La France vue des grottes

© Damien Butaeye - 2016

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