Gimmer came top of the list, it often does.
We started off with NW Arete, a fine and long VS route giving 3 star climbing the whole way. A great way to reach Ash Tree Ledge. Sam led this pitch in fine style despite it still being out of the sun and very cold. Then it was straight on to the main event of the day, Kipling Groove. A 'Hard Rock' route of immense character and a strong natural line the whole way.
The first pitch is nice and easy, this gains a good ledge for a belay in preparation for the 'undercling' traverse!! Looking at this I was definitely having doubts, the exposure was pretty full-on, the foot holds looked small, and the handholds as yet unknown. Once established and using the undercling, this is a very straightforward pitch of climbing, just lean back and walk delicately across under the roofs, and remember to look down and enjoy the exposure, it's brilliant.
The top pitch was for Sam to lead, and this was to be the crux. After cruising the initial section, he started to experience difficulties just out of sight. I could sense Sam was getting tired and am fully aware this is not a good feeling to be having midway through a crux section. Eventually Sam's arms gave in, he slipped and took a fall! Thankfully his gear was excellent and he soon came to a halt a few metres lower down, no injuries and ready for another go. The arms had other ideas though, so after a few minutes he made a belay just below the crux and passed the leader batten to me, no pressure then!
I immediately saw why Sam was having such trouble on this section, it was very hard indeed and strenuous, so hanging around wasn't an option. After placing plenty more protection I went for it and with an almighty effort (and a little help from the gear) got through the crux, brilliant. It wasn't over yet though, a delicate foot traverse lay ahead, followed by a steep crack to finish, and with tired arms this felt really tough.
We reached the top, elated and exhausted, Sam even went for a lie down in the sun.
What can I say, this is a magnificent route, i'd love to climb it again.