maandag 21 maart 2011

Haquin by night

How can you add more excitement to caving which is already itself so fascinating. You can try some caving at night, as we did last Wednesday (16.03.2011) in Trou D’Haquin.

We were six people in two cars, Leuven transport consist of Sam, Bram, Arun and myself, and outside Leuven car with Hans (Gent) and Renaud (Brussel).

We all met in the parking place close to the cave. It was after 8pm, so it was already dark, but we could use our fancy equipment (helmets etc.) to guide our way… e.g. to change clothes. Some of us were ‘hipstering’ using our new sparkling gears so the job for tonight was make them baptized. The assignment was accomplished.

To enter the cave we needed to use a key. Of course, obstacles appeared at the very beginning, and they were gradually increasing.

There was something like 2m passage that you needed to slide under, but of course with control and help of all your 4 limbs. From my experience it is good to have some protection for both your elbows and knees.

We also found famous parts of this cave called the ‘letter box’(imagine how you’re putting letter into a letter box, first step it is a horizontal movement and then it changes to vertical orientation, the same thing we had to do with our bodies), but we did it the way, as Bram said, that is always working, so going down through it. Everybody did it differently, the best was if you find your own way to do it, of course some advice can he helpful but generally ‘every body’ has their own strong and weak points, stronger legs or hands, even being tall or small can be advantageous or a disadvantage in such a diverse place as a cave. I controlled myself almost all the way down the descent but at the end I slide a few cm down and I landed on Sam head ups…, apart from hitting rocks with your head this is another example when helmets become handy. Nevertheless, one day I want to try do the letter box the other way around.

Then there was a quite steep part with 2 pits where we were using ropes. Now some of us got to know what those Wednesdays training sessions in the gymnasium were all about. However, the rope technique that we learnt in the gymnasium was different when we had to put it into practice in the cave. It appeared to be pretty different, water, mud, limited space and darkness play some role. But we all managed, some of us got a little bit wet because we were descending ourselves next to river/water whilst going through rocks. At the end Sam used a special technique, descending on the steel carabineer with double rope with allowed him to take it away.

Then there was a part called ‘screw’ (Colimaçon) where you had to squeeze, turn and twist your body to fit the way. Again, protection for knees and elbows is highly recommended, otherwise on some parts of your body all colors of the rainbow will appear.

There was also a moment called ‘climbing a horseback’. It looked like a steep rock, with the edge close to a pretty deep gap and above this rock you had to climb there was another rock, so it was very narrow in between. Once again, everybody did it differently. Some of us were using the edge of the rock, some used the rock above themselves with heels pushing their body up, and others, I mean myself, I did it ‘with a little help of my friends’;)

Doesn’t Bram look like he wants to climb the horse…

We also found a part of the cave named ‘paradise’ but I forgot the reason why. If somebody knows the explanation please reply to remind me, because I am pretty sure it did not look like my mental representation of paradise!

After that we started going back. Our return way was not exactly the same, we also visited new places. We didn’t do all these difficult parts again, it appeared that you can go through the cave without doing them because there are always alternative easy paths. When I saw it, I was shocked feeling stupid, but then I realize that without these it could be boring. I even posed a question ‘goddamn it why?!’, but the answer was predictable, ‘because it’s more fun and we like challenges’.

Trou D’Haquin was a very beautiful and interesting cave. It was also very diverse throwing down many easy and less easy gauntlets. You could do this cave with or without ropes, your choice depending on which parts you want to visit. You could find many things there, stream of water, pits with water, gaps, mud, even some flowers. They also saw one bat, I am saying they because I didn’t see the bat, I was too slow with eyes, maybe next time, I hope. Thanks to some ‘helmets’ with very good strong LED lights (Guys informed me and showed two different types of light in their helmets, the LED light and the halogen) we could see magnificent formations and figures, such as stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones.

When I saw the exit, ‘here comes the sun’ I felt like millions of endorphins filled my body, I felt so euphoric, so proud of myself that I couldn’t stop smiling to myself and to people that helped me do this. Spelunking is like bag of everything, it allows you to challenging your own limits (also ‘push it to the limit’), working independently but also in a group ( e.g. carrying the kicksack), gaining new information and knowledge, admiring abiotic nature and much more.

Putting ourselves into clean clothes is always very demanding, where to do it to have some privacy, how to it when you all look like mud monster, and of course oversensitive car owners etc. During the last part of our journey, the most dangerous one, car trip I was told about fall factor during climbing. When we arrived to Leuven, it was about 1 am. Thanks for the best crew under the sun.

The things that were left to be done were cleaning the equipment and writing a report. Done. I can’t wait next adventure, come on, let’s do it…


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