Author Topic: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested  (Read 1812 times)

Offline Ian P

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Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« on: February 24, 2019, 10:18:59 pm »
I am fortunate enough to be going on a trip to the Berger in summer.

Any personal tips and ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Looking for personal nuggets of experience / tips rather than the big stuff.

T I A

  :bow:

Offline Mark Wright

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2019, 10:34:12 pm »
I am fortunate enough to be going on a trip to the Berger in summer.

Any personal tips and ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Looking for personal nuggets of experience / tips rather than the big stuff.

T I A

  :bow:

There is a book. Avaialable at

www.gouffreberger.org

Mark

Offline David Rose

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2019, 08:31:22 am »
Don't do it on ladders. Use SRT.

But seriously... check the weather forecast and water levels carefully. The Berger in good conditions is essentially benign. In flood, it is a killer.

Don't plan to camp on the way in when you bottom it. Either do it as a bounce, or stop for a rest at camp 1 on the way out. That way you are less exposed to flood risk: you can sit out a flood at camp 1, if the entrance series becomes impassable, but if you are hit by flooding in the couffinades or beyond, you are in trouble.

Don't wear a plastic (PVC) suit, although most of the shots in Mr Wright's essential book do show people wearing them. You will get too hot.

Be prepared to get quite wet below Hurricane pitch (the last one). Even in dry weather, and even if you stop at the pseuo-siphon (as I did), you will be in up to waist or further, though not for long.

Make sure you have enough food to keep you going.

Offline GoneCaving

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2019, 08:53:29 am »
In response to the above, I would suggest being prepared for a bivi. On my first trip there I don't think there was a single group that didn't have to sit it out for a bit (one group in the entrance series, and in my case just above Little Monkey and at Camp 2). It's certainly possible to sit out a flood pulse in the lower section of the cave, but it ain't pleasant.

Offline yrammy

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2019, 09:03:13 am »
I used three cows tails. The 3rd helped me when people with long arms had done the rigging!

If you get to Lake Cadoux and it is dryish on the way in, make sure you park your dingy on the right side in case it had flooded on your way out...........   a nice swim.

Make sure the rope on Cairn is not caugth up on the ledge partway down so out of reach for the next person to climb up........

Dont change over onto  you own cows tail at the top of Aldos (Sid!)

Take tomato soup to eat when you get out to base camp - yummy. 

 
 


Offline Fulk

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2019, 09:27:48 am »
Quote
Be prepared to get quite wet below Hurricane pitch (the last one). Even in dry weather, and even if you stop at the pseuo-siphon (as I did), you will be in up to waist or further, though not for long.

Hmmm . . . and if you fall in the canal, you'll be piss wet through for a long time (speaking from personal experience!).

Offline Alex

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2019, 09:38:36 am »
That canal is one of the more strenuous sections as it involves tentioned traverses. The steam passage beyond is also has a few of those (one quite long) on them. Best bring something to help you cross those sort of obstacles, as they are very hard carrying bags and I got stuck in the middle of one where it sagged for quite some time. Using a hand jammer to pull yourself across does not work well, having not done many of these in the UK or otherwise I can't advise the best way of doing them. Maybe get your mates to pull you across on the other rope, or maybe it's just me being a bit useless at the time. (there were two ropes going across neither looked in good condition so I clipped into both, which made things rather difficult). Which brings me to my other point don't rely on in-situ stuff it gets blasted by floods every year.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline GoneCaving

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2019, 10:29:18 am »
That canal is one of the more strenuous sections as it involves tentioned traverses.
I heard rumours that they're sometimes dry. Wasn't my experience on either of my two trips.

Quote
The steam passage beyond is also has a few of those (one quite long) on them. Best bring something to help you cross those sort of obstacles, as they are very hard carrying bags and I got stuck in the middle of one where it sagged for quite some time. Using a hand jammer to pull yourself across does not work well, having not done many of these in the UK or otherwise I can't advise the best way of doing them.
Yep, I got pretty hung up on one of those, while carrying two bags of rope. Was very glad for a mate to come back and help me out.

Offline Alex

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2019, 10:59:57 am »
Quote
Maybe get your mates to pull you across on the other rope

I meant to say on another rope (one you have with you).
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Badlad

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2019, 12:01:15 pm »
The Berger is a great cave but quite easy for its depth.  Make sure you are fit and slick with your SRT and you will be able to enjoy it all the more.

The big decision you have is whether to go to the very bottom (the sump) or not. If you turn back at the deep pool just beyond the 1000m inlet then you can stay pretty dry.  On one of my trips I never even got water down my wellies getting to this point.  Going across that pool you'll be in waist deep water and soon be at the old divers camp.  Beyond that you'll be neck deep to get to the sump.  You'll need to consider what type of clothing works for you in these different conditions.

Have a great trip.

Offline Beardy

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2019, 12:38:32 pm »
Quote Badlad  "Beyond that you'll be neck deep to get to the sump."

I remember nearly drowning in the pseudo-siphon which was a proper out of depth swim of some distance in quite cold water
and feeling distinctly underdressed in a wetsuit long-john and a fleece top.....

I also remember that not knowing that the final pitch was by-passable via the divers camp also nearly caught me out
The jump down into the deep pool at the bottom of the pitch was easy the return was not so easy…
The in-situ bit of blue poly-prop  dangling half way down the pitch lured me on downwards in hindsight this was perhaps a lapse in judgement.

Beardy

Offline GoneCaving

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2019, 12:56:58 pm »
The big decision you have is whether to go to the very bottom (the sump) or not. If you turn back at the deep pool just beyond the 1000m inlet then you can stay pretty dry.  On one of my trips I never even got water down my wellies getting to this point.
Hah, on both of my trips it was impossible to traverse the canals without being waist deep in water.

Offline Mark R

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2019, 12:59:36 pm »
Canals- climb the rock, dont try hualing yourslef along the ropes, it kills your arms. You can virtually do the whole thing without hanging on a rope and I find it much less energy sapping, also, try floating your tackle bag through the canals beneath you on a long haul cord, even if the bag doesn't float on the surface let the water do the work of supporting most of the weight. (you will of course end up with heavy rope)...
Many people burn off far too much energy in the canal section and are exhausted for what is to follow. You can get to the pseudo siphon and back with dry feet but allowing yourself some damp feet will probably save energy!

Dont do the pseudo siphon swim in a 3mm shorty wetsuit.. or a furry!

Be prepared to get very hot.. and very cold! (a small waterproof jacket to pull on over the top of your suit when you find yourself waiting has worked really well for me).

Take your time- stop to look around, enjoy the history and the atmosphere. Take a big light and drink in the experience. Try not to push yourself so fast you miss what makse it such a special cave. Camping is not necessary but I find it really enjoyable and it only adds to the whole experience.




 

Offline Pegasus

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2019, 01:40:14 pm »
Take your time and enjoy this magnificent cave.

Still remains one of the very best caving trips I've ever done.  It was the trip where Badlad had dry feet, I got one foot wet - we were fortunate the conditions were dry  :)

If you too have good weather, consider camping on the way out, just because....

Oh and if you do camp, plan enough food for breakfast - a few wine gums and half a cup of custard was not enough  :o

Enjoy  ;D

Offline skippy

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2019, 01:41:13 pm »
I am fortunate enough to be going on a trip to the Berger in summer.

Any personal tips and ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Looking for personal nuggets of experience / tips rather than the big stuff.

T I A

  :bow:

There is a book. Avaialable at

www.gouffreberger.org

Mark


Ian,
The cottage copy will be returned on Saturday

Offline skippy

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2019, 01:45:15 pm »
Oh, and thaks for the tips so far...I was Pondering over PVC or AV as I also thought PVC may be a little warm. Thanks for that little nugget Dave.

Offline Mark Wright

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2019, 01:49:15 pm »
Don't wear a plastic (PVC) suit, although most of the shots in Mr Wright's essential book do show people wearing them. You will get too hot.

Couldn't agree more.

Some of us wore PVC suits on the first couple of photographic trips as we were sure Robbie would have us all standing under waterfalls with flash guns. He did.

Get yourself a nice new AV from Starless River.

Mark 

Offline Fulk

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2019, 02:43:08 pm »
Having done some rigging in the entrance series and the pitches below the Grande Gallerie (is it) – where the Grande Cascade is – I figured that went I went on a 'bottoming' trip i'd carry my overuit (a yellow plastic one) rather than wear it, until I got to the end of the Canals.

Offline MarkS

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2019, 03:31:15 pm »
I definitely agree with Mark R's advice above. The ropes seem tempting to use, but stick to the rock handholds as much as possible. You'll use a lot less energy. I think we  had about 3 bags each when we derigged the canals, and they were no bother hanging in the water on a long tether below us.

If water levels are relatively low, I'd definitely recommend taking of your oversuit between Aldo's and the canals (and for the entrance series if you don't mind a small amount of abrasion on your undersuit. Saves getting sweaty during the dry stuff where there is no abrasion, and is much more pleasant in my opinion.

Offline darkdescender

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2019, 05:18:56 pm »
. Everything that goes in has to come out. So don't forget to carry your PortaPotty (and it's contents) out with you!  ;D

Offline darkdescender

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2019, 05:26:26 pm »
An extra supply of Mars Bars on your back always comes in handy. :thumbsup:

Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2019, 12:53:26 am »
Everyone goes on about the Canals, but I though the Cascades were a much more strenous bit of passage - about 100m of increasingly airy bridging and traversing with a roaring stream beneath you. My foot slipped out of a muddy foothold here and I fell onto my cowstails and smacked into the opposite wall. Got up and kept going to the bottom, but felt the impact later on.
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Offline David Rose

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2019, 08:31:18 am »
The canals are easy in normal conditions. It's true, the cascades are much more demanding, with some awkward diagonal prussiks. Someone mentioned having three cows tails. I had a snaplink on my footloop as well as a short and a long cowstail, and this was useful in this section of the cave.

Offline Alex

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2019, 06:41:24 pm »
Quote
Everyone goes on about the Canals, but I though the Cascades were a much more strenous bit of passage - about 100m of increasingly airy bridging and traversing with a roaring stream beneath you. My foot slipped out of a muddy foothold here and I fell onto my cowstails and smacked into the opposite wall. Got up and kept going to the bottom, but felt the impact later on.

I agree this was the most strenuous traverses, but in low water I found I could ignore the ropes in some places and simply walk along the stream-way until I came to a deep pool.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Andy Sparrow

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2019, 06:48:40 pm »
Dead right about the bivi kit, spare clothing and food.  Make a personal emergency kit and keep it with you at all times!  There have been incidents where a shared bivi kit has benefited the caver stuck at the bottom of the pitch when the cave flooded, but was no use at all to the hungry, shivering chap marooned at the top!  I used a rucksack rather than a standard caving bag which enabled me to carry an ample emergency, brew and bivi kit in comfort - the cave is virtually all walking.
Andy Sparrow



Offline Ian P

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2019, 07:42:50 pm »
Thanks for all the information so far, really appreciate it.

A specific question about water for drinking during the trip.

Puri tabs ?
Boil ?
Neither ?

How much to carry etc...

Thanks again

Ian

Offline psychocrawler

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2019, 08:21:00 pm »
Smallest stove you can find and boil. You don’t have to use water from the river as there is plenty of percolation/small inlet water available.

Agree about the big light (it’s a cave worth seeing rather looking at you toes all the time), don’t bother camping (get fit instead and less crap to carry) and the boat at Lake Cadoux (just in case, and don’t let anyone else mess with it, as it is quite a big swim with a bag if it comes up).

The bottom section from Hurricane is outstanding.


Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2019, 09:37:07 pm »
From my 2017 post-trip write up...

Water
Earlier trip reports stress the importance of adequate hydration, with the 2006 report suggesting that 3 litres was only enough to get you to the bottom and that puritabs, boiling, or a water pump would be required to provide further drinking water. The report also suggested drinking large amounts of water prior to entering the cave to hyperhydrate and thus delay dehydration. We tried this to some extent, but forcing ourselves to drink water made us feel a bit sick.

On the deep trip we each carried in 3l of water. We stashed another 1.5l bottle of water at the foot of Garby’s for dehydrated cavers to use on the way out. Another extra 1.5l bottle was left at Camp 1. We carried puritabs to purify any water that we refilled from the stream.

Surprisingly, we drank less than a litre on the way to the bottom, and didn’t finish off the remaining two litres on the way back up. The water left at Camp 1 and Garby’s was not required and was simply poured onto the floor to save weight. We were probably a little bit dehydrated on exiting the cave, but this was no big deal.
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Offline skippy

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #28 on: February 27, 2019, 11:04:52 am »
Ian,

Nev's best tip was to stash water in the Meanders...You'll be gagging for a drink on the way out.

Offline David Rose

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #29 on: February 27, 2019, 11:26:36 am »
If you do it as a bounce trip, it's a good idea to have a tent, sleeping bags, water and at least some snacks at the entrance so you can have a snooze and a rehydrate there before walking back to the car, which is mostly uphill. I got out at about 3am and resting until 7 or so was pleasant; we got back to Autrans in good time for a nice breakfast.

Offline Fulk

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #30 on: February 27, 2019, 11:42:53 am »
psychocrawler:
Quote
The bottom section from Hurricane is outstanding.

Agreed; in fact I thought that this was the best part of the cave, for its sheer grandeur of underground scenery – very atmospheric.

I also agree with David Rose's post just above – I got out after a 19-hour trip at about 1 a.m., and must have been a bit disorientated, as after walking 'back to the camp' I found myself standiing on some cliffs looking out over Grenoble.

Offline Mark Wright

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #31 on: February 27, 2019, 12:35:43 pm »
On nearly all of my recent bottomming trips I've camped both on the way in and out. Its a fantastic experience and well worth the extra hardship of carrying more gear. If you are taking all the other bivi gear anyway then a few extra meal packs won't cause too much discomfort. Most of the extras you take in are only heavy on the way in. A decent lightweight sleeping bag is only bulky.

A good meal and head off to the Molliere from Autrans around 8pm. You can be tucked up in bed at Camp 1 by midnight.

The good night's sleep ends when it ends and after breakfast you can head off to the bottom. So long as you have confirmed by radio that the weather is suitable before you set off there should be no possibility of any flooding issues further into the cave.

You've then got all day to have a steady trip to the bottom, or wherever you fancy and back to Camp 1. You should be out by early/mid afternoon on the 3rd day and straight down to Autrans for a pint or two.

I agree the lower part of the cave is spectacular, particularly below Hurricane. The French are currently exploring some interesting new leads above Hurricane.

I think the whole place is spectacular so make sure you have a good lamp and have a good look round.

Mark

Offline yrammy

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #32 on: February 28, 2019, 09:21:32 am »
Also  - we camped and it was an interesting experience for a first time underground camper. Three of us caved together and agreed that if any one of us had had enough we would all go back. We did not bottom the cave as the least experienced person  became uncomfortable.  So, know your limits. Bottoming it is not essential!  Getting out in one piece  is.

Offline wellyjen

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #33 on: February 28, 2019, 02:51:40 pm »
Is the Berger still rigged on spits? Anyone know of any plans to change that in the next year or two?

Jen

Can't sleep. Clowns will eat me.

Offline Alex

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #34 on: February 28, 2019, 05:07:03 pm »
A job for the CNCC :) Keep em out of trouble for a while hehe.

I can't recall what the anchors where, I have an inkling they might be resin anchors but I really don't remember I went down on the clean up trips so had not rigged anything.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline MarkS

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #35 on: February 28, 2019, 05:11:00 pm »
Is the Berger still rigged on spits? Anyone know of any plans to change that in the next year or two?

It was still largely on spits last summer. There are a few resin anchors in some very bizarre locations, but essentially all spits.

Offline wellyjen

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #36 on: February 28, 2019, 08:43:21 pm »
Is the Berger still rigged on spits? Anyone know of any plans to change that in the next year or two?

It was still largely on spits last summer. There are a few resin anchors in some very bizarre locations, but essentially all spits.

Thanks. Need to start collecting old fashioned hangers then!
Jen
Can't sleep. Clowns will eat me.

Offline Mark Wright

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #37 on: February 28, 2019, 09:19:09 pm »
The Berger book project has a stash of about 90'ish hangers and 7mm long maillons that future trips are more than welcome to borrow. Simply replace anything you break or lose.

PM me or MarkS to get hold of them. I think MarkS has them in his garage.

Mark 

Offline wellyjen

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #38 on: February 28, 2019, 09:32:09 pm »
The Berger book project has a stash of about 90'ish hangers and 7mm long maillons that future trips are more than welcome to borrow. Simply replace anything you break or lose.

PM me or MarkS to get hold of them. I think MarkS has them in his garage.

Mark
Hi Mark,
That is good to know. We are talking about a club trip in 2020, which will be 25 years after our last club visit. Will get in touch when things are a little firmer.
Jen
Can't sleep. Clowns will eat me.

Offline Ian P

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Re: Berger Trip. Personal top tips requested
« Reply #39 on: February 28, 2019, 11:16:34 pm »
The Berger book project has a stash of about 90'ish hangers and 7mm long maillons that future trips are more than welcome to borrow. Simply replace anything you break or lose.

PM me or MarkS to get hold of them. I think MarkS has them in his garage.

Mark

Mark

This is a very generous offer, which I am sure our trip will be taking you up on.

Thanks for all your contributions. The two nights camping is something I am very keen to consider.

Thanks again    :bow:

Ian