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Barbara Zangerl on the 'looong' runout of Muy Caliente at Stennis Ford, Pembroke, Wales, June 2017
Photo by Paolo Sartori
Jacopo Larcher climbing Muy Caliente at Stennis Ford, Pembroke, Wales, June 2017
Photo by Paolo Sartori
Lara Neumeier climbing Chupacabra at Huntsman’s Leap, Pembroke, Wales, June 2017
Photo by Jacopo Larcher
Roland Hemetzberger climbing The Big Issue E9 6c at Bosherston Head, Pembroke, Wales, June 2017
Photo by Paolo Sartori

Difficult Pembroke trad climbing by Zangerl, Larcher & Co

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Barbara Zangerl, Lara Neumeier, Roland Hemetzberger and Jacopo Larcher have repeated numerous difficult trad climbs during their climbing trip to Pembroke in Wales, including The Big Issue E9 6c and Muy Caliente E9/E10.

The sea cliffs at Pembroke on the south coast of Wales are famous throughout the UK for their beautiful trad climbs, usually with good but spaced protection, in a unique setting. Austria’s Barbara Zangerl visited the area a few days ago with South Tyrolean climbing and life partner Jacopo Larcher and their German friends Lara Neumeier and Roland Hemetzberger. While the latter two had never climbing British trad, last year Larcher and Zangerl had already climbed E11 and E9 at Dumbarton Rock in Scotland. In doing so they succeeded to master two grades that are, for the record, almost the absolute maximum of what men and woman have achieved so far on British trad.

During their recent trip to Wales Zangerl once again outdid herself, repeating a handful of hard testpieces including the famous, difficult and dangerous The Big Issue at Bosherston Head. This climb was established in 1996 by highly talented and equally controversial John Dunne whoremoved the bolts originally placed by Pete Oxley before his first ascent. At that time it was unclear which direction hard climbing would take at Pembroke and with this "statement" Dunne demonstrated that things should be done without bolts. The aptly named The Big Issue was one of the hardest trad climbs in the UK at the time and unsurprisingly in the years that followed it was repeated by only a handful of other daring climbers: Seve McClure, Adrian Berry, Gareth Parry and, in 2014, by Japan’s Yuji Hirayama who became the first to place all the gear during the ascent. The second to climb the route in this style was little known Canadian Ali Kennedy last May, while now Larcher, Hemetzberger and even Zangerl repeated the route placing their gear on lead. Zangerl's is obviously the first female ascent of The Big Issue and, just as obviously, E9 is a grade that extremely few women so far have managed to climb.

Speaking of grades: like Larcher, Zangerl also managed to repeat Muy Caliente at nearby Stennis Ford. This E10 was freed by Tim Emmett in 2010 and boasts a bouldery crux above run-out gear, read 8a+/8b climbing with the distinct possibility of a ground fall from high up on the route. Having said that, Muy Caliente is also recognised as being one of the few difficult trad climbs that are feasible to onsight, and as reported in 2011 had been attempted flash by James Pearson. As to its grade, although some believe it’s more akin to E9 than to E10, one thing is certain: Zangerl’s ascent checks in as one of the hardest and most dangerous female trad climbs on the British Isles. Below is a list of the climbs carried out by the four visiting climbers. It’s worth noting that this list could have been longer had it not rained continuously during their brief trip to North Wales.

La Sportiva

Muy Caliente - from 05:20 Tim Emmett attempts in 2009


Barbara Zangerl
Chupacabra (worked on toprope, first try on lead) over 3 days
Do you know where your children are (worked on toprope, first try on lead) in 1 day
Point blank ground up / flash
Muy Caliente (worked on toprope, before redpoint, first try on lead) over 3 days
Big issue (worked on toprope, 4th go on lead) over 2 days

Jacopo Larcher
Chupacabra (worked on toprope, first try on lead) over 3 days
Do you know where your children are (worked on toprope, 1st try on lead) 2 days
Point blank ground up / flash
Muy Caliente (worked on toprope, 1st try on lead) in 1 day
Big issue (worked on top rope, 2nd try on lead) in 1 day

Roland Hemetzberger
Point blank (worked on toprope, 1st try on lead) 3 days
Chupacabra (worked on toprope, 2nd try on lead) 3 days
Big issue (worked on toprope, 2nd try on lead) 3 days

Lara Neumeier
Point blank (worked on toprope, 1st try on lead) 3 days
Chupacabra (worked on toprope, 2nd try on lead) 5 days

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