Sea Cliff Climbing at Mother Carey's Kitchen
It’s a funny old thing choosing a “favourite route”. There are so many crags, with different character and situations. Nowadays I spend most of my time climbing by the sea in Pembrokeshire and have had time to think about what makes a route above and beyond the rest of the great climbs here. The other day I had a morning’s climbing that made my mind up.
Mother Carey’s Kitchen is in my opinion THE best crag in Pembrokeshire. It hosts a wealth of quality routes on perfect rock through a good range of grades. The setting is exquisite and there’s almost always routes to get on even if there’s a big sea booming away at it’s base.
A few days ago I met up with Louis (a Pembroke local) at the MCK car park for 9am - I had to be back home just after lunch. It was mid November and even though the forecast suggested it would be a max of 8 degrees, the sun was out with little wind. I suggested starting on Brazen Buttress - a classic Pat Littlejohn E2 5b that I’ve climbed many times and one of my all time favourites. The climbing is sustained but with no definite crux’s. The climbing flows beautifully, with moves that role into one another and more opportunities for protection than you could ask for. The only problem I had was that I’d started the climb with my fleece on and soon started to over heat!
It was a different story when Louis said he wanted to climb Deep Space - another Littlejohn route given the same grade as Brazen Buttress. In contrast this route takes the outer edge of a huge dark cleft, in the shadows and cold. As Louis arrived under the roof I called up to him to make a belay as it was mid tide and the sea was coming in at a speedy rate. The rock was just about dry but cold and lay backing on jams soon chilled the hands to a point of numbness. Arriving at the hanging belay the world below you drops away in a fashion that only climbers can enjoy. Above the way is blocked by an imposing roof but thankfully the holds are as good as you could ask for. A couple of wild pulls and you’re deposited on the upper wall and straight forward climbing on wonderfully sculpted stone to a point where you’re able to bridge across the cleft in dramatic positions to the top.
If you haven’t already, go and do these routes. Of course, when you have there’s all of the other blinders to do at MCK as well! Enjoy…