Traversing the Réseau du Verneau
03 September 2015
The Doubs region of France is a landscape of outstanding natural beauty with Alpine meadows, lakes, waterfalls and thick forest. This was the interest area for VHE’s Geo-Environmental Engineers, Holly Bradley and Noel Snape. Although sampling the local cheeses and wines is of upmost importance for any holiday in France, the main agenda for this year’s holiday was to traverse the Réseau du Verneau, a 32.2 km long and 387 m deep cave system.
Being experienced cavers for more than 12 years this isn’t an unusual holiday for Holly and Noel who regularly seek adventures underground in the Yorkshire Dales at a weekend. Both have also previously attended a number of caving expeditions across Europe and China. Risk assessing VHE projects as part of their day job, the preparation for the risks likely to be encountered in this caving system was extensive and good planning was required in advance of the expedition.
The Réseau du Verneau is of particular interest to cavers as it offers an 8.5 km traverse through the system. Cavers enter the system via the top entrance known as the Bief Bousset and exit at the other end via the Grotte Baudin.
The trip can only be completed by experienced cavers who have knowledge of technical rope work, good route finding skills and a sense of adventure, where the system requires abseiling, climbing, swimming, crawling and a 3m long free-dive through a sump at around 202 m deep.
Holly and Noel, with their team, completed the traverse over the bank holiday weekend, which necessitated 12 hours of continuous caving. They described the cave as being one of the most interesting they have ever seen, containing a variety of large chambers, wide streamways and beautiful calcite formations, including the famous ‘Tripod’.
We are all impressed by the resourcefulness of our adventurous Geo-Environmental Engineers and shall be sure to keep you informed of Holly and Noel’s future caving exploits.