This is a publication that is an essential addition to the definitive guide, especially if you’re a regular visitor to the Pembroke cliffs and are selective enough to wonder what routes lie on the vast expanse of a blank rock between the lines repeated in the Pembroke Rockfax (there, I mentioned it, no favouritism here). Published just two years after the long-awaited definitive guide, this 96-page publication charts the amazing pace of development in Pembroke over that time with a total of some 400 new routes in North Pembroke, Range West and South Pembroke. It also updates descriptions and grades of routes previously described in the definitive guide, as well as correcting the odd mistake (surely not).
This supplement is of interest to all standards of climber, covering as it does new routes across the whole spectrum of difficulty, from Diff to E9. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the quality of the routes is anything less than the Pembroke norm either, many of the routes are minor classics: just try Parker’s From the Edge of a Deep Green Sea (E2 5c) on Rusty Walls, or Twomey’s Broken Arrow (E4 6a) at St Govan’s.
And if you’ll forgive a little name-dropping, the last of those first ascensionists provides a generational cross-section of the current climbing cognoscenti. The old hands such as Viggers, Donithorne, and Alsford are in there doing their thing amongst the show-stoppers like Waddy, Crocker, Parnell, Arran and (of course) Dunne, who in turn are being chased by relative newcomers including Creamer, Bransby and young Savage. All in all, it paints a very healthy picture of traditional British sea cliff climbing — long may it continue.
In terms of presentation, my copy of the supplement suffered a little from poor print quality but generally the guide is set out as well as it can be to minimize confusion when reading in conjunction with the definitive guide. There’s no list of first ascents at the back, which is always useful in determining whether to believe the grade, no topos for the hard-of-thinking, nor any commentary to while away the wet weekends — but for £2.50 who’s complaining? Buy it to complement the definitive guide, which you should buy, too, if you haven’t already.
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