ProTec goes cave diving in France – Part Two

Time is passing very fast when you come back from vacation and jump right away to work and have just opened a new dive shop. Sorry if I kept you waiting but here we go again continuing Part One.

The next day we went diving in Cabouy. So far the biggest open water area by far although the water level was way down due to the dry season. What was very cool though was that we revisited the site a couple of rainy days later and the little pond of water had turned into a river.

Line starts outside of the water and leads you straight down. It is yet another example where the cave drops very fast relatively deep down to 30m/100ft before slowly ascending to an average of about 15m/50ft. It is one huge tunnel which makes your jaw drop. Even the most powerful light doesn’t manage to illuminate it all. What was specifically cool on this dive was a 1m/3ft long fresh water eel with its HUGE eyes that kept us busy for some time.

As in quiet a few places I would recommend to bring a stage to further the penetration a bit and Nitrox is a definite must in my opinion.
What I found also super cool is that it was the first cave I had visited with actual jumps in it. Unfortunately it was not part of our dive plan and so we didn’t have the chance to check them out, but there is always a next time.

It is also really cool when you come back with a little bit of deco as the entrance pool is warmer then the cave which makes a huge difference. We actually did the longest dive there with almost 150min.

The following day we tried to go to Marche Pied which was supposed to be one of the top sidemount places but unfortunately they closed the entrance with trees and a huge NO DIVING warning sign. So we skipped plans and went to Landenouse instead. This at first very annoying situation turned out to be fantastic as this cave is simply amazing. I guess I could go there several days back to back. The cave configuration and colors are breathtaking.
Already when you arrive and you see the entrance with the steep leader and rope to lower the tanks you get an immediate adrenalin rush.

The cave starts with a pretty narrow entrance which opens up very fast and reveals this marvelous place. The first about 400m/1300ft the cave stays shallower then 20m/65ft and averages at about 15m/50ft, before slowly sloping down the depths that require helium in the breathing mixture.It is for sure a great place for training as well with with even a line paralleling the mainline to practice navigation. We did a 2h dive from which I enjoyed every second.

Finally the next day we went to dive in the Ressel, a place so legendary in the cave diving world and THE name for Cave Diving in France. As it was the first reconnaissance dive we chose Nitrox as breathing gas and had a look first at the deep line all the way to the shaft (Puis4) where we stopped as the cave dropped below 30m/100ft.

On the way back we recalculated gas at the T to look at the shallow line. Both are spectacular, especially the first 100m is so impressive due to the brick like boulders, the extremely sharp edges  and the color of the rock in the HID light. And of course the shaft just kicks your ass. To hover above it and look down is just an incredible feeling. Checking both tunnels and keeping track of time and gas consumption was crucial as it provided important information for a new dive plan involving helium based breathing mixtures and longer bottom times.
It was the only dive were I felt a bit cold and so it was super nice to get back to the river that was significantly warmer and put a huge smile on my face. I left the place very impressed and looking fwd to do a trimix dive there!!!

The next day we took a day off, at least during the day as we were planing to do a night cave dive at a site that was a bit farther away. La Doux de Coly. Unquestionable one of the coolest dives I have ever done in my life. To begin, a night cave dive is already cool, doing it on trimix to max 56m/180ft even better and all of that in sidemount in pretty cold water. Needless to say I was so excited that the hours of the day passed like months.

The open water area is by far the prettiest with fresh water plants and crystal clear water right next to the street. Line starts inside the cave which was a new one, so we actually had to run a line from the open water. Cave stays super shallow around 6m/20ft dropping sometimes to 9m/30ft for about 30min swimming. Then there is a little hill that brings you shallow about to 3m/10ft before dropping through the most wickedest shaft you can possibly imagine!!! I literally lack the words to describe how awesome this place is.

On the bottom of the shaft there is a huge case filled with concrete weight that used to hold the habitat in place which used a cinch system which made a slow ascent in it possible. We spend quite a time swimming around in 55m/180ft and even found a permanent T-Intersection and here I thought there was no navigation in France =)
The floor consists of bigger sand grains in all different color shades of brown which looked very cool also!
My favorite cave and favorite dive hands down all 120min long!!! We were back at Andre Grimals at around 4h in the morning, tired but happy and so we took it a bit slower on the next day only diving in the late afternoon.
We went back to the Ressel to do the trimix dive we had set up one day before. We used the shallow route to safe on gas and one can only say that the Ressel has the perfect profile for deep diving when it comes to swimming back out almost doing all your deco on the fly. No long and cold hanging around, NICE!

We dropped down through the Puis4 and turned at about 700m/2300ft in. Once you are at the deeper level the cave is still nice but honestly not as cool as the shallow part. I will nonetheless though definitely come back with scooters to cruise through the deeper sections as this is going to rock beyond anything! We spend quiet some time on the bottom causing quiet some decompression obligation and so it became our longest dive just short of 180min run time.

The last day we went to St. Sauveur which is an extremely deep place and it descents very rapidly. I did my deepest dive there to 60m/200ft mainly as I was not equipped for deeper dives. The open water area is just gorges.

St Sauvuer entrance pool in the Lot France

Nice big pond, super clear and just fantastic for open water training. Also quiet deep already in the pool but there is a great possibility to a line circuit for training in about 6m. There is also a super pretty park around to practice on land fining techniques, line laying and zero visibility drills.
The cave it self I found not so pretty but interesting to see the habitat in the open water as well as the electric cable that serves as guideline.

As it was raining the last days I heard that Trou Madame was flooded enough to dive straight from the beginning and so I decided to yet do another dive although I was going on the 5h drive back to Marseille the same day. Something I haven’t regretted!!!
Just the nature around the cave entrance is stunning, a little river descending from the cave entrance and huge break down area and then a tiny entrance. I would definitely not like to dive the site in back mounted doubles as it is quiet a distance from the car and so easy path. Also the entrance area is super shallow and has a low ceiling so side-mounting is definitely the way to go!

Trou Madame are several gas pockets connected to each other and general a very shallow cave with mostly 6m/20ft max depth. One of the highlights for me was thundering sound that became louder and louder as we progressed. Something I have never heard before under water. I looked up and realized that is was an underground waterfall hitting the surface of the water. I surfaced in the gas pocket and marveled at the waterfall…indoor waterfall…sooooo coooooool!!!!

After the dive it was back to Andres, packing fast and back to Marseille.

All in all I had an AMAZING time there from meeting wonderful people, having insanely awesome dives and great BBQ s with some of the worlds finest cave divers. The City Gramat and Rocamadour have also a great character and I cant wait for next year to go back there.

I am going to be in the area from mid may on for a months or so of diving and teaching. If you are interested to join send me an email to patrick@protecplaya.com

I hope you enjoyed the report and sorry for the delay of the part two =)

If you want to see some Pics from U/W click here.

Have a good one,
Patrick

2 comments

1 john volanthen { 09.04.11 at 3:10 pm }

nice pics, shame nobody informed you of the access issues with the Coly – or maybe they did, and that’s why you chose to dive at night 🙁

2 Patrick { 09.15.11 at 4:45 pm }

Hi John,

Thanks for the comment. I was diving with two french guides and the situation and relation was explained differently to me by them and andre grimal. At no moment did I have the impression I was jeopardizing future relations with the landlord and if I have I am truly sorry. We take these matters very seriously here in Mexico as we have lost access to several sites.

Main reason for the night dive was that yan the guide was participating in the TDI CCR Cave Instructor course held by Ben Reymenants. They came back at 7 he ate we prepared and it was like an hour drive from Gramat…

Thanks in any case though for clearing the situation.

cheers
P

Leave a Comment