5 th – 9 th May
Pembroke delivers the sunshine! Whilst one previous Prince of Wales formally became King some of MKMC headed to the birthplace of Henry VII (the UK’s only Welsh King and the founder of the Tudor dynasty) for a superb weekend of sea-cliff climbing. Heading off the rain on Thursday evening Charlie and Peter met at the charming Windmill Farm Campsite to set tents before Peter braved a deluge to collect Kathy from Swansea. The following morning the 3 made their way to Penally once the weather had cleared. Friday turned out to be a very fine day of slab climbing and a good re-introduction to the delights of abbing into sea-cliffs. The remainder of the party (James, Lee and Tom) made good time up from far east, meeting the others shortly after lunchtime.
Logbook for the day:
Rusty Slab VS 4c – Charlie, Peter & Kathy. A bold start to get the blood pumping.
Ferrous Rib VS 4c – Enjoyed by Peter & Kathy first then lead again by Charlie
Rusty Corner HS 4b – Fine lead by James followed by Charlie.
Pollock Diff – A crack on the smaller slab lead by Lee with Tom. Kathy then led
Peter on it.
Chocolate Brownies S 4a – a popular snack led first by Lee with Tom, then Peter
with Kathy and finally James with Charlie (from a hanging belay as the tide was fast
While the cat’s away VS 4c – Led by Lee with Tom and thought over-graded.
The high tide was late afternoon and made the starts of the further routes difficult.
A pleasant pub dinner was enjoyed.
Whilst a band of torrential rain sat on the rest of the UK, once the morning cloud cleared we had another fine and sunny day. Heading to the Stack Rocks car park at the far end of Range East another day on superb slabs beckoned. Peter, Kathy, Lee and Tom wanted to consolidate on some of the classics at the beautiful Flimston Bay, climbing on the slab there before heading over to join James and Charlie at Crystal Slabs for the remainder of the day. These are highly distinctive, non-tidal 60m slabs with a steep but easy scramble approach.
Flimston Slab VD – Led by Kathy with Peter and then Lee with Tom.
Flimston Crack VD – Led by Lee with Tom.
Razzle Dazzle VS 4c ** – Excellent climbing with a very satisfying crux at the
overlap. First up for Charlie with James then later led by Peter with Tom and
Kathy. A fine second by Tom and his highlight of the weekend.
The Gadfly VS 4c ** -Fine, sustained climbing up the slab with some lovely moves
at the overlap, widely considered the best of the VS’s here. A fine lead by James
with Charlie and later by Peter with Kathy.
Crystal Arete HVS 5a * – A long nervy slab with HS climbing and HVS gear,
followed by a fairly intimidating but well-protected 5a move on an overhang into a
garden of sea-cabbage. Due to rope drag a necessary hanging belay before the final
7 m. Lead by Charlie with James
Sixth Crack VS 4C – Actually the first main crack of the slab, overlaps with the
Gadfly to give a pleasant and although similar, not quite as satisfying experience.
Led by Charlie with James.
At this point, most of the group returned to the campsite satisfied with a full day
although Lee was suffering from a cold which had left him out of action for the
Charlie and James decided they had one last climb in them and with no tide to
worry about and the lingering days stayed for Charlie to lead The First Waltz E1 5b
*. Some really enjoyable dancing up the slab with an unusual E1 comedy run out and
a couple of brilliant moves onto the steepening headwall. A very fine climb with
seems a touch overlooked.
A special mention must go to Tom and James and the Apocalypse Nachos. Speak
to Tom for the recipe.
The group split with James and Charlie heading off to Mother Carey’s Kitchen, leaving the rest to go to Saddle Head. They had a good day bagging a number of routes at that classic venue. It offers a scramble approach as well as abseil and is often a fairly busy and friendly crag. It offers some of the best easier climbing in Pembroke including some absolute classics like Sea-Mist and Blue Sky. Typically for James and Charlie, Mother Scarey’s was living up to her name. A hugely intimidating venue with a hanging ab in and the easiest escape route, The Cracks, goes at HS. The day there was delayed by the tide. Then Charlie attempted a long-anticipated climb of Rock Idol E1 5a. Described as the best E1 in the country. Happily, for Charlie’s outrageously pumped arms, there was a bird’s nest at about 35m that forced a begrudging retreat. James was wonderfully patient on the belay while he nervously watched the tide. A welcome Chinese meal ended the day.
At Saddle Head:
Small Beginnings -VD Led by Lee and Peter
Forgotten Corner – HVD Led by Lee and described as an absolute sandbag
Fel Gwyr – D (led by Kathy and Lee)
Flake Quake – S 4a Led by Lee and Peter. Lee’s highlight of an illness-restricted
Sea Mist – HS 4a – Led by Peter, a super exposed, atmospheric, fingery traverse
At Mother Carey’s
Rock Idol – E1 5a dnf
The Cracks -HS twice
The final day was rained off as finally the monsoon made its way to the coast and
very satisfied climbers made the long journey east.
A terrific weekend’s climbing at the UK’s truly unique and world-class venue.