Tete Sauvage – Verna (PSM Through trip)
Monday, 6 August 2007

The through trip of the Reseau de la Pierre Saint Martin is one of the classic trips in the world, and offers a 7.7km, 909m deep trip between the Tete Sauvage and EDF tunnel entrances. I had originally planned on doing the slightly longer traverse from SC3, but my ‘numerous’ plans for the week meant we took the opportunity to join Patrick and Carmen on their trip on the monday.
A rather late start saw us at the entrance and underground for around 2.15pm. The Tete Sauvage involves around 380m of pitches in what is more reminisicent of a Yorkshire pothole than a major Pyreneean cave. But it does include many pleasant pitches in polished dark grey rock. Some of the pitches still have old steel ladders in place which proved to be slightly annoying as tacklebags got hung up on them and the rope twisted around them.

Rigging a couple of pitches near the bottom provided the only delay in the Tete Sauvage and soon the junction with the passage from the SC3 entrance was reached.
What follows is a varied section of cave with short pitches, large chambers and streamway to the start of the Grand Canyon. This is a very impressive section of cave involving around 2km of very large streamway with several short boulder chokes to go through. A climb up into a higher series of passages soon brought us to the very draughty Tunnel du Vent, where a boat allowed us to cross the deep and very cold water.

Then the passage gets really, really big and around 3.5km of boulder hopping, large slopes, chambers, short climbs and river passage leads to the Salle de la Verna, which is roughly 35 – 40 times larger than Gaping Gill main chamber. A quick run along the EDF tunnel brought us to daylight after a fantastic 6hr 45mins trip. We reckon we could have got it down to less than 6hrs if we hadn’t had to rig pitches, route-finding etc although route finding was generally excellent! Well done Patrick!!

A tedious walk brought us back to Saint Engrace for beer and our trademark dish for the holiday of sausage, potatoes and carrots! A truly awesome trip. Definitely one to do!!

At the Tete Sauvage entrance
Posted by: Mike Bottomley
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Posted: 13 August 2007
Near Tunnel du Vent
Posted by: Mike Bottomley
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Posted: 13 August 2007