La France vue des grottes

© Damien Butaeye - 2016
1500 metres high in the mountains, one hour to walk in the forest until reaching the cave entrance
December 21st, we enter the Romy cave
Topography of the cave area.
Vertical tunnels, called pits, that lead down to the water level.
Still in the pits.
We progress for hours in narrow passages.
Franck Maciejack, still in this long narrow passage. The rock is razor blade sharp.
Some stalactites on the way.
After 4-5 hours, the galleries are getting huge.
After 6 hours, we arrive at the Moulinstart bivouac (-450m).
In the "morning" (we keep to the time rhythm of the surface), it's time to get up and to put on wet and cold caving suits.
Breakfast in the warm tent.
Preparing the exploration equipment.
In the galleries, on the way to the bottom.
Progression in a river that runs on the impermeable rock layer.
Depth -610m, the surface is far.
-620m, in a room that we discovered in 2005.
Passage of a narrow dryed-out siphon.
In a gallery washed out by water.
The exploration zone. 700 metres deep and full of mud.
Topography of the "trap". Within few hours, the water level in this siphon increased by 4 metres.
View from our side of the siphon. Muddy 4° celsius water that allows no passage.
Our waiting position. We have built a tent with rescue blankets.
View of our "tent". Inside, we managed to sometimes raise the temperature up to 10 degrees.
My companions Franck and Gregoris. It is tight in the tent. An acetylen lamp gives a bit of light and heating.
All around, it's cold and muddy. Here the open waterproof box for my photo material, and the closed one for food.
Outside, the rescue teams have arrived.
The cave entrance seen by the rescue men.
After 7 days underground, the first to come out is the French speleologist Franck Maciejack.
Second to reach daylight is Gregoris Anastasopoulos from Crete, who had his 31st birthday underground.
Happy to reunite with the friends of our team who hadn't been blocked.
Press conference shortly after our exit. The story is very big in France, Greece, and is running all over Europe.