Pembroke Easter

I just got back from a great week in Pembroke. Despite a shaky start the weather came good over the bank holiday and we had some fantastic days climbing.

On Saturday I climbed with Dani, an Israeli climber I met briefly at the BMC meet a few years ago. His climbing partner had injured his shoulder and Dani was keen to try some harder routes. We went to Mother Carey’s and had a great day ticking classics, Rock Idol, Brazen Buttress and Zeppelin. I also had an aborted attempt at White Heat, an E5 on the White Tower, I thought it was nails!

Abbing down Brazen Buttress
Evening sun at Mother Carey’s

Manzoku, E1 5b, Stennis Head

Sunday we headed down to the Castle. Dani warmed up on Manzoku on the way past, then we queued to get on one of the E4s. I managed to onsight Downward Bound, with a bit of a wobble on the crux and confusion about where to go higher up! I was pretty pleased with that.

Downward Bound, E4 6a, The Castle
Dani had a go at Under the Influence, which was shorter but a little more technical and quite sustained. He did well, but peeled off near the top on the last hard bit of climbing. 
Getting ready to go for it up the steep crack of Under the Influence, E4 6a, The Castle
In the evening, with the tide high, I took the chance to solo Riders on the Storm, an idea I had when I climbed it about 10 years ago. The first part is perfect, over really deep water, the finish gets a little too high to really be considered DWS (at least by me) but it’s solid rock and easy climbing at that point.
Riders on the Storm, HVS 5a, Stennis Head

We took a rest day on Monday and then headed down Huntsman’s Leap in the mist on Tuesday morning. It wasn’t a good day to be in there really, but Dani was really keen to try Bloody Sunday. He started on Beast from the Undergrowth and then got down to business. He climbed well and managed to onsight it, despite greasy holds on the crux – His first E4!

Bloody Sunday, E4 6a, Huntsman’s Leap

Dani chuffed with his first E4
 gave myself a fright when I struggled to second the crux and greased off, a lot of rope stretch on a long route saw me swing quite a long way and I had to get the ascender out to get back onto the rock properly. I got really pumped seconding it and despite Dani saying he thought it was soft I thought it was worth E4 that morning for the grease factor (but maybe I needed an excuse for falling off).

Next up: Headhunter. I’d got the beta for the crux gear off several people, a blind wire. I felt pretty uncertain about getting on it after having such a hard time on Bloody Sunday, and I should’ve followed my gut feeling and done something else. I felt insecure straight off the deck, even though the first few bits of gear are bomber. I left the cracks and landed on some slightly slopey, greasy holds. It was nothing like it had been on Bloody Sunday, but it was enough to spook me a bit, and when the next piece of gear wasn’t that inspiring I decided to bail. I wasn’t sure I could trust it, and the next piece was blind, so it seemed like a rational decision, even though it was really based on nerves more than good judgement about my safety.

Headhunter, E5 6a, Huntsman’s Leap

I was pretty frustrated at backing off, as I felt I hadn’t really tried, I’d just given up at the first sign of trouble – I felt like I was making a lot of excuses for it, when really I was just frustrated that I was scared when I didn’t feel I should be. Still, I’ll go down again when the sun’s been on the face and taken away the grease. We escaped up Shape Up, and Dani and Duncan headed to St Govan’s and I watched the action in Stennis Ford.

Next day we went to Carreg-Y-Barcud for some slab action. This was probably my favourite day of the trip – we got loads of routes done, some great photos and it was fairly quiet. I was pleased to do the Hypocrite and Billy Spragg, two great E3s – although I didn’t follow the line at the top of the Hypocrite, as it seemed a bit too eliminate to be worth it, and instead escaped up the cracks to the right, probably E2 5c this way I felt, with good gear and it’s the most logical way up that part of the wall.

The Hypocrite, E3 6a, Carreg-Y-Barcud

Kitten Claws, E3 5c, Carreg-Y-Barcud
Dani made a good attempt at Kitten Claws. I’d tried to give him some beta for the crux wires, but he wasn’t keen to know anything about it really. There was a time when it wouldn’t have concerned me, but I felt pretty worried watching him approach the crux, a long way out from his last gear (too far to catch him) and unable to find the other gear. He looked really solid though, I had no need to worry, but as I hung on the rope I couldn’t help but remind him that there are good micronut placements before the crux, you just have to work at them a bit! He climbed up and down, unable to get any gear that he was happy with, and then reversed all the way to the deck. I swung over on the ab line to get his gear, then led up Billy Spragg to escape – a great route, more fun that Kitten Claws for my money. A really thin boulder problem start leads to good fingerlocks and small feet until you reach the good horizontal break. The guide suggests it loses it’s way here, but I thought it flowed quite well, after a few easy moves you climb into the finish of Kitten Claws, which has a few unlikely looking moves until you reach the juggy finish.
All in all a great week’s climbing, post to follow on what else I got up to…

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