Author Topic: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois  (Read 379 times)

Offline David Rose

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Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« on: June 30, 2020, 10:49:52 pm »
I'd booked a family holiday to Portugal, but that now looks impossible. So instead - if we finally get these air bridges - we may go to France. We were thinking a week in the Ardeche and a week in Minervois/Montagne Noir.

My son is quite an experienced caver and so we thought maybe we could do a trip or two. (We will be driving down.) Does anyone have recommendations for caves that don't require a lot of rope, and don't have access restrictions in either of those areas?

Offline Benfool

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Re: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2020, 09:11:17 am »
Aven Despeysse into the back end of Grotte de Saint-Marcel was really good (the only dry caving trip I've done in the Ardeche). Seem to remember it requiring about 100m of rope. If you arrange a key with the show cave you can do the through trip too, which is well worth it.

I dont actually have any proper information though, I went with Jeff Wade who had everything in French, so might be worth asking him. Alternatively, I'm sure Clive Westlake will have plenty of information.

Hope that helps!

B


Offline Ed W

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Re: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2020, 12:37:23 pm »
David,
It's been 20 years since I last went to the Ardeche, but there is loads of good caving to be had with not a lot of kit.

Benfool's recommendation of the Aven Despeysse is excellent.  Other trips in no particular order (and from memory);

Aven du Rochas - Grotte de Midroi.  From memory 3 pitches in the Rochas (30, 40 & 55), probably needs 150-200m of rope.  Midroi you do not need kit if you swim/boat the entrance lake.  If you can get hold of the key there is much more to explore (not done that though) and very pretty in places.

Fontaine Champlcos - short bit of rope for artifical entrance then traverses (I thik these are/were permanently rigged) to a big chamber.

Event de Peyrejal - some short bits of rope for the artificial entrance then miles of passage including some of the best phreatic tubes I have ever seen.

Aven de Neuf Gorges - about 100m of pitches to a chamber with tall stalagmites.

and many more.

I can have a loo to see if I have any rigging details stashed away if it of use.

Cheers,

Ed


Offline FionaH

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Re: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2020, 01:09:08 pm »
Went to the Ardeche last year and had an excellent holiday.

The cave I did that needed the least tackle was Grotte (Aven?) Estevan - needed only a couple of ladders / a shortish rope at the entrance (~15m pitch). Goes into a chamber full of stal and there are small crawls and squeezy bits that lead to additional chambers of helictites. The formations are in pretty good nick! It actually links through to another cave (Barbette), but even without doing this I thought it was really pretty and a fun little trip out.

Online rhychydwr1

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Re: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2020, 01:22:35 pm »
There is a book....

No 7 - SPELEO SPORTIVE DANS LE ARDECHE  by Philippe Drovin & Thierry Marchand.   July 1989'  110 pp 27 surveys, location map etc.  Goule de Foussoubie; Goule de Sauvas; Event de Peyrejal; Trou du Serpent etc.  In French

Long out of print.  Try your caving club library.

Offline Cavematt

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Re: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2020, 02:03:05 pm »
Hi David... I was also part of the NPC trip to Ardeche last year. Such a magnificent place.

I can vouch by Aven de Neuf Gorges being a magnificent and seldom visited trip; simple, dramatic and excellent SRT, dry, good formations at the bottom. It is located in a forest, the tracks around which are (mostly) navigable by a normal car, and it is actually possible to park only 150m from it, although you'll want a good local map that shows those forestry tracks clearly.

I can't remember the other trips I did... will have to look back over my records...

Don't forget to go canoeing down the Ardeche Gorge... loads of canoe hire places... it was almost certainly the most hazardous day of our holiday :)
York Caving Club

Offline Tricky Dicky

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Re: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2020, 02:10:16 pm »
If you could venture over to the vercours and were open to trying something different then the entrance lake in Grotte de Gournier is an unusual and interesting 'cave' dive.  Whilst it is in a cave, there is air above you so suitable for novice divers. A really different way of seeing a cave.

Contact this chap who should be able to arrange it for you http://www.vercors-plongee.com/#/plongee-caverne/2967246

When I did the dive he brought along a motorised wheelbarrow to get the gear to the cave entrance   ;D

Online rhychydwr1

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Re: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2020, 02:13:19 pm »
Mike Moore has:
Les Grottes De St-Marcel-D'Ardeche
for sale.

I visited this caved in the 1960s but cannot remember anything about it.

Offline Jeanrr

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Re: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2020, 03:10:37 pm »
I was on the NPC trip last year, as Matt said the trip down the Ardeche river was definitely the most dangerous and scary part of the holiday. The Estavan to barbette is a good trip, but only for the thin towards the end. You need a hand line in the Barbette.
The grotte de St Marcel is a good walking cave. Clive is the best person to ask.

Online rhychydwr1

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Re: Caves that don't need a of of kit in Ardeche and Minervois
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2020, 03:47:42 pm »
from my Log Book:

We drove down the Ardèche Gorge which is most impressive and looked at a few holes in the third road tunnel.  One of them came out in the roof of the tunnel.  Fortunately I did not knock any stones down onto the cars.  We drove onto St Marcel de Ardèche and camped alongside the river.  After knocking off 2½ bottles of wine we went into town for pub crawl.  Fortunately it only had three bars but even then Jim was much the worse for wear next morning.

Monday 12th
   Visited some caves near Tunnels Nos 1 and 2 (see  Michelin map).  Quite a lot of small caves, crawls etc, too numerous to mention with three main exceptions:-

Grotto ‘A’  Access is via a series of metal rungs cemented into the rock.  A climb up a slippery mud slope brings one to the main chamber of large dimensions, say 100 feet across.  The main passage is about 500 feet long and 70 feet high with a similar size cross-section.  Some archaeological deposits were evident.  I found  wolf’s molar, completely fossilised.  A lot of archaeological digging had been carried out.  I noted and upper entrance but was unable to climb up to it. A few Greater Horseshoe bats were in residence.
   
Grotto ‘B’ Appeared to have been converted into tea garden/ballroom at sometime or other.  Apart from an enormous entrance chamber 200 feet across and 70 feet high, the only other noteworthy feature was a passage about 200 feet by 70 feet high going into the hill which we photographed.  I also photographed a remnant of rolled glacial fill.
 
Grotto ‘C’  This is the cave we parked in for most of the day.  30 feet high and 30 feet wide 100 feet long with two road entrances and various high level openings.
   A very rewarding day.



 

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