Debutant caving – Doubs

Debutant caving – Doubs

Ornans is a nice base for caving, and when you want to come out into the sunshine there are two Via Ferratas close by, as well as hiking and climbing. For children wanting to do some climbing, the crag at Pontarlier is hard to beat.

There are two good complimentary guidebooks: Topo Speleo les Belles du Doubs, Tome 1 & 2, and also “Mes premiers petits pas sous-terre dans le Doubs”, although the caves in the last one are very short.

Grotte des Faux Monnayeurs

Nice cave with the possibility of leaving the cave by a 35m abseil from an opening high in the cliff above the cave. Straightforward access, about 400m into the cave there is a deep pool. I waded across this but beyond there was another pool with limited headspace. It had been quite wet, perhaps after dry weather it would be possible to go further.

GPX trace of the route to the cave

Grotte des Cavottes

This is a good cave for older children, much used by the local guides. In fact there is a fence around the cave with a locked gate. It wouldn’t be hard to climb over the gate. There are small passageways (not really small), pitches and traverses. The cave is completely dry and not cold. Here are my notes on the equipment recommended in the guidebook:

PitchEquipment notes
Sortie diaclase DuretNothing needed, ladder in place
Faux-PasP-hangers, 5 maillons and sling for chock-stone
R7P-hangers, 25m rope and 6 maillons
P7 (salle terminale)Spits only
P20 = boite aux lettresP-hangers

On your way out you can use a zipline to traverse the Salle de Chaos, take a Petzl Speed Tandem Pulley.

The cave is in the small wood a few steps from the parking:

Gouffre du Creux Serré

This was our children’s first SRT cave. First note that it is not the obvious shakehole that you find when following the path. In fact it is about 50m below the path on the right side. For the descent of the first pitch by SRT there are a pair of spits low down, below the main ledge, from which you can rig a free hang. We didn’t descend the P12, the access to it was quite tight although Julie wriggled through happily enough.

GPX trace of the route to the cave

Grotte du Moulin des Isles

Good fun but best with a wetsuit. We had shortie wetsuits under our regular caving gear and it was OK. Be sure to turn down the hill at the fence, the cave entrance is at the foot of the small cliff.

GPX trace of the route to the cave