The views enjoyed from the Great Gable crags and the Napes area in particular are mind-bendingly beautiful, with a mix of lake, mountain, crag, and farmland far below. Breathtaking is too soft a word, let's instead go for 'Breathless' (an E9 in the Tophet Wall area).
9 years ago I stood as the base of Tophet Wall with friend Tony McKenzie who was guiding a young lad up the route and I got to tag along. I remember it being a fun and exposed route going through some wild terrain. This all came flooding back today.
The 1st pitch has a 'run out' start but soon the good gear arrives and all is well. The 2nd pitch is bold to start but again the gear soon comes very good, with a few tricky moves.
The 3rd pitch is a big traverse which is incredibly good fun with good gear the whole way. The handholds are huge but feet need to smear some of the time. The final pitch is the 'money' pitch! The guidebook suggests a 'sensational' position and this is so true, such a crazy place. But with good protection and solid rock these are moves to be savoured, enjoyed, remembered. I definitely didn't want to rush, for it's days like these last stay in our memories for a very long time, forever.
To descend we abseiled down the 'Back staircase' into 'Great hell gate'. This is a steep scree chute that proved much fun to descend.
So why this route?
Tophet Wall is known as a 'Classic rock route' and this suggests a route of great character. Ken Wilson edited 'Classic Rock' with numerous editions being published and they became classic too. Inspiring a generation of climbers out onto the high mountain crags to sample the adventure they so clearly hold.
Neither Susan or Kristina (my climbing partners today) had climbed this route before, and with a great weather forecast it made a lot of sense to aim for the higher crags, this was a very good choice.
Thanks to you both for joining me on this adventure..