Deep Water Solo festival - Pembroke PDF Print E-mail
By Andrew Thompson

I headed up to Pembroke last weekend for this years deep-water solo festival, from London. As far as I'm aware it was the first time the event was on in Pembroke. As Dorset is the most developed DWS site in the UK it seems to have taken place around there for the past few years. Now I'm pretty new to this kind o malarkey, but when spending time in a busy city with no rock in sight, desperate measures must be taken to satisfy that on going climbing urge.

Last summer I picked up a DWS specific guide to Dorset, and headed off solo style to go explore. I spent a coupla days scaring myself silly on some beautiful limestone....and got hooked. So, whilst flicking through this site a month ago I came across a link to this year’s event in Wales, I couldn’t resist the temptation of climbing with some other loons, with the added security of safety boats waiting in the water to pick up the pieces. The weather tried its best to spoil the party...but alas no, the sun god smiled on us both days.

I was a touch apprehensive at first, as I'm not the kind of climber who thrives on crowded cliff tops, give me a remote mtn valley and soaring crack lines any day. I had heard some horror stories of queues on routes, and barely any space on the crag top to spectate, so my apprehension was justified. On arriving at the car park, care of an acme secret map, my worries intensified. I could barely even park my van it was that full, and it ain't that big a van...maybe I need to learn to drive it a bit better!! The local ice-cream man told me he’d never even seen it this busy on bank holidays...ahhhh..jeez..what now?? So I trundled off down to the waters edge to check it out. There were a few hundred people knocking about, but no queues on the routes just yet.

Minutes after arriving, my worries started to dwindle away as I started absorbing my surrounds. Many happy friendly faces, a stunning setting, and big cheers and yells of encouragement when anyone committed to any decent act of lunacy! I spent some time eying up some routes, got prepared and hit the rock. There were a couple of warm up style VS', and then it was on to the big boys. It’s kind of recommended to jump into the water first just to get acclimatised. But not a chance, the jumps ranged from about 10 to 20 m, and I didn’t want to get my boots wet...good excuse eh?? Well it isn’t really as there was a red chilli rep there with a whole range of boot sizes for those who needed dry pairs!! Thoughtful.

So I climbed until I thought I was gonna fall in, didn’t, and then climbed some more. The majority of the routes range from about e2 to e4, and most of them are so safe that all that can happen to you is you get wet...and embarrassed! That afternoon there was a speed climb, which involved exactly that, up a, then touch a mark, and jump off. time ends when you hit the water. Lots of cheers and some respectable climbing.

As the sun weakened in strength we all headed off towards a barby at a nearby pub. Managed to find it, as well as 2 entertaining Irish boys along the way, who were there for the festival also. They did manage to stumble across a reggae party the night before, so as you could imagine they weren’t up for too much climbing that day!! With bellies full of food and booze, a long slow procession tottered off towards some farmers paddock near by to dance the night away. You’d think, after being given directions numerous times, we would have had no difficulty finding a field in the middle of no where. But no! Cars scattered this way and that all with slightly different versions of the party’s whereabouts. We decided that following the big green hippie bus wasn’t such a bright idea, so we cut loose and used the force!! The tried and tested party finding technique was applied with the utmost precision. Stop the van, turn off engine, and listen for that unmistakable whump thump noise!! yeaaaaaa The next few blurry hours slipped away into the darkness of the countryside, and consciousness returned intact many hours later with the dawn. A night of laughter, dancing, conversation, and faces, very little of which I could remember the next day!!

Armed with just a few hours sleep, we got Sunday underway with a quick (well not that quick!) After party clean up, as the boys looking after that department were looking particularly seedy!! I must admit, I was surprised to see them down at the crag later on, and even more surprised to see them trying their best on some pretty difficult looking routes! Motivated. Sunday avo was a very chilled affair on the same crag top. Enthusiasm ebbed and flowed as some people tried their hand at new routes, and some people tried their hand a getting some sleep under their down jackets, in the shade of the sun!! To me, the atmosphere that afternoon was the essence of the weekend. Friendly vibes, on sunny rock, and no one is worrying about who's who and what's what. It was so comfy, that I felt a lot more confidant on the rock, so at the end of the day tried my hand at a big ballsy line that id spotted on Saturday, but didn’t think id do. DWS requires a similar headspace to that of ice climbing. You really don’t want to fall. Don’t think of that sea below, or the people above, just on what’s in front of your hands and feet.

As we supped beers, and felt the sun weaken once more, I couldn't stop thinking about the potential untapped DWS style rock dotted about our shores in Ireland. Slowly, we packed our bags, said our goodbyes, pottered off back to the van, and hit the road for London. It was all over.... just like that...but not the memories. They will linger on, well until next year, at least.

See you there

Andy Thompson This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Maybe some of you know of some good potential in Ireland already, maybe some of you are keen to go find some, maybe some of you couldn't care! well i could, and am gonna be making an effort to see what is out there. if there are any troops who are that way inclined, give me a yell.