– -8 Degrees
– No climbing experience
– 30 meters deep
– 5,4 km’s long
81 million Euro they give for connecting this part with the already active part it should be working in 2011. The Lost And forgotten part is there already since 1980. This is so typical Belgian building things,spending millions of euro’s and then don’t use it and let it rot. (update: the system is now (2016) in use and fully working).
I’m going to post my story about the premetro right under here. It’s a book i’m writing that probably will never be finished. The book is called Borderline and has a lot of anekdotes of trips I did over the last 9 years and also when I was younger. So for once I post a part of it here it probably has a lot of spelling mistakes and so but I really want to show u guys this story. Hope you like it and feel free to comment down below.
Pre Metro : The story
My first ever experience with the underground ruins and cities was in 2009. Me and my friend Luc knew about an unused underground tramline under the city of Antwerp in Belgium. We knew how to get inside but there was one little problem. The entrance was a big circle hole of 30-40 meters deep in the middle of a busy road. We bought all the climbing gear we needed for this but didn’t have any experience. The only experience I had was a few survival camps I did when I was a kid which included some rappelling and climbing but I didn’t knew anything about knobs or techniques. Luc decided that our best bet was too practice first in another place. We found an abandoned swamp hotel with several concrete floors and some straight walls of five to ten meters high perfect for trying. Luc already practice some knobs that he had found on the internet and had printed some examples that should work. We decided that we needed at least a bit of height so we went straight too the roof and started to put the climbing rope into it’s place. I attached myself to the rope using a new system that I never tried before. The only system I knew was an eight system that the rope just go around.
Now the new system was with a handle which make it much easier at least if u know how too handle it. I step on the edge of the wall and made the rope tight and started too lean back. I looked down too see the height and checked one more time everything. I switched a button in my head and go for it. The system is with a handle so I push the handle complete in and lean totaly over the edge the rope starts too slide trough the system and I fall with my full weight 3 floors down on the ground on my back. What I was afraid the most happened for real I just fell down 3 floors straight on my back. The only Question going trough my mind was why, why i fell down. My knee and back hurted but the damage was a bit less thanks too the rope sliding trough the system what did slow me down a bit in the fall. Luc comes down and laughs he said I forgot too hold the rope in my other hand and that I let go of that.
I couldn’t believe how stupid I was too let go the rope it was the only thing I had to do. Push the handle open and slowly give away some rope. Ofcourse I had to do it the other way around. Push the handle open and release the whole rope. A lot goes trough my mind but i’m happy that I practice here and not started right away in Antwerp. It was getting late already and Luc said I should try again but the fear took a bit over and I declined. With the recent event in my head we pack up our things and decided that we gonna do the climb tonight. Otherwise we will never push ourselves so far to do it and maybe it would not happen at all anymore.
We drive with the car too Antwerp and stopped in front off a construction site with big gates. The entrance is on a corner of 2 busy streets so we have to wait till its dark. When the night begins too fall and the roads get more and more calm we grabbed our gear and start trowing it over the gate. Almost 60 meters of rope, a bag full of carabiner, tripods, camera’s, light equipment. We walk to the edge of the hole and start to unpack. I look over the edge and notice the height, this is deeper then I had in mind what have I put myself in too I think. I look up and see that it starting too snow and it was getting colder already. Standing still made it almost unbearable but there was no other way and I was already too far in this, there was no way back and I couldn’t disappoint Luc either. While luc grabs a paper he printed from internet and start making the knots I prepare mentally.
He decided that I had to go first since he has too stay up too attach all the gear on a rope too bring down. Again we go trough the process cable trough the handle and then lean back . I step on the edge of the border and all that goes trough my mind is what happened a few hours ago. Why am I doing this, why am I risking my life for curiosity and photography. It was a weird feeling and I didn’t find any answer that could help me to understand. I told Luc look i’m going to do this just give me one minute. Luc knows me and we had done already some dangerous things and he knew I would do it as long if he gives me the time to do it. I shutdown myself complete and concentrate I lean back on the rope and push myself straight on the rope. I open the handle and let some rope pass trough. Gently i’m going down meter by meter and the ground is coming closer and closer. In less then 2 minutes I reached the ground and a big smile is on my face. I reached it and i’m still alive my night is complete.
Now all our gear still has to come down so we have to pull the cable up attach some stuff and then drop the gear slowly down. We had too repeat that for several times after that it was Luc’s turn too go down who eventually reached the ground safe too. We were now standing in abandoned pre-metro line of 5,4 km long and it is still maintained but not in use. The government gave 81 million Euro to connect this part with the active metro and it should be active in 2016. Inside the tunnels is even electricity what makes it easier for us to photograph we spend a few hours inside the tunnels and then decide it was time to go again.
When we reached at the ropes I was happy too see they where still there, someone could may have cut them or pulled them up and we would have been stuck there. Another thing I notice was that there was a lot of snowing and it was a lot colder. That night it froze to almost minus eight degrees which is not that comfortable too climb. Going up is a lot harder then going down u need different tools and a whole other technique. We never tested that technique but same as going down I had to go first. I put a system around my shoe and I attach myself also around my waist. The first few meters when good basically because I just pull up on my arms and not on my feet using the system. At about 15 meters my arms start too burn so much of pulling up. I was stuck and to make it even worser my hands where frozen of the cold and I already had no feeling in the tips of my fingers.
The problem was that I made the cable of my feet too short. Because of that I couldn’t push myself up on my feet because my knee was always too high. It took me eventually 2 hours to get up the 40 meters and when I reached the edge I basically roll over the edge and lay down for 5 minutes. I was close to cry of happiness too reach the edge. After making myself loose Luc climbed up by adjusting the cable on the feet and climbed up in twenty minutes which was much better then my two hours. We packed our gear and each went home with a fantastic story too tell and pictures that will always remember the suffering of going up on that.