About me:

Originally from Hull, I now live in Llanberis, North Wales. Totally addicted to climbing, I work at the Indy Climbing wall and as a freelance routesetter to fund my dirty habit.

5 April 2011

A series of wrong turns...

Arriving back at the Mcdonalds we had bought a coke at 40 minutes earlier, we realised the error of not taking a map. Paying more attention to the road signs, we made it to the Bosherston campsite to catch up with the other car full. Some might say our circumnavigation of Milford Haven was tactical, as upon arrival all the tents were pitched and ready for bedding-down. The excitement was inevitably uncontainable. No one could sleep. We read guides, swapped beta, and doled out recommendations until we realised the time.

7:30am and the tent's golden tinge hints at sunshine. After 30 minutes of pootling around the campsite (hoping to be noisy enough to wake everyone) I can't take it anymore. I start cooking. Bacon. No nose can ignore that smell. Within minutes we are atop of St. Govans.

Sea mist fills the air, but enthusiasm prevails and we all head down. Mikey (flamboyantly as ever) finds himself a hands-off rest on the crux of The Butcher (E3 5c), while the send train begins up Army Dreamers (HVS 5a). Next up, my lead. I have a quick glance in the guide and pick War Crime (E2 5b). After a suprising amount of effort I check the guide only to find that I've done the first three quarters of Get out of That! (E4 5c). This ego boost is quickly followed as Mikey fluffs Tangerine Dream (E4 6a) at the same point I did 3 years ago. 

Mikey (in pink!) at the bottom of Flight Path (E3 5c)
 as the sea goes wild.
I set off up Flight Path (E3 5c) as the tide encroaches, and need no telling to make haste. Exciting wall climbing takes me onto the arete where a fierce pull on a crozzly spike gains what should be easy ground. I pull out too early and only realise I'm in the wrong place when I see the peg on Rising Tide (E4 6a). With the sea creating earth-suddering booms, and the rope caught around my leg, the position I'm in becomes amplified. The holds shrink and disappear as try to reverse. As my head is ready to explode I gain the jugs and plod to victory.

When the waves are big I always feel compelled to challenge the sea in some way. Whilst belaying Mikey on Test Case (E3 5c) a huge wave hit the rock platform. As I turned to see, it blocked out the sun, 300 style. Hurtling towards me in a great arc, it dropped short by my feet. I felt like I had won.

Day two. We went over to St Govan's East; much less frequented than the main section, but very worthwhile, and a great spot for the morning. First up I tried Forbidden Fruits (E3 5c). Getting to some crimps and seeing the peg I had to go for, I felt a little out my depth and climbed down. Naturally, Mikey cruised it. Feeling the need for redemption I got on Body Language (E4 6a). It has a steep, bouldery start, followed by plenty of intricate wall climbing. At half-height I didn't know which way to go. Unfortunately I (and the line on the topo) went wrong and spent 20 minutes pumping out on a sloper before moving back right. By this point my feet and arms had had enough, and even the top VS corner was painful.

After some lunch we headed over to Huntsman's Leap (it wouldn't be a trip to Pembroke with getting down the leap). Quiet Waters (E3 6a) seemed like the obvious choice. It's in Extreme Rock. The Rockfax description says 'overhyped'. Bollocks. It's brilliant. Lots of good moves, good spaced gear and a 'sting in the tail'. I'm quickly coming to the opinion that a 'sting in the tail' makes a route great. I've seen somewhere this route gets E2. I wouldn't argue against E4, given the hard moves and the old peg. Memorable.

Me nearing the top of Quiet Waters in the leap (E3 6a).
 Mikey decided against Ghost Train (E6 6b) as some bits looked wet, and it's quite dangerous. Instead he opted for Head Hunter (E4/5 6a). As we abbed down the leap the tide was ready to cut off access to the plinth where this route belays from. We slipped across just in time. There was no going back. Stood on my metre wide island, I watched as my fate unfolded. The white horses cantered in, constantly gaining in force and stature, whilst Mikey's arms were wilting with every move. A final heave through the crux and I knew it would be in the bag for him. As he pulled up the last of the slack I gloated in 'beating the sea' again. Stepping up to the proverbial oche the sea exclaims "just before you leave...". I was soaked. My bag and trousers, my chalk bag and boots. Drenched. I had to pull on the gear as my feet slipped around like Bambi on ice. The moral of the story? Don't fuck with the sea. 

One thing I discovered in Pembroke is how useful thumbs are, not only for expanding the possibilities of holds, but for resting with too. A thumb is like a fat kid in a fight... Not particularly dexterous, but never goes down. Think about it, have you ever had pumped thumbs?

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