alu-construction.  The passage receives a nice name: "l'Union fait la force"!
* Paul & Annette guide ther children around in Trou de l'Eglise.
* Weron-Dellieux: Trip in the Réseau Nord to inspect some places that we remembered as being "interesting". We also inspect the summit of the Big Aven (+31 m) in Dellieux.  There's a small hope that it could be connected to the rest of the cave (and thus become a pitch.. instead of an aven).
* A team helps CRSL (Liège) in the Chantoir de Grandchamps,  by performing a radio-location.
* Grotte des Emotions is presented officially during a scientific symposium at Han-sur-Lesse (survey+slide-show).The big survey of Weron-Dellieux is also presented. That same evening: another slideshow about the "Emotions" at Ferrières.
* Classic trip in the Chawresse by Mark and Jarl.

DECEMBER
* Rochefort: Guy & Co keep on surveying.  Paul & Herman finish the aluminium construction.  Jos & Chris work themselves through a new passage (top of the Salle du Prisonnier): their emotions while discovering 40 m of virgin and beautiful passage are filmed "live" on digital video by Rik!  A 10 cm wide blowhole is found and immediately we start enlarging it.
During the next weeks, Paul & Jos survey the Salle des Bains, and Jos & Chris work another long day widening up the small blowhole.
One week later (29/12) it is an unforgettable day: the blowhole is, after another 2 hours of work, finally passed.   Jos, Chris, Paul & Rik (with his video) have the time of their life when discovering +/- 300 à 400 m of big and beautifully decorated passages.  THE find is a big room, 45 m long and 20 m wide. At one spot, we find a pitch, estimated at 25 m of depth: will we find the long-searched river down there?  In one word: great expectations!
* Chawresse: after 6 months of "rest" Paul, Rudi & Guy go down the "Bolero" again. We quickly enlarge the narrow crack and find another 10 m of passages. One week later Annette & Rik make the extremely narrow passage a bit wider, but further everything really closes up: only the water seeps through a crack.  The bitter end of months of work...
* Chantoir de Kin: a bunch of  Avalonners makes the cave unsafe; the conditions are super-wet!
* Emotions: a second gate is installed: the cave is now protected by two steel doors, each 1,5 m apart.
* Grotte Strauss: we replace the red/white tape that protects the formations, by more discrete, thin red rope.
* New years-evening 31/12/97: last activitity of  1997!  We celebrate it at Guy's and Hilde's place. At 23h00, Rik (by surprise) shows his video of the euphorical exploration that we did a few days ago in Rochefort. One hour later, the video is finished, and the clock strikes midnight: 1998 has begun!
 

CONCLUSION:
1997 was such a busy year! Normally, we thought that it would have been a transition year, where we would not start any new projects, but just finish everything that was still going on. But it became a totally crazy year; a mixture of exploring, working and classic caving. The activity report (see above) is good for about 120 different activities (and it is not a complete report!), what gives an average of 2.3 per week!

Again we had the "luck" the discover a lot of new cave passages. We found the 615 m. long and  80 m. deep Réseau de la Topo Foutue in Chantoir Dellieux, which is a very varied and superb piece of cave.  Some little finds were made as well: the Bolero in the Chawresse, the post-sump part  in the Grotte des Emotions). We also found the  "AN506 - Pozo de los Ninjos" in the Pierre-Saint-Martin area, that will probably give us a lot of pleasure when continuing the explo in 1998. Finally, tho end the year in beauty, the tremendous discovery in Rochefort, together with Jos en Chris.

But other milestones are to be mentioned.  One of them is the Internet Website of  Avalon. The importance of this medium can no longer be denied and we are glad that we did not miss this boat!
The new passion of  Rik Martens, videofilming, is equally important. Maybe for the very first time in Belgium, live images were made of "discouvering caves"!
Thanks a lot, all you Avalon members, for your devotion and enthusiasm!

Paul De Bie , President

 
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