PSM Expedition Diary - Tete Sauvage / SC3 Entrance Recce

Party:  Si Lowis, John Roe and Neil Burnside.

We left the campsite at 1200 having conducted some administration post storm the evening before which left everything/one pretty damp.  We drove up the valley for about 30 minutes to the Pierre Saint Martin ski resort before breaking off the main track and heading up the ski slope / road towards Peak D’Anni. After a few km the track became unsuitable for our vehicle and we parked up and got changed into caving gear. 

The weather was still pretty damp as we headed off up the hill on foot.  Within 15 minutes we had located the Tete Sauvage entrance, 15 m off to the right hand side of the ski slope / road. The entrance was marked with a blue and a red pole and consisted of a depression with a small (awkward) rift in its Southern side which led to a small pitch after 10 m. We then dumped our safety bags and SRT gear before heading a further 1100m up the hill on the Ski slope / Road to the SC3 entrance. The point where we left the ski slope / road prior to SC3 was marked by a cairn on the right hands side, and a series of cairns led us the 25 m to the SC3 entrance which had a tree above a small Southern facing rock face with vertical rift entrance at its base.  The entrance was covered by a wire net to stop skiers inadvertently plunging down its 355 depth.

Having located both entrances we headed back down to Tete Sauvage and after a quick lunch we descended the first 150 meters through the surprisingly tight and awkward first 5 pitches.  The ‘Parrot’ ladders put in place by the original explorers of the system proved to be awkward to negotiate past as our bags and rope became entangled within the protruding steps.  The pitches were pretty much on top of one another, with 2 short awkward meanders between a few of them. Having satisfied our curiosity and successfully recce each site we climbed out and returned to our van.  An hour later we were back in camp and the surface team had a BBQ on the go for evening meal.  Admin done and bellies full we made our plans for the following day’s main rigging trips and a cross over between the two vertical pitches.

Si Lowis

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editors note:  These expedition accounts are extracted from a larger expedition diary.