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ANNUAL ACTIVITY REPORTS 
1999 Report


"BDW" means "Grotte du Bois de Waerimont" (in Eprave), where we spend many a day, as you will surely notice!

January 1999

* Trou des Charrues (Beez), a small cave that leads to a big underground and deserted quarry was visited.
* In Trou de l’Eglise we finally abandoned our longest and least successful dig so far: "la Grande Evasion" (The Great Escape) was dug out over a length of 35 m without any result. All material, including 30 m’s of ventilation pipes were removed.
* In the Chawresse two survey-teams continued the re-surveying project of this cave.
* Classic descent in Trou Weron, in very wet conditions, where the performances of the trio Marjan-Frank-Johan did not impress at all team leader Annette.
* BDW: taping off Salle de l’Aventure, guiding around Leen, survey of Boyau Choco (very muddy!)
* A big team visited the Réseau de Fresnes. There was a lot of water which made the river and waterfall very spectacular but prevented us from visiting the Réseau Jacques Simus (totally sumped). Instead we visited the Réseau Dynamite, discovered about three years ago.
* Final cleaning-day with the Kärcher high-pressure cleaner in "Grotte X". All gear removed from the cave.
*Chawresse: again another long and miserable survey-trip in the boulder chokes of Réseau SCS. Water poured through everywhere, making the job quite difficult.
* Reparing tackle-bags in our clubhouse, one evening with all of the gang.
* Abime de Nettinne (Sinsin): after a short visit here, the Trotti aux Fosse in Marche was done, as well as another nearby cave (Ducasse?)
* Two of us prospected all day in the Leffe valley (yes the one of the famous beer).

Are there really that many weekends in January?

February 1999

* A nightly visit, in the pouring rain, to a cave in Lustin was followed by a visit the next morning to the Trou d’Haquin. We did the new part that Bibiche and Joël had discovered last year. We also visited a lot of sinkholes and potential digs in the area.
* Herman and Patrick worked all day in the "B11", a blowhole situated near the resurgence of the Bretaye System.
* BDW: Kris and Chris (how original) went digging in Galerie Alderik. A promising lead could be seen.
* "Wintersports" in the French Doubs department. Everywhere in Europe a lot of snow had fallen, and in the Doubs the snow was sometimes as thick as 2 metres!. We stayed at the camping at Ornans (freezing cold). None of the caves that we had planned to do could be reached because of the snow, so we chose some alternatives: Baume-St-Anne, Vauvougier and Jerusalem. All three caves had beautiful and very big ice formations near the entrances. We also went skiing several times at the quiet runs of Bolandoz and Pontarlier. Home again after 4 days of great fun.
* Chawresse: yes you’ve guessed it right: another day of surveying.
* BDW: our last attempt to find the continuation of the "Puzzle" was, much at everyone’s surprise, successful! Jos and Rudi found a tiny hole somewhere in the ceiling that seemed to go on (but much too narrow). The beginning of again another adventure?
* BDW: surveying of Galerie Zigzag and widening up the Boyau Hilti, where we had planned to put a second steel door in. * Sainte-Anne: photo-safari, mainly to test out Marc’s new APS-camera.

March 1999

* BDW: two consecutive days of work to put the new door into place. We left the old door at its place also and made it a lot more solid. During our work we got some unexpected visitors...
* BDW: third and last day to finish the new door.
* Nou-Maulin (Rochefort): some friends of the SC Les Fistuleuses had asked us to do a radio-location in the forest above this cave, in order to find out if one of their digs was situated above a big room of the cave. After this successful event, they guided us around in the Rochefort showcaves, where they found an important new gallery a couple of years ago. Very big and pretty.
* Chawresse: going surveying with Frank isn’t exactly my idea of big fun, but nevertheless we got as far as the summit of the Chicanes. * BDW: the tiny hole that was seen last month was attacked and after a hard day’s work the "Boyau Botte" was born. Rudi and Jos got through, Rik didn’t. The explored a big continuation, with two spacey rooms: Salle Pourrie and Salle de la Diaclase. It seems that we’ve hit the Jackpot!
* Herman and Flip went to England and participated in a field meet of the Cave Radio and Electronics Group.
* BDW: Jos and Rik made the Boyau Botte wider en explored another 100 of new passage.
* BDW: the new part now has a name: Réseau du Printemps. A team of 5, of whom 3 ladies, push it a bit further and discover a beautiful room; Salle des Dames. We estimate to have found 300 metres by now.

April 1999

* A day of SRT-training at the cliffs of Roche aux Corneilles, in view of our "expedition" to the Trou Souffleur, more than 600 m deep. A Flemish outdoor-centre is also there, giving a fantastic demonstration of how NOT to do it. We regularly hold in our breaths when we see them in action.
* BDW: we start surveying the new Réseau du Printemps. Two teams work all day; the yield of the day is 180m.
* 10 days stay in the French Vaucluse department. We have the Trou Souffleur programmed, a -600m cave that keeps us going for several days; rigging and de-rigging. Another Belgian club (of Charleroi) is also there and they give us a hand (thanks). The bottom-trip itself is a splendid adventure. Despite the killing pace of Annette (only 11 hours to bottom the cave and de-rig 300 m of pitches), we enjoy the beautiful river and the big pitches. In the last days of our stay, we visit the Aven de la Vipère and the Aven des Cèdres. This last descent is very problematic because of the heavy rain outside that has flooded the cave.
* The annual Avalon-party then: not so many people as expected, but nevertheless we had a lot of fun, Peter and me could play all those good old records one more time, and the club even earned some money that evening...
* Lembrée: we re-started our dig in the so-called "laminoirs" (crawls). The same day we also visited Grotte Strauss and Mark also made a quick trip in Trou sans Nom.

May 1999

* The De Bie-family made a trip (with the kids) in the Laide Fosse (Hamerenne) and filled the rest of the day with some surface-surveying in the woods of Waerimont.
* BDW: a 10 hours survey trip in the Réseau du Printemps. The survey is finally finished: the "Printemps" series measure 430 m. We also checked some other leads: no immediate results.
* BDW: Taking advantage of a national holiday, Jos and me head off to Eprave where we aim to visit some small caves. But we first prospect some more on the Waerimont-plateau and discover a small cave. We can see a continuation and it seems an easy dig... so we change plans and dig all day until we are completely knackered... The cave is baptized "Trou des Poils".
* Some of our "youngsters" visit Trou Bernard, where Mark has to admit that it takes a lot of courage to make the final step at the top of the "Number One", a 30 m high aven that has to climbed artificially.
* Lembrée: some more digging in the "laminoir": we’re 25m far already!
* Jos and Peter M. visit two of our discoveries: Grotte aux Contrastes and Grotte Strauss.
* Annette guides two guys of Caving club Technico through the Weron-Dellieux System. It goes very fast and smoothly.
* Peter DG and Rik went to the Han showcaves for some scientific work.
* BDW: a team of 4 dug all day in Trou des Poils. We progress 8 metres after having moved a few tons of wet sand and clay. Our hope is to reach the Eastern parts of the BDW-cave, thus realizing a long through-trip.
*BDW: an entire weekend is spend digging in the Trou des Poils. After two very exhausting days we are at 25 m. from the entrance, but the cave changes and gets quite narrow...
* Our Caving Federation "VVS" celebrates its 25th anniversary. There is an exposition where our club has a stand, and there is a barbecue. At this party we recruit a volunteer, Rudy Debbaut, who will join us the next day on the final assault of the Trou des Poils. Despite our headaches and high alcohol levels we dig all day, but finally we have to admit that the initially good perspectives have gone: the cave does not seem to continue.

June 1999

* BDW: Bingo! After a very difficult day of work, in the extreme squeezes in Salle des Dames, we get through and explore a big lead: several hundreds of metres are found (Galerie Frank, Salle Mikado, Salle de la Discussion).
* BDW: one week later a party of 5 races to the new part of the cave. We split up and the two teams both have a great day: at least another 400 m is found: Galerie Teva (a nice, high meander), Salle Kosovo (a real ruin), and Galerie Colorado: a big, fossil phreatic tunnel with blood-red formations everywhere.
* BDW: first survey session in this new part, that we still call Réseau du Printemps since it is the natural continuation of it. This trip takes 11 hours!* BDW: we make a new passage that allows us to avoid and spare the fragile Salle des Dames. Another day of surveying ends in a tremendous way: we discover a gigantic labyrinth of unstable rooms. We call it the "Apocalypse" and it will drive the surveyors to despair, that much is clear!
* BDW: 5th trip this month, and again a couple of hundred metres are found in the "Apocalypse": a beautifully decorated series of rooms; called the "Déjà-Vu".
* BDW 6th trip: 2 surveying teams try desperately to catch up with the work. But again the same scenario: that day we find (while surveying) the "Salle des Acrobates", 75 m’s of new passage. If it goes on like this, we’ll never be able to complete the survey...

But we even found the time to do some other things as well:

* Classic visit to the Laide Fosse, in the company of the "kick couple".
* Two members went to an SRT-circuit in the old quarry of "Beau Chateau" (Senzeilles)
* The dig in the Grotte des Emotions continued.
* Testing of cellular phones with special hyper-sensitive antenna’s, since we were thinking of using them during our expedition in the Pyrenees in July.
* Survey of the Trou des Poils by Guy and Peter.

July 1999

* Three consecutive surveying trips in the BDW, quite heavy stuff (10 to 12 hour trips, and this on a Sunday, in a cave that is 170 kilometres away from us!). The Réseau du Printemps now measures 1400 m., the entire cave 3800m.
* Frank and Mark, both training for our summer expedition, did the very first "two way through-trip" of Weron-Dellieux in only 7 hours; this means that they went in the Weron, did the trough-trip, knocked off at the door of the Dellieux, and then returned to leave the cave through the Weron again!
* July 23th: gone again, to the Pyrenees, for a 3-week stay in the beautiful Anialarra mountains which are part of the Pierre-St-Martin plateau. This time we were re-enforced by members of Speleo Holland, Technico and Styx. The exploration of Pozo Ibarra, that we found last year, demanded a lot of us, but after 15 descents we were at -347m., we had found a giant 222 m pitch (called "the Extremist), and we had connected with the fossil galleries of the Anialarra System (the Pozo Ibarra became the 4th entrance).
Meanwhile we also discovered the Pozo del Eclipse, where we were stopped at -130m by a new pitch, not descended because of a lack of rope and time, and the Pozo del Arco, not very deep yet but with a lot of perspectives. We surveyed a few kilometres in the Anialarra System and at the surface, and finally Mark and Frank bottomed the "Couey Lotge", a -600m cave, in 16 hours.

August 1999

* Hardly back from the PSM, we already head to the BDW for another day of surveying. The survey of the Apocalypse is nearly ready (an average survey-trip yields about 70 to 100m!).
* Emotions: Herman is the driving force behind another crazy dig in a completely mud-filled phreatic tube; we are 10 m’s far now.
* Emotions: a classic visit, just to sniff up the smell of calcite formations once more.
* BDW: it is really beginning to get on our nerves: another long day of surveying that three-dimensional labyrinth.

September 1999

* Finally, after years of waiting for a long and dry period, the conditions are there to go and continue in our dig near the terminal sump of the Grotte des Emotions. The dig is called the "pork’s hole" because of it’s very muddy aspect. We are there in a part of the cave that floods up to 20 m’s of height, extremely dangerous... To go and work there, one has to switch his brain to "zero" first.
* A day of work in the BDW didn’t yield a lot.
* Another day of work in the BDW... 40 m’s. of new passage are found.
* Another trip to the "Pork’s Hole" in the Emotions, thanks to the magnificent weather. However, our dig does not progresses as good as we want.
* The "Speleological Days" are organized every two years by the Flemish federation. As usual, it is chaotic but also great fun. This time some 300 cavers attend this 2 day-event in Hotton. Avalon is responsible for several activities: we guide 4 groups in the BDW (again!) and 1 group in the Système de Bretaye. Mario and I profit of the good weather and make another trip to the Emotions-dig. We have a lot of bad luck: on the way back I drop the Hilti hammer drill by accident into a 15 m. deep pit, filled with 4 metres of water. The recuperation of the totally soaked machine is quite difficult.
* 4 days to the French Doubs-dept, with Mario and Karl (Styx). Main goal is the 9 kilometre long through-trip of the Verneau-system, but the weather is too bad. We make trips in the Folaven, Pourpevelle, les Ordons and Petit-Pré instead.
* To close off the month: video-trip in the Bretaye, since Rik wants to make a video-film about this cave.

October 1999

* BDW: the last survey trip in the Réseau du Printemps?? We were hoping for it, but the future soon proved that we were wrong! While we were surveying, Mark and Michaëla found 25 m. of new passage. This way we’ll never get it done.
* A wasted day in the Grotte des Emotions: when we arrived at our dig ("Porks Hole") it was flooded under two metres of water. All digging equipment had been flushed away. So that was that, for this year at least.
* BDW: classic visit with some colleagues of the SCF.
* BDW: miserable day: 10 hours of caving for only 36m. of surveying. Bad luck with the Hilti-hammer drill, mud everywhere... exploring caves is very often no fun at all!
* BDW: Jarl’s come back after a year of non-activity. During this trip we found several interesting leads.
* By the end of the month, we headed to the Gorges du Tarn (South of France) where we participated in a 10-day caving camp, organized by the Flemish Federation. We stayed in a house in Millau, together with 35 other madmen. We caved like hell: warming up with Aven de la Caze (-177m), followed the next day by a big one, Aven des Patates (-270m). It went fast and easy for us, but the VVS-party that derigged the next day probably didn’t share our point of view... Keep on training, boys!
Then we did Aven de la Barelle (-126m), Valat Nègre (-100m) and Cabanes de Trevezel. On Wednesday we bottomed another big cave, the Aven de Banicous (-347m). That day some others had the unique opportunity to descend the 75m deep entrance pitch of Aven Armand, a famous showcave. Annette had even the honour to prusik out again. By the end of the week a long trip was made in the horizontal Baume Layrou cave, meanwhile the De Bie family was guiding their kids around in the Aven de la Portalerie and Pierre was swimming around in the underground river of the Clujade cave. To finish in beauty, we went down 2/3 (= -260m) of the magnificent Aven de la Cheminée. It was a very intense and great week of caving.

November 1999

* BDW: A day of surveying while the others explored a new 7 metre pit. It goes on, but lots of mud. It took Mario nearly an hour to get out of the narrow and slippery pitch again.
* "10 km Drink" : Avalon kept its promise: we offered a "free beer" evening to all of our friends to celebrate the fact that we had now discovered more than 10 km of new caves in Belgium (over the past 10 years of course)
* It’s freezing cold, the perfect weather to do the Chawresse. We made a through-trip from Veronika cave to the Chawresse.
* BDW: some digging near Salle Kosovo, in the company of our Dutch friends Marcel and Annelet.
* BDW: Two teams are competing against each-other: while Jos and Mark discover 50 metres of new passages (Galerie Nougat), Paul and Mario discover about 30 m near the end of Galerie Teva (Teva II) Not bad, but this means another day of surveying. The cave now passes 4200m of length.
* Emotions: probably the last digging day in Herman’s dig, since the situation becomes pretty desperate (very hard calcified sediment).

December 1999

* We got the permission to visit Trou des Manants (Tilff) again. The team was out of the cave sooner than expected and rounded off the day with ... a Veronika-Chawresse through-trip!
* Since we are, after all these months, quite fed up with the BDW, we do some classic caving in the Rochefort area. However, in Trou du Palan our trained eyes spot a small, promising hole and 20 minutes later we explore some 25 m of new passage! We also visit the Mille Pattes and Carriere Dasse.
* A team headed to the Rouge-Thiers but there was too much water. A dryer alternative was found; the Grotte de Ham in Esneux.
* BDW: Yet another +10 hr. trip in the BDW, with -10 m results!
* And in this very last week of the year, two long trips are made into the far regions of the BDW. Two artificial climbs are done in Salle Mikado, and a difficult dig is started in Galerie Teva II. But, the "Réseau 2000" is not discovered yet...

CONCLUSION

It was an exceptional year! In the beginning of the year we even doubted if would ever find the big continuation that had to exist, in the Bois the Waerimont . But we did, and in hardly 8 months of time we found and surveyed 1800 m of new passages, the Réseau du Printemps. But is was very hard, both physically and mentally, and after some 30 trips (averaging 10 hrs/trip) even the most obsessed ones began to show signs of "being fed up with it". But the cave isn’t finished yet, lots of leads and digs remain and the 5000 m is in reach. So, we will just go on, and on, and...
In the Pierre-St-Martin area, more precisely the Anialarra mountains, we had a very fruitful holiday. Again another +200m pitch, and some very good perspectives for next year.

The Grotte des Emotions wasn’t conquered yet, but there also we’ll never give up (this word is not in Avalon’s dictionary). It is just a matter of time... the only problem is that weather conditions must really be exceptionally stable and dry.

We still found the time to do a lot of "classic caving", both in Belgium and in France. Highlights were most certainly the Trou Souffleur and the Couey Lotge, both -600m that we bottomed quite easily.

"Never change a winning team", is often said... We won’t....

Thanks Avalon!

Paul De Bie, Chairman

 
 
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