As said over and over again, the Grotte des Emotions is extremely muddy
and the lower levels of the cave flood regularly upto 20 metres high.
We have experienced that the water/and or mud are very aggressive for
all metal gear that is left behind in this part of the cave.
We have at two occasions had problems with brand new INOX ladders
that were left in the cave for +/- 3 months. The (aluminium)
shrinking that kept the bars in place, were so corroded that the bars
slid down the inox cables, making the ladders unusable.
In this case, an electrolytic corrosion between the inox cable and
aluminium shrinking was accelerating the process. But throwing
ladders away after only 3 months of use, is not very affordable for
a small caving club!
Especially karabiners made from zicral corrode very rapidly.
Within less than a year they have become totally useless. This
is really amazing. We have other caves, such as Bois de Waerimont, where
zicral karabiners have been used for fixed ropes as well. After 6 years
of service, they still do not represent any danger at all.
But Grotte des Emotions is different. See some examples below.
These examples are the living proof that:
- you should never, ever, have trust in a fixed rope that disappears
into the darkness of the ceiling of a gallery or aven... it could
be fixed on rotten karabiners.
- you should never, ever use zicral karabiners for fixed ropes.
At long term, you might kill someone that way. Only use steel ones,
and if possible inox ones.
I can not explain why the water and mud in this cave attack all metal
so quickly. The PH of the mud is 7, which is quite neutral!
EXAMPLES FROM GROTTE DES EMOTIONS
EXAMPLE 1: A series of 12
was purchased in 1995 (manufactured in 1994) and put
into to cave for a period of no longer than 12 months.
Then they were replaced by steel maillon rapides.
Unfortunately, we had to thrown away all
of the karabiners. As the picture clearly shows, they were
already partially "eaten" by the cave!
NB: the screw of the karabiner has been
Example 2 (front view ) : in Sept
1997 two divers passed the terminal sump of the cave and
made a 12 metre high climb there. They left a fixed rope
there, attached to two good karabiners.
Six years later, in December 2003, we continued the
exploration. When prusiking up the rope, I suddenly fell
down 3 metres, luckily without any injuries. The karabiner
Example 2 (back view ) : as you
can say, the karabiner has been destroyed to the core by
corrosion. No wonder it broke as soon as some load
was put onto it.
Example 2 (detail view ) : quite
amazing, isn't it, after only six years?
But more amazing was the fact that I only
fell down 3 metres, while I was already 5 metres up the
rope. How come? Because, the second karabiner
resisted and held my fall. Look at the following picture
for this "magic" karabiner
Example 3 (front view ) : unbelievable,
isn't it, that this thing broke my fall? Now this
is the difference between an oval (example 1) and
a trapezium shaped (example 2) karabiner! Anyway,
after 6 years in the cave, this thing is as rotten as the
Example 3 (back view ) : the back
side of this karabiner - in fact, WHAT is the BACK
or the FRONT side anyway ;-)