Mountain Journeys

Botterills Slab – The Magnificent Scafell crag

Scafell Pike from Mickledore

Evening light on Pikes crag from Mickledore

Botterills Slab

Way back on the 3rd of June 1903 Fred Botterill made the 1st ascent of this beautifully cleaved slab.
The FRCC guidebook quotes 'A compelling line of huge historical significance - outstanding'. I'm inclined to agree.

Since moving to the Lake District over 10 years ago, i've wanted to climb Botterills Slab. The magic combination of good weather (what I mean here is outstandingly amazing weather), a free day, and a willing partner has taken quite some time to allow this, but the day finally arrived.

Was it worth the wait?
Absolutely. Scafell crag oozes with a powerful atmosphere, it's captivating. The combination of location, altitude, and the many historic ascents played out on these rocks, all come together to grab any climber standing at its base. To stand on Rake's progress and not be moved by all this would be difficult. I loved it.

The crag was busy due to the fantastic weather, this was great to see. And of course it's such a huge crag there's plenty for everyone, so no queuing for routes here.

We geared up on the spacious 'Rake's progress' and headed up below the mighty Central Buttress to the base of Botterills Slab. A couple of climbers were just above us on 'The Nazrul' which looked very impressive terrain.

The 1st pitch of Botterills still retained a dampness despite many days of perfectly dry weather. This didn't at all spoil the climbing, actually it might have improved it. This short pitch felt tricky as much of it was 'off-balance', but there was plenty opportunity for gear placements, so nice and safe.

Looking up at pitch 2 - the main event - was super exciting, I couldn't wait to be on that delicate slab, all 36m of it. Every move was as good as it promised, no, every move was much better than that, delectable. Towards the upper section of slab I climbed off route a little, so missed the last section. I had strayed onto the final moves of an E4, oh dear!

Our original plan was to abseil off from the top of pitch 2, however, the abseil gear looked untrustworthy, so we decided to continue up pitch 3. So glad we did as this was a great pitch too, with more varied and wonderful slab climbing in fantastic positions high above Mickledore.

We descended to Broad Stand and set up a short abseil from here down to Mickledore.

It was now quite late, circa 9pm and evening light at its best as it illuminated Pikes crag and the Mosedale valley and mountains beyond. A very special time to be here and how lucky we felt to have been privileged to sample this.

Despite this late finish, we arrived back to Wasdale just before dark, perfect timing.

We will return to this majestic crag, hopefully sooner rather than later. Roll on that long, hot summer.
Thanks to Kate & Don for joining me on this to make it a proper team ascent. Don looked after the bags whilst we climbed.

Thinking of visiting the Lakes and want to sample some of the amazing rock here? Give us a call and let's make it happen.  And for more about climbing routes in the Lake District check out the FRCC guide here



The 2nd and main pitch of Botterills Slab

Botterill's Slab, Scafell

3rd and final pitch of Botterills Slab

Mickledore and Scafell Pike

Climbers descending Mickledore - seen from Botterills Slab



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