Pembroke

Last weekend I went to Pembroke for the first time in 11 years. I’m not sure why the huge gap – I think I’d forgotten just how wonderful it is. Where else are there so many superb crags within such a short distance? And what’s more, all the walking between them is flat.

Duncan, my partner for the weekend, claimed a well travelled climber of his acquaintence reckoned Pembroke to be one of Europe’s four world-class cragging destinations (the others being Font, the Verdon and the Elbstandstein, discuss ad infinitum over a brew on a rainy day). When I’d been before I hadn’t done a great deal of limestone climbing and didn’t appreciate how good the rock is down there.

Pembroke climbing UK

Good weather, immaculate rock - someone strikes it lucky.

It was my first time trad climbing since last autumn and I was pretty rusty. Having spent most of the year so far sports climbing the routes themselves felt fine, but the gap between gymnastic exercise and doing the lead felt pretty big.

I started off on a VS, that was fine, then dodging the showers we went to do an HVS near Stenis Head, climbing until late in the evening.

On Saturday the weather was perfect, sunny but a little chilly and windy, not too hot at all. Rather ambitiously, we did three routes on three separate crags. On Bosherston Head we abbed into the wrong bit, but found an easy way out. Heading to Rusty Walls Duncan had his sights set on Lucky Strike, but there was a team on it so we did a classic E1 crack called Solidarity. Again, seconding it, the climbing felt straightforward but the lead itself a little beyond me. As ever, mileage is the key!

For a finale we went to Castle Head to do a HVS called Rizla. This was my lead, and it knocked me right back. I got about 30 ft up the black, soapy, slopey rock with a few bits of gear but couldn’t get any more in – the usual friendly Pembroke cracks had disappeared! I tried to get a small wire in a crozzly horizontal crack but it pulled out, and I was unwilling to press ahead to where I thought I could get some more in. I retreated, and felt bad about myself. Duncan took the lead, wangled some gear in, slowly udged up, then at about 60ft announced he was retreating, thinking it a rather bold E1. We were sandbagged! (And I felt better.)

We awoke to Biblical rain on Sunday.

 

brew climbing road trip

Car park cafe

 

Pembroke clouds

"What were the skies like when you were young?"

 

Pembroke coastline climbing

Pembroke coastline from Castle Head.

 

Sea pembroke

Symbol of the unconscious

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