Au Vieux Campeur held the summer mountain film screening event at the Batiment des Forces Motrices in Geneva. They introduced the event as being the opportunity for them to share the passion of the mountains with people who may not be aware of the activities that are possible. They then went on to say “but as we’re having the screening in Geneva we know that you’re just half an hour from the mountains so many of you are practitioners and today we may even have participants from the cancelled Patrouille Des Glaciers.
Four films were shown at Montagne En Scène. The films shown were A Line Across the Sky, a documentary following two less experienced climbers as they attempt the Fitzroy traverse during a rare good weather window, Chasing Niagra, a documentary about Rafa Ortiz and his preparations to shoot the Niagra Falls in a Kayak. The third film is Mont Rebei Project, a documentary looking to achieve a new Rope Jump record.
The Last film, and my favourite is Valley Uprising. It takes a look at the American climbing scene from the fifties up to the Modern day. This documentary is great because it provides us with a deep understanding of the American climbing psyche. Mountain climbing is a sport of passion and so to see how different groups helped this passion progress over the years is interesting.
When the temperature drops and we find ourselves living beneath the clouds for weeks or even months going up to the mountains to get above them is always pleasant. Another option is to take advantage of the cool temperatures to explore caves where the conditions are constant year round. For Halloween a group of us went to have a bonfire and barbecue at the entrance to the Big cave of the Grottes des Fées.
We explored both caves. We explored the large cave as far as it was possible to do, had a snack and then we went to the second smaller cave. The video below shows the entrance to that cave.
The video above is from when the snow melts. As the snow melts so much water is released at once that it floods the cave around once a year.
The cave system has 21 kilometres worth of tunnels, passages and more. Animal remains were found within, mainly fossils and cave bears. The earliest records of this cave system date to the 1700s with more exploration taking place in the 1800s with notable water flow in the 1950s and again in the 1990s. Over the last decade people have explored the cave system using wind as a way of seeing where new passages could be found.
We see in many of the accounts written in french that an important aspect of cave exploration is finding the wind. It marks where big chambers are and where excavation of debris can take place to clear paths wide enough for people to cross through.
The large cave is easy to explore as it is possible to spend most of the time and there are no or at least very few squeezes. The large cave terminates at a metal door where progressing further is not possible unless you are with a trained guide to introduce you to the really interesting parts of the cave.
The small cave is more interesting to visit because it gets cramped and there are moments where you have to worm your way along. Either your arms are ahead of you or behind you. There is no way to move them once you cross through. In total there are two or three such passages. As it widens after these squeezes the motivation to explore remains intact.
Tomorrow we will finish exploring the little cave and in future, maybe in summer we will find a guide to help us explore the rest of the cave system.