Late Thursday ( almost Friday) I picked up Rab and Gavin at Bristol airport and headed back to Frome for an early morning Dram with my Scottish guests. Plans laid for Pembroke and after a not too early start we headed away for an on-journey stop at Tintern Quarry. The forecast was pretty awful so with low expectations we headed into the “hole in the ground” which looked less than inspiring under the heavy grey skies.
However despite the heavy skies and one or two light spits we managed four good bolted routes, three of which were well worth the effort.
On Stawberry wall Shake and Vac at 6c is a worthwhile short fingery slab route, Sauropods at 6b+ is a vertical crackline that tests your jamming technique whilst over Sunnyside wall Phil in the Gaps at 6a+ provides good entertainment but Rock Juggler at 6a+ should be avoided at all costs due to the big loose flakes that threaten to come down at any time.
By mid afternoon the rain decided to stop dithering and came on with determination so we headed over to Pembroke through dreadful Friday afternoon motorway traffic and even worse rain.
Saturday morning however dawned fair but breezy and we headed down to Saddlehead to introduce Rab and Gav to the delights of Pembroke.
As we neared the cliffs the spray from the sea was lightly dusting our faces and the expression on Rab and Gavs faces was priceless as we looked over the top to see the waves breaking and sending plumes of spray some 50 feet into the air.
The noise of the waves drowned out all conversation and the rock vibrated with the impact as we headed down to start Sea Mist, a two star Hard Severe. After zipping up this and Nameless Wall we felt attuned to our surroundings so under increasingly blue skys and lowering seas we headed over to St Govans in search of some steeper rock.
Abseiling into St Gov’s is always a thought proving experience, especially in heavy seas. However once perched on the tidal ledge with the spray keeping us constantly aware of the size of the waves we set our tick list for the day.
Tactician (E1 5A) followed by Cupids Bow ( E1 5A) and then Clean Hand Blues Band at E2 5B gave us our afternoons entertainment. These routes are all given two stars in the new climbers club guide book and are all worthy of this accolade. The only negative is the loose condition of the escape from the top of Cupids Bow.
Sated we headed back to May Cottage for some food, beer and sleep.
Sunday saw us back at St Govs for a Warm up on Bomb Bay and then an ascent of the Arrow (E1 5B) one of the iconic three star routes at Pembroke.
With the sea much calmer and the sun full on we decided to direct our attention to the three pitch Blue Sky’s ( VS 4C) another three star route on Saddle Head.
This route some would claim to be one of the best VS’s in the UK, a big claim but it is hard to come up with anything that is better at this grade. Excellent rock, good protection and wild exposure coupled with some technical climbing make this a justifiable boast.
Then with the sun sinking into the west and the other climbers and walkers all gone we dropped down to Stennis Head to make the most of our day with an ascent of Manzoku, a three star (E1 5b). The guide book would claim that to climb the grey wall to the left of the crack is less satisfying than the crack, I would dispute this as the wall provides some of the best face climbing I have done in Pembroke at this grade. Do not miss this route.
We departed for Mother Careys on Monday morning with the sound of heavy ordinance from the firing range replacing the crash of the waves. However a leap tide and a date at Bristol airport conspired to prevent any climbing. A bit of a relief given the state of our hands and arms.
13 Routes in three days, a marvellous weekend despite a less than inspiring forecast.