Herault 2007

The team gather at the bottom of the pitch
in the Seoubio
Herault 2007 by Christine Grosart

The Herault is a stunning region of river valleys in the Languedoc department (34) of France. It is situated a couple of hours north of Montpellier. A British team from the Cave Diving Group had been exploring this cave with the assistance of the local cavers, who were keen to find a 'back door' to the cave by digging down from the surface.
The British team made many trips and mapped out several Kilometres of muddy cave, involving 8 sumps, the first of which is a pebble squeeze which needs to be dug open in order to pass it.
I first visited this cave in 2002 and assisted on subsequent trips before my cave diving training. One of the original team invited us to have a look at the current end of the cave system one Easter, as the rest of the group had stated that they were not going to go back and we were welcome to take a look.

The cave ended in dry passage and the previous team were stopped by a mud climb which required a rope to negotiate. These are my logs of our trip to the cave over the four days we spent at the Hortus Plateau.

Divers set off into Sump 1

Calaven de La Seoubio, Commune de Claret, Herault, X=721,52    Y=171,80   Z=300m
Divers – Jon Beal (JB), Clive Westlake (CDW), Charlie Reid-Henry (CRH), Christine Grosart (CSG)
Surface support – CPLA
Four divers went down to the Herault to both have a look at and extend the terminal point of the cave and to radio-locate a possible surface dig site.
JB rigged the entrance pitch and we set about lowering equipment for the exploratory trip and JB dug out the boulder choke in Sump 1, which is blocked by cobbles. Once a reasonable size and passable, CRH and CSG dived back and forth passing kit through the choke, with JB and CDW taking gear forwards to Sump 2, ready for the exploratory trip.

Chris sets off through sump 1
06/04/07    Divers JB, CDW, CRH, CSG.The divers dropped the pitch and got changed with the French Papparazzi circulating and taking pictures!
Entering the water would have been easy – exiting would have been very difficult without a ladder or similar. On the return, everyone noted the radio-location site and CSG and CRH had separate, near drowning moments for different reasons in the lakes on the way home. A very relieved and happy team surfaced to a very relieved and happy team of French papparazzi (CLPA) some 11 hours (roughly) later.
Quote of the trip: CSG at the bottom of the 30m entrance pitch - “I suppose I'd better get onto this rope – then I can have a sit down!”  (Clive rolls around laughing).

09/04/07  Divers JB, CDW, CRH, CSG


Gear recovery trip: It was made somewhat easier thanks to CDW and CRH bringing the gear from Sump 2 back to the upstream side of Sump 1. CRH and CSG ferried gear through the squeeze and the gear hauling finished up a successful trip and we said goodbye to the Seoubio for 2007.

Chris gets ready to dive the Durzon
In addition to the exploratory trips to the Seoubio, we enjoyed some dry caving and cave diving in some of the other nearby sites.Here are some log book entries from the trip.

03/04/2007 Source du Durzon, Commune de Nant, Aveyron (Access currently denied as of 2012)
Divers: Clive westlake, Christine Grosart
Pleasant dive down to 29m, about 300m in. I dived backmounted which was interesting in the entrance choke; would have preferred to be sidemount.

Grotte de Vitalis
Photo by Clive Westlake
04/04/2007 Cave de Vitalis  Grotte Vitalis
Clive Westlake, Christine Grosart
This cave was dubbed the 'Cheese Cave', not surprisingly as it was once used to store cheese! A very warm cave and we managed to navigate it quite well, given Clive couldn't remember any of it and I had never been there before. A couple of interesting rope climbs and nice formations, but many have been ruined due to the careless passage of cavers.

Event de Rognes
by Clive Westlake
10/04/2007 Event de Rognes (Rubbish Dump Cave)
Clive Westlake, Jon Beal, Charlie Reid-Henry, Christine Grosart
Cracking little trip, with loads of gour pools, climbs, swims and decorations. All arrived att he chamber where the passages split three ways and get grisly beyond. Definitely a wetsuit trip!

Foux de Lauret
Jon Beal, Clive Westlake, Christine Grosart
The CLPA kindly arranged to open the cave for us and we found the entrance after some debate - to crawl for about half an hour in dug-out sand crawls. These opened out into pleasant, meandering passages with turquoise blue pools which were gin clear.

Elaine Hill in the Foux de Lauret (2012)
by Christine Grosart
Navigated our way through pools which made pleasant swimming in wetsuits and down to the lower gallery, which was a large railway tunnel of a passage, with helictites and large gour pools with turquoise water sparkling in our lights.
After finding a bypass to the sump, a narrow rift up on the left out of the water by a large boulder, we stumbled across a beautiful chamber with gour lakes, rippled sandy floor and sparkling crystal gour cascades.

12/04/2007 Source du Sorgues (Cornus, Aveyron)
Clive Westlake, Christine Grosart
Superb resurgence-flop in a very inviting blue pool with beautiful cave passage beyond. Dived the length of the large passage to the start of the narrow, upwards rift which is the terminus of the cave. It got a bit committing in a twinset and I retreated, whilst Clive was busying himself writing on his slate: 'Abime de Mas Raynal 2KM that way!'
Dived home in comfort and escaped decompression, to surface in a miserable downpour.
Chris setting off into the Sorgues, 2007

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