Problematic Pitons

 

‘Climbing of the Petit Piton should only be attempted by very advanced climbers or hikers and only ever with proper equipment.’-That was what the local magazine had to say on the subject. Of course, we only read this magazine after we’d climbed it…The pitons are a pair of mountains in the southwest of St. Lucia. The petit Piton (750m) is by far a harder climb than Gros Piton (800m) mainly because there’s only one track up Petit Piton, which is on a 60degree slope…ehem…We went up with Cecil (better known as Over’s) who had climbed it ‘too many times to count, mon’. We started off with a trek through the rain forest surrounding the base of the mountain, but rapidly our angle of ascent increased until we were scrambling on our hands and knees and pulling ourselves up by roots and stones. Luckily we had thought it better not to embark on the walk wearing flip-flops. Occasionally when there was a gap in the trees the view across the bay and the town of Soufriere was incredible. After an hour and a half of slogging up the mountain we made it to the ‘shoulder’. “Only the neck left now” said Over’s. 

         We looked behind us at the formidable, near-vertical ‘Neck’

…     

“Alright”

          So the climb continued. Less than two minutes after leaving the ‘shoulder’ we found ourselves facing a 20 foot, vertical rock-face with no hand or foot holds that merit mentioning. “Hey,” says Over’s, “I’ll show you.” He takes hold of the rope and practically flips himself upside-down as he hooks one leg round an overhanging branch. Then he slings himself up, landing on the top of the cliff and calling down, “See! It ain’t too hard!”

          After much struggle and sweat we all somehow managed to get to the top of the rock-face, only to find that we now faced another cliff that was similar to the first other than its height…       it was twice as tall…

After watching Over’s demolish this obstacle with absurd ease we eventually made it to the top…      and saw that we now had to squeeze ourselves through a foot-wide tunnel in a rock then wedge ourselves in the crevice behind before slithering up a third cliff onto the dirt path above. To get to the point, after many incredibly impossible tunnels, boulders, cliffs and slopes, we managed to make it to the top.

 

The Top:

Amazing views across St. Lucia

Hair-raising heights and impossibly steep mountain sides

The Blue flag that Over’s and a few of his mates had erected!

…and…

NO BREEZE!  Grrrrrr!

 

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