The 1967 British Speleological Association
Gouffre Berger Expedition
Journal of Dave Fisher
It is now 52 years since I went down Gouffre Berger and on our last Mossdale commemorative walk Dave Brook suggested that it would be a good idea to write up my memories of it. These are my recollections along with contributions from other members of the expedition, clouded by the elapse of time. In August 1967 I was a member of the Gouffre Berger Expedition organised by the British Speleological Association (BSA) led by Ken Pearce.
The objective was to support a team of divers to reach the sump at -1122m who would dive the sump with the intention of continuing the exploration.
My objective was to reach the sump then get out. This cave system during the 60’s competed with the Pierre Saint-Martin (PSM) system to be the deepest natural cavern in the world. Both are located in France, the Berger is located in the south east in the Vercors area. The PSM is in the western end of the Pyrenees close to the Spanish Border.
The Gouffre Berger was discovered in May 1953; amongst the party was Joseph Berger hence the name of the cave. Exploration continued during the fifties and the sump at -1122m and a length of 3000m was reached in August 1956.
This was a large well supported expedition with multi-national involvement. It was in the sixties that the British first got involved on their own, in August 1962 Frank Salt’s expedition with Ken Pearce explored the sump at -1122. There is no report of a dive.
The following year in August 1963 Ken Pearce on S. Wynne-Roberts expedition dived the sump, breaking through after 70m to a second sump. In 1964 a further British expedition with Ken Pearce was caught in the lower reaches of the system by rising water and prevented from reaching the sump.