maandag 28 maart 2011
De meeste zelfs -zoals ondergetekende altijd heeft beweerd- "met twee vingers in de neus"!
Alleen bij de passage van de brievenbus van onder naar boven moesten die vingers bij iedereen uit de neus ;-)
Proficiat aan Annemarie, Bart, Caroline, Isabelle, Jochem, Johan, Marijke en Marjan.
En nu (nog) meer gaan grotten natuurlijk ;-)
donderdag 24 maart 2011
In samenspraak met onze vriendelijke overbuur hebben we daar dankbaar gebruik van gemaakt.
In het materiaalkot werd eens duchtig nagegaan wat weg mocht en dat bleek toch flink wat.
Graag hadden we de vrijgekomen plaats ook zinvol gebruikt.
Gelieve dus alle afval die terugkomt na een grottocht/weekend mee naar huis te willen nemen en niet te dumpen in één of andere doos in het materiaalhok!
Ook de opkuis van de wasbak na de obligate materiaalkuis kan en moet beter!
maandag 21 maart 2011
Haquin by night
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
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…
maandag 14 maart 2011
Dag tante Anja,
dinsdag 8 maart 2011
Toch een beetje vreemd om vanuit de comfortabele zetels, met eten(?) en drinken bij de hand toe te kijken hoe Aron Ralston zich ernstig in de problemen en -gelukkig voor hem- er terug uit geraakt.
Daarna nog wat gaan napraten op Spekul.
Wat mij betreft voor herhaling vatbaar.
Suggesties zijn welkom!
donderdag 3 maart 2011
Eerste keer Sainte Anne
Sommigen voor de eerste keer!
De Sainte Anne is een veelzijdige grot die geschikt is voor de beginnende speleoloog maar tegelijk ook voor gevorderden.
Ze bestaat uit 3 verdiepingen die met elkaar verbonden zijn.
Als je binnen bent ga je eerst door verscheidene grote zalen die verbonden zijn door tunnels.
Hoe kleiner je bent hoe sneller je door de tunnels geraakt (1m 20 is perfect).
Dan kom je uit bij de rivier die je naar de 2de verdieping leidt.
Om van de 2de verdieping naar de 3de te gaan moest je door 'De Brievenbus': een nauwe versmalling waar wonder boven wonder water door stroomde.
Als je nog niet nat was geweest was je dat nu wel.
Na 'de brievenbus' kwamen er nog verschillende nauwe spleten.
Toen we daar door waren moesten we op handen en knieeën door het water (we konden ook over rotsen klimmen).
Bij sommige rotsen was er een richel net onder het wateroppervlak waar je op kon staan.
Op het einde van de grot was er een sifon, daar rustten we even en keerden dan terug.
Op sommige plekken was er een soort van hangende tafel dit is een stalactiet waar vroeger modder onder was, de modder spoelde weg maar de stalactiet bleef mooi hangen.
My first cave
grotte du nou moulin –my first cave
Have you ever heard something about spelunking? No…? Don’t worry, me neither. Having tried out my first cave, I can share my experiences with you.
Firstly, I am sure you are eager to know how the whole experience was? No words can describe it. It was just perfect, the best possible experience in every way and, by far the most extreme I have ever tried. You can just look at my face:] and read the description below but the feeling can be compared to seeing the top of an ice mountain, the best parts are covered and available only for these that are brave enough to try. I wasn’t brave at all. I couldn’t even sleep well the night before…but it doesn’t matter now, so let the story begin…
Everything took place on Saturday, 26.02.2011. There were five of us: Hans, Renaud, Bram, Arun and me. Our goal was to explore the Grotte du nou Moulin situated in Rochefort, which is considered to be (as I heard from boys) a beginners cave. We left
Then the procedure started, they began changing their clothes, so I started coping them. I also got advice to use the toilet before I put on everything. I put my waterproof trousers, jacket and shoes, that I found in SPIT and I was ready for the next step. Then we started with the harness, making it suitable for each others size, and replaced the batteries into our helmets. We were almost ready. The final part of our preparations was lunch. We ate some sandwiches, tomato soup, nuts, and had some drinks, we also placed some snacks and refreshments into our common rucksack. By now we had sent a message, letting everybody know that we were ready to combat the cave.
Hans, the gentlemen in red was carrying the map, Bram the men in the blue suit was carrying the rucksack at the beginning but then they alternated in doing so. Fortunately I didn’t have to wear this heavy thing:P We knew that there were two entrances into this cave, the upper one where you have to use ropes and the lower one which was our target.
Our first few steps inside the cave guided us to a metal fence which didn’t look like a gate to enter. So we went back a little bit, and we tried to look for another way. Bram tried one crater but it went nowhere so he had to crawl all the way back on his stomach with our rucksack. We went back to the very beginning, almost outside the cave to look for other paths. It’s started getting funny. After some minutes we decide to go as we first wanted to and try to pass the fence. It appeared to be possible. Afterwards we realized that this fence could have been here to protect rubbish coming inside the cave together with river. The beginning of the cave was quite easy because it was pretty wide but then it started getting narrow and low, that I had to try some crawling on my back, on my belly, with my head or feet first. Stones on the ground don’t make your life easier, and your knees after some time also feel that.
Some examples of things/activities we have to do ‘sightseeing’ the cave.
We read in the car about Fromage (NVDR "Gruyere"), the part of the cave that can make some difficulties (many people got lost there) and when we were getting closer to it I started wondering how much time are we going to spend there, if in the beginning we couldn’t even find the entrance. But surprisingly it wasn’t so bad as I thought before. We didn’t have many problems to pass it, we tried to follow some tiny rope that some cavers left before to help find the way. The fromage part was pretty interesting, it consisted plenty rocks of different shape one next to another. Sometimes you had to climb them sometimes just go below them. As you can notice caving is not only about going down as you may think at the beginning but it has where you have to go upwards. Important thing that boys repeated few times was to tried to look back as many times you can to remember the way we came.
In the end of fromage, where there was a lot of space you had to climb the highest part and there you could find some interesting formations. That was our goal, but it was quite hard to reach it. We had been looking for it for a while and having done so we then decided to have a break, and eat something. But of course boys didn’t give up so fast, so they started looking again for a so-called balcony to find these sculptures. We eventually did it, having climbed very steep rocks. Awaiting us were amazing views, such as:
You can see happiness all over faces.
Okay, now time to go home, means go back, that was sometimes difficult, especially when you had to climb down steep rocks, and you need all your 4 limbs to protect you before decontrolling the situation. We decided not to take the same way as before, but to make a roundtrip which in case of this cave was possible to do. So again, some worse or better try-outs to find our way. We noticed that somebody marked this way with the orange spray spots so we tried to follow them, but sometimes they were really hard to find. But there was always some brave men from the following guys that was looking after our way and who allowed me to sit, rest and eatJ
When we found a pit filled with water we knew that we’re closer and closer to the exit but we had to find again our way. So after climbing some rocks there were two ways, of course, the first checked was the wrong one:P, and then the other one was the proper one. There was a metal bucket left by some cavers to take the water from the hole we need to go over. This step was quite challenging, you need to go a little bit into the water to go into the hole below rock, and the water wasn’t very warm. Some of us got wet. But we were still continuing. Sometimes it was very narrow between the rocks that I thought my body will never fit there but after some small movements, changes of position it appeared to be possible. The scary part for me was also the long ‘chimney’ you had to slide down, controlling it for your own good.
There was another way I could choose but nobody wanted go there so I ‘fasten my ass’ and I decided to try it. After this there was nothing more left. We got on the same track that we came in the very beginning, nice and easy, we followed the way, and after 4 hours being inside we appeared in the front of the grotte du nou Moulin. Rain said kind hello to us.
What’s now? Of course we had to wash each other after all this mud and clay. We went inside the river to get nice and clean. It took us a while cleaning all the equipment and our clothes. Then we dressed up into warm, tidy clothes. We ate the rest of the smashed food from the rucksack and all together we decided to go and try some local Rochefort beer. About 5pm we decided to go back to
After few days passed I can say that I really enjoyed this Saturday. A combination of unforgettable memories and a worthwhile experience. I am sure I want to continue this adventure. I never thought I could feel so comfortable amongst people I had just met twice in my life. But they all made it. Thanks to the team for being so funny, kind, caring throughout the duration of the trip.
Although this is the end of the story, I hope that it is not the end of an amazing adventure which I have only just begun.