Trad Climbing

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...  


I Heard The Roar of a Wave That Could Drown The Whole World

Well done if you registered the title as lifted from a Bob Dylan lyric - that means you're of a certain age or you just have good taste in music, either or, well done. The sea around Pembrokeshire has been fairly calm of late, disguising the political waves that are rolling over the UK with force.

I guess I should put politics aside and post some recent Pembrokeshire sea cliff action - as the mind has no other option than to put dilemmas to one side and focus on the task in hand while perched on the rock above the sea... Thanks to everyone I've had the pleasure to take out climbing and not talk politics. 

Work and Play


Climbing in Pembroke and Snowdonia 

What I really like about working as a guide and instructor, as well as managing my own business is the variety of work. There is of course the slightly less interesting side of the job - invoicing, tax returns and the endless sorting of kit but it’s a price I’m happy to pay for such a life in the great outdoors. 

Mid May I took the Guardian’s Adventure Travel writer, Kevin Rushby out for a couple of day’s taste of sea cliff climbing and exploration. He’s a top fellow and had some existing climbing experience, so adventure was on the cards. Here’s an article he wrote in the Saturday travel supplement.

The day after Kevin left it was straight into a large block of private guiding and courses run for the Army. There were a few after work “snatch and grab” climbs with local mates, as well as a great afternoon climbing at an obscure area near Saddle Head with Alun Richardson, climbing two established routes and a first ascent of a quality E2 worth a couple of stars. 

There was also time to make a flying visit to Snowdonia to hook up with Pat Littlejohn to climb on and amazing inland crag on the North Lleyn Peninsular, first developed by the Legend Joe Brown in the 70’s. Pat explained to me on the drive that the multi pitch routes we were going to try were graded HVS in the guide - “But Joe graded all his routes HVS in the 70’s…” Pat also explained that these routes most likely haven’t had second ascents… The crag looked unremarkable from a distance but soon became large, impressive and foreboding up close. We climbed two routes; A two pitch “HVS” that turned out to be E2 5b, 5c and another three pitch “HVS”  that also turned out to be E2. The rock was the kind that you had to take care with but the climbing was amazing and I was out with one of my heroes - what more could I ask for?