Mostly Scrambling & Mountaineering…
Firstly May historically for me has always been a month when I get away and play in the hills. Not for all the month, but for some of it. That said, many years back on the ‘government climbing grant’ aka the Dole, I spent a full month among the crags and boulders of Yorkshire – God’s own county, climbing every day. Bliss.
These days I run an outdoor business and so other people want to play too. Which is understandable as May for example in Scotland is mega – no midge! And good light, seasons turning a page and things are heading in the right direction after coming out of the ‘dark ages’ – winter – for the past 5 months.
So my man Deepan wanted to do a trip to North Wales. We had been chatting through the winter months about doing some of the Classics in that area. One of these ‘classics’ was Dolmen Ridge. Dolmen is a true classic. Apart from the start which is non descript, and a bit zig zaggy…the route itself is fabulous. Check the pic out in the blog, it has an ascending ramp line up to an airy vantage point. Deeps was loving this and several pictures and a good look later we pressed on. The ‘balls’ of the route is a corner that towers above you that’s itching to be climbed. Or in this case scrambled. The pitch itself is lovely and has ample holds for feet and hands just where you need them.
This pops you out below the Dolmen – link below to explain what one is if you don’t know – The final part involves some great scrambling following the ridge, which pops you out below the summit of the mountain.
In addition to the Dolmen, Deeps wanted to do the Snowdon horseshoe, which is the horseshoe that takes in the mighty Crib Goch and Snowdon’s summit. It’s over 12k’s, which isn’t ridiculous in length, but the steep ascent of CG and the decent down to, and climb back up Lliwedd is pretty tough going. Luckily we had the weather on our side, so the winds on Crib Goch were good. Crib Goch although a grade 1, besides it’s low grade as a scramble – the starting point for all UK scrambles – it’s one not to be taken lightly as Deeps agreed. The scrambling for example, once you are on the ridge, you are on it! It’s not like Striding Edge on Helvellyn whereby you can by pass the exposed sections. This baby is all or nothing. Which as a mountaineer is what you want, and what drives you onto your next conquest/mission.
May saw myself working with the Lochaber Scottish Mountain Rescue team. Six teams two per team, were paired up for a weekend of training, teaching, and having fun. Sadly it wasn’t the best weather, but we got on with it anyway and ticked some classics! Rock Climbing on the first day and Scrambling on the second. The Bowderstone Pinnacle in Borrowdale is what’s classed as a traditional Rock Climb. That generally means it’s easy for the grade, but in some ways it’s un grade able as you most likely have to do a ‘special’ move whilst on route. As I’ve done this route maybe 5 / 6 times before I new the ‘special’ move wasn’t that special and so they shouldn’t struggle too much. Things were going well, until the younger MRT trainee psyched himself out on what wasn’t the ‘special’ move but the move below which involves, some exposure and a small step to get established in the upper groove system. After 15 minutes of coaching it became apparent that he wouldn’t do it and so I had to lower him back down to the ground and just the two of us carried on.
This experience was equally important for his learning, and he said when we were all back together that although he was mad at himself for not getting up, he now knows what ‘pushes his buttons’ and areas that he needs to work on. After all being part of a MRT team can take you into all sorts of scenarios and uncomfortable comfort zones!
The next day we headed to scramble Cam Crag Ridge a grade two in the beautiful Langstrath valley.
The weather was pissing it down sideways, but being Scottish it didn’t stop them!
We took our time as conditions dictated this, and we summited and headed back down to the valley to look at some anchor rigging, gear placements and then a well needed cup of tea.
Check out our Scrambling pages – Here!
Scrambling courses – Here
It wasn’t all work though and I managed a few solo trips to ‘suss’ out other climbing and scrambling areas for clients. So guess I contradicted myself there as it had a work focus in mind.
Napes Needle is the most iconic chunk of rock in the Lake District. First climbed in 1886 by Walter Parry Haskett Smith (just don’t get names like that no more) I wasn’t there for that climb but a scramble that is not far away from there and I’ve never done.
Arrowhead ridge scramble misses out the ridge (a fabulous route btw) and cuts in on the left hand edge further up the gully. I soloed this and then made a route up sticking to the crest the best I could. This leads you out onto the col below Great Gable/Westmorland crag. Whereby there is another great scramble called Pinnacle Ridge. Which made a logical link up to the previous scramble and hence the summit of Gable. A perfect day.
A Dolmen – Here
Dolmen video – A slightly panicked but realistic guy climbing it – Here
Napes Needle – Here