Grotte Annette Bouchacourt
Northing: 45.30599° Easting: 5.85375° Altitude: 1,685 m
How to find it
Grotte Annette Bouchacourt is located under the south nose of Dent de Crolles. From the Col du Coq follow the waymarked GR9 up the zigzags above the Col des Ayes. At the top of the zigzags the GR9 goes off to the left towards Trou du Glaz. Follow the right-hand path up towards the Pas de l'Œille and when it starts an ascending traverse to the right look for a thin line going off beneath it. This becomes a more distinct path as it follows a line between the cliffs above and the steep valley below. Continue round the nose, and traverse on shale ledges for a couple of hundred metres. There may be fixed ropes for protection. Grotte Annette Bouchacourt is on a platform 30 metres or so above the traverse, and is accessed by a thin ascending path through the loose scree and vegetation. Once at the right level, the entrance of Grotte Chevalier is on the right. Traverse back south-west at the same level for a 100 metres to find the entrance to the Grotte Annette. The cave is named after one of Chevalier's team who died in a skiing accident in 1944, and there is a marble plaque to her memory by the entrance.
Grotte Annette Bouchacourt was first entered by cavers in 1943, and connected to the main system in 1946 by Chevalier's team after some protracted digging. Although it is the upstream end of a large phreatic trunk route that once flowed through to Trou du Glaz, because the water was running down dip and rising up large phreatic risers, upward pitches prevent through trips from this end unless they have been pre-rigged. It is normally used as an exit, usually from Trou du Glaz, but equally realistically from Gouffre Pulpite or P40. An entertaining couple of hours caving can be enjoyed as far as the base of Puits de la Gnole, but the way marking tends to be misleading as it is designed to help people on their way out rather than those going in. Such a trip can be combined with a sortie into Grotte Chevalier.
The through trip from the Trou du Glaz is probably the most straightforward of the pull-through trips in the Réseau de la Dent de Crolles, and it provides an excellent introduction to the system. The pitch heads are all equipped with pull-through chains and traverse lines, and the various traverses encountered en route are also equipped with traverse lines. There is one short upward pitch equipped with a fixed rope, although it can be free-climbed in extremis. The route is used for commercial adventure trips, so in normal season one can be very confident that the fixed rigging will be there. There used to be a very unstable boulder choke / scree funnel in the entrance series, but this was stabilised with some serious iron work in 2011.