Addition..... Accounts of the CAF de Grenoble's explorations in the Pyrenees between 1971 and 1975 (in french).

- Beginner's caves - Some classic trips - Through trips - About the Dent de Crolles - Cave guide of the region - Other publications - Leaders and guide - French Federation Site


The caves of the Chartreuse region are of an alpine type, that is to say that they are predominantly vertical in development.

Caves for beginners, without pitches, are rare and of limited interest.

The majority of the cave entrances are to be found at altitude, which means that the approach walks are long and sometimes technically difficult eg. entrances on a cliff face, negotiating a path through lapiaz, traverses etc...) and the high plateaux are rarely accessible before the beginning of June because of the snow. The caving environment is damp and cold and there are often ice or snow plugs to be found in the entrances.

The cool and wet climate of the massif and the predominantly vertical nature of the caves makes it especially important to keep an eye on the meteorological conditions.

- When there are storms or heavy rain, or when the snow melts, the pitches become wet very quickly and the streams increase considerably in size.

- Many of the caves have narrow, long meanders, and pitches of over 50m are not uncommon. It is important, therefore, that cavers should be fit, experienced, technically competent and have the right equipment, before setting off to explore these caves, especially for the more difficult systems and the through-trips. Never forget that after going down you still have to come up again.



The vast majority of the cave entrances are to be found above the snow line, some become blocked by snow and ice. To reach these caves is extremely difficult or even impossible. The access routes to the caves become longer due to road closures and access can only be gained by using skis or snowshoes.

CLASSIC CAVES ( a personal list, not a comprehensive one )


1) FOR BEGINNERS ( caves with little or no pitches, apart from short climbs) :

These can be counted on the fingers of one hand...


In the Foret des Fraisses (massif de la Scia) there are several potholes, some very large (the deepest goes to -80m) there are two underground glaciers, only 10 minutes from the road de la Scia. These could be used for teaching SRT techniques.




These are what has made the massif of the Chartreuse so well known to cavers around the world.

The most famous being the Dent de Crolles, a huge and complex system comprising 55km of passage, no longer the biggest of the massif (which is now the Reseau de l'Alpe at 60km) but it is the most easily accessible.



Other through-trip:



- The Dent de Crolles is a very complex system. Every year there are rescue call-outs to search for groups lost doing the through-trips

It is strongly recommended that you only do the cave, either with someone who knows the chosen route or with a professional leader (ask at the Tourist Office). And take a survey with you.

- The through-trip from the Glaz to Grotte Annette is frequently blocked by rock-falls; it would be preferable to do the trip out via the Grotte Chevalier, but this is more technical.

- The Dent de Crolles is a heavily used system. This of course leads to problems of cave conservation. PLEASE KEEP THE CAVE CLEAN. Take your rubbish and spent carbide out of the cave with you. Don't write on the walls and use a well-maintained carbide jet so as net to soit the walls with sort.

Look after the fixed tackle as if it were your own, it is there for your security or it has been left there by groups working on exploration of the cave.


A'provisional' cave guide of the region is available. It describes 16 classic trips from beginners level to trips requiring several days. The guide can be obtained in Adobe Acrobat format by clicking the folowing address :

'Quelques Classiques Spéleologiques en Chartreuse' By B.TALOUR. Published 1995, 38 pages of surveys and descriptions.



To learn about caving or canyoning,

or to visit some of the great classic systems of the region in perfect safety and without worrying about kit etc,

it is possible to hire a guide.

Contact the Tourist Offices.

Two other useful addresses are :

- For beginners in caving or canyoning etc..: Daniel BRUYERE at ST. PIERRE DE CHARTREUSE tel : 04 76 88 69 98.


Saint Philibert


tel : 04 76 88 64 25    fax : 04 76 886 612   email :