We arrived in Saucisson, or whatever it’s called (actually Le Saussois), just as the evening was creeping in, a little neglected village set in serene surroundings welcomed us. We parked the van in front of a foreboding looking rock face, which I later found out was full of some of the great test pieces of this crag in the 70’s and 80’s, although, I do not reckon I will never find myself up there against the might of those climbs. There was however a large crack system that could hold potential, although, even the look of that was intimidating!
The next day welcomed us with… rain… so we killed the best part of the day walking around the village and relaxing. As the day wore on, the clouds wore out, and the sun began to shine through. We geared up at the van and walked the ten steps to the foot of the climb, talk about a short walk in! We set the ropes and off I went on the lead.
First things first, when I was in the Army, I was often forced to polish my boots until you could have a shave in the mirror like surface of the boot, now imagine rock with the same amount of polish, and you may be half way there… this was the stuff of nightmares, had the holds not been so juggy and plenty some, this could have been a disaster! I made pretty easy work of the first section, which was pretty low in the grade. However I soon found myself at a crux of the climb, and spent the best part of an hour trying to work out the moves to get past it. This leads me onto my second point of this climb, birds and shit…literally!
Nearly every decent hold was covered in bird poo, and some of the deeper cavern systems (which were pretty deep), were home to a whole host of birds. I was kind of covered in a variety of dry poo and spider webs from climbing the first section, now you’d think this would make life a little unbearable, but actually it was quite fun! Until, as I was saying earlier, I was hanging around for an hour or so at the crux and the local bird, we shall call him Barry the Bastard, had quite simply had enough of me, fart arseing around, near his nest and decided that he would quite literally drop his guts all over me! So I was now covered in dry, wet and very recent poo with side of spider webs.
I managed to aide my way past the crux and found a belay (Bolts to secure a climber to the rock), which was needed, as I had started to run short on quick draws. I brought Jess up on the rope, and after a few photos she joined me on my micro ledge. After a short conversation about the best way past the crux, she moved off on the second pitch of the climb. She made her way up at a steady pace on a route that threaded itself through a hole in the rock; I was looking forward to this pitch.
The third and final thing that set this place out from the others, had been just how quiet it was, with the amount of rock on offer, I’m surprised that we were the only people on the rock. I feel this may have helped to add to the ambience a little, that feeling that we were up here against it alone, our only company apart from Barry and his mates, was a small crowd of tourists passing through, stopping off to have a look and take photos, all of this adds to the feeling on a route.
Once I was safely on belay I moved off and found the rest of the route very enjoyable, threading through the hole was awesome, as it was a real 360-degree climbing environment. At the top of the climb we set up the abseil, which took a bit of work as half the ropes had fallen down the face. However once we set off from the top, you were rewarded with a nothing but air abseil; it always feels good just hanging in mid air!
By the time we were both safely back on the ground it was nearly eight, so we must have been climbing for a fair few hours. This time passed so quickly, and I had really enjoyed the whole climb and the experience it delivered, including Barry. It is always a great feeling; being intimidated by a climb and then working hard to overcome the problems and reaching the top safely, today I feel I have climbed well and ticked off a worthwhile route. Later that night as we watched a group of high-liners (Slack lining/tightrope walking in the sky), and a group setting up porta ledges on the face, all this with the sun setting over the valley, I could not help but look at the route and get a true feeling of satisfaction, it was the end of what had been a great day!