DWS First ascents - UK
- Olympiad 8b, Pembroke, UK. 08.12
- Hydrotherapy 8a+S2, Pembroke. 08.11
- San Simeon* 8a S3, Pembroke. 08.07
- Pollinator 8a, Pembroke. 08.11
- Excalibur 8a, Pembroke. 08.10
- The Wizard 8a, Pembroke. 09.07 (ground-up)
- Occams Razor 7c+, Pembroke. 08.11
- Cutlass 8a, Devon. 09.07 (ground-up)
- The Flying Dutchman* 7b S2, Devon 07.04 (ground-up)
* first solo ascent
Olympiad 8b Forbidden Head, Pembroke, UK, 08.12
Climb Magazine – October 2012 – ‘Hot Lines’
'Taking advantage of a short spell of warm dry weather in late July, Climb’s ever-psyched training guru Neil Gresham finally made the first ascent of a line he’d spied the previous year on a severely overhanging wall at Forbidden Head in Lydstep, Pembrokeshire. The wall, contained within a small zawn typical of the coastal geography of east Pembroke, is one of several DWS ‘supercrags’ discovered by Gresham in the region in recent years. After making five separate trips and spending seven days in total on the line, when Gresham eventually climbed it he said this afterwards: ‘I’m really delighted with this one. I’d put it alongside routes like the Indian Face and Equilibrium in terms of satisfaction level.’ Gresham initially attempted the line from a suspended homemade portaledge before finding a more natural and ‘ethical’ approach traversing in from the back of the cave. Gresham’s final piece in the technical puzzle was the purchase of a £10 children’s rubber dingy from a tourist shop in Tenby, enabling him to approach the route’s start at neap high tide whilst keeping his kit dry.
At F8b, the route stands as the hardest climb in its style in Britain and one of few deep water solos of this standard in the world, and shows the UK still has potential for revealing world class new routes in established areas, as Gresham explains: ‘these Pembroke DWS routes compare in quality to some of the best in Majorca or Vietnam, so internationally the crag stands up. The question is whether people are prepared to monitor conditions and risk disappointment with the weather. I guess it’s comparable to Scottish Winter climbing in that respect.’ Clearly on an outstanding run of form following his 2011 success in establishing Hydrotherapy (8a+) at nearby Hollow Caves Bay, it will be interesting to see what Gresham unearths next in his quest to find and climb the hardest deep water solos this country’s sea cliff have yet to reveal.'
Logistics: Neap tides are best. The bottom traverse may be wet after high Spring tides. Calm seas are essential. The route is only dry in the mornings only and an on-shore breeze brings best conditions. Access the start by abseiling into a dingy or tyrollean traverse or dry-bag-swim into the cave. There are flat ledges for stashing gear and drying off. To escape, swim back to the cave and jumar out of the sea.