Sunday, 10 August 2014

Sea Cliffs of Pembroke

I am stuck in Heathrow airport, already gave up the hopes to reach Zurich, but still have my fingers crossed for a flight to Geneva tonight. Oh well, a good chance to write a few lines about the last couple of days.

When I left UK in 2011 I thought I would be coming back quite often since it is so close and conveniently connected. Well guess what, I haven't been there until now. But this year we were lucky to have our experimental proposal accepted for beamtime at ISIS and I finally made it. The facility was impressive, the study went quite well and the evening stroll in Oxford was very pleasant.

But it gets even better. My childhood hero Tadas, who was teaching me how to rock climb more than a decade ago, has made South Wales his home and invited me to pass by his place to check out some local rocks. I made arrangements to stay in the island for the weekend after experiments and off we went. We started with an evening session around Swansea, clocking in half a dozen cool sport climbs up to low 7s right next to the beach. Tadas, knowing all the routes by heart was pointing out to me all the beta and we were cruising.

Tadas' backyard.
Early start next morning saw us driving even more west to Pembroke. Once again, I was directed to the classics by my amazing host and tremendously enjoyed all the routes. We started in Mother Carey’s kitchen by climbing five routes in the E1-2 range. The sharp coastal rock was starting to take its toll on our fingertips and after lunch we moved to the super-classic crag of St Govan’s with a bit more polished holds. Another two routes of E2-3 followed before we retired to the pub for a guiltless pint.

Mother Carey's kitchen. Spot the climber.
To reach most of the climbs one needs to abseil down.
Pembroke is amazing, but be careful what you wish for.

That's where I lost our car keys. oops

After finding them, needed some calming sights.

Tadas almost there on yet another amazing pitch.
After a mellow morning drinking tea, we were off to some more goodness. We abseiled down to Stennis ford to climb two excellent routes that go at E3 and E4. Both of them were two-pitch affairs and took us quite some time. By the time we were finished, the dark side of the island started to show its face. Heavy dark clouds were in the horizon and approaching quite fast. Tadas told me that I should at least have a look at the Huntsman's leap, but when I saw it, I couldn’t help myself and just had to climb something there.

Down again for more ...

... more awesome climbing.

Huntsman's leap. BS is on the right hand side wall.
We abseiled quickly and I set off on a stunning E3-4 line of the Bloody Sunday. Thin and technical climbing low down was followed by glorious steep jug-pulling in the second half taking me to the plateau. And then I saw the cloud looming right above me. By the time I had the belay set, it started raining. Luckily, Tadas was very fast and his climbing ability was not affected by the crazy downpour. Still, when we got back to the car we were soaked and there was only one option left for us – head to the excellent tea room for a perfect finish of the weekend.
Tea time.

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