When I mention how far I am willing to go for a climbing day trip, most people think I am a little bit crazy. However I think the few that normally understand probably think I am slightly mad due to the trips I have done over the past few days, 10 hours in a car to climb 5 routes. On Friday I took the day off work and headed down to Lower Sharpnose Point in North Cornwall with my Mum and then on Saturday I headed over to Pembroke for another day trip with Rich.
Lower Sharpnose Point
I have been wanting to climb at Lower Sharpnose for a while now, it is a unique crag with improbable fins sticking out into the North Atlantic. It is also known for being very steep and sustained and having been there I am very glad I wanted until now for the trip! It was a stunning day and after a painless 2.5 hour drive we arrived at the parking spot and started the short walk to the crag. The fins are hidden until you are very close, all of a sudden as you approached the summit of the middle fun the crags appeared from below. From the summit of the middle fin the sea looked like it was a long way down and the view along the coastline was outstanding. We quickly descended to the North Fin which I proceeded to walk along to have a look for the abseil station and have a look down the face, from the top it looked alarmingly steep.
After some faffing we headed down to start climbing, from the base of the crag the line of our first route, The Smile, was immediately obvious as it followed a clear break. There was however an issue, the initial move seemed impossible and after a great deal of trying we came to the conclusion that a boulder had probably been moved during the winter storms, in order to overcome this problem I stood on my belayer to get off the ground, and dropped a sling down from the first piece of gear in order for mum to aid off. The first section of climbing to get up to the break was first soaking wet and then greasy so I ended up unexpectedly pumped.
The traverse all the way along the break was steady but very strenuous without any proper rests, I also found the gear tended to be fairly awkward to place. Due to this there were a few points where I really wasn’t sure I was going to make it, however with a bit of sheer determination I was soon approaching the scoop at the end of the traverse and start of the steep crux. Thankfully, just before the scoop there was the first proper rest which I made the most of before committing to the technical crux, however it was much more like my usual type of climbing so I actually found it easier than parts of the traverse. When I finally got to the top I was incredibly happy to have made it without resting as it felt like such a battle, it turned out that I had been leading the route for 1h15mins which meant that I was pretty drained by the time I got to the top.
After Mum had climbed the route we had some food while we decided what climb to do next, we decided to head around to the other side of the fin and climb Mason, unfortunately this route is in the eternal shade due to being on the north side of the fin. Again the start was soaking and the climbing felt very insecure until I got above the high tide line, I was soon at the ledge looking at the traverse which the guide book described as committing. From the ground it looked like it would be ok, but from the ledge you stand on before the traverse it suddenly looked very scary. After some faffing trying to find some good gear I finally committed to the traverse, I soon arrived at the end of the traverse feeling scared as the gear felt like it was a long way to the left. Unfortunately the end of the traverse didn’t involve a nice rest, but an out of balance 5b move which meant that placing gear was very difficult. After some fiddling in some gear I started the very strenuous but well protected crack up to the top, again it took some grit determination to get to the top without resting.
Again at the top I felt very spent due to the strenuous nature of the route and we decided to head home at this point. The view on the way out was even better than the view on the way down due to the position of the sun and I felt very happy to not only have finally climbed at Lower Sharpnose Point but to have climbed two fantastic E1s in good style.
After a long drive home we arrived back at my house 12 hours after we had left, this left me just about enough time to eat dinner and pack for the next day’s adventure in Pembroke.
Thanks to the late tide times we were able to have a slightly more leisurely start to the day, and after a quick drive we were in Pembroke by 10:30. My aim for the day was to climb The Beast from the Undergrowth out of the iconic crag which is Huntsman’s Leap, due to this we warmed up by heading to St. Govans so that Rich could lead a few of the classic routes while the tide receded.
When we arrived at the crag the weather was stunning, wall to wall blue skies with no wind. There was another team on our first route, Army Dreamers, so we chilled out at the top and took some photos while we geared up. We sooned abseiled down and had wandered around the bottom of the crag before starting the route, Rich made quick progress up the line while I was enjoying relaxing at the base of the crag in the sun while belaying. It was soon my turn to follow the route and I really enjoyed the climbing which I first climbed in August 2012.
After some gentle encouragement we headed back down for Rich to lead the Arrow, which is a super classic route which I climbed early in my E1 career. Rich made quick progress and he didn’t even faff that much at the initial intimidating bulge, which was impressive given how soapy the holds were as they were in the shade. Again I was loving being sat down by the sea in the sun, with a stunning view of the Pembrokeshire coastline and all too soon it was time for me to wake up and climb the route. I had forgotten just how good the route was in the two years since I climbed it, and it is a route which well and truly deserves its three stars.
After this we packed up and headed over to Huntsman’s Leap, a crag I have been wanting to climb at ever since I have been coming to Pembroke. It is a super intimidating but very inspiring zawn, which I have been psyching myself to climb out of for the past few weeks. Once I got to the top and actually looked at the route, The Beast from the Undergrowth, I suddenly started to feel very nervous as from the top it looked very steep. After much faffing trying to decide what gear to take we abseiled down into the depths of the zawn, this felt incredibly committing as the route we were climbing was the easiest route out of the zawn. This route also happened to be a grade harder than either me or Rich have ever onsighted.
The atmosphere in the zawn was unique and very surreal, everything seemed very calm and quiet and it was like the rest of the world didn’t exist. Thankfully from the bottom the route didn’t look quite so scary and I soon set off up the route. I was soon at the exit to the initial grove by two threads which protected the first section of tricky but brilliant climbing, which felt pretty exciting on lead by the time you got to the next bit of gear. I then arrived at the start of the crux sequence, which also happened to be a nice rest with plenty of fantastic bombproof gear, so in my usual style I laced it.
Eventually I committed to the sequence, which was a balency traverse left before pulling up through the overhang, the gear at the left of the traverse was poor but initially I started the pull up through the overhang. Half way through the sequence I bottled it due to the poor (awful!) gear and started trying (and failing) to fiddle in some other gear which meant I got really pumped and I very cautiously lowered onto the crap gear and made my way back to the start of the sequence. This event repeated itself a few times before I finally overcame my fear and went for it, as the fall if the crap gear ripped would have been a large but safe one. It was very frustrating as once I fully committed to the moves I didn’t find them hard, and I was soon at a really good hold where I got a good micro cam in and then a few moves later got some more good gear in. At this point I was very happy to be above the sequence and easily made my way to the top of the route, being careful at the top due to some loose rock and grass.
It was a great route which felt like a proper adventure and I am so glad that I went for it, and I can’t wait to get back into the leap have have a go at some of the other classic E2s as it is such an inspiring crag. We headed home after this route, content with having managed three great routes in a day trip to Pembroke. Once I got home the past 2 days caught up with my and I was very tired, both mentally and physically, so I have been enjoying a relaxing day in the sun today.