Me sat on top of Troutdale Pinnacle (Third Belay)
After dropping my dad at Carlisle station for his train back to Southampton we were keen to hit the rock. My original plan had been to go to Goat Crag Borrowdale and to get on DDT (HVS) and Praying Mantis (E1). However all the descriptions of a damp vegetated crag and desperate jamming on Praying Mantis caused me to reconsider. As a result we went back to Black Crag, where we had previously been impressed by the quality of the rock and the friction when we climbed Troutdale Pinnacle Direct
(VS) and The Mortician
Our intended route was Raindrop, so-called because the line of the climb is more or less the line taken by a raindrop falling off the pinnacle. Bob had been enthusiastic about it on our first visit to the crag.
- The first pitch involved a short 5b crack but with plenty of holds on the face to the left of the crack and excellent protection it was a steady introduction to the route. The crack is interesting, it changes width continuously allowing many (perhaps five) different size cams to be placed in about 8 metres of climbing.
- The second pitch was very good (much better than pitch two of Troutdale Pinnacle Direct), it involved climbing a groove straight up until a delicate leftward traverse tested your faith in the friction between your shoes and the rock. From here another groove/crack allowed a move back right to reach the same belay we used on Troutdale Pinnacle Direct.
- The third pitch is supposed to be strenuous, there were sections of off-balance climbing and a little loose rock at the start but as Penny said “there were lots of footholds throughout the whole pitch. It involves climbing two flake cracks until you step left into a groove that then takes you up and right to the arête. All of this is on the front face of the pinnacle, an excellent position (see photo
here). The last few moves bring you to the top of the pinnacle to join Troutdale Pinnacle. This was a sociable belay with a mother and daughter team (you don’t get many of those!) and some Cumbria University Outdoor Ed students.
- We finished up the excellent but polished last pitch of Troutdale Pinnacle.
This was an excellent route, with clean solid rock, superb views and locations and a plumb line. It is a little eliminate, especially if you have climbed on Black Crag before.
Neither of us felt like another four or five pitches so we decided to head down. However Quayfoot Buttress caught my eye and so we decided to go and have a look at The Go Between (E2). Click the link for the next episode…
Me last time we were at Black Crag - note the excellent weather
So whilst the rest of the country are thinking about what to do with their day off tomorrow we are thinking about going back to work. Our weekend activities were dominated by the weather. After the last few weeks of mild and generally good weather we were both keen to get some more climbing in. In particular I was keen to get on some more difficult routes and break the E1 barrier early in the season.
Saturday started grey but dry and after a recent trip to Black Crag in Borrowdale I was keen to return. We started up Obituary Grooves which has a common first pitch with Mortician. This was the same pitch we climbed when we did Troutdale Pinnacle Direct. This time the rock was colder and more concerning was that is was a bit greasy. Last time the friction had been excellent. At the end of the first pitch came the decision between Obituary Grooves (VS) and Mortician (HVS). The crux of Mortician was at the start of the pitch so I thought I would ‘have a look’. There was a thin crack that took two small wires and these gave me the confidence to go for it. A little grunting and leg shake later I was over the bulge and established on the slab above. I was doing my best to put gear into all the best holds to make Penny’s climb more of a challenge (or perhaps I needed a little reassurance). The groove/corner above continued for what seemed like ever (about 20 metres), eventually after passing under a horizontal tree I arrived at the wide crack that led to the belay. Here things got steeper but also juggier, I was running a little low on gear as well, having placed most of it already. This was also the first time the weather let us know its intentions with a little light drizzle. The crack was fine in an exposed position and I was soon just below the belay. Another pair were in residence (in my opinion having a rather relaxed chat and handover given the ominous weather), having climbed the Superdirect (HVS) so I attached myself to a tree backed up with a cam and sat on a spike to bring Penny up. It was one of the best pitches I have ever climbed, 35 metres of absorbing climbing.
Penny made easy work of the inital difficulties and made quick progress up the corner. However, the final piece of gear was a 2.5 friend that I had placed into a crack designed for a 2 or perhaps even 1.5 (did I mention I was running out of gear). After about ten minutes (hours says Penny) and not to mention a little frustration she came to join me at the belay in not the best of moods. Things were not going to improve for a while as after we sorted out our gear, we swapped positions at the belay and then Penny had the dubious pleasure of sitting on the spike whilst lowering me down to the stuck cam. The motivation of knowing the cost of cams these days helped me free it. according to the guidebook we had two pitches to go to the summit. I climbed them both in one. The first half was a broken groove to the top of Troutdale pinnacle, the second was up the rib to the top. By doing this I overtook the pair who did not seem to be moving as purposefully as us. This was a poor end to the climb. It would have been much more interesting to climb the finger traverse of the Superdirect.
By the time I reached the top the heavens had opened and I went into quick belay setting up mode. Penny climbed quickly but slipped a couple of times on the wet polish and banged her knee. A swift coil of the ropes and walk down to the bags saw us reunited with our waterproofs just as the rain was abating. We noted that the other team had just about reached the top.
Last night after a prompt getaway from school Mark, Bob, Penny and I headed to Borrowdale climbing. Despite being the most popular climbing in the Lakes Penny and I had yet to climb there (Penny had been there once with her pupils). We decided on Black Crag with home of the Classic Rock route Troutdale Pinnacle. Bets were placed on the time that it would take to get from the car onto the rock, it actually took 35 minutes. By 6pm Penny and I were heading up Troutdale Pinnacle Direct whilst Bob and Mark were setting off up Troutdale Pinnacle.
Mark on the traverse of Troutdale Pinnacle
Our route consisted of four pitches. The first involved climbing a well protected rib/slab and then traversing right to belay. I placed all my gear on the left rope, expecting to need the right rope after or during the traverse. However the traverse was just a walk along a ledge so the right rope was never used. The second pitch was supposed to be the crux, it never seemed 4c to me and quickly I was at the next belay, under the pinnacle. The third pitch took us up onto the pinnacle, since this met the classic route the holds became polished and the gear placements were obvious. Our fourth and final pitch climbed onto the top of the pinnacle and then up the rib to finish. The position and exposure was great, with the climbing never being too difficult.
View from Black Crag of Derwent Water
We will have to return to Black Crag to climb Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect and Rain Drop. Both of these look to be excellent routes. It was great to get a proper climb done on a school night. I am looking forward to the coming weeks.