This is the undoubtedly the epicentre of North Pembroke climbing – dozens of high quality routes packed into not much more than a couple of hundred metres of bullet-hard sandstone, set above the shimmering sea.
The rock is more compact here, with fewer breaks and cracks, and those are on a more micro scale (so racking up the brass and tiny cams makes sense). We warmed up on My Back Pages, which is better protected than the E1 5a grade would suggest, then Helen led the classic Metamorphosis, HS, following a pair of really striking cracks.
I then had a go at The Hypocrite, E3 6a, but wimped out of the final headwall (a couple of decent but tiny cams about 5ft below your feet and then a 6a rockover onto nothingness – tough for E3!) and finished up the top crack of the adjacent E3 Smirnoff, instead (which is what everyone else seems to do!)
Helen then managed to choose the only overhanging route on a whole crag of slabs – happily, Agent Orange, VS, which climbs the tilted face perpendicular to the main bedding plane, is also strewn with jugs. Good effort hanging on to place the gear!
Next up I led Kitten Claws, E3 5c – a worthy recipient of the Top 50 accolade and perhaps the best route in North Pembroke. 25m of sustained crimping with tenuous gear especially in the middle third; you’re making the crux moves with just a couple of tiny RPs between you and the last decent wire about 20ft below, and relying on them to keep you off the deck in the event of a slip – best left untested! Memorable!
By now the crowds had thinned out and we had the crag almost to ourselves – just time for Helen to round the day off with the very good First Corner Direct, VS, which takes thin, crozzly cracks to reach the well-positioned Arête.
Completely slabbed-out, we’ll be going in search of more steepness tomorrow! Before that, a relaxing evening enjoying the stunning sunset from the campsite