By Nick Kemp
Following on from the small yet perfectly formed meet to the Wye Valley most of the same attendees also decided to push a little further into the principality to Gower. There they were joined by a healthy platoon of old hands and new members. The Gower has always been a bit of a marginal venue in that it does not have the proximity of the Wye or the undisputed grandeur of Pembroke, the logic being that if you can be bothered to go as far as the Gower you may as well push on to Pembroke. But think again, Gower as a great range of little crags dotted all over the peninsula from multi pitch trade routes from the beach to hard nut clip ups inland. It is also a beautiful area and Nicholaston farm is a really well set up campsite and it abounds with interesting sounding place names such as Scurlage (obviously a nasty Victorian disease) and Kittle (what South Africans use to boil water).
Everyone eventually rolled into the campsite on Friday night, following journeys of varying torment, except for the Dees (sicknote) and Paolo’s crew who had elected to come on Saturday morning to join the fun.
Saturday dawned fresh and bright without the horrible cloying heat that is such a negative when people chose to go on holiday to “the med”. Nick had been eyeing up Assassin HVS at Juniper wall Gosia ably bringing up the rear.
A second group of climbers consisting of AG, Chuck, Juan, Rebecca , Sara and Beatriz went off to Fall bay where Sara and AG teamed up to climb Eden HS ,Bottle and Instigator HVS. Chuck was not having such a good day and had forgotten that he had become fat and unfit. So warming up on an HVS ended up with him resting on the rope 5 metres from top, before finishing up the VS next door.
Bea led next, expertly bagging Gethsemane (S). Chuck then failed to lead another HVS which left him wanting to flog his climbing kit on ebay. Juan expertly completed the route retrieving said gear. A pint was much needed at this point!
Ian led his group of ladies (Sarah G, Sarah W, Jules, Caroline Jasmine, Nina and Graham) out for a walk, looking like the majordomo from the House of Suzie Wong on a field trip. Ian, Sarah x2 and Jules also swam in the surf where they were viewed with incredulity by Nina, fresh from Australia, whose blood had not yet been thickened by our bracing climate.
Paolo had arrived a bit too late to join the rest of the climbers and the almost total lack of phone signal at the crags meant it was not possible to find out where they were so he did some sport climbing with Giulia.
The climbers seemed to find each other without really trying by the simple process of going to the only pub in the area. After a restorative pint they all went to café nearby where there was an innovative menu (sea bass, feta and watermelon anyone?). Meanwhile the walkers had found their way to the pub where they expected to see the climbers (see previous point about poor communication) as they could spot Chuck and Nick’s cars in the carpark. However despite a vicious interrogation of the bar staff by Jules they refused to admit that there was another eatery within 10k of the pub (never mind that the café was about 20m away). Jules was not deterred and eventually did find them so pretty much everyone was united for a jolly evening in the pub. The one person who had a slightly less pleasant end to the evening was AG who due to some cock up in understanding ended up power walking most of the way back to the campsite.
The weather did not hold and a persistent light rain started in the night and did not let up the next day. The walkers squelched through the rain and ended up swimming (intentionally) at Oxwich Bay meanwhile some of the climbers had given up on any prospect of climbing and made an early start back home.
The rain did not bother Chuck and AG who had brought bikes and set off at the crack of noon for Mountain biking at a dedicated downhill venue Bike Park Wales.
What better way to warm up for a downhill run than to eschew the uplift for nice pedal up the fire road.
After long grind they arrived at the top and decided to start with “Melted Welly”, (after a bit of rest, this is a downhill venue you know!). Being a blue run they were able to set a cracking pace around the bermed corners. At one point Chuck hit a turn just a bit too hard and ended up with a flat tire, this slowed them up just long enough to get midged while the tube was replaced. Then it was off again whizzing to the bottom.
A quick bite of a sandwich and it off up the hill again, who needs a lift to the top? Not us!
Next up it was Sixapod, An equally fast and windy track, which lead into “Willy Waver” (No need for any of that behaviour!).
This time air was found between wheels and trail!
Looking at the clock it was time for just one more run and why not try that uplift malarkey? Wow a lift the top of the hill, this lazy man option is good!
Next up was a red run, with loads of jumps and a section so stony that it earned the name Rim Dinger. Ag took a tumble in the middle of this bit, but was straight back in the saddle flying around the corners.
Chuck managed to squeezing one last short run “Insufficient Funds” with a monster jump (well it felt big at the time) that he was extremely pleased to land.
So plenty of fun to be had by all despite the variable weather and a good range of activities.
Hasta La Proxima!