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Courage is a capital sum

In one of the James Bond novels Bond’s boss M, the head of the secret service, asks an eminent neurologist for his opinions of Bond’s health. The eminent man says “Courage is a capital sum reduced by expenditure.”

I’ve noticed before on climbing holidays that as the days go by I get less and less able to do the routes because I have less and less courage left. Today I ran out, so we did three routes then called it a day.

We went to Saffres, a very impressive crag in a beautiful and peaceful spot. Not a single other climber visible, though we did hear some around the corner somewhere, making a bit of a racket. We found out later it was the local mountain rescue team practicing emergency rope techniques.

We started on the shortest and dirtiest part of the crag. This is a crag that reaches 40m+ of perfect sunwashed limestone but we chose a pair of 6m dirty chimneys to start with. Easy and unchallenging but we still enjoyed them.


Saffres dirty chimney number 1 – Tuyau de Poele


Saffres dirty chimney number 2 – Le Devissage

Then a slightly harder route. The book said the start was hard and it was indeed something of an off-width struggle up a sickle-curved crack too narrow to be a chimney, too wide to be a crack and too polished to be comfortable. After that short and brutish introduction it turned into an easy, blocky and very enjoyable route.


La Vedette – “The start is a bit slippery” says the guidebook.

Trying the next route on for size revealed the aforementioned lack of courage so we stopped there, still feeling like we’d had some good exercise after the sickle-shaped struggle.


The locals doing rescue practice


Part of the impressive part of Saffres

All pictures are straight out of the camera with no post-processing, so perhaps not up to my usual standard.


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