Gouffre Berger

The Gouffre Berger is a French cave discovered on 24 May 1953 by Joseph Berger, Bouvet, Ruiz de Arcaute and Marc Jouffray. From 1953 to 1963, it was regarded as the deepest cave in the world at −1,122 metres (−3,681 ft), relinquishing this title to the previous contender, Pierre Saint Martin, in 1964, after further exploration. The Gouffre Berger is now ranked 28th deepest cave in the world, and the 4th in France.

Gouffre Berger
Gouffre Berger.jpg
CoordinatesLambert III : x=856.630; y=3329,440; z=1460
Depth1271 m

To return from the bottom of the cave back to the surface can take between 15 and 30 hours, without long breaks.

In 1967, Ken Pearce, a metallurgy lecturer from Britain, descended with the Pegasus Caving Club team from Nottingham UK, organised and led by Peter Watkinson, and along with a 40-metre (130 ft) dive, reached a depth of −1,133 metres (−3,717 ft). They emerged after 13 days underground, having set a new world record at the time.[1] In 1968, B Leger and J Dubois reached a depth of −1,141 metres (−3,743 ft). This record was held until July 1982, when Patrick Penez attained −1,191 metres (−3,907 ft). In 1990, a breakthrough was made, connecting the cave to the existing system, "Scialet de la Fromagère". This gives the current recorded depth as −1,271 metres (−4,170 ft). In June 2011 the terminal sumps were dived[2] and in 2014 another attempt was made to pass the sumps.[3]

In recent years there have been six fatalities in this cave, five due to water. During a storm or heavy rain, the Gouffre Berger can become a dangerous trap and the water levels rise very quickly. In 1996, Englishwoman Nicola Perrin (née Dollimore) and Hungarian Istvan Torda died due to violent flooding in the cave.[4]

The water that flows through the cave has been traced to re-appear in the flooded sections of the Cuves de Sassenage.[5] As of 2017 the system was estimated to contain approximately thirty-seven kilometres of passage with eleven entrances.[6].

Since 2013, clean-up actions have been carried out by cavers.[7]. At the end of 2018 the gouffre Berger has become clean again.[8].


The entrance is within the commune of Engins high on the Vercors Plateau[9]. In June 2001, the commune lifted a two-year ban on exploration.

  • Co-ordinates: Lambert III : x=856.630; y=3329,440; z=1460 [10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pearce, Ken. "Gouffre Berger-l'expédition britannique 1964". site de plongées souterraines..
  2. ^ Bianzani, David. "The exploration of the Terminal siphons of the Berger report 30 june 2011" (PDF). site of underground dives..
  3. ^ Bianzani, David. "Causette. Explorations". site of underground dives..
  4. ^ Profundezas. "In Memoriam"..
  5. ^ "Les Cuves de Sassenage" (pdf). parc-du-vercors.fr..
  6. ^ Map of gouffre Berger cave at comité départemental de spéléologie 39.fr.
  7. ^ « Berger -1122, venez illuminer la rivière sans étoiles ».
  8. ^ « Berger 2018: last but not least... ».
  9. ^ "The entrances of gouffre Berger". geoportail.gouv.fr..
  10. ^ Spéléo dans le Vercors Tome I - Edisud


  • Opération -1000 by Jean Cadoux, Jean Lavigne, Géo Mathhieu, Louis Potié. - Grenoble : Edition de Grenoble, 1955.
  • Réédition : Opération -1000, idem. - Marseille : Édition Jeann Lafitte. 261 pages ; ISBN 9782862762326
  • Gouffre Berger premier -1000. 1956-2016 by Serge Caillault. - Corenc, édition Spéléo Magazine 94. 36 pages ; 2016; ISSN 1629-1573
  • Gouffre Berger, l'esprit d'équipe by Mark Wright, Robbie Shone and others.- Sheffield: published by Vertebrate Publishing, 2014. 254 pages ; ISBN 9781910240120

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 45°13′9″N 5°36′16″E / 45.21917°N 5.60444°E / 45.21917; 5.60444