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1998 Report

* One day after New Year 's Eve (yes, 01/01/1998), a select trio left to finish the gate of the BDW (Bois de Waerimont). Another six days in January where devoted to the exploration of the BDW where magnificent premieres were made: the exploration of the « Puzzle » and the 20-m deep Puits des Cierges. Everything was mapped at once and we began to get a clear view at the situation. After 6 weeks we had surveyed 750m of new cave.
* We even found time to do some "ordinary" caving, a trip in the Chantoir de Béron-Ry (where they got lost), in the Trou d'Haquin and in the Weron!
* And finally we worked together with Nooit Te Smal in the Malacord, and another day prospecting in Rochefort.

* Paul and Annete got the chance of a lifetime to visit a closed cave, one where all Belgian cavers are dreaming of…
* Bois de Waerimont
: discovery of the dazzling Salle Zen, the Salle Brol and the Triangle. Count four days work.
* We are digging in the Grotte Préhistorique close to the BDW. After two weeks a new chamber was discovered, Salle Broccoli. We are now only 10 m from the BDW but a hopeless collapse separates both caves.
* We started digging in a small cave in another hill at Eprave.
* Some members joined a lecture about surveying, held at Luc Funcken's home.
* We worked another day together with NTS in the Malacord.
* We participated a caving rally at Koekelberg.

* Préhistorique
: For two days we risked our neck in the Salle Broccoli. But it's really too tricky.
* We surveyed four weekends in the BDW. In the meanwhile we found a lot of small bits in the Puzzle.
* A lost day attending a "vaudeville", alias the "general meeting" of the VVS. A black page in the history of the league.
* For one weekend two members travelled together with Cueva to the Doubs. They did the Leubot and the Legarde.
* We also visited the Grotte Eugène, our Grotte aux Contrastes, the Laide Fosse and our big love the Chawresse.

* Our wettest and coldest holiday in the French Causses in a series of 10! For ten days during the Easter holidays we stayed on a camping in the rain, mist and even snow! But we were with a big and motivated caving gang so we did a lot of caving: Avan de Mont-Buisson Nr 3 (-126 m), Aven des Patates (-250 m), Aven des Corgnes (-187 m), Grotte de Castelbouc (where we had to wait for one hour because the local "fatboy" was jammed in a choke), the Puech Nègre (upstream regions at -300 m) and last but not least the complete Grotte du Coutal.
* A team went to the Trou Manto but because of a misunderstanding they ended up in the Trou Maulin! It sounds the same, but….
* Marc went together with Cueva to the Vaucluse where they did the Jean Nouveau.
* Herman and Pat and their cave radio went to a meeting of the CREG in England.
* Horn-test in the Préhistorique -BDW.
* Great Avalon-Party, a lot of people and big fun. Already the fifth one in line.
* Es war fettich, prettich und dreckich: digging in the Grande Evasion (Eglise).

* A weekend in Rochefort: for two days we swept with a lot of people the BDW and the Préhistorique (survey, digging and filming). Later that month we did another day of surveying. Meanwhile Persephone transferred the management of the cave to Avalon.
* Traversing the Wéron-Dellieux is selective. Like we said before anyone bigger than 1m75 and more than 75 kg will get stuck!
* Jumar-training during one day at the RAC. We used the infrastructure made by the Lukina Jama-team.
* Beautiful long weekend in the Doubs. We did the Mont-Ratey, Gouffre du Vieille Herbe, Gros Bourbier and the Paradis.
* Digging in the Grotte des Emotions and reopening of the Ecrevisses (because we wanted to survey it)
* The Jamaica team did a survey training in Villers-St-Gertrude during a weekend.

* Because the groundwater table was so high we couldn't work in the sump of the Emotions. Instead we repaired the gate of the Grotte Strauss.
* Rik and Flip visited Chantoir Krypta.
* Two times a week we are also training our rope-climbing techniques in our private-training room at Hemiksem (20 m).
* We guided a gang of Swedish cavers in the Bretaye (in light flood) nearly ending in a collective drowning.
* Just for fun: the Trou Bernard.
* We are working in the BDW at the collapse in the Puzzle.
* For some Avalonners a dream was realised: a visit to the most desired cave of Belgium.
* Mapping of the Grotte des Ecrevisses and verification of the Réseau Cueva (Emotions).
* A worth while visit of the Grotte des Surdents. The squeezes at the entrance where still difficult. We also visited the Grotte de Bellevau (+1 on our list).

* A pleasant weekend at Bomal despite the bad weather. Our programme included the BDW, Emotions, working in the Ecrevisses, walking.
* Taping of formations in the BDW, and traversing the water-filled rift at the bottom of the P20.
Visit at the Nou Moulin.
* Four members joined a 10-man expedition to Jamaica. Big systems weren't discovered but several deep shafts were explored.
* Revisit of the Weron-Dellieux.

* A big Avalon gang, together with some other volunteers, drudged three weeks long the Massif of Anialarra (Pierre-St-Martin, Spain). The 8 descents we made to -340 m in the Gouffre FR1 proved futile. The exploration of the pit we discovered last year the AN506-Pozo de los Ninos was on the contrary more than spectacular. To reach the bottom (a depth of -410 m) of this cave at a formidable shaft of 259 m must be descended. More caves were discovered and marked. One of them was very promising and maybe will become a new -400. The classic caving trips like the Pierre-St-Martin were also done.
* Emotions:
Second flop trying to work at the sump: the water was still too high. Only Rik reached, swimming, our dig. We started to dig in an upstream rock face.
* BDW:
taping of formations + a heavy day slaving in the « Boyau Choco ».

* A big delegation attended the barbecue of the « Belgian Siquijor Karst Expé ».
* A duo amused themselves by doing the Weron-Dellieux.
* Valley of the Lembrée: digging in the « laminoirs » and mapping of Trou du Crane. The biggest floods in Belgium since 1953. This soaking wet summer definitely drowned our intentions to force the sump of the Emotions.
* We continued our marking and mapping works in the BDW. We also organised a photo safari to gather some beautiful pictures for our 15-year anniversary in November. Also one day filming with big means (generator and 250 m cables). Radiolocation between the Gde Cheminée and the surface. We also worked for one day in the Puzzle where we can close our dig between the blocks: it is going in the direction of a known part of the cave.
* Guiding of a new member (Marianne) in the Trou d'Haquin.
* We participated the speleo-rally in the basilica of Koekelberg.
* And this time a team got at the back of the Chantoir de Béron-Ry.

* We started our high-pressure-cleaning-program in the « X » cave. And another weekend was spent marking out the paths.
* BDW: We worked in the « Rudi's Pipe» and also in the direction of Salle Zen. During the following survey session we discovered to our pleasure and surprise another 75-m of new passages: The Salle de la Rochefortoise was discovered (so called to honour our favourite local beer)
* Lembrée:
We worked several days in the « laminoirs » (crawls). We also had to organise a trip in the Emotions to protect 200-m electric cable against the humidity.
Classic Caving trip in the Trou de l'Eglise and also in the Trou Ozer (on of our favourites) and again the Beron-Ry… where they got lost again!
* Photo-safari in the Weron Dellieux: We did the Réseau Nord, the Topo Foutue and the through-trip, as you can see a heavy trip. We did this because we needed the pictures for our 15th anniversary.

* France, Vaucluse: the old ones proved they were still capable to do some serious caving, the young wolves joined bravely. In the Vaucluse we did the Aven Autran till -603m. The weather was fantastic and we did also the Aven du Chateau, the entrance pits of the Caladaïre and the Perte de Calavon.
* Lembrée: another digging day in the « crawl »: already 25 m far.
We surveyed our most recent discoveries in the BDW. Another day was used to do some winter prospecting of the massif and to pull out 200-m electric cable we had used during the filming of the cave.
* Big cleaning action in the X-cave with a Kärcher. A lot of work but with very good results.
* Classic caving trip in the Chantoir de Ronsombeux.
* We also did the trough-trip of the Abime de Lesves-Hyacinthes.
* In the last weekend of November started the Big Day: after months of preparations we began the celebration of our 15th anniversary with an exposition and a film and slide show at Hemiksem. At least 350 spectators turned up. Their reactions were unanimous positive and are a big motivation for us to continue our hard work.

* Snow at St Nicholas, yeah! We took advantage of the situation and spent a beautiful day cross-country skiing. The cavers got stuck in the snow and didn't reach their destinations.
* Lembrée: Last digging day in the « crawl »: we decided to stop because we reached a nest and didn't want to disturb the inhabitants (a hibernating fox or badger). We also surveyed with two teams all the caves in the valley. And we also pulled the electric cable out of the Emotions, waiting for dryer times.
* A classic cave: Abime de la Nansnioule, small but select.
* BDW: we checked possible connections between different parts of the cave, we marked paths in the Salle de la Rochefortoise and we found 15 m new cave: Galerie Zigzag.
* After one and a half year we started again to survey the Chawresse, good for some years work.
* We also did a radiolocation on top of the Hohière cave, this proved us that the cave is just below the surface, but we knew that already.

In conclusion
So that was it, again a very busy year. Some statistics: 88 activities in Belgium and 21 caves abroad. The writing of this annual review is each time an re-experience of what we did last year, because I really have to look in our reports and in my diary.
Most of our activities where focussed on the exploration of the BDW from which the most were filmed by Rik. In 1998 we also had our 15th anniversary which we celebrated with hundreds of sympathisers and cavers.
Our ambitions to get past the sump of the Emotions were drowned in the water.
And we saw a few changes in our membership: some of them disappeared and there were new ones: Avalon is still alive and kicking like always.

What about 1999? No problem, we go for it like we did the past 15 years, and who knows, maybe we discover a marvellous cave to celebrate the turn of the century. Réseau 2000 sounds right! It is sure that a thing like that is waiting for us on the massif of the Pierre-St-Martin.

See you next year!
Paul de Bie


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