Rock Climbing CompanyAssociation of Mountaineering Instructors

Sea Cliff Climbing - Courses & Guiding
in North Wales & Pembroke

 

Sunset at Gogarth

 

Rope work, rescues and problem solving

 

Classic in situ protection at Gogarth

 

The main Cliff at Gogarth - adventure climbing at its very best

 

 

 

 

Adventure Climbing - Sea Cliff Climbs

Sea cliff climbing course at Gogarth - Castell Helen

Climbing above the sea is an unique experience that adds an extra edge to rock routes; once experienced it is hard to avoid the allure of sea cliffs and crags such as Gogarth and Pembroke - they will drag you back time after time for amazing adventures. This Sea Cliff Adventure Climbing course will give you the skills to deal with these routes safely.

Sea cliff climbing can feel more intimidating and is often more committing, but once the extra skills and confidence needed on these routes are mastered the rewards and memories gained from these adventurous routes are all the greater.

The main cliffs are we use for instruction are Gogarth and Rhoscolyn on Anglesey and Pembroke in South Wales; both areas offer adventure climbing at it's very best and both have all types of routes: tidal or non-tidal, single or multi-pitch.

In North Wales Rhoscolyn has easier access and feels less intimidating than Gogarth and is a perfect crag to hone the key skills; choosing and constructing safe belays, rope management and placing nut and cam protection. The crags of Gogarth offer an amazing range of cliffs that test all of your climbing abilities, both physical and psychological, whilst offering some of the best routes in Britain.

We can guide you to the best routes - Simon Marsh of Rock Climbing Company and Ground Up - wrote large chunks of the new Gogarth guide - and help you locate the approaches and abseil's, make sure that your belays are safe and away from any objective dangers and then offer advice on the route itself.

Pembroke in South Wales also offers a lot of exceptional climbing especially in the easier and moderate grades. The climbing here is often more obvious that that at Gogarth, but the routes tend to be more physical and strenuous.

The Pembrokeshire sea cliffs are a great venue for courses that have their emphasis being placed more on all-round climbing instruction in a traditional climbing environment, but where we can add in elements specific to sea cliff climbing as required.

A full outline of the course is below whilst more generic information is on the General Information pages.

Every component of this Sea Cliff Climbing course can be customised to your exact needs. Prices are set out below in the Price tab.

Simply call or email and we will work with you to build a course of climbing instruction that suits your timescale's and requirements.

 

 

Sea Cliff Climbing Courses

 

Seal at Gogarth This course will introduce you to some of the very best sea cliff climbing in the UK whilst helping you appreciate the extra objective difficulties that are likely to encountered when climbing sea cliff routes.

The Sea Cliff Climbing course can run over a time period of your choosing; you can choose anything from one day's private guiding up a classic sea cliff route to a full 2 - 5 day course that will aim to give you the confidence and skills to both access and climb your own multi-pitch routes above the sea.

The instructor client ratio will be 1:1 or 1:2 depending on the itinerary required and we can supply all of the technical equipment.

The courses are totally customisable but the following list outlines a common itinerary :

  • Equipment - choice, care and maintenance - salt water seizes up equipment very fast!
  • Objective dangers - thinking ahead, loose rock, testing holds, isolation, topping out and tides / tidal swells.
  • Choosing a route.
  • Abseil approaches - more than just a way down, this could be your main belay and perhaps an escape route.
  • Arranging belays to keep you, your equipment and your rope dry
  • Rope management - The wind and waves will do their best to tie your rope in knots, but this can be avoided with some fundamental knowledge.
  • Security at the base of routes - rogue waves can be an inconvenience, but may also can be dangerous.
  • Communication - the sea drowns out voices very well.
  • Staying comfortable on routes.
  • Protection and in-situ gear - most is dodgy, but the chances of it holding can be increased.
  • Advanced rope work.
  • Escape routes and methods - ascending ropes safely

During the course we will also aim to help you improve your general climbing skills as well as those more specific to sea cliff climbing.

You can choose anything from one day private guiding up a classic sea cliff route to a full 5 days course that will aim to give you the confidence and skills to both access and climb your own multi-pitch routes above the sea.

Previous experience: This depends on what you want from the course, but at a minimum you need to be competent seconding routes outdoors i.e. safely tying your own knots, connecting to and un-tying belays. You should also be competent at safely making a abseil approach to a route.

 

 

 

Sea Cliff Climbing - Prusik Knots & Abseil Safety

 

A few simple actions could make the difference between having a great day Abseiling into rock climbabove the sea and suffering an epic.

1. Take a couple of prusik loops of a diameter suitable for the ropes you are using - 5mm bites pretty well on half ropes and most modern single ropes, but some people prefer 6mm prusiks. Prusiks are pretty invaluable if you abseil down to find you have left your climbing ropes at the top of the crag or if you fall into space when on the route

2. Know how to use the prusiks. The standard prusik knot has been pretty much superceded by the French prusik and the Klemheist prusik now because they can (generally) be released under load.

The standard prusik is the grippiest knot so if you are finding it hard to get the French prusik to bite on skinny/wet/icy ropes then it is still worth knowing how to construct it.

In general I would say that the French prusik is the best knot most of the time when tying the knot with cord, but the Klemheist is the best knot for use with webbing/tape slings.

Too many turns on the prusik can be a real pain - normally 4 loops works well, but this depends on the diameters/condition of ropes + prusiks being used. Always practice before you have to use them in anger...

There is an interesting study of abseil knots at both Rockclimbing.com and also Speleo BG with the precis being that not all prusik knots work on all ropes - so choose your prusik knot (type of knot and number of turns) carefully according to the diameter of prusik cord being used and the type of ropes likely to be used. They both found the French (Auto bloc) prusik the most consistent performer and did not like the Klemheist which they felt was too unpredictable/inconsistent - the Klemheist is very dependent on how the knot is formed, how long the tails are and where the load point is applied i.e. it is quite susceptible to user error/different material combinations.

Personally I use the French prusik and my normal prusiks are formed from 1.3m/1.5mm of 5mm climbing cord tied into a loop with a double fisherman's knot. I find that 5mm cord works best on climbing ropes of 8.5mm to 10.5mm, although some people prefer 6mm.

Rescue situations as described in the articles above tend to recommend 7mm because of the extra forces/loads that can be encountered.

There is also a good overview of knots at Grogs Animated Knots web site.

3. If you do have to prusik up the rope then back tying into the rope every few metres is the safe option.

4. If you only have a single prusik then using a clove hitch for a foot clamp works well with a bit of practice - definitely use a back up in this situation....

5. There's no point in having your prusiks and nothing to use them on, so leave your abseil rope in place if at all possible.

6. Choose the line of your abseil carefully and always protect the abseil rope. Abseiling and jumaring can impart a bouncing motion to the rope that can cause sharp rocks and edges to chew through the rope. Always take care when moving sideways on the abseil ropes; sea cliffs often contain more than their fair share of loose rock and swinging around to reach the belay stance can dislodge rocks and other debris. Slow and smooth is the key.

6. Don't leave any excess abseil rope on the ground if there is any chance that the sea can reach it - once in the sea abseil ropes quickly get wrapped around rocks and often become irretrievable. The sea has a long reach especially when there is a big swell running.

7. Check the tides before you head down - high tides can make some routes unclimbable or unreachable. There is a good tide table at the Easytide web site. The tide table will also let you know the window of opportunity for tackling a climb before the belayer gets wet feet...

The following tide tables may be able to help you plan your trip more effectively :

Easytide tide timetable for Gogarth

Easytide tide timetable for Pembroke

Daylight Saving Warning: EasyTide predictions are based on the standard time of the country concerned. For the UK this is GMT and the daylight saving offset should be set to 1 hour to allow for British Summer time (from 01:00 am on Sunday 29th March 2009 until 02:00am on Sunday 25th October 2009).

The veritable old guard of the Climbers Club also publish a longer term tide table that can let you plan a few months (years!) ahead.

 

 

Sea Cliff Climbing in Pembroke

 

Pembroke has a special relationship with many climbers. The position of the routes above the sea, the clean, juggy limestone and the straight forward, but very physical nature of the climbing all combine to create memorable days.We really enjoy climbing at Pembroke and are happy to offer climbing courses here.

The climbs are only short relative to a lot of the sea cliff routes at Gogarth, but they are often totally absorbing affairs requiring commitment, stamina and an ability to stay calm above the crashing waves of the Atlantic.

The positive nature of a lot of the holds means that it is a great place to learn to climb outside, but you do need to be fit because the routes tend to be on the steep side a lot of the time. Saddle Head and Crickmail Point are good venues for those starting out.

The concentrated nature of the routes within each area means that it is possible to do many climbs in a day ....if you are fit enough. However you can also end up being totally drained after only a couple of routes, in which case a trip to the cafe is called for - fortunately Pembroke has one of the iconic cafes in Ma Weston's at Bosherton and no trip is complete with a cream tea with Victoria sponge and old fashioned tea at this venerable establishment.

We have access to the Climbers Club hut near St. Govans and can use this both for accommodation and as a base or there is also camping at Bosherton.

 

 

Gogarth Topos and Guide

 

GroundUp have a new definitive guide to Gogarth and Rhoscolyn in progress and the Gogarth North section is now out with the Gogarth South section due early 2010. There is also some info on the Gogarth Wiki, but this has rapidly run out of steam and there are major gaps in the information.

The Gogarth Main Cliff is a complex place and the topos below may help to clarify where the routes go - they are the original files that the latest Gogarth guide by GroundUp Climbing used for the Main Cliff section. The files are locked and copyrighted, but can be viewed freely.

1. Route Names and Area Precis

2. Cordon Bleu and Emulator Areas

3. Gogarth to Citadel

4. Dinosaur to Camel

5. Food to Nightride

6. Assassin to Wrangler

The agenda for our Sea Cliff climbing courses are totally customisable - Simply call or email and we'll put together a climbing course that suits you.

 

 

Sea Cliff Climbing - Prices and Booking

 

Type of Course
Length
Ratio
Cost per Group Cost per person
Sea Cliff Climbing Course
1 Day Course
1:1
£170
£170
1:2
£180
£90
2 Day Course
1:1
£320
£320
1:2
£340
£170
3 Day Course
1:1
£480
£480
1:2
£500
£250

 

Online Booking Form

Equipment provided us: The Rock Climbing Company will provide all technical equipment for the Sea Cliff climbing course. This includes half or single dynamic climbing ropes, abseil ropes, climbing hardware, slings, helmet and a harness for each client if needed. You are welcome to bring any kit that you already own to the course and supplement it with equipment from our stores - this way you get more familiar and comfortable with your own kit whilst being able to experiment with alternatives.

What you will need to bring: You will need to provide suitable warm clothing for the time of year plus a full set of waterproofs (hopefully not needed). The sea cliffs of North Wales and Pembrokeshire normally get relatively good weather compared to the mountains, but the wind can be quite cutting so a light, windproof top and hat can often make life a lot more comfortable

The sea cliffs tend to be more humid than the inland crags so a plentiful supply of chalk and a large chalk bag that you can get your whole hand into is useful.

The crags are normally within easy walking distance of the parking areas so sturdy trainers/approach shoes should suffice as footwear. Ideally you will need your own rock shoes as well, although we can arrange hire rock shoes if required.

You will also need a rucksack (40+ litre capacity) and food and drink for the day. It is worth bringing energy bars or sweets that can be stuffed into pockets and eaten on route - going hypoglycaemic at Gogarth is not ideal...

What is not included. Prices do not include, transport, accommodation, meals or personal insurance.

Ratios and course sizes. Sea Cliff Climbing is best instructed at a ratio of 1 or 2 clients to 1 instructor. Guided sea cliff climbing can be carried out at the same ratio.

THe sea cliff climbing courses are virtually always arranged privately and as such the datesand duration of the climbing is by arrangement and totally customisable. Please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss your requirements.

The full terms and conditions are on the booking page

 

 

 

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