Overview - A long Easter weekend on Pembroke again, but this year we returned to South Pembroke and to the wonderful campsite (read field), pub, and Ma Western's Cafe. Pembroke is the most amazing coastline; the land simply ending in 20-30m cliffs that drop straight into the sea in places. High winds, mostly clear skies, and crashing seas give some of the best "atmospheric" climbing I know. Someone might just convince that this limestone stuff is good one of these days!
Seconded Alun - Just next to Rock Idol (supposedly one of the best E1s ever), there's a triangular cave and just off-vertical wall. The right arete of the cave, continuing directly above is strenuous fingery climbing, and never has a real crux, but should really be more like E2. How slinking off left just below the top gets HVS, we don't understand. Not sure about the stars, either!
Led - Atmosphere by the bucket-load. It should really be started about two hours before high tide, so that the corner cave shoots white water up and behind you as you do the traverse. It was suggested that I started up towards the corner ramp slightly early to save Alun getting wet, so I missed the under-cut crux, but it still felt roughly the right grade. Macka, Darcy, Ian, and Rich Hall climbing it later in the weekend became a spectator sport from the obvious ledge. Alun seconded.
Led - Started as more of a warm-up for the weekend proper, but ended up being a great experience. Boulder up the juggy, bubbly crack, then step out onto the hanging face via two slightly tenuous moves. Suddenly it's like "Hello world" and the exposure hits you in the face. It's then perfect gear and jugs to the top, and just thoroughly enjoyable. Alun seconded.
Seconded Alun - Another Pembroke climb that feels slightly off-balance the whole way up. Soft-touch at the grade - the lower section into the crack is fairly straighforward and the crux is well-protected - but still a bit of a gripping experience as the launch out to the jugs on the arete is followed by another few harder moves before salvation (i.e. gear) is reached.
(Note to self, never ab into a place you have to climb out of without ropes. Damn. Oh well, a hard scramble out via the gully behind Army Dreamers and we were set to go.)
Led - The route itself has a disturbingly hard bouldery (unprotected) start for the grade, but this leads to a nice VS-difficulty corner of bridging / laybacking, up to a great rest in a cave before the overhang. Cool down, shake out, then launch out under the roof. A single 5b move gains great holds (with a slight lack of feet) and then easy climbing to the end of the first pitch. I continued straight up onto the second pitch and instantly regretted not leaving it to Al. It's easy 4b/c climbing, but is totally covered in dirt making it an unfortunate finish to a good roof E1. Correctly starred. Probably mid-to-low in the grade. Seconded by Alun.
Seconded Alun - After the Butcher, this was a real shocker. The very first move into the first break sets the mood nicely. It's a nasty 5c snatch for a crack side-pull from a near-hanging start. The blunt arete gives hard slab climbing with barely adequate protection, and just enough rest-points until the large ledge is reached. Sit down and have a long rest, as the top section isn't a push-over, as there's still a few moves and a long step remaining. I said at one point that Tea for Two (E4 6a @ Millstone) was the hardest outdoor route I've ever been on. This might beat it!
Led - If you're not a hyper-confident VS leader, I wouldn't wander onto this one. It's an adventure VS as opposed to a fine-climb VS. Start the ab an hour before low tide, or you will get wet. Go all the way down to the huge platform, then climb up to the curving chimney on the left, back on to the wall (if you can find a way of doing this via 4b moves, I'd love to know how - 5a for both Damo and I), and finally into a cave to belay. I continued directly up the right of the corner all the way to the top, and would give it a soft HVS 4c, but would give the whole route an extra star for simply being a great experience. Damian did the first pitch, and I was convinced he was going to throw me off the belay ledge for getting him onto this route. Both of us ended up with big grins!
Solo - Darcy made the mistake of abbing down to the platform at Sadddle Head without a rope (bunch of donkeys the lot of us), hence a nice easy line out was needed. Taking the left wall as an eliminate is HS, but really isn't worth it. A good solo or lead.
Seconded Paul - In the CC guide, there is an E1 in addition to the HVS up the wall right of Sea Mist. I would say that the line shown in the Rockfax guide is this E1, with the HVS starting up left to the good ledge, before keeping just right of the arete. The HVS is nice slab climbing, but pretty much the same as all slabs in Pembroke - generally quite good!
Led - Pembroke is full of huge, blank-looking walls. Although good for technical difficulties and exposure, I would far prefer the more 3D climbing of caves / roofs / aretes (see the fun had on Landvetter). 3D climbing with technical difficulties are hard to find, but, like this route, tend to be unfortunately separated. The name of the route refers to a cylindrical tube through which the final few metres of the climb pass - just good fun, but quite easy. There are two starts, HVS coming into the ramp from the left, and E1 gaining the ramp direct just left of a hard-looking corner. Both have to be considered soft-touch, given that after the first few moves (top of the ramp), it eases to VS, and both starts are well-protected. However, overall it's interesting and just about gets the right grade, and probably gets the stars just for the hole. Alun seconded.
Seconded Alun - Not sure about the 5b bit, soft 5c seems more like it, but that might be due to the continuously crimpy lower section. Given that this section is protected by a dodgy peg, it would feel a tad bold too! After the step right into the first crack, it eases considerably and becomes more enjoyable. It put a large smile on Paul's face, and is again probably a little soft at the grade, but correctly starred.
Solo in trainers - The rock around Pembroke is such that you almost solely get either get blank-looking walls or lots of jagged, juggy breaks (see the grade selection of areas in Pembroke - all hard, or lots of easy). Like Saddle Head, the rock above Riders of the Storm gives a veritable playground. Rock shoes are probably recommended, but depending on the line taken, they aren't vital.