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This time, we were fully prepared . An altitude camp was set up near the entrance of the AN506, at an altitude of 2170 m. It provided shelter for 4 persons. Since we worked simultaneously in two different caves, some 2 kilometres apart, all gear (ropes, bags, hammer drills etc..) had to be doubled. Our base camp was again Camping Ibarra in St. Engrace.

After 10 descents in the AN506 the balance was more than positive! The big pitch indeed deserved its name "Monstre" since it measured 259m and kept its massive section all the way down. It became to be the second deepest pitch in the area, after the famous Puits Lepinuex (320 m deep). At the foot of the Monstre, at -310 m, the cave split up in several parallel pitches. The most evident one was another big 100 m drop, but there was also a P68 (Puits Paul), a P62 (Puits Jos) and a P18 + P41 (Puits Maçonné). Unfortunately the cave ended at -410m depth, on a flat and sandy bottom. Though we were really close to the underground river of the Anialarra System, we had to give up our ambitions in making of our cave a 4th and spectacular entrance to this big cave system. But we weren't unhappy at all!

Follow this link for a detailed report on the first descent of this giant shaft!

The FR1 was the first deep cave that the Spéléoclub de Frontenac explored on the massif, more precisely in 1971. Leader of this club was the legendary Jean-François Pernette (at that time, only 16 years old!). Later, he would discover the BU56, with its 1400 m depth still one of the deepest in the world and deepest of the Pierre-St-Martin massif.

The FR1 was, according to the old surveys, very well situated in relation to the terminus of Pozo Estella; only a couple of hundred metres before it and exactly above the cave. The FR1 ended at -337m where it became too narrow.
We thought that it should be a good idea to review the cave, since it hadn't been properly explored for over 25 years now. Digging techniques had evolved a lot the past 10 years (e.g. battery hammer drills) and there was a chance of connecting this cave to the Pozo Estella. This would result in an easy, fast and safe access to the terminus of Pozo Estella.

In the summer of 1998 we made 11 descents in this cave. We made several artificial climbs, such as in the P90 that started at around -130 m. The strong draught that is aspired in the cave, changes direction here and disappears in the ceiling of the P90. At the same team, we started enlarging the narrow end of the cave; not very easy since we had to carry the hammer drill and the batteries down to -340 m all the time. Finally the work payed off and we found a small continuation, about 50 m long. We forced to abandon here were since our holiday had come to an end. But we couldn't feel a lot of air-flow here, so it would probably not have been the way to Pozo Estella anyway. Also, precise GPS-readings had indicated that the FR1 wasn't situated above, but besides the Pozo Estella: over 300 m away from it!

During our frequent prospecting we found several other interesting entrances. The best seemed to be the AN519. It exhaled an icy cold and very strong draught and was situated upstream of the FR3 cave. Jos and Paul widened up the entrance and the very narrow meander that soon followed, and explored a big lead that descended steeply. They had to stop (no ropes) at -40m, at the top of a big black hole. Since it was again the end of our holiday, we postponed this big "première" to 1999. Maybe another -400m cave? Wait and see in 1999.

Collapse doline, with a very strong draught seeping through the boulders. It is situated exactly above the Pozo Estella, very close to the terminus. We already worked a couple of hours in it, and progressed 2 metres between unstable boulders. In 1999 we will start a big dig here.

To find out if our dreams became true in 1999, go to the Anialarra 1999 Expedition!

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