Another Major Trad Line

The Brothers Karamazov E9 6c Dave Pickford completed a major new line to the right of War and Peace on the huge west wall of St Govan?s Head in Pembroke on Sunday April 29th, the same day that James Pearson made the second ascent of Trauma in Llanberis Pass and a few days before Pete Robbins made a rapid second ascent of Jack Geldard?s new E8 Spinal Crack in Cwm Idwal, and Dave Birkett climbed the huge wall beyond Loch Coruisk on Skye. The exceptional spring weather in the UK has obviously spurred on some significant events in British climbing. The Brothers Karamazov follows the classic E6 Crimes of Passion up its initial groove. It then climbs direct through the bulge and headwall where that route moves right, on an inescapable and completely independent line. Good gear can be arranged at 13 metres in the break at the top of the Crimes of Passion groove ? the last of anything more than psychological value until the belay in the Zodiac break at 25 metres. Due to the separated nature of the gear in this break two belayers are a wise idea to reduce the amount of slack in the event of a fall. A powerful and sustained 6c crux sequence leads through the bulge and a shakeout on a crimp-rail in a serious position on the headwall (a single downward-pointing lost arrow peg, in an 8mm deep placement, was pre-placed and tied off here for ?Dutch Courage? on the first ascent. It was carefully removed wards so the peg would not rot and damage the very narrow placement). A rather precarious 6b/c sequence (hard 6c for the short) then leads to the sanctuary of better holds and the half-height Zodiac break. A fall from these final moves would probably mean hitting the boulder beach 20 metres below, due to the fact it is very difficult for the person belaying on the boulders to move effectively enough to take in the rope.The Brothers Karamazov is an epic novel by Dostoevsky that was published in 1880, and allegedly took him two years to write. Dave first envisaged this line in 2005, but had to wait two years before conditions were favourable (the line requires afternoon low tides and a dry spell to be in good nick). There is something of a Russian literary theme of the routes hereabouts, including Crime and Punishment and War and Peace just to the left.This climb is not as hard but much more serious than ?The Big Issue? at Bosherston Head or ?San Simeon? at Hollow Caves Bay. It is about the same technical difficulty but significantly more serious than ?Chupacabra? in Huntsman?s Leap. It is however of a similar overall quality to those other hard Pembroke classics, featuring brilliant sustained technical climbing on very solid rock.Dave Pickford would like to thank Simon Cockman and Dave Walsh for their confidence inspiring belaying last Sunday!