Les Catacombes de Ruhrpott

Monday, January 31 2011, 12:33 AM

I have been told by different people recently that my focus was now underground locations. I have no idea where that rumor came from but fine, there is nothing wrong with abandoning the abandonments and looking at other things.
Due to the fact that I hadn't done much underground locations before and that gear shopping was not exactly one of my favorite pastimes, I owned a pretty awesome flashlight and that was it. The clerk in Europe's largest outdoor equipment store tried hard not to look confused as he emerged from the back room with a pair of "fishing pants" in the middle of the winter.

Me and my Shadow
Me and my Shadow

The first location was an abandoned underground hospital that was built during the second world war, then used for experiments and then sounded more and more like some dude just made up the history to sound important. It was a network of underground concrete corridors partly flooded and still containing some rusty ducts and doors. Who cares about the history?

The Grotto
The Grotto

Curiously only three of our nine person group had brought along waders. And it didn't take them long to figure out that rubber boots wouldn't take them very far. However, it didn't stop them from trying. In any case, if the shaft of your boot is no more than a few centimeters (that's even fewer inches, you barbarians) above the surface of the water, you better watch your step or Murphy's law might teach you an important lesson. The lesson I took away from that incident is that the dutch word for "splash" is "plons".

Crossroads
Crossroads

After climbing out of one hole, we didn't feel like we had seen enough to make the trip worthwhile. So we started climbing into other holes. Until we found a long, rusty pipe, just big enough to crawl through on all fours. One of us had to check if there was anything interesting on the other side before everybody would go through with all their gear. I went first. The other ones bit the dust. To be fair, I went last on the way out and also got my share of dust. Masks are for sissies anyway.

Light Painter
Light Painter

On the other side of the tube, a small cave with black, natural looking stone walls awaited us. The air was heavy and damp and felt a lot warmer than the cold winter temperatures that prevailed topside. We took some shots and moved on. The cave quickly lead into another bunker system. What started with featureless white concrete corridors soon turned into a dripstone cave. The original, man-made shape of the corridors was still visible, but disappeared under a bizarrely looking icing.

Chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro

Soda straws where dangling from the ceiling, ready to drop into the necks of everyone who didn't watch their heads. It was like walking around in one of those touristy caves. Except it was smaller, better hidden and we didn't have to pay admission, could walk wherever we wanted and touch every part we wanted. At least every part of the cave.


For more pictures, check the Gallery!

Ruhrpott Catacombs

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