Tag Archives: Pembroke

Getting your tactics right

28th July 2013

St Gova’ns Head and Stuntsman’s Buttress

Tactician – HVS 5a – Second
Big Sea Running – E1 5b – Second

Sometimes you just have to get on with things and take a chance. Today was one of those days. We woke to heavy rain rattling the tent; an unlikely start for a good days climbing. But once it stopped and we stocked up on breakfasts, the sun was out and everything was back on.

The platform at the base of Tactician

The platform at the base of Tactician

We dropped into St Govans at a different point this time. Aiming for a large ledge system at the base of Tactician. This climb seems innocuous enough from the bottom, but soon moves into tough territory. Despite being 5a, I found that the crux move was as hard as anything I did during the entire trip. Possibly I just didnt do it very well, but it was powerful and committing. V Good lead by Nick on this one.

Nick approaching the crux of Tactician

Nick approaching the crux of Tactician

Nick at the Crux

Nick at the Crux

We re located to Stuntsmans Buttress following this, watching a rescue going on off Stennis Head for an unlucky climber who’d taken a fall. By all accounts he was thankfully OK.

The spectacular Huntsmans Leap

The spectacular Huntsmans Leap

Nick’s enthusiasm for climbing never seems to wain. While I was admiring the spectacular Huntsmans LeapĀ and keeping a close watch on the weather, Nick was contemplating having a go at an E1 near the mouth of the Leap. Passing by rather unusual litter in the form of a Starburst shell (This whole area is right next to a massive military range) we headed out onto Stuntsmans Buttress. My personal drive was on the ebb and the couple who’s ab rope we used to drop in on decided to sit it out and wait for the weather to improve.

Not the usual litter.

Not the usual litter.

This explained the disappearing rope once we had descended as they abandoned their climbing day. So we’re at the base of an E1 in the drizzle, with what looks like an approaching deluge. What could go wrong? Nothing as it happens. Nicks full on optimism came up trumps. The rain missed us, the climb dried out really quickly and the route turned out to be very entertaining.

Nick eyeing up the descent to Big Sea Running

Nick eyeing up the descent to Big Sea Running

The perfect end of a trip and proof that if you think positively you make the most of every situation. The drive back was a good chance for reflection on what had been a brilliant trip. My first experience of Pembroke will ensure that I return time and again. I feel another climbing trip coming on.

 

The adventures of Jimmy Noropes

27th July 2013

Mother Carey’s Kitchen

Crithmum – VS 5a – Lead
Joyous Gard – HVS 5a – Second
Rock Idol – E1 5a – Lead

Mother Scaries as Nick told me it is sometimes called is just that. Scary. You pitch up at the top of what looks like a shear cliff (it is) and abseil into nothing.

It helped that Nick knew the area because I would image it is hard work getting your bearings on a first trip. Today was to be a day of real highs and sort of lows. But mostly highs!

Getting the ab ready

Getting the ab ready

We started off on Crithmum, which proved to be a puzzling beginning. However hard we tried we couldnt match the guide book description with wht we were looking at. In the end I followed what I thought was the closest to the line described. The top turned out to be a real liability with loose rock and insecure holds. It turns out from online comments that Crithmum fell down around 2010 and the remains are graded at HVS not VS. I think this is more due to the precarious nature of the rock though.

Nick on the brilliant Joyous Gard after emerging from the cave.

Nick on the brilliant Joyous Gard after emerging from the cave.

Nicks lead on Joyous Guard was one of the most impressive of the trip. Strenuous with a really technical section high up, it was fantastic climbing. One of my favorite climbs of the trip to be honest. Moving out of the cave at the bottom gave a real sense of adventure and the suddenly appearing on a shear face gives this climb amazing exposure.

During the course of climbing Crismum I managed to chuck a whole set of nuts, krab included into the sea. My usual form in recent times. This seemed to cause me to completely lose my mind and led to an surreal moment back on the low tide platform where I frantically searched my body for the blue rope with the growing realisation that it was still at the top of the crag. In most places this would be a problem. In Mother Careys Kitchen it seemed a disaster.

The mercy swim

The mercy swim

Fortunately ‘Marine Boy’ Nick thought nothing of swimming across the bay to ascend and retrieve it, thus saving my bacon. This was after he had also found my drowned nuts. All he needed was a cape!

What Nick did sort out by his actions was my opportunity to climb Rock Idol – thank God he did. It’s an amazing climb which contains everything. From the bottom I was seriously thinking that I was out of my depth as the route soared up through the corner and overhangs.

Didnt know I could bridge that far!!!

Didnt know I could bridge that far!!!

But once on the route I found some rhythm and was progressing well until I arrived at the overhang. A crisis of confidence ensued which I finally overcame launching upwards and finding that the holds just kept on coming. It is a special climb and one I will not forget for a long time.

Moving up to the scary stuff

Moving up to the scary stuff

The day was capped off with fajita’s and ginger beer ( and a bit of Italian wine). All’s well that ends well despite my attempts to sabotage the day.

If Carlsberg made crags……

26th July 2013

Pembroke – St Governs Head

Army Dreamers – HVS 5a – Lead
But Incest is Best – E1 5b – Second
Bomb Bay – VS 4c – Lead
The Loosener – HVS 5a – Second
The Arrow – E1 5b – Second

Pembroke is surprisingly further than you think. Looking at the map it shouldnt be so far, but a small matter of the bristol Channel gets in the way. Having said that Nick and I made remarkably good time getting up there on Thursday night turning up at St Petrocs campsite full of curry ( a re-occurring theme of this trip) and ready to get a good nights sleep in before hitting the crags the next day.

View back towards the Bristol Channel

View back towards the Bristol Channel

I had no idea what to expect from Pembroke except from Nicks comments on how good it was. In fact I didnt even realise it was limestone and not granite. So after a short walk in to St Governs Head we duly abseiled onto the high tide platform in Army Dreamers area.

View down the Coast towards Stennis Head

View down the Coast towards Stennis Head

At this point I probably experienced what many new climbers do in an area of such steep rock. Awe. The whole cliff is vertical (it sounds obvious, but so much of what we climb in Cornwall is not) and when you look down the coast each way it goes on for mile after mile. I’ve never seen so much climbing packed into one part of the coast.

Me on Army Dreamers after the traverse

Me on Army Dreamers after the traverse

I kicked off initially on Army Dreamers mistaking it for a VS instead of an HVS. It didnt matter, The climbing is completely absorbing. A nervy traverse turns into some full on crack climbing. The whole route is excellent and was a brilliant intro to Welsh limestone. By time I finished my arms were suitably pumped. Nick said this would be good training for stamina and I was starting to understand why.

Nick on the steep But Incest is Best

Nick on the steep But Incest is Best

But Incest is Best is much harder. More sustained and overhanging it has a really difficult section at mid height which takes some working out and a bit of nerve if you are on the lead like Nick. Although shorter it too eats into your stamina. I was realising that one aspect of climbing here was to keep moving if possible.

I never go anywhere without having at least one mare. Looking down from BIIB I saw a crack running up the opposite wall. Believing myself to have suddenly turned into a crack climbing maestro I decided this would be a good challenge. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Saty hands and a lack of technique did for me and I had to hand over to Nick to show me how it should be done. I have a way to go before I get the hang of this ‘jamming’ thing.

The amazing The Arrow - Nick near the rising flake.

The amazing The Arrow – Nick near the rising flake.

Bomb Bay flattered to deceive. It looks brilliant from the ground, but a very loose top section detracts from it. I enjoyed it, but there were some worrying moments.

Nick just before the hard moves onto the upper slab. The Arrow

Nick just before the hard moves onto the upper slab. The Arrow

Now The Arrow is in a class of its own. Nick, not satisfied with picking a cracker of a route also wanted to see his belayer drown as entertainment. With the sun setting and the tide rising Nick set off up a great climb. A bold start leads to a rising flake. This in turn gives way to a thin section leading to the upper slab. A final traverse gets you to the top. It is a classic climb which takes advantage of all the features in that area. I loved it and managed to jump up onto a large rock to escape a soaking which looked inevitable earlier.

Tired we both returned to the campsite for a plateful of Rogan Riddell (minus the tomatoes which gave it a very un appetising grey colour). St Petrocs is a really nice site. Not too busy on this weekend, but with good facilities and a flat pitch. Definitely a good base when in the area.