Around 15 of us spent a a superb bank holiday weekend climbing in Pembroke. The forecast was for wet weather, yet we almost completely avoided rain (though as anyone who has seen Rick's video footage of my brush with the sea knows, I for one didn't avoid getting wet!). The weather turned out fine. Me, Gary, Derek and Rick arrived late on friday night. We got the tent up and got out heads down, while Mark, Lewis, Will, Jordan and Brian upset the rest of the campsite by constructing something that looked a bit like the millennium dome in the middle of the night.
Saturday morning and the theme of my weekend began - running to keep up with Derek, Rick and Gary! We headed straight down to the nearest crag - Porth Clais - and got on to Red Wall, where I followed Gary up a great Severe that he made light work of. As the crag was now mobbed by the MOB, the 4 of us headed around the bay to Porth-y-Ffynnon. A few nice routes there before the tide came in and then we waited for it to go back out before a sneaky trip to Porth Clais again. I led Diagonal Crack (S) and was feeling pretty confident about pushing up the grades the next day. off to the pub where we caught the end of the footy.
Next day the 4 of us hit south Pembroke. My aspirations of pushing up the grades were quickly reappraised when I saw the scale of things at Flimston Bay. The cliffs are twice the size of those at St Davids and abbing in to the right place is a difficult task in itself. I was glad the other three were there to locate the crag and get the ab rope sorted. The sea was pretty wild as we abbed in to a small ledge at the base of Bow-Shaped Slab. I was feeling a bit over-awed by the whole thing, but looking forward to getting stuck into climbing the super-grippy looking limestone. Gary led off up a HS that looked pretty bold from where I was standing. As he got about half way up the tide started coming in and I started getting wet as big waves smashed against the rocks below my feet. I was tempted to shout at Gary to hurry up but he was a long way above his last bit of gear - not a good time to have your belayer shouting at you to hurry! And besides, I was soaked already. On the route next to ours, Derek followed Rick up until safely clear of the sea-spray then stopped to take endless photos of me being doused. Once Gary was safe and called for me to climb, I flew up the route at a sprint to escape the sea!
After topping out I was half-tempted to back out of the rest of the day - I was soaked to the skin without dry clothes to change into and the weather was getting grim - very windy with a thickening sea-fog. As the base of the crag was more sheltered from the wind, however, it made sense to get back down the ab rope ASAP. I was glad I did. Our intended route was occupied by another team so Gary led up Bow-Shaped Corner. Once I got on the route, I was glad I hadn't backed out after the last one - the route was one of those routes where every single move feels fantastic, all in one of the best situations you could ask for, bridging across a corner high above a wild sea. Revitalised, I took the next lead up Flimston Slab (VDiff). Just brilliant.
The next day we were back in St Davids and this time we checked out Initiation Slabs (after the rain cleared up). After a bit of a puzzle trying to find the start to the first route, I led up a nice VDiff before Gary flew up a HS. Next up a Severe for me. A bit bolder and looser than I would have liked but it was the only route the incoming tide was going to let me on! The best route of the whole trip was next - A stunning VS arete that Gary led. By this time, the tide was so far in that we had to ab into a little niche to belay from and the traverse at the start of the route was almost at sea-level. The route capped off my weekend in style. Gary still wanted more though! Eager to squeeze in one more route, he sped back to Red Wall with Rick while me and Derek went to pack up the tent.
Eventually we got back around midnight. A brilliant weekend. Not only did I have lots of fun, but I learnt a hell of a lot from Gary, Derek and Rick. I would have been far too out of my depth to do the routes I did without them. Thanks guys - hope I didn't slow you down too much!
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