Album / Pourpevelle '2004
After three failures we finally did it. Our trip to the cave which is
said to be one of the most beautiful and exciting caves in central
Europe. Our team was small but just "fantastic": Yura – digger down to
his toes, Martin – mainly known for his legendary helmet, Moritz – the
one who always wants to take pictures and everybody has to wait and
finally as special guest Martin – the caver. One of the really legendary
cavers of Switzerland. The one with many names:
Martin-the-husband-of-my-cousin (mthomc) or
Martin-the-official-guide-of-Hoelloch (mtogoh) or just Martin-The-Caver
The weather was not to bad, but finally we found a slot with no risk of
precipitation. We left Switzerland with excitement towards Soye, close
to L'Isle-sur-le-Doubs. And mtc told us all ugly stories about the cold
water, very very narrow passages, long climbings and finally just
paradise in "station plaisance". Lots of stalactites and little ponds.
We entered the cave finally at 4 p.m. It started with a short pitch of
about 10 meters, crawling, another pitch and crawling again. But then we
already reached the first highlight: "Puits Nord", a big pit with free
abseiling in the center of a huge 35m dome. It was just like flying. You
could see the tiny head lights of the others from high above.
From there we reached "Reseau Sud" with the first contact to the element
we shoudn't be missing for the next hours: Water! It was also the first
test of our clothing. Mtc and Yura where wearing pontonieres and warm
underwear. Martin and me only had neoprene suits. Maybe not the perfect
thing? It felt pretty ok in these first ponds. But worse was yet to
come... The tunnel was pretty wide and comfortable in this region. It
was really a joy climbing along the pools and the nice structures on the
We finally arrived at a pretty deep pool. Nothing for a pontoniere. But
fortunately somebody had left there a comfortable ring to sit on. We
could sit on it and pull ourselves on a rope through the pool. Like on
There was really plenty of water. So we crossed "delta de l' Amazone"
and went further towards "Pourpelui 1". There we had to find a tricky
turning facing to the feared "galerie des cristaux". It started nicely
with a lot of mud. We really could slip on it comfortably. I really
could not understand why my aunt told me that this cave also has some
nice tortures. But then they came. Nicely covered with small shiny
cristals all over. Trying to make it sweet for us.
But finally just a piece of narrow ugly crawling. It is narrow enough to
make you crawl on your belly. But that is not enough. The whole ground
is made of small tubs, which nature has been building up for 10'000s of
years with passion. Made to make you suffer. Some with cold water in,
others just there to make you stick. Transport bags, carbide lamp and
SRT gear wonderfully jam in each of them. A real pleasure. But all this
crystals smile and glimmer at you and make you shout: Cool! And finally
it really is. Then the cave opens up again. We're coming to the mud
again. The "Galerie de la Voute Mouillante". I remember what mtc had
told us: A muddy parcours before it should end in a very narrow 50 meter
high chimney. Climbing up there is said to be even more anoying than the
"galerie des cristaux". This chimney should end on a low horizontal
plate. Most people finally find out how they can make this 90° bend in
their spine to turn into this crack. This crack will get narrower than
your helmet. The last real exam before we should reach the fantastic
"station plaisance". Open domes, stalacties, pools, all lovely
(loveleeyyyy) arranged. Paradise. But we are not yet there. But already
the "Galerie de la Voute Mouillante" is a nice setting. It starts with
some muddy holes, but it has some wonderful little pools, too.
But after a while it started to get narrow again. Water, mud and dried
out tiny pools to get stuck in again.
Martin and me where still stuck in these passages when we heared that
Yura and mtc reached the place where the big chimney starts. It opened
up a bit so we could see them trying. There is a syphon in front of the
chimney. It still had a bit too much water from the rain in the week
before. mtc tried to get through it. He did a good job and was really
fighting. But there was not much space left above the water. When he was
in the water up to his right ear and felt how the cold water poored into
his pontoniere he somehow seemed to loose his sense of humor. A loud
shouting and he gave up. Too risky. We could get through it somehow. But
some more rain would be enough to cut the way back. We decided to turn
back shortly before paradise.
So let's dig back through the nice places of "Galerie de la Voute
Mouillante" and "galerie des cristaux". I probably don't have to
describe how it was in there, do I? I got now colder and colder in the
neoprene suit. We've been already four hours in the cave when we turned
back. We now took a bit more time to take pictures. For example of the
nice stalactites hanging from the ceiling or the nice structures on the
walls. Also short brakes where I could warm up a little bit again.
So we dig through all the way back. And even on the way back we had to
stop many times and just watch amazingly the manifold pictures which the
cave presented to us.
Then something amazing happened: Yura found a frog! We where already
pretty close to the entry, but still below the very high pit of of
"Puits Nord". The frog must have found some cracks form the top, because
it would never survive a fall down the high pit. It was pretty famished,
but still looking ok. So Yura decided that he will rescue it. He caught
it and found a place inside a box in his transport bag. From there on
they travelled together.
I was completely frozen when we finally reached again the bottom of the
high pit "Puits Nord". Really glad to have something which normally
heats you up more than you like. It is possible to go in this cave with
a neoprene suit. But I would recommend to wear some additional suit over
it. The continuous evaporation cools down too much. The pit helped a
bit, but not too much. We climbed it one after the other. It is so nice
on the SRT, hanging completely loose and not beeing pulled by the rope
into a narrow crack all the time!
After 8 hours we came back to the entrance and Yura let the frog jump
out to his new freedom. We had a fantastic trip, even without the
dessert of the "station plaisance". But one thing is for sure: We will
Thank you mtc, it was a great trip!