Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Limestone Lemurs

After being cooped up like a small rodent from Wednesday to Friday, I handed my essay in, and was picked up by Dave so that we could get an early start on Friday morning.

We woke to thick cloud and rain in Capel Curig, but buoyed by the fact that Capel is the wettest place in the world, we packed the car and set off South, headed for an afternoon hit on Carreg-y-Barcud, North Pembroke. After hours of driving, we saw a few patches of blue sky and forged on, imagining golden sun, blue skies and bikini clad women at the bottom of the crag (or was that just me??). Arriving at Barcud it was clear that few of these would materialise, though I did try and convince Heather to crack her bikini out, but fortunately she declined. Abbing in to the belay ledges, it was obvious that the incoming tide and rough swell dictated a swift traverse to the right-hand side of the Main Face. I ended up on Beyond the Azimuth, with Dave on belay duty, as I set off up the route I began to feel a splattering on me and shouted down "Is it just me or is this sea spray really heavy!?!?" The response being "It's raining get a move on!". 'Right, shit' I thought 'slabby E1 in the rain'. I placed another bit of gear, and began to move up the diagonal crackline, placing gear more often than I usually do on that sort of terrain. Despite being a bit intimidated at the beginning of the route I soon found myself at the top by just taking it a move at a time and getting as much gear in as possible. I searched out a couple of stacked wires for a belay, and bought Dave up. By this time, Heather and Siobhan had also topped out on their route and declared their escape back to the car. Dave decided as we were here he would have a quick top-rope of an E5 he had tried before, and luckily cruised to the top, and we bailed back to the car.

A wild Carreg-y-Barcud
 We headed to Dave's Dad's House for warmth and dryness, and Siobhan russled up a mega chilli, which I ate far too much of! After a good sleep, we headed down to Bosherston Head for some steep Limestone!
It was me and Florence the Machine on Crush Team B whilst Dave and Shivvers went to have a crack at Star Wars...

Florence crushed Cool for Cats at Stennis Head in the shade as a warm up so we headed to St Govan's for some sun and lactic acid. It was my lead, and abbing in I knew that to push myself and get a decent route in I would have to get on The Butcher E2/3 5c or Poisoned Arrow E4 6a. Unsure of how well I was climbing on steep rock I opted for the Butcher. Setting off it felt greasy and I had a hard time believing I would get up it clean, but just took it in sections, and after a tricky section found myself at the Jug rest under the crux...It turned out to be full of water, so with a wet right hand I set about putting in some good gear for the crux. However, in an effort to keep my left hand dry I was using a poorer hold and had to keep swapping hands to place gear and then rest the other hand! After what seemed like an age, I had assessed the crux and decided to go for it, my right hand dry, grabbing the crimp, pulling through to the good hold on the arete, my feet and body moving into position to allow me to carry on upwards, on into the upper crack I plug a cam in and keep moving, riding the pump now, nearing the top, pull over and whoop for joy! Make a belay and my whole body is buzzing, I did it, no in-situ gear to clip, no ledges, hands off rests or respite from the steepness. It felt more E3 than E2 to me but steep, pumpy climbing is not a strong point of mine. Whatever the grade, what an experience and a big boost to my confidence. Florence crushed it on second like the machine she is and we got some grub down us.

Low down on The Butcher E3 5c ***

We abbed back in for the Arrow, a classic E1 I seconded on my last trip to Pembroke, after a few false starts on the wet bottom section, Heather flew up it, and I tried to do the same on second. Not sure what to do next, I decided another classic was in order so blasted up Army Dreamers (HVS 5a) which has some brilliant climbing marred only by the polish. After my battle with the Butcher I felt flowing and confident, enjoying the position and climbing. Satisfied, we headed to the campsite, had some reet tasty food and headed to the pub for some cider...

Sunday began in an overcast manner and with both the Castle and Rusty Walls soaked, we headed back to St Govan's, so I pottered up Panzer II, a shortlived HVS to the right of Army Dreamers. Then the sun came out, Heather then did Tactitian another HVS with a burly, cornery crux...kudos! I then did War Games, an E1 next to Tactitian, its no harder, just a bit bolder and a tad more goey but has hands off rests and the best, most exposed corner at the top. To carry on the Military theme of the day, Heather finished off with Front line a really great HVS to the left of Army Dreamers. A brilliantly chilled day, just enjoying the movement over rock, and being next to the sea in great company, bathed in sunshine!

Florence the Machine fiddling some gear into the Tactitian, HVS 5a ***

Overall, a wicked weekend, with a fair amount of mileage, I also have started feeling far more comfortable on steep ground, and instead of panicking as soon as I begin to feel my forearms fill with lactic acid, I sort myself out and try and find a rest or push on to a rest.

A good effort to Dave for abbing in and getting on Star Wars, the idea of it intimidated me all weekend, unfortunately the send was halted by a dodgy move above RPs, still at least I've got some beta on it now!

I cannot wait to get back down there, armed with a bit more sport fitness and more sun!! I think I will try and get a load more E3s done and maybe have a crack at Bloody Sunday, Poisoned Arrow, or Star Wars all E4... Spicy times!!


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