An apt word. When we were all stood at the base of Dyers Lookout on the 1st day I had prognosticated to Ryan that no Lancastrian would ever scale the heights of it (Vickers not inc).
On the first day I set off up Earthsea Trilogy, an E6 on the right and on getting halfway it finally dawned on me that the crack with the pegs in was missing along with a big part of the cliff. Emma and Maddy checked out Once Upon a Time in the South West before the sun stopped play at 16.00.
On the Sunday OUAT has a queue on it. Emma and Maddy work out where it goes and some of the gear and I send Ryan up for the big flash effort. He looked solid for a while but it became apparent that it wasn’t piss and he started flapping a bit, it didn’t look good. Placing some microcams off a full Pasquil lock he came back down.
The next day I’m up and getting to a similar point as Ryan start to flap as well, I had my fingers in a slot which would have taken a good small cam but after some panicked efforts to replace my fingers with a cam I parted company with no success and Fred Halls warning of not relying on what I was about to lob onto.
Our highpoint on our flash effort seemed pretty low to me (it was) so I gave up and abbed down Walk of life. I was glad I didn’t try this one ground up as I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere but was confident Ryan would get through the start with a bit of beta, I’d get him beers for a week if he got through the upper bit onsight though.
Me and Emma took a rest day on Tuesday and Maddy went and dutifully belayed Ryan on his ground up effort, getting to the base of the crux.
Wednesday arrived and having done jack shit our departure day felt like it was looming. After abseiling Walk of Life again I was made up not to fluff the upper cruxes and had to shake my feet out loads from the 30 meter mark. What a pitch.
We celebrated a bit that night. Emma, Maddy and Ryan are dead nice so it was great having Ray on the trip for a good slagging session. Ray got it started about someones Instagram account doing his head in but very soon I was laying into everyone. People in North Wales, Sheffield, Chamonix….if you are reading this I was probably talking about you at some point. Admittedly Bransby took more flack than anyone else having bailed on the trip last minute. If he wasn’t careful he risked no longer being my perfect partner, after all, Ryan, Emma and Dan were all in tears that it was him rather than them.
He is replaceable. I was confident no one had ever had reason to slag me off because my friend Pete Robins had told me recently that I was a person with NO faults.
Maddy gave me dibs for a go on OUAT and after abbing to check the 2 crux moves and gear I gave it a pop. Where Walk of Life had been a slick operation this route did have a particular ‘shitfest’ moment of terror.
I’d had to climb quite quickly to the rest above the 2 cruxes as my feet were pretty baked. The runnel I’d been up once the day before and dismissed as steady was about to come back and haunt me at the most runout point, having latched a good quartz hold I was dismayed to be getting really pumped on it. Rocking left I eventually lifted my right foot onto the quartz but a fall was feeling probable. After a few more moments of feeling I was coming off backwards and upside down a long way lady luck stepped in (I kind of doubt it was karma) and I got my arse over the foothold and eventually the top.
Maddy was up next, having not been put off by my shit show. She’d impressed me a lot last year onsighting loads of hard routes in Pembroke day in and day out, pulling ryan after her. After one false start Maddy made a very smooth lead and it was no surprise to learn she was an excellent dancer. I very much doubt that she would be able to teach Ryan anything about dancing having seen his moves at the works after party….it was a beautiful thing.
We celebrated that night, myself and Ryan being the DJs. Ryan really had learned a lot this trip. He'd learned I was a bit of a bastard and that if he'd got his hands dirty and abbed the routes he would have found them piss. I had let him down on this trip but I was very impressed by his efforts on OUAT.
The morning after we bid Ryan and Maddy farewell , they were off to do a route called Booby Prize. I once again told Ryan no Lancastrian would ever reach the top of it.
I dropped Ray off at the train station in Bristol and set off towards Pembroke. It had been slow on the M5, a 2nd and 3rd gear job but the M4 made that seem fast being a 1st gear job for much of the way. I got a message to say Ryan had in fact got up Booby Prize, even though it was raining and in piss poor condition!
I regard Pembroke as the best sea cliff climbing venue in the UK and perhaps the world for single pitch routes. There is a ludicrous amount and variety of climbs in a great setting.
Me and Emma went to the Range West briefing and headed into Mount Sion East. My memory of it didn’t disappoint, there must be at least a dozen brilliant looking new routes around the E5-8 ,mark left to do on the cliff. A roof crack 7 meters right of Littlejohns ‘Come all ye faithful supplied a fight and new route ‘The Royal Westing’. I had a swim at Broadhaven and after an excellend talk Emma gave at the Pembroke Festival of climbing I finished my evening at St Govans Inn with Paul Donnithorne and some whisky.
I felt pretty rough the next day but I could prognosticate that if I made it to the Royal Westing it could be much worse.