September 11th, 2008 by pebbles

High Stony BankOh well, the August Bank Holiday visit to Pembroke wasn't to be.  After looking forward to climbing my first sea cliff, the day before the trip an email arrived headed "EEK".  A phone call confirmed that every campsite in Pembrokeshire was flooded. Frantic googling by Cef also confirmed that every other suitable campsite/hostel in the country was either flooded or rammed.  To cap it all, the forecast for the weekend was apparently being hosted by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  So we decided to go local and try to hit the best weather direction each day.

Saturday: Attack of the Crag Mice!

Saturday was spent at an (almost) esoteric limestone crag chosen by Simon – High Stoney Bank.  Although just above Gordale Scar, few tourists make it past the waterfall, so it felt wild and lonely. The crag was steep, open and in a very pretty setting above the stream, with enough in the friendly grades(HS – VS) to keep us busy. However some of the routes were alarmingly loose, and some of the top outs were equally stomach wobbling – several  metres of near vertical grass and loose boulders, erk.

The crag is noted for its foul route names – debauchery, depravity, unnatural practice, you get the picture…Our day was also notable for its fine Falling Off contest. Gold medal went to me for almost five minutes of full blooded girly squeeking before tumbling most of the length of the crag, however there was also a fine effort from Pete E with "Argh! Argh! Off!" before another gear-popping attempt at unpowered flight. In the face of such stiff competition Dave E threw in the towel and refused to fall off at all. More succesful ascents included Dyre(HS4a) Depravity(HS4b), Unnatural Practice(VS4c), Barbed Envy(HS4b), Debauchery(VS4c), Latrine(HS4c), Lust(VS4c), Gommorah(VS4b) and Incest(VS4c). You see what I meant about the route names.


Bulldog CrackBack on Gods Own Rock, hurray.  A fine sunny day with spells warm enough to strip down to T shirts – not bad for the august bank holiday eh? As usual the hordes stayed well away from Curbar and we had the edge almost to ourselves (bar one group who spent most of the afternoon demonstrating their inability to toprope the crag's 3 star HS, PMC1…finally, having failed on  HS they headed off to toprope a classic E1…).

As usual at Curbar many of the routes felt quite stiff for their grade – Amy(HS) caused a few puzzled frowns from folk expecting an easy warmup. We all had a bash at the Flying Buttress cracks  then Brindle Crack(HS), and then split off – DaveE and Pete heading for The Brain (VS4c) with Simon and Carmen, Me and Cef heading for Potters Wall(HS4b). Cefs ascent of this was interesting, as he down climbed after each gear placement, but eventually completed the whole route cleanly and before sunset. 

Bel AmiMeanwhile Simon and Carmen did Owls Arete(VS4b), Derwent groove(S) and Ampitheatre Crack (D), and Dave and Pete did some other stuff that I can't list as they don't keep logs. Finally me and Cef headed hopefully for PMC1 only to find the toproping group still in situ, so headed for Belle Ami (VS4b) instead – a really enjoyable and satisfying route with sustained laybacking at the bottom and an exposed but well protected arete at the top. A fine place to finish the day belaying from the top pinnacle.

More photos can be found here.

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