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France Lot 17.09. - 24.09.2011 - Photo documentation Emergence de Ressel


Team: Manu Schoch und Peter Gärtner


We have been going to France for cave diving for a few years now and have found that cave diving in September is really good. It is not so hot anymore, tendentially it is not so crowded, because the French vacations are already over and the conditions are mostly good. So we had planned a France tour again for this fall and booked ourselves in Moulin de Lantouy in time.

The trip begins of course with the obligatory shopping in the French supermarket. Baguette, cheese and wine ... the classic! So we had enough food and arrived at the mill with the last daylight. At the same time as us, a couple of friends from Austria reached the Moulin. Coincidentally, Stefan (DIR-Austria) and Anna, Lerchi and Michi were our direct neighbors. Very good, this promised to be an entertaining week.


Day 1: Sun 18.09.

In the morning the fog still hung pretty deep in the valley. Brrr. After breakfast it was a bit better. Since the weather was not so inviting on the first day, we decided to take our dive-free sightseeing day right at the beginning. We got the tip of a super nice idyllic Sunday weekly market and so we went to Limogne-en-Quercy first. We were not promised too much. In front of a historic backdrop, various merchants offered their wares. Whether fruit and vegetables, baked goods or meat and sausages, there was everything fresh from the surrounding farms. All we needed was a little fruit.

Our next destination for the day was a show cave. The Grotte de Lascaux was at the top of our wish list. Amazingly, our navigation system knew about Lascaux. As we stood in the place we were at first perplexed. No show cave far and wide, also we had expected much more hype in the vicinity. In the Boulongerie we asked for Lascaux / cave and were taught better. The cave Lascaux is located in Montignac. Well, once again 100km of rural roads in the Lot / Dordogne stood before us. On the way almost the chestnuts flew on our roof. Since we could not resist, stopped and filled 2 bags with chestnuts, the mountains wise lay on the roadside. Already a dinner caught. As we approached Montignac we felt then also dn expected tourist hype.

Lascaux is home to the oldest known pictorial artwork in human history. The cave was discovered in 1940 and opened to the public as a visitor cave in 1948. The huge influx of visitors changed the climate in the cave and damaged the paintings tremendously. Thus, this treasure was closed again in 1963 and has been restored since then. The exact replica can be visited again since 1983 in Lascaux II. The corridor system consisting of narrow short corridors and larger rooms is just 250m long and houses about 1900 drawings. Impressive to get such an insight into history.

On the way home we passed the Doux de Coly and wanted to see what it looked like. The pool was crystal clear and there was another no swimming sign on the opposite side. In addition, the pool is now completely fenced, on diving activities seems to be no prospect until further notice. Very sad.

Back at the Moulin we prepared everything for tomorrow's diving day and sat down with a glass of wine to our Austrian neighbors.


Day 2: Mon 19.09.

We were predicted fantastic conditions in the Cabouy. Such a Gelegenhiet must be used, because this cave rarely has very good visibility and often starts after a short rain and carries more water. The pool looked uninviting. A dark green puddle with barely visible water was left after this summer.

Full of energy we brought scooters, stages, back equipment with RB and of course the camera to the pool, slipped into the suits and wanted to get into water as soon as possible. We expected not very good conditions in the front area, because one or the other group in the cave course was in the water before us. Planned was a scooter dive to the 1st sump, i.e. 60min trigger time. As expected the visibility was bad with 2-3m on the first 200m, but the expected AHA effect was missing. In the further course to the Pouymasson we had in places 5m, after the junction manyicht 7m visibility. Unfortunately not so exhilarating, but better than the last times. Unfortunately Peter's ears made strange noises about 200m before the end of Sump1, so we retreated.

In the evening we joined our nice neighbors again. Lerchi had stupidly brought ringworm from home, had already consulted the local doctor during the day and was prescribed a bag full of medication. He could not think of diving for the time being. And so we arranged for the next day with Stefan for a joint dive in the Ressel II (Le Cunac).


Day 3: Tue 20.09.

After an extensive breakfast we drove with 2 buses to Ressel II (Le Cunac). The dive was scheduled with max. 1h bottom time, we wanted to dive until the collapse and on the way photograph a few specific spots of the cave. Lerchi, Michi and Anna wanted to see a bit of the area and so Stefan only unloaded his equipment and after everything was at the river the 3 left again.

We divers prepared everything quickly, slipped into the suits and scooted with small luggage to the other side of the river. After a short search we found the entrance, fixed our scooters in the branches at the entrance and moved on by foot. Peter and Manu were in Ressel II years ago, since then the opportunity never arose again. For Stefan it was a new cave which he dived in the plumb line. The visibility was not bad for Ressel II with 5-7m. With the small passage dimensions, we were able to cover the entire cave and take some nice photos.

At the end we reached the somewhat larger entrenchment hall, a new line disappeared somewhere in narrow crevices. Nothing for us with the RB's. The way back went quite briskly. And so we were soon back at our scooters and were happy about this ride across the river.

Lerchi, Michi and Anna were not back from their trip yet and so we could comfortably dismantle our scooters and stow our equipment. Our next common destination was the market place in Cajarc to have a coffee, chat and get a taste of the French atmosphere.

At the Moulin we met Martin and Simon, the familiar metal basket of all sorts of homemade medium-proof delicacies in hand. They invited us all to their actual home for a barbeque on Thursday.

That evening we had a dinner date with Chris le Malliot and ended up at the same bistro in Cajarc. It was still surprisingly mild, so we could sit comfortably outside and enjoy the evening together.


Day 4: Wed 21.09.

Actually we wanted to make a longer photo dive in the deep part of the Ressel today and the next day to the St. Saveur for surveying. Peter had a small problem with the pressure balance in Ressel II the day before and so we decided to take a break and to postpone our big dive for one day, the St. Saveur had to wait as well. So we decided to do a scouting trip together for today. On the HP of the Plongeesout we could find a few positions in the area which we wanted to have a look at. The first position was right at the edge of Cajarc (Source de Lacaunhe), our limited knowledge of French led us astray at first. And so we had a nice sunny walk through forest and meadow.

The next location we wanted to visit was Emergence de Bons (Larroque-Toirac), thanks to the detailed description in our cave diving guide we found the cave right away. The entrance is in the middle of the forest, we had to walk and climb a bit through rough terrain.

The first part is a spacious dry passage with partly beautiful formations and small waterfalls. Here you would have to start with small equipment, because in the Emergence de Bons many small sumps line up with short diving passages. This was the end of our little scouting tour.

For the evening we planned to have a barbecue together, so we quickly bought the last ingredients in Cajarc.

Since we had planned a larger photo dive in the Ressel for the next day, we made the last preparations.

A short time later, our grill was also glowing, delicious salads were conjured up in the kitchen and so we sat comfortably until late in the evening under the starry sky.


Day 5:Thu 22.09.

Today we had to get up early. We did not want to arrive too late at the Ressel and still get a reasonable parking space, since as always was to be expected from high traffic. We were lucky and found a suitable place. Because of the low water level we were already warned. This made the set up longer and more strenuous. Quickly we started with the preparations. Pensioner tables in the river bed, back devices with gyros, Scooter, Stages and heating tanks, as well as camera to the bank, off into the suits and on foot we brought first of all everything to the entrance.

Back to the shore, with back devices on, we balanced to the entrance, clipped all bottles, scooters, etc. on there. Relieved, we dropped into the water, deposited the oxygen at 6m and followed the corridor in the hope that the visibility would improve at some point. Between 1st and 2nd T the visibility went from 3m to 10m. Only in the deep part we were rewarded with very good visibility. The goal of this dive was to continue our photo documentation, especially of the deep part of the Ressel. For this purpose we had already photographed in previous dives prominent places, like some passages of the "Deep Loop", the snail, first and second deep "T". In the last years we worked our way forward piece by piece starting from the shallow part. This dive brought us almost 1600m in and some nice photos for our documentation.

After a few hours we were back in the shallow part with lousy visibility and hung out the rest of our deco. Total dive time: 5,5 h

In September the days are noticeably shorter and so we just managed to finish packing our car at dusk.

In the evening we were invited together with our Austrian friends to Simon and Martin for a barbeque. Our first visit of the two friendly hosts in the new Domicil. And the guests also brought a little something, Manu and Peter served as a starter fresh figs with goat cheese au gratin and honey crust, Michi spoiled us with delicious dessert freshly baked apple strudel.


Day 6: Fri 23.09.

Already the evening before we got the frightening news that there was a fatal diving accident in the St. Saveur and that it is closed until further notice. So our planned survey dive in the St. Saveur was cancelled. And to be honest, we missed the diving a little bit. Instead we decided for a comfortable scouting tour in the closer environment, drinking coffee and viewing the picture material of the previous day in the Ressel.

It was noticeable that there were more and more hikers walking on a well-known pilgrimage trail, the Jacobsweg. The route is perfectly signposted. Everywhere, in town and out of town, you can find the symbol (the scallop shell) on road signs, trees and houses, as well as on the backpacks of the hikers. A real boom has developed.

The diving accident then overshadowed the car packing and the last evening together with the Austrian Nachnbarn. Very sad end of such a beautiful week.

Saturday morning we left early in the morning for Germany. In the Boulangerie in Cajarc we met Simon and Martin while buying the travel provisions and said one last time "Au revoir".


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