Belgium

Belgium

Weekend Trip 12 th October 2003

_ Report by Goaty _

Desperate to get underground having missed out on Slovenia this summer my first act on moving to Utrecht (Netherlands) was to make contact with a "local" caver. As there is not a single natural cave in the Netherlands, this naturally meant that I looked up Cecile Chabot, a long term associate IC 3 from Liege in the middle of Belgiums caving region. Despite dark threatenings about what they would do to me as punishment for moving to the Netherlands instead of Belgium I jumped on the train at Utrecht Centraal early one Sunday morning with a light heart and a heavy caving bag. The trip to Liege took in some of the best flatness the Netherlands has to offer and 2.5 hours later I met up with Cecile and friends at Liege station. A short detour via the garage of one of the Liege University caving club members houses where the kit is kept and a small party arrived at a viewpoint overlooking a narrow wooded valley. We quickly changed and headed down the steep track to the entrance of Abime de Beaumont .

Directly after the entrance is a narrow vertical slot which leads to a short crawl and a second slot, called "La Bayonette", which lies at the top of the first pitch. After four attempts I finally realised that it wasn't my expanding gut but my carbide generator that was preventing me from sliding through this extremely narrow gap and having taken the offending peice of ironmongery off my harness slid through with comparable ease. Unfortunately, I did not make this discovery before Cecile had started mocking my girth. A series of short hangs in a fairly narrow shaft lead down to a large hang (25m?) into a small chamber. This chamber is divided by a 5m "wall" on which a rope is permanently fixed. On the far side of the wall, a series of small chambers, muddy crawls and climbs eventualy ends in a final small chamber with the only notable amount of water in the whole cave - a tiny dribble at the far end not even sufficient to replenish my drained carbide.

Back to the wall, and I began to derig our kit while Cecile showed the other Belgians some self rescue techniques. Unfortunately her knife turned out to be rather blunt and by the time they had cut the rope I was beginning to feel that the narrow top of the wall on which I had been sitting was actually cutting into my arse. Derigging as I went, I began to dread returning through La Bayonette - a feeling that was reinforced when the guy in front of me (Andre) took several attempts and a torrent of what was, even with my limited French, clearly imaginative and heartfelt abuse. However, I rescued some of my cave cred by sliding through with my bag with considerable ease and within a few minutes I was back in the daylight.

Apres Cave was conducted at a famous ice cream parlour (!) on the outskirts of Liege and then it was back to the station for the return slog to Utrecht. The 3 hour return trip was made more bearable by some pleasant Americans on thier way to Maastricht and the fact that it was now dark and I couldn't see the flatness. Having only eaten one biscuit and a "gaufre Bruxelles sibirienne" since breakfast I grabbed a bite and collapsed into bed, only to find in the morning that in my exhausted state I had left my front door wide open.

More information about Abime de Beaumont can be found by following this link .

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