After six months of eager anticipation, and wondering just how well my knee which was operated on 5 months earlier would hold up, we met in the greasy “restaurant” at Glasgow airport and stuffed our faces on stereotypical Scottish “health food”. All that was missing was the deep fried mars bar and defibrillator. We particularly wanted to make sure Paul was well fed as one of us would have to release him from his cage. He was particularly enthusiastic about this trip and had to sedate him for his own safety, otherwise he would be climbing anything that stood still long enough. He was told at a lesson by Gaz Parry at TCA that he would be running around like a headless chicken as there would be so much to do there (well, he actually said something about a dog and some guys called Richard, but this is a family show 🙂 ).
Anyway, we finally got on the plane and Easyjet had pre-allocated seats. You always hope in situations like that that you are not placed next to some one who wants to show you his book of pressed newts and tell you about the history and etymology of the word “custard”. I was sitting in front of Paul and I kept turning round to talk to him, guidebook in hand and talking about boulders and what we were going to do to them. The passenger next to Paul must have though “oh no, why do I always get the nutters?” and promptly offered to change seats. They must have taken in more by osmosis than they ever want to know about rocks though.
Aye, that’ll be right
We touched down and picked up our transport for the week. Once loaded, we headed to our accommodation, picking up some supplies en route from a Carrefour This was the biggest shop I have ever seen. The cheese session alone was bigger than most other shops. After checking in, unpacking and getting some food, we decided to hit the ground running, and headed for Buthiers Piscine, which was only 2km from our gite.
We pulled up by a gate, put on our head torches (it was about 9:30) picked up the mats and started off up the forest path. It was a pleasantly warm and clear night. Suddenly there was the shout of “BOULDERRRRS! “ and Chris was at the top of something in his shoes before we could unleash Paul. We later worked out what he had climbed, and it was actually a new personal best for him; perhaps there is something to be said for grades forming mental barriers. I went for a wander to take the place in. There was a peaceful moon lit landscape with strange shapes made by boulders, trees, open sandy areas and shadows. Eventually, I found a small cave. I like caves, but this was a smelly jobbie filled cave. There were quite a few of them, so I looked around and eventually found a clean bottomed stepped overhang that looked as if it had a good line on it. I started, climbed up, put my hand in a pocked and adjusted my feet. I felt something move over my hand, looked up and there were literally thousands of angry ants crawling over me. Luckily they didn’t bite or shoot acid out their bums at me, but I decided to leave them in peace and go back round the corner to see what was going on. Jo had found a highball called Les trous de gruyere. It actually has at least one rotten looking peg in it, so folk clearly used to rope up on it. She scaled it in style, but getting down was going to be tricky. We did wonder if we would be better off calling the fire brigade and getting a hose. However, Jo jumped the cleft between the two boulders (seen in the picture). It was suggested she try to bridge the gap and down climb. We later found out that yes, that route was fairly easy, but it also had a death ball label. Anyway, Jo made it down safely, by another route, with me climbing part of the way up the gap and Paul bracing me and Chris, Mark and Pascaline on the other side spotting for her there. She didn’t need any of us though and got down fairly easily in the end.
We then continued playing about on some slabs for a bit and decided to head back, totally psyched with what little we had already sampled. It was time for bed, but we would have no trouble getting up early in the morning to sample the delights of “Diplodocus”, and as it would turn out, the bakery.