Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Don't worry, I haven't dropped something on the keyboard, that word is 'climbing' in welsh, which sums up the last week's activities pretty well.

After an anarchic late night show at Edinburgh's Fringe on Saturday night, winter-scratcher and part-time rock-jock Viv Scott and I started the L-O-N-G drive south to Pembroke on Sunday, eventually getting to St. Govan's Inn in Bosherston in time for last orders. I've concluded that despite not being all that big, Wales must be very dense as it takes a long time to move through. Finally fed, watered and fighting fit (or maybe fighting fat), we were ready to kick off our wee trip, and stumbled down to Stennis Head the next morning to traverse out above a rather angry sea on Riders on the Storm. After neither getting wet or falling off, and finding solace in some of the biggest holds known to mankind I decided that Pembroke is rather fun, and we set about ticking more classics, with Viv on Cool for Cats and me on Manzoku, and then headed down into Huntsman's Leap for Viv to take a good lob from the crux overlap on Beast from the Undergrowth - be warned, the photo in the Rockfax guide of someone making 'the stretch move', is complete anti-beta. Well done. Meanwhile, Blair was working his way up Just Another Day/Scorch the Earth only for it to start raining (a running theme of Blair and
Nona's trip), but he waited it out and topped out in the dry. Good work Fyffe.

We started the next day on First Blood at St. Govan's East, followed by Calisto, then swung round to St. Govan's proper and I had an amazing time on Deranged, which was possibly the best route of the trip, and Viv romped up the super-classic and super-polished Army Dreamers. We were tempted by a final route to finish the day, but instead decided to eat ice cream, explore St Govan's Chapel and then go to the beach. Slackers.

Wednesday dawned overcast and windy, and after a pot of tea at Ma Weston's we decided to up sticks and explore the crags round St. Davids, eventually reaching Carreg-y-Barcud in time to climb Beyond the Azimuth and The Great Valerio before the tide did for us. Both of these were great routes on thin (ish) slabby sandstone, and the antithesis of South Pembroke's steep limestone, so we decided to stick around and return the next day. In the mean time we ate more ice cream (I recommend Blue Lagoon flavour) and deep/shallow water soloed the perfect Red Wall at Porth Chlais, before retiring to The Farmer's Arms.

Viv going sideways on The Great Valerio

Enjoying big holds and big sea on Red Wall

Back at Barcud the next day I started us out on Sinecure, a fingery wee number, and Viv styled the crag classic Kitten Claws. There was then just enough time before the impatient tide and approaching showers to nip up the soft touch Stingray. We then headed back into St. David's for some culture and a look around the 12th Century Cathedral. Those that know me will know I don't exactly have positive leanings towards religion, but there's no denying that from a historical perspective it's a truly stunning building; full of ancient tombs, shrines and ornate decoration, and well interpreted so oiks like me can understand what I'm looking at. In particular it felt nice to get to know a bit more about the place we were visiting than just the crags, pubs and campsites.

Following up Kitten Claws

After another flourescent blue ice cream we hopped in the car and headed north for stage two of the trip...

On arrival in Llanberis, it was rather wet, and remained rather wet for a few days. Rob Greenwood very kindly put us up in his nice new house (within a pebble toss of Pete's Eats), which made life significantly better than mouldering away in a soggy tent. Rob took us on a brilliant run up a hill above town, whose name I will never remember except that it sounded like Noel Edmunds, which was a timely reminder that OMM training should start about now.

Each night we made a vague plan to do some routes in the slate quarries the next morning, then to head up the Pass or out to the coast, but each morning the plans were re-written by the drizzle. On Saturday we ended up going out to Llandudno, guided to Craig-y-Don on the Little Orme by Rob. I lead up a classic venture called Hydro, and Rob then casually strolled up Frozen Moment/New Wave and Nimitz. By now the tide had gone out and LPT was good to go, so we went and clipped shiny seaside bolts. My aim was to do the classic 7a The Pink Pinkie Snuffs It, which I'd fallen off on a very quick onsight attempt a year and a bit ago. Rob kindly put the clips in for me, and I managed it first go this time, which was nice. I then got nauseatingly pumped onsighting Under the Boardwalk and spent the rest of the evening not doing much. Meanwhile, Rob redpointed the rather savagely sharp sounding La Boheme.

And then it was Sunday and the last day of the trip, and since it was drizzling in town we hatched a Gogarth shaped plan and headed for Holyhead. Other than The Strand on Upper Tier last year, I've never climbed at Gogarth, so was keen for my introduction to be solid and relatively safe and stress-free, so I managed to persuade Viv out of going straight down Red Walls and over to Castell Helen, where we did the brilliant Atlantis/True Moments/Freebird link up. Despite this being amazing, I still didn't feel ready to up my game to proper choss-shuffling, so pursuaded Viv that the slate would be dry by now and to bail back inland. Luckily for me, he assented, and the slate was dry, so I finished off the trip with one of the routes I had most wanted to climb in Wales, Comes the Dervish, which, rather unsurprisingly, was bloody brilliant. Celebratory beers in The Heights ensued, followed by a Pete's breakfast next morning, and of course, as we drove away the sun was out and folk were out climbing in the Pass. Typical.

Viv traversing out on pitch 2 of the Atlantis link.

Excited about the Dervish

The End