07040609 Pembroke

Overview - Another Easter on the glorious Pembrokeshire coast, and this time someone seems to have ordered the best weather ever a long time in advance. Fantastic sunshine, cooling breeze, and great rock - what more could you want for an Easter weekend. Oh yeah, a good pub, which Bosherton also has. Day one was the Crystal Slabs for some re-acclimitisation, but then we started into the usual stomping grounds of Stennis, Bosherton, and St Govan's Heads.

Crystal Arete (1* VS 4c):

Lead - Yeh... was that not worth starting on. I got rather annoyed that I could've soloed it, but as I had a rope with me I felt I ought to be placing gear - and non of the sodding cracks took gear! Gave up and headed for the overlap. A good move to cross this (perhaps 5a), but make a immediate escape off to the left, because it's not worth doing anything else. Ted seconded.

The Gadfly (2* VS 4c):

Seconded Ted - Ignore the cracks which all lead rightwards, and climb directly, and very easily, up the right side of the main slab. Once it gets steeper, it gets a little more fun, and there's gear everywhere, so yep, that's a Pembroke slab VS.

Razzle Dazzle (2* VS 4c):

Lead - Can't actually remember anything to distinguish this from the previous route. Wasn't really paying attention on either of them! Same thing really, go up the simply lower slab, stick some gear in, the extemporise a finishing line, making it as hard / easy as you like. Fun, but not really interesting. Ted seconded.

Bow-Shaped Corner (2* HS 4b)

Seconded Ted - Fantastic corner, and great situation, but you'll be staring at the middle of the slab the whole time. A very good HS.

Bow-Shaped Slab (3* HS 4b)

Lead - Wow. Just wow. PMC 1 at Curbar has real competition for my favourtie low-grade route. Bow-Shaped is a joy to climb, with good slab moves and holds everywhere letting you make your mind up as you move where you're heading, and never really stopping to think too hard. I did have to stop occassionally and remind myself to put gear in because I was enjoying it so much, but otherwise it felt like one continuous motion from bottom to top. Simply brilliant. Ted seconded.

Riders on the storm (2* HVS 5a)

Seconded Ted - How can this route not be in the Rockfax database... A terrific traverse, if quite pumpy (and I must remember to start from the lower platform next time). Good moves and gear lead all the way passed an amusing undercut to the final groove (not the corner, as Ted did). Perhaps not the best warm-up for the other routes in the area, as it'll tire you more than you might want! Might need another star.

Manzoku (3* E1 5b):

Lead - The first section (~10 m, onto a ledge) of this route is brilliant. The rest isn't, hence I'm not convinced by the 3* uber-classic status. After a good first section out of the cave rigthwards, then back left using hidden pockets, the line of the route gets very lost. The further left you go the easier it gets, whereas staying true to the continual small overhangs right, near the arete, just becomes painfully strenuous. Gear is there everywhere, but I was whooping with joy after the first section, but swearing viciously by the end. Hmmm. Ted seconded.

Limbo (1* VS 4c):

Seconded Ted - A more powerful start than I was anticipating, but quickly the cracks lead to better holds and to the roof. The traverse is a case of picking which holds to use, and then being convincing in your footwork. Overall, very nice - deserves another star.

Springboard (1* E1 5b):

Lead - Not exactly what I would call a warm-up, but I was climbing with Jo and wanted to get to some harder routes. Dave (Wasp) saided he'd spotted this as a line that just looks like it needs doing, so we headed over. Initial section doesn't inspire confidence, with very slick water-worn rock, but once that's passed the good (!) climb starts. I ended up having a bit of a mare as I never moved before I was so pumped I didn't have any other choice. Possibly the most amount of gear I've ever used as well. Very pumpy, continuous 5a moves through the middle section to where the crack disappears, then a few desperates and a awkard escape to a huge ledge. Hard, but what you would expect for a long Pembroke E1. Jo Bertalot seconded.

Keelhaul (2* E2 5c)

Seconded Jo Bertalot - A three star route straight up the middle of the slab to a nice capping roof. The holds just get smaller and smaller the higher up the wall you get, with probably enough gear not to scare you too much and wonderful movement. The roof has good holds, but the moves up to and underneath it feel just hard enough to warrent being scared. Great route. An equivalent of Stainless Steel (Willyabrup, Oz).

Hot and Tot (HS 4b)

Solo - Dave B and Cathy finished Proposterous Tales and we headed back down the ab to finish the day off. I set up a hanging belay above the waves, and Cathy set off up Poltergeist. Dave quickly got bored and headed up this arete-ish HS... Cathy was only halfway up by the time he re-abbed in, so I annouced I was bored, and we decided to swap over the belay. I'm sure that seeing the person supposedly belaying you, halfway up the next route left, soloing, is not what you want to see, but she knew (!) we'd swapped over sensibly and she had always bee safe, so took it with good humour. The route itself is fun, but has an obvious groove on the arete from two-thirds height that neither Dave nor I felt like doing solo. Correctly - the line of Hot and Tot moves all the way around the corner right to finish easily after the crux gaining the ledge low down.

Poltergeist (1* HVS 5a)

Seconded Cathy - More silliness. Having abbed back in and given Cathy a bit of beta on the way passed, communication between bottom and top of cliff became difficult because of roaring seas and wind, so Dave and I decided to second alpine style. This involved him tying into one rope, safetying the second to himself, and me tying in 5m up the second rope, trying to haul and knot the slack as we went. This probably makes a nice line (DWS???), but I ended up being more focussed on trying to make sure my tail wasn't snagging and Dave wasn't climbing too fast ahead of me. Oh well!

Army Dreamers (2* HVS 5a)

Seconded Adam - I tried the E3 start and failed to find it. I think that's properly the overhang direct, as opposed to a slightly left-hand start. Anyway, Army Dreamers is a spectacular route that will probably give most competant HVS leaders enough to have to think about. Bubbly rock leads to the step left and tons of exposure. Brilliant.

Chieftain (1* VS 4c)

Led - Chosen because I was bored, but feeling uninspired. Rather sandy, easy to the crux, well protected, and the E1 finish is incredibly tempting. Not totally sure it's worth the star, given we're on Pembroke... Ted seconded.

Gandhi (VS 4b)

Seconded Ted - And I thought the last route was sandy... Don't ever do this route - it simply isn't worth it. Reasonable bridging in a safe position, but you're going to hate the gritty layer on top of all the holds the whole way up.

Front Line (2* HVS 5a):

Seconded Adam - I'll have to return to lead this, as it felt almost as inspiring as Army Dreamers - or, at least, I would believe it would feel that way leading. As it is, fight your way (in any place you feel is appropriate) onto the low ledge, then climb up and into the hanging corner. Great fun in another great position, though not quite with the exposure of AD.