Emergénce de Gouron
Team: Irene Homberger, Max Fahr, Oliver Ober
In July Irene spoke to us about a possible mixed cave tour in the Gouron. She had dived there a few years ago, got out at siphon 1 and then continued dryly through the cave. Since she had no SRT harness with her, she had to stop at the 1st roping point. Now she wanted to continue exploring the cave properly equipped with team and SRT ability. Max and Olli still had a little unfinished business with the Gouron, because on our last Jura trip on the 1st long weekend in October 2018, we were unable to enter the cave, which drains in the river LOUE, due to an injury of Olli. At that time we both swore to ourselves, WE will come back!
So on the first weekend of August the time had finally come. Olli packed his things and loaded Max with small equipment. Then we drove via Zurich and Irene joined us. At about 01:00 am we arrived Friday night in Mouthier-Haute-Pierre at the Hotel La Cascade. The hotel is only a stone's throw away from the Gouron in the beautiful LOUE valley. They were already waiting for us. To start our trip in a relaxed way, we drove to the parking lot directly at the source pot in the river at 9:30 am on Saturday.
We prepared our diving equipment and discussed our equipment to be carried along. At the end we each carried a grinding bag. In it everybody had a rope, SRT harness, something to nibble and drink. In addition we distributed cordless screwdrivers with spare battery, a bunch of hooks, hammer and suitable spanners. The day was marked by getting to know the cave, getting as far as possible and on Sunday, with adapted material, extending the first advance. The suit was decisive for this. We decided to put on long underwear and slacks under the dryer. So it was warm enough in the water and afterwards to continue in the dry part of the cave. As dive gear Irene used a D12 18/45 and a Stage 80cuft TMX 50/25 and Max and Olli dived their JJ-CCR's with a Diluent 18/45 and a Stage 80cuft TMX 18/45 as bailout. On 24m we dropped a 80cuft TMX 50/25. To get over the 495m long diving distance with a maximum depth of 55m quickly, everyone used a scooter.
When we were finally in the water, we dived at 10:33. After 22min we had already reached the end of siphon 1. Only the fully packed sandbags acted like anchors, which we had to pull behind us. We deposited the stages and scooters at the end of the line and parked the diving equipment on the surrounding rocks. Right at the beginning of the dry area there was a huge flat rock which offered the possibility to move. The hall at the end of siphon 1 was about 15m wide and 20m high.
And now it started! Since Irene did not have the exact course of the gait in her head after the years, we first looked for the continuing gait. After 3 attempts, in narrow crevices running out courses, we found the very varied continuing course and the driving of the Gouron could start. Huge cuboid-shaped rocks left enough space to shuffle through. At a narrow crevice, we had to climb up 10 m with spread legs until we got to the 1st rope. Meanwhile this had a very pitiful condition. We repaired it and afterwards we could climb down about 5m. Like most of the corridors, this one was at right angles to the corridor to the north. By means of the clay border one could guess the water levels at high water times within the Gouron. 5-7m difference to the current water level are certainly possible. The karst of the cave changed from light brown to ochre, karst white to deep black, smoothly washed out to very sharp-edged. We followed the passage until we came to the 1st real roping point. After a short inspection of the existing rope and improvement of the rope protection, we put on our SRT harness and Olli was the first to rope down about 15m.
Here was a small basin, which we could crawl around dry at the side. On the way to our today's final stop we passed a sintered washbasin. A really great sight.
At today's final station there was a prepared approx. 25m roping point, which ended in a deep water-filled pool. Unfortunately we were not prepared for this today. But we used the time to set 2 more bolts. The existing ones did not look trustworthy anymore. Olli put the hooks in, tied a new rope and Irene and Max made a little peephole at the bottom of the pool. Conclusion: we need wet neoprene for the further driving! Back at the end of siphon 1 we put on our dry suits again. Only an empty grinding bag went back with us. The rest of the slacks, ropes and SRT harness remained in the Gouron. We put on the diving equipment and 16min later we were already out of the cave again.
As the day was not over yet, we made a short side trip to the nearby Source de Loue. The sight of the huge source gate reminded us of a fantasy movie. Incredibly impressive what nature can create. Definitely worth a side trip!
With the experience of the temperature while diving and because of the deep pool we decided to take the wetsuit for the Sunday trip under the dry suits. On the way there it was dry and the way back was short enough not to freeze. At the end of siphon 1 we briefly got rid of our dry suits and then we were on our way to the last station of the last day. We rappelled down and swam through the deep, water-filled passage further into the mountain.
We came to a 2nd siphon, but this could be bypassed by a clay dump. Here the next real siphon was waiting for us. It was a pool with the dimensions of about 20 x 15m. Like in the rest of the cave everything was prepared. A mountain rope led through the 3rd siphon. Max put on his mask and hood and made a short peek along the laid mountain rope. The crystal clear pool was clay-covered at the bottom and he felt his way slowly. So he could see the surface at 4-5m from syphon 3 before he started the dive.
He pulled himself forward on the mountain rope after a strong breath. After 3 minutes he came back and reported the continuation. Olli followed his example. So Irene could get an objective picture of whether she could do it. As we only took a hood and mask with us, we used one of our ropes to make the dive as comfortable as possible. One after the other we dived freely through siphon 3, leaving the grinding bags at the edge of the pool. At the exit of siphon 3, siphon 4 was already waiting for us, but luckily there was a clay covered dry bypass here as well. For this we pulled up the 5m high slope and slid secured with our last rope to the exit of siphon 4. We continued along a long, water-filled corridor. After about 15min swimming it got dry again. So the ride changed the next 1000m. Swimming, dry further caving and some prepared climbing passages made the cave very varied.
Until we floated to siphon 5. Here were still remains of caveline. Unfortunately our tour ended here. Max and Olli had another look at the deep going siphon 5 and exchanged possibilities for a possible return to siphon 5. Afterwards the great team made their way home. Here really everyone pitched in and helped. 2000m way back were ahead of us, which were done in no time, because of our enthusiasm for the Gouron. On our changing platform we slipped with our wetsuits into the dry and packed the grinding bags. These were much fuller than the day before and lay like 5 anchors in the water while scootering. Nevertheless we needed only 20min back.
With a river-cooled beer we reviewed the two days and made plans how we could go on with Siphon 5. A little bit done because of the last 2 days we drove back towards the Swiss border.
You can watch a short video about the tour here.
with that in mind
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