Archive for March, 2010

Pinnacles and ravens

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

a clear sunny day in the mountains

We started off more or less on time but got caught out by the Harrogate commuter traffic on the A59 – note,  it starts at 7.30 am and is already solid at 8.00 – and so were later than planned .  But it was a brilliant sunny morning with a sharp frost, so we were looking forward to a good day in the lakes

With a spring thaw underway me and Rob decided to keep our options as open as poss, so headed up the Honister Pass with the idea that if Plan A (Green Gable) was out, we could head on to Great Gable (Plan B).

When we arrived at Green Gable there was loads of snow, and also signs of a recent cornice collapse, but disappointingly the crag itself was in the sun and almost bare of ice and snow, so it was time for Plan B.We were happy enough with this as both of us really fancied Pinnacle Ridge, a 3 star grade 3 mixed route on Gable.

Pinnacle Ridge

The ridge (number 2 in the route pic above) was excellent, although the snow was somewhat soft and collapsing – I managed to lead us astray on the first pitch as I was magneticaly drawn to the solid looking rock on the left in preference to the collapsing white stuff. Rob then diverted up a snow gully to save time and we made the next pitch a traverse back on route.In fact it wasnt a bad diversion – the traverse was good fun, ending in a delicate little step down and up into a chimney.


From there I had one of the best belays ever – sitting on top of a comfortable pinnacle watching the ravens. We had the whole crag to ourselves and the day was so clear and still I could hear the whoosh of the raven's wings and see the white mountain ridges radiating out to the sea. It was one of those magical moments that make you realise why you  go climbing.


The rest of the route was short but full of interest, with a chockstone pitch (rob) and a short wall (me), all decently protected. We finished up on a narrow snow ridge

The chockstone pitch


(good consolidated stuff by now) to the summit and walked back under a magnificent sunset.







More of Rob's Pix:

Clearing the cobwebs

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

xOff to the Macclesfield Forest for the last in the series of three 3-hour score events that make up the RAB Mini Mountain Marathon league. It was supposed to be in January, and then it was supposed to be in February, but each time it was cancelled at the last minute due to snow blocking the approach roads. And it very nearly didn't happen for us again, as Carmen is in the middle of a stinky cold and was up half the night coughing. But she somehow hauled herself out of bed at stupid o'clock, and a few hours later we were off.

The weather was glorious – cold (ice on the reservoirs) but sunny, without a cloud in the sky and not a breath of wind. We were a bit more conservative in our route choice than usual as we weren't sure how much energy Carmen would have, but we needn't have worried, she was as fast as ever. We eventually finished with 15 minutes to spare – could have gone for those extra controls after all! 240 points was good enough for 2nd on the day in the mixed vets class (out of only 7 starters). Whether this is good enough to win the league remains to be seen (we were leading after the first 2 events, but were pipped at the post last year and finished 2nd).

Options, Decisions and Classics …

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

simon on p1 dove crag gully

  • Where we going ?
  • Is Carmen coming ?
  • Where we going ?
  • Travel Fri or Early Sat am ?
  • Where we going ?
  • What will be heaving / empty ?
  • leaving Sat
  • Going early or late
  • Where we going ?
  • Who's driving ?
  • What time in the morning ?
  • Is Carmen coming ?
  • Where we going ?
  • pick up at 8am
  • Simon driving
  • no Carmen
  • Where we going ?
  • Just past Penrith … Where we going ?
  • Dove Crag
  • Which way ?
  • Whinlater or Newlands
  • Whinlater
  • left or right in braithwaite
  • oops – try again
  • Park here or further on ?
  • Lots of cars – will it be crowded?
  • Upper path or lower path ?
  • Where do we turn up hill ?
  • Is it complete -looks thin ?
  • You want 1st or 2nd pitch ?
  • Is that Peri we can hear ?

Well thats roughly how it went, Simon led up the wet but thick but dripping first pitch making a bit of a meal of the first 5m or so, after which you can get a rest by bridging. Despite being in a tight chimney it's quite steep but well featured (ie hooks and footholds galore) and with the option of regular rests, not too bad, until the exit over a bulge. Luckily a bomber rock 9 protects this move (if you can fiddle it in – and out again), then it's all over.

The 2nd pitch is a short steep ice fall, nearly vertical about 15m long and even more featured. The line I took weaved from side to side making it interesting and fun climbing. Ice was fat and took good screws.

After that snow slopes lead to the summit and wonderful view of most of the lakes. A pleasant walk down and back at the car before dark – and home in plenty of time.

Another Cold Climbs classic for Simon in the bag.

Scafell range

More pictures … Simon Pix: and My Pix: