Ogmore – Exposure Explosion!

Jim has been trying to persuade me to visit Ogmore for at least 20 years, but various factors such as weather, tides and the “easy option” of Pembroke another hour down the road had always intervened. The stars aligned on Easter Saturday to slot in a trip, breaking the journey on the way back from Pembroke and avoiding the hoards who’d invaded for the weekend.

It certainly gets a big write-up. UKC has this to say: Fantastic crag. overhanging rock – mostly good but “some of the finishes and occasionally entire routes” can be unstable. In-situ gear may be corroded. A real adventure experience, not to be underrated; if you think Pembroke grades are ‘real’ be prepared for a total pasting. Routes up to 36m. Tidal – extremely so, with tides rising 6m to 9m up the cliff.

It was a spring tide and the actual range was almost 10m – that’s the whole of Stanage; yikes!

It’s the ultimate in roadside adventure, with parking less than a hundred metres from the rap point

… with sunbathing locals and passing walkers on the coastal path blissfully unaware of the upside down adventure land that lies below.

It’s only a couple of hours after high tide when we arrive, and there’s absolutely no evidence of the “beach” at the bottom of the crag, so we’ve a choice between an hour topping up our tans or heading down for the classic high-level traverse of the crag. Gluttons for punishment, we rack up – Bring on the Exposure Explosion!

This major HVS outing is almost 100m along a break around 2/3 height and starts with a 20ft down-climb to reach the least rubbly level. It’s described in 7 pitches, and even with careful ropework and lots of long slings it’s hard to cut down much as the cliff zigs and zags.

Here’s the view back along the first long pitch

A short section around an arete leads to a gloomy cave…

… and tricky moves into and out of this represent the crux (especially climbing early when the SW aspect means the sun hasn’t penetrated and dried out the puddles in the good holds)

More of the same, as the receding waters gradually reveal a friendlier outlook below, and we’re back at the van for a brew well before low tide. A great adventure, and you’d certainly want both team members to have plenty in hand at the grade – especially if there was a big swell running!

Meanwhile, the crag has changed character completely, and some of the more adventurous tourists have explored along from the beaches at either end of the crag.

Next on the hit-list is Pinocchio, a HVS that features in Chris Craggs’ “100 Best Limestone Routes in Britain”, which I’m slowly working my way through. Another sideways adventure, following an overhanging corner…

… before tackling a bulging wall,

… chimney and airy traverse. Excellent, but also stiff for the grade!

We finished off with Megalopolis, E1, which takes an overhanging corner / crack and roof. I improvised and climbed diagonally directly up the barnacled wall to try to avoid the worst of the wetness in the crack, but almost came undone as this also neatly avoided most of the gear! Mildly harrowing.

Anyway, Ogmore fully lived up to its billing and there’s plenty more to go back for. Crowds are unlikely to be a problem – we were at “The Popular End” on a glorious Easter Saturday and had the place to ourselves!

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