As the UK was gripped by poor weather, the MMC snuck off to the Welsh Gold Coast, formally known as the Gower. With an advance party setting up base camp at the Nicholston Farm Campsite and getting the lay of the land, the remainder of the group arrived in usual style between the hours of 2100 and 0400 on Friday/Saturday morning. Cars and tents strewn around the campsite it was a classic start to another classic MMC meet.
For many, the morning started with freshly made croissants and coffee from the campsite store. A very luxurious start to the day that will now be expected on every meet. Take note Nick!
The group then began to shake out into their respective teams/cars for the day and head off into the sunshine. So much climbing was done across so many venues I can only apologise to those I’ve missed out (or misrepresented) however as a quick overview:
Anna, Matt and Oli met in the Rhossili Beach NT car park before heading over to Lewes Castle for some Trad, having waved off those heading to the beach for some Sport action (more to follow below).
Several of the choice routes were unfortunately out due to nesting birds, but there were enough worthwhile ones available to make for a good day in any case. They started their upward bid at Lewes Castle East with Matt leading The Bottle (VS 4b), which had some nice bridging moves all the way up, though the less said about the bird poo-filled cave halfway up, the better! Oli jumped on South West Diedre next with decent climbing leading up to a decision point – continue direct at HVS 5a (though it looked harder!) or deviate rightwards at VS 4c? Rightwards he went. Anna and Matt followed and then fancying a go at the direct finish, Matt was lowered in to scope it out. A nesting Fulmar saw the incoming climber and proceeded to deploy its famous defence mechanism – projectile vomiting. “Lower me, quickly!” Matt shouted. The route was out (though was not mentioned in BMC’s RAD).
The trio then moved on to the main face of Lewes Castle for routes under the signature feature of the crag – an impressive overhanging roof. All three climbers wanted to lead Osiris (VS 4c) which went up to the left side of the roof and then traversed underneath it to the right, where a reasonable (but still quite exciting) pull through the roof could be made. Each took it in turns leading and throwing the ropes down for the next climber. Matt went first and placed the gear, then Oli and Anna followed, clipping into Matt’s already-placed gear for their leads. A good discussion for the pub as to whether their leads on pre-placed gear ‘count’! Matt seconded Anna’s lead to strip the gear again and the route was well and truly done.
Oli had been eyeing up Horsis (HVS 5a) and jumped on it next for what turned out to be a wonderfully engaging climb, with some thin sections and technical climbing in between fairly spaced gear before things eased and a convenient belay shelf at the end of the roof was gained to bring up the seconds.
The day was drawing with inclement weather approaching on the horizon, but the team were not finished yet. Matt psyched himself up to go at Seth (E1 5c), which took a direct line up to the roof, with a steep crack in its final section providing the crux. He started up the final crack, making positive progress until suddenly “Watch me!” he was off. Fortunately, a gold cam held the fall to a few meters. After a rest he went at it again, and again, and again before giving up and being lowered to the ground. With Matt having proven that the gear was solid (!), Anna and Oli fancied a piece of the action and both tied in for a go, though both failed to gain any higher ground after falling a similar amount of times each. Accepting physical defeat, though feeling pretty good mentally about going for it and falling on gear, Matt abseiled from the top to strip the route and they headed back to the carpark.
Warned about high tides in the morning, Damien, Eleonora, Christine, Alex, James, Ifrah, Svetlana and Maggie ignored this and headed out to Rhossili Bay. After racing up Dirty Innuendo (5c) and Mini the Minx (5a) in the Castaway Cove; I’ll let the pictures do the talking…
They then headed off to Lewes Castle East (not without a stop at the cafe, of course). Alex was an excellent navigator and got her group to the entrance of Lewes Castle pretty quickly, despite not finding the mysterious metal ladder as described and wandering around the entrance to the route for 30+ minutes, wondering if they were in the right place.
The rest of the day involved a great amount of climbing for some and relaxing on top of cliffs and at the beach for others. That is until Jamie realised he had lost his climbing shoes. Woops!
Later in the day, Jamie and Alex returned to Rhossili Beach and found one of his shoes floating around in a cove. The other is still out at sea!
Richard, Stef, Anna, Sarah, Mark, Charlotte and Joe ventured off to the Third Sister for some Sport Climbing. After a 35 minute trek through fields, over hills, down a grassy slope and along a narrow cliff top path they arrived at their destination. A relatively newly developed area, the rock was razor sharp and well bolted with a range of grades. Routes were ticked left, right and centre with most leading Las Mariposas (6b*) and many attempting the technical slab of The Haworth Lassies (6a+). The overhanging roof of Thankless Child (6b+*) had Joe crying like a child and screaming “take” when there was nothing left to take. Every millimetre lost brought another tear to his eye as he became a very thankless child. After much beratement from below, he overcame the roof and trudged his way to the bolts. Stef whizzed up on second, asking on her return where the roof was supposed to be.
Satish, Alistair, Jamie, Paolo Jasmine, Ollie and Ellie headed to Boiler Slab for the day. This non tidal trad crag was perfect for refining gear placement and getting some miles in. Classic (HD), Column (S 4a) and Dulfer (S 4a) and Pinnacle Crack (VD) were all climbed.
Jamie did his first seconding. Instructions were provided by Ellie, overseen by Paolo.
That evening the group was split up with many heading to the Gower Inn and others enjoying the (limited) warmth of the fire pit and Mark’s excellent BBQ skills. Eventually, as all good things have to come to an end, the skies opened up and everyone headed to their respective tents for a very welcome early night.
Early the next morning, tents were collapsed quickly as plans were formed. Whilst many headed down to the sands below the campsite for a gentle stroll, cold swim or far to energetic 30km run the others headed off to the Southgate area and Watch House Slab, a great little non-tidal sport venue that should not be underestimated. Routes the group covered included Thorn (3c), Wynn (4a), Excavation (5a), Tickety-Boo (5c), Sport Wars (6a), Trad Man (6a+), and Damien, Ellie, and Satish climbed and worked One Step in the Shade (6b+).
The Gower has once again delivered a fantastic MMC meet and we look forward to seeing you all again soon!