Rock Climbing Courses

The Top Routes in Pembroke?!

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… 

XS Sea Cliff Choss and Attempted Murder by a Sheep

Sea Cliff Climbing in South West Wales and Mountain Cragging in Llanberis Pass. 

Last week I went with Paul Donnithorne to check out some of the esoteric sea cliffs of the Cardigan Coast. Fair to say that although there are some striking lines to go at, the shale rock has an inherently unstable nature. After a bit of abseil cleaning we walked away with two new HardVS's and a cheeky two pitch E2 I called Strong and Stable. All good fun if you like that sort of thing... 

On Tuesday and on the way up to North Wales I stopped back there to explore some other areas for future attention. On Wednesday I was out with Pat Littlejohn who was keen to check out some neglected parts of Llanberis Pass. The sun was out, warm, T.shirt weather. I climbed the first two pitches of Bable together, clipped into the belay and started taking in the ropes, what a lovely day. Out of the corner of my eye my attention was drawn to a white thing quickly role off a steep grass slope and free fall down a 30+m cliff. It was a sheep, a sheep had just fallen off the cliff! Before I could think to shout down to Pat an almighty crash of boulders and scree came up from below. "Pat!" I called down. Nothing. Fuck, that sheep has just landed on Pat Littlejohn! Luckily the ropes started to move again and eventually Pat reached the belay. Apparently he had just put his rock shoes on, stood up, moved 3m to the start of the climb just as the fully grown sheep had dive bombed into the rock that Pat had been sitting. It would have killed him if he had hung around for a further 10 seconds. Imagine the obituary... 

Great day out in the Pass though, Despite the potentially lethal clumsy sheep. It won't do that again...  


Pembroke Sea Cliff Climbing Courses

On Thursday I head out to Stackpole Head for some personal climbing with Edmund. Waiting for the tide to go out enough to get on the main cliff routes, I led the top pitch of Stackpole Crack, a go'y little number with pretty burly lay backs and a unstable feeling top section. That done, it was down for the main events; Puritan (E2 5c ***) and Silver Shadow (E2 5b***). Personally I found Puritan to be a real effort, with a thrutchy, insecure and difficult crux. Silver Shadow on the other hand was out of this world! rarely you get on a route that has seemed to be designed to be climbed, and SS is one. I am still struggling to think of another rock route that I've climbed that matches it's quality... 

On Saturday I met up with Jonty, who was down from Bristol on a two day guided rock climbing weekend. Having done a fair bit of sport climbing, he was keen to get on some trad sea cliff climbing adventures - great! It was a top weekend, getting in loads of routes at four different venues and the weather was perfect. Thanks for coming Jonty.  This Tuesday I was out guiding with Sam and we headed to the beautiful Penally Range and blasted up loads of fine routes, in perfect weather again - looks like summers here to stay!... 

Exploration, New Routes and Rock Climbing Courses

Sea Cliff Climbing in Pembrokeshire

The weather of late has been pretty unreliable with the forecast changing rapidly, making for lots of guide book checking for plan A, B, C, etc. But that's not stopped the "send train" steaming across the sea cliffs around the county. There's been a good mix of work and play, with the play including new and established routes with Tom Rogers, Chris Horobin from, Paul Donnithorne and Jemma Berry. There's been a lot of exploration of areas I've not been to before, which continues to be one of the things I most love about rock climbing. 

On a work front, there's been a good mix, with family groups, guiding and skills courses. Thanks for everyone that has booked onto courses. Especially those that were still up for an adventure when the weather was less than perfect! 

Here's some shots from the last couple of weeks. 

Pembrokeshire Sea Cliff Climbing

Guided and Group Climbing Adventures 

It's been another busy few days working on the sea cliffs. Firstly I had the company of Dave and Ella up in North Pembrokeshire, where we visited a less frequented area and had an idilic crag to our selves! The following day I met up with Pulkit, Ankur and Zeck down in South Pembroke, where we all got busy building anchors, and I demonstrated how to equalise multi point anchors to set up top ropes. Four ropes set up we headed down to the crag to get on with the climbing. After we had climbed out our first crag, we strolled over to Saddle Head and made a ropes scramble down the ridge and down to the crag. We climbed the fantastic Flake Quake to finish. Nice one guys, top day!