Tag Archives: Classic Rock

Needle Ridge after work

Walking up Gavel Neese

Walking up Gavel Neese

Yesterday Mark, Lauren and I were keen to head out and make the most of the last day of fantastic weather. I looked down my climbing ticklists page and came up with the idea of Needle Ridge on Great Gable (V Diff). Mark and Lauren were up for it and we made a prompt departure from school to try and make the most of the daylight. After a quick stop at the Gosforth pie shop we made it to Wasdale Head by 5.

Lauren climbing low on the route

Lauren climbing low on the route

We walked quickly to Gavel Neese and slowed a little on the steeper ground to the traverse path. The views were fantastic and despite a strong breeze it was pleasantly warm. By half past six we were nearly at the base of the needle Continue reading

Tophet Wall

Tophet Wall

Tophet Wall

With Penny recovering from two days away with the prep dept and Bob delayed at work it was just Mark and me looking for a plan to get our last Wednesday evening climb of the term. Scrolling down my ticklist page I came across, Napes Needle and Tophet Wall. Mark was keen to climb Tophet Wall and that meant that I could save Napes Needle to climb with Penny at some stage. I had passed under Tophet Wall twice before whilst on the climbers’ traverse and it had always looked an excellent route.

We knew it would be a longish evening out. I (optimistically) estimated 1.5 hrs to the climb, 1.5 hrs on the climb, 30 min descent to our bags and 1 hr back to the car, a total of 4.5 hours. We left the green at 17:30 so a 22:00 return was on the cards. The weather was warm, with a gentle breeze. However, the slog up Gavel Neese left me a little on the hot and sweaty side. Tophet Wall itself was in the shade, and looked an impressively steep piece of rock.

The first pitch of Tophet Wall

Me on the first pitch of Tophet Wall

After gearing up with minimal faffing I spent a few minutes finding the exact start of the climb. There is a good spike on the right for a runner before heading up some delicate moves up and left into the crack. From there the route heads up right to a small ledge. This section had a little more loose rock that may be expected on a three star climb, perhaps due to the hard winter.

The second pitch was described as bold in the guidebook, this was enough of an excuse for Mark to offer me the next lead as well. I gratefully accepted and headed up the short wall with no protection. About 5 metres above the previous belay a ledge gave good gear and a traverse left to a crack and groove. This was committing but not too difficult and lead to the spike belay before the famous hand traverse. From here the view across to Lingmell, Broad and Ill Crags and Great End was fabulous, we could even see Sprinkling Tarn.

The rest of the route can be climbed as two or one pitch depending on which guidebook you read. The new Gable and Pillar guide suggests one pitch and that is what I did. However, the rope drag made the final moves much harder than necessary and I would recommend taking an intermediate stance if you do not have a lot in hand.

The hand traverse had good footholds too so it was never too strenuous. Then a diagonal rightward line lead to a ledge (possible belay) before a couple of steep cracks in the left side of pinnacles on the arête lead to easy moves up the final wall. It was excellent climbing in a very atmospheric position. We took 2 hours from arriving at the base of the crag to the top of the route (30 minutes more than planned).

Me under Tophet Wall on the way down

Me under Tophet Wall on the way down

We took the Back Staircase down to Great Hells Gate. This is a fairly easy scramble in the top section but the last few moves involve a traverse left (looking out) and are quite exposed. I would suggest that anyone who had climbed Tophet Wall would not much difficulty using this route which makes for a much quicker descent. We had carried our boots on the root for the screes of Great Hells Gate, it was mostly ‘good’ scree, that allowed a quick return to our bags.

A swift packing of gear and retracing of our ascent route saw us at Wasdale Head in time for a quick pint. At least the quality of the beer was better than the mood of the bar staff. Once again it was great to get a full mountain route in on a school night!

Gillercombe Buttress

Bob setting off on the first pitch of Gillercombe Buttress

Bob setting off on the first pitch of Gillercombe Buttress

After missing the previous Wednesday Bob, Lauren, Penny and I were keen to get something done. The weather was set fair and so we decided on the Classic Rock route Gillercombe Buttress (S). Lauren drove us in her shiny new (2nd hand) BMW 1 series and just before 6pm we were heading south from Honister Pass climbing the slopes of Grey Knott toward the hanging valley of Gillercombe. This was a valley that I had not visited before. Despite being only 30 minutes from the road it felt remote and high with Green Gable at the head of the valley and Sour Milk Gill draining down to Seathwaite.

The route itself is a pleasant but long route climbing a rib just right of Gillercombe Gully, which forms the left end of the crag. We spilt into two pairs, Penny seconding Bob and Lauren following me. This was Penny’s first climb where she was not climbing with me! Bob and Penny went first and I got to share some belays with Penny whilst she was belaying Bob and I was belaying Lauren, it was a little strange. We climbed the route in five pitches, 30m, 40m, 20m, 40m and 40m, this left a scramble to the top. Whilst route finding was never difficult (follow the crampon scratches) it took an interesting line with a couple of tricky moves (for severe), in particular the leftward traverse on our second pitch and the start of our final pitch.

Penny and Lauren

Penny and Lauren

By the time we reached the top it was 10pm and so we needed a purposeful decent to reach a hostelry before closing time. We reached the car at 10:50 (it was nearly dark) and despite it being a few minutes after eleven by the time we reached the Riverside Bar they took one look at us and decided that we needed some refreshment before the drive home.