Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A day in the lakes with Daniel

We went up to Annie's for a few days, just prior to Daniel, Jamie and I heading off to the Stubai, and it seemed a good idea to test his - and my - fitness, and to have fun. So Scafell was a good choice, in why case why not try something on Central Buttress? I've been thereabouts many years ago in the company of Jim Lind (and Wiz aka Liz Pasteur), and one other I forget, sorry, actually I'm sure Miriam was there too. Maybe it was the four of us.

Anyway, here's the GPS trace (up only, because my watch ran out; but we retraced our steps nearly so down would be dull. My previous trace from 2010 shows a possible circuit of Scafell Pike). The only minor route notes are (a) if you're really only interested in the climbing, start from Wasdale, its much quicker; (b) if you really want to start from Seathwaite, make sure you get there early enough to park close to the farm; (c) if, having gone that way, you don't want to actually climb Scafell Pike you can save yourself 40 m by cutting off the summit, but you'll need to not just follow the path; (d) pay attention in a couple of places to where you leave the path; the OS map is your friend.

D and I walked up in mostly companionable silence; we talked a little, but not nearly as much as the people we overtook. We stopped very briefly a couple of times. We're about the same speed; D, untethered by me, would be a little faster. From the top of Scafell Pike we got our first views of the crag.

2015-08-18 13.10.41

The book says you descend by doing -blah- and then abseiling off something. I was a touch vague about that and intending to wing it; next time I go there I think I'd chose any easy short climb to familiarise myself with the rock, and the desent route, so I didn't have to worry about it. That's an excellent motto for all crags on your first time I think. In retrospect.

And here's from closer in, though its not desperately useful as the slabs face the other way so all you can see from this is their edges, if you see what I mean.

2015-08-18 15.56.09

I now find myself somewhat confused about exactly where we got to. You see from the first pic how the eroded path along the ridge meets the rock. Then you follow it down (at first steeply on yucky fine scree) to the obvious path along the base of the crag. From there, getting up to the base of the climb is non-obvious. We (we? Don't blame D for any of this; *I*) chose to just scramble up the rock-n-grass; when we descended, it was clear that a better way was following the rough grass ledge ("Lord's rake") to the right (facing in) which is much easier and doesn't need roping.

This is a better view of the climb itself.

We did the first, easy, 4b pitch fine. There's a small but perfectly adequate stance. Even at this point the gear isn't super, so I flung the rope over a nearby boulder which (I was pleased to see) has a large loop of rope over it for convenient abseil if you wimp out of the second pitch.

Starting up the second, 4c pitch, I began to wonder exactly why I thought I was capable of VS 4c at this point in my career, beyond a vague memory that Wales (and Lakes? Not sure) grades tend to be easier than Peaks. Suffice to say that didn't prove adequate. Moving upwards was working OK but the absence of gear, or of  gear I was sure I trusted, was proving worrying. Take more quick-draws, and make sure your wires are in order. At some point - probably about half way up the second pitch, with no clear end in sight and a slight steepening in prospect - I decided that wimping out was a good idea, and abbed off a nut I've never really liked but which was pretty firmly in place for a direct downwards pull. And then - after a slight farce straightening out the ropes - we abbed off the in-place tat (D first, off our gear, me second, off the tat, having verified it was OK). The rock and the line, though, were gorgeous; I'd love to have another go when I'm better.

And so back; it got a leetle bit long towards the end; a gentle rain cooled us without really wetting us.

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