Confused by the title?? Me too. Not the Welsh though, that’s bread and butter to them…..ah those crazzzzy buggers! By the way before you start burning your Jonny Wilkinson posters (we all know you have one ;]) please note that i’m joking! The fine folk of the little corner of Wales i’ve just got back from were crackin’ fun. So fine were they that i may one day go back. Yes in case you hadn’t guessed…and given the total lack of clues then a guess is probably all you could hope to muster…i spent a few days down in Pembrokeshire with G-Funk, Gilliam, Robbo, Callum, Liam, Sam-u-el and Tom (unfortunately Dick and Harry were busy and couldn’t make it). Quite the outing i’m sure you’ll agree!
Alas our merry band descended gradually on the sea-cliffs of Pembroke. I drove over on Friday night after work to meet up with my mate Tom from uni days gone by. We got lucky with the weather and climbed a few classics (like an awesome HVS girdle) and some ‘not-so-classics’. We also shot a gun. We had a wander over to some of the North Pembroke crags, and happened to really like Carreg-y-Barcud. I vowed that if i ever got the chance i’d head back there as soon as i could……..luckily (or not so luckily) there were firing restrictions at Range West and East (closing them off all day and night) during the one week that we all decided to head down and so my wish arrived somewhat prematurely. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that so we managed to make the most od some generally awesome weather and practically ticked the whole of Barcud over the course of the next few days. If you climb like a ponce and have gecko fingers you’ll love the place! There’s 3 star classics from VS up to E8 with a fair bit in between around the E1-E6 mark so i’d recommend it if you’re about.
Anyway the week itself started off rather ominously. Dave’s granny-mobile went the way of it’s previous owner and died on him halfway down the Welsh coast. Much to their’s and my annoyance, as old cockface here (by virtue of the fact that i was the only one with a car capable of carrying more than one passenger) volunteered to go and pick them all up from Aberfuckinwhatdyacallit, they were a little late in getting down to the party, so it wasn’t until very late on the Monday that we were all happily united as one big tour de force. We woke, or at least were woken, at 5 in the morning to see some fat bastard topless nutter in army trousers on a push bike haring around Bosherton screaming about the end of the world (at least in terms of the Army and Air Force coming along and blowing the shit out of the sea) in 2 hours time and “we’d better get the fuck out of here”. Pronto. Rather annoyed at this infringement on our right to slip around on polished limestone we complied and sacked it to Carreg-y-Barcud – the slabby, sandstone mecca of earlier musings.
NB: I’m coming back to this post about a month after i first started writing it. The dribble above was as far as i got and as i can’t be arsed changing any of it i’m afraid you’re gonna have to put up with any mistakes or glaring errors.
So where was i? Oh yeah….Carreg-y-Barcud. I’ve probably gone on about how good it is so i’ll save that torment for you. We spent a lot of time there….did i mention that too? Hold on………ok just had a quick scan. This post sucks! I’m realy sorry……..it’s raining outside at the minute and i’ve got nowhere i desperately need to be so i’m gonna just crack on with it and hope to salvage this rapidly sinking ship. Feel free to jump overboard if you haven’t already.
In the end we pretty much ticked the crag during the few days we spent there. I had heard tell of a Dave Pickford E8 there called ‘Gecko Blaster’ (or something like that) which was a recent bold addition to the wall that probably hadn’t had a 2nd ascent…..one for the Ullrich to have a play on perhaps? The only problem was that i had only ever seen one photo of this route…..about 3 years ago. It took a lot of convincing myself that i knew what i was on about before i could try and convince the others, and in particular George, that there was in fact a line up there. The solitary peg 12m up helped too. So with my appalling beta, which went something along the lines of ‘well, you see that peg up there? basically head straight for it then head off left for a couple of moves then straight again’, a top-rope was set up and a few whirls were had. I had done a couple of good routes earlier in the week with Tom so i set about shooting my mouth off at how great they were to anyone who would listen and pretty soon the classics of the crag like ‘Sinecure’ E1, ‘Beyond the Azimuth’ E1, ‘Kitten Claws’ E3 and ‘Mean Feat’ E5 (see pic below) had a nice smattering of chalk liberally applied to their progressively conservative holds (no political slant intended).
Robbo, Dave and myself used this time as a chance to hone our Yosemite climbing techniques….cos as everyone knows The Valley is the home of technical, run-out, crimpy slab climbing. There was a ‘nice’ looking offwidth chimney tucked away at the far right-hand end of the crag which winked at me everytime i looked across at the fine view down the Pembrokeshire coast. Well why not eh?? May as well have a go at some point….we’ve got 6 months of it coming up after all! Besides she was only HVS 4c!! Hmm………repeat after me – ‘SANDBAG’. As the photos below show, we got well and truly schooled! I managed to get far enough up so that my head was jammed in – cue the lack of helmet on the subsequent goes!
During all this George had been making headway on the phantom E8 (a brief stop at a cafe in St. David’s – mega milkshakes by the way – had revealed nothing new on this ‘line’ and some of the disciples were maybe beginning to doubt it’s existence – shame on you!). So much headway in fact that the lead was now well and truly ‘on’! Thankfully Mr. Ullrich managed to find a few more bits of gear in the first few metres of the route so he didn’t have to rely solely on the peg. Not so thankfully this gear consisted mainly of weighted down sky-hooks and poor RPs. The climbing is ‘steady’ English 6b for a bit until a very fall-offable move right before the peg allows a sketchy clip to be made. Stepping left you get a good wire and then have the uber-precarious 6c crux, throwing shapes off some finger tip mono’s (similar to the super route me and Dave found a couple of years back in Siurana – just not as hard obviously). George had a couple of good burns on lead bu kept falling on this move, only to get it easily after a brief rest on the solid wire. Not keen to have to face the sketchy moves leading to the first bit of decent gear 12m up for a third time he opted to sack it off for another time….fair enough really.
NB: As a little side note George spoke to Dave Pickford about shortly after getting back from Pembroke. The line is called ‘Daddy Cool’ E8 6c and goes right past the peg, not left. Oops. He also counts it as one of his boldest ever leads. No mean feat given his credentials!
After a short change of scenery to check out a potentialy DWS spot on the other side of St. David’s and to escape the fast approaching bad weather we decided to boost. I drove most of the guys back to Dave’s stricken van amidst an atmosphere of intense shock following the news of MJs death – ahem – then followed George and Callum for a visit to Nesscliffe. We managed a go on Marlene a top quality E4 before the rain caught us up and stopped play (Callum on the onsight and me sketching on the flash).
Next up is a brief sojourn to North Wales for a long weekend before my 24th birthday (when i am officially recognised as being ‘past it’) then a nice little holiday to Australia for my cousins wedding and finally, oh finally, the long awaited North America rampage. I can’t wait….and if you’re still reading this shite….neither can you!