Windmore End

October 16th, 2008 by Will Smith

In an attempt to chase the nonexistent sun, me, Simon, Carmen and Peri headed to Windmore End on Sunday. Situated at an altitude of 400m with lovely views over the Eden Valley, the sun was out when we arrived and our hopes were high. The crag is quarried limestone, mainly around 8m high, but upto about 12m in a couple of places (it is somewhat reminiscent of Scugdale in terms of scale and stature). Unfortunately, on closer inspection the quality of rock is questionable in a lot of places. Undeterred, Simon and Carmen blitzed up Grassy Crack (VD *), while I faffed around on Windy Moss (S) trying to place two dodgy opposing nuts as the only gear before an extremely loose top out. Peri also thought it stiff for the grade, but that might have been because I'd removed all the holds. One interesting feature in this part of the crag is the quantity of belay stakes, I would estimate there are about 3 per route!

Having lost all faith in the quality of rock, me and Peri's climbing became extremely tentative as we tested and retested every bit of gear and every hold before pulling on it. Meanwhile, Carmen was on her way up Archtype (S *). We rounded the corner just as she was fighting her way past the "tiny Hawthorn" mentioned in the guidebook, which had now grown into sizeable tree. Not fancying a fight with a spiky tree, I led Legion (HS) and Peri led Sneakthief (HS), both reasonable routes with plenty of gear, while Simon led Epitaph (VS 4c **), which was apparently a good line.

After this, our attentions turned to Zero Route (HS 4b *), a compelling looking crack line which appeared steep and sustained for the grade. Simon made light work of it, making good use of an in situ tree/shrub. I made a mess of attempting to lead it, getting some low gear in then getting established in the crack only to scare Peri by shouting that I was going to jump off. Fortunately I managed to downclimb via a reverse one-handed mantleshelf much to my and Peri's relief.

At this point, we heard the noise you never want to hear whilst climbing: "Arrrggghhh…..THUD". With Carmen stuck halfway up Sneakthief, me and Peri headed round the corner to find a lone soloist had fallen off Grassy Crack. He'd hit his face and partially landed on his bouldering mat, badly twisting his back. It was clear he wasn't able to move and a 999 call was in order. Luckily, another couple of climbers had also turned up, one of whom was a climbing instructor who took charge of the situation. After a remarkably short wait, we could hear the sound of a helicopter approaching. The pilot did an amazing job, landing it practically on a sixpence and within a few minutes we'd all helped carry the guy over a wall and into the helicopter.

Enthusiasm for any more climbing had been somewhat knocked by this incident, but two of my bits of gear were hanging invitingly on Zero Route. Peri made a valiant lead of it, with no leg wobbling, no panicking, no swearing or shouting and no desperate lunges for holds. After I seconded it with equal style, we packed up and headed home. Overall, a reasonable crag in a lovely setting and probably worth bearing in mind if you're escaping from rain in the Lakes.

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6 Responses to “Windmore End”

  1. pebbles says:

    the incident made me very glad I'v signed up to do the First Aid course next week – not the sort of situation where you want to find yourself franticly trying to remember what to do.

  2. lithos says:

    sounds like an exciting time if not the greatest of crags. I wandered up to Scugdale on my Jack Jones and went to Barkers Crags (over the wall to the right) and had the place to myself despite the many peeps at the main crag. Sandy and hard grades but wonderful sunset.

  3. Will Smith says:

    Incidentally, I should have mentioned that we heard through the grapevine that the climber was ok and expecting to be out of hospital within a couple of days.

  4. Simon C says:

    Oi, I hardly even touched the shrubbery on Zero Route! Peri on the other hand seemed to use it more than the rock 😉

  5. pebbles says:

    certainly put me off the idea of bouldering or soloing in isoloted places on my tod. if us or the other group of climbers hadnt happened to be present the situation would have been more serious.

  6. pebbles says:

    yes well i was somewhat confused and bewildered at this point by the welter of conflicting instructions from below. "go left!" "go right!" "do a headstand and climb it upside down!"

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