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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Stunning South Wales Sea Cliffs

Tuesday & Wednesday 7/8th June.
With the weather exceptional and a few days to squeeze in some climbing I made my way to South Wales to meet up with South Welsh native Dan Bryan and on to climb on the sea cliffs of Pembrokshire and the Gower.
Tuesday - and after traveling down to Bosherton in Pembrokshire Monday evening we were up early to get some breakfast and get set up for a good day on the sea cliffs near the village, then there was a change of plan....!
 The area is used by the Ministry Of Defense as a live firing range and today they had put the red flags up, signalling they would be firing and we would be climbing else where.
 With Dan having local knowledge, and more importantly a guide book, we made our way to St David's, the smallest city in Britain, and on to climb at Craig Caerfai. The rock here is of sandstone slab and I found it good to climb on following small cracks and using the friction of the rock, though I found good gear placement spots were a little sparse on a couple of routes.

 I was pleased to clean 'Unknown Sentry' which was my first HVS lead climb before Dan made easy work of 'Armorican' which had been on his tick list.

Routes we climbed were Mildred Mindwarp(HS 4b*) Nameless(VS 4c*) Unknown Sentry(HVS 5a*), The Bryn(VS 4c*), Caerfai Crack(HS 4b*) White Corner(D*) and Armorican(VS 4c***).

  For the afternoon we made our way to Initiation Slabs for a couple of routes then demanded an abseil in to the start of the route and building a hanging belay. 
To be totally honest I wouldn't have comprehended being able to do a route like Aries even earlier this year! A poorly protected traverse from a hanging belay over a tidal rocky bay then climb a poorly protected arĂȘte, I would just about have looked at the photo! Dan telling me it had a sign of a 'fluttering heart' next to the title in the log book whilst I was mid traverse didn't help my shaky leg but I had enjoyed it when I got to the top (possibly!).
The routes we did were Aries(VS 4c**)and Capricorn(HS 4b*)

Wednesday and after spending the night in Bosherton, with the sounds of machine gun fire and the blazing sight of military flares in the sky, we drove to the Gower Peninsula and the beautiful Rhosilli where we met up with Andrew to climb on Kings Wall.
 The towering cliffs here are of limestone with 'wobbly' cracks, lose blocks and polished holds to think about whilst climbing. We started doing a couple of climbs from the terrace above the sea, with Andrew leading 'ISIS' which was on his tick list. Whilst we completed these climbs the tide was on its way out and we could then walk over the beach to the lower climbs..

 For some unknown reason I wasn't feeling it today, and it was annoying me that I wasn't feeling it! The weather was excellent, the setting was outstanding, I had been looking forward to the climbing and had led my highest grade to date just the day before but I felt as though I couldn't lift myself. It could possibly have been delayed shock from parting with £10 for a breakfast and a coffee earlier with me being a devout Yorkshireman!

 I seconded both Dan and Andrew before leading Frigg (VS4b) on King Wall and whilst I enjoyed the climbing and felt I was climbing comfortably within myself my mind wasn't there which resulted in me practically soloing the route and poor rope work when I made the occasional gear placement. I wasn't using my own rack which could have played a part but in the end I suppose I can put it down to experience and learn from it in the future.

Climbs we did were Gethsemane(S 4a**), Isis(HVS 5a***), Ragnorak(HS 4a**), Frigg(VS 4b*).

Summary - overall an excellent couple of days climbing on tidal sea cliffs. Like anything that holds a risk element, or is out of the normal comfort zone, the more you expose yourself to what's involved the less daunting it gets as you become accustomed to the risks and rationalise them. That's what I think and I'm hoping it's going to work!
Pembrokeshire and The Gower are stunningly beautiful areas and to be able to enjoy climbing there is straight from the top drawer of my 'best days out' and I will be returning before too long!

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