The wonderfully positioned 'Knife Edge Arete' - Climbing on Scafell
Climbing on Scafell
With a long spell of amazing weather, we have been lucky enough to get out climbing on the high mountain crags on a few occasions over the last few weeks.
Climbing on the high crags of Lakeland always feels special. Climbing on Scafell is super special. A gift from the weather gods and certainly a time we cherish.
There have been multiple trips up to Gimmer Crag in Langdale, also multiple trips to Dow Crag above Coniston. The ultimate Lakeland crag is of course Scafell. This takes longer to dry and can be a cold venue even during a heatwave, so needs respect and careful planning.
On Wednesday of this week I made it up to the mighty Scafell to climb a long and historically significant route on Scafell Pinnacle. This is an area of the crag I’ve seen many times but not climbed on. To say it is an incredible place to play on rocks would be an understatement, it’s the best.
To shorten my drive, I walked in from Eskdale and met my friend Anna at the base of the crag. The walk from Eskdale is long and lovely, a favourite of mine. It took a little over two hours to get to the crag. Anna was already there and getting cold as it was in shade and the cloud only just clearing. We decided the best plan being to rest a while and wait for the sun to work some magic.
This strategy worked a treat as it allowed us to climb in comfort.
Our route choice today being ‘Jones Route Direct from Lords Rake’ followed by ‘Slingsby’s Chimney’ and finished off by the magnificently positioned ‘Knife Edge Arete’. This link up of routes led us on a path to the very summit of Scafell Pinnacle. A mountain day like this is hard to beat, whatever grade you climb. For this was never about the level of technical difficulty, it’s all about absorbing the tremendous atmosphere that Scafell Pinnacle delivers and this route weaves a wonderful way to the top.
Pitch 1: Starts from ‘The Pinnacle Terrace’ and climbs the walls overlooking Deep Ghyll, so exposure becomes immediately evident. The crux of this pitch is a rising traverse along a gangway. Faith in friction is required for these moves, but soon enough the ‘First Nest’ is reached and a comfortable belay.
Pitch 2: Walls and slabs directly above led us to another traverse leftwards to reach ‘The Waiting Room’. This is a large ledge and would make a very comfortable belay stance except there’s no protection on it, so we took a hanging belay just to the right. This afforded me excellent views of Anna as she climbed the pitch.
Pitch 3: This has a mantle shelf move on it and we struggled to do this with packs on, so managed to make a very slight detour from just below. The next belay stance was better and provided a great view of the next and final pitch of this route.
Pitch 4: This follows a chimney up to ‘The Crevasse’. Despite my dislike of all things chimney, this was a surprisingly good pitch of climbing on excellent rock. The stance atop ‘The Crevasse’ was magnificent.
Above is where we join ‘Slingsby’s Chimney’. Hmmmm! This looked like it might be pretty taxing and it was. After much effort and wriggling, I managed to overcome the initial difficulties of the chimney and easy ground led up to spacious ledges. As Anna climbed I was able to take some time to savour the far reaching views over to Scafell Pike, Pillar, and Wasdale. A special place.
One more pitch of easy climbing to go. The ‘Knife Edge Arete’ and as soon as we saw it, it was clear where the name originated. Very, very narrow and with huge voids below. Mountaineering at its best. The climbing was easy, more like scrambling, but we tried not to rush as the positions were outstanding. The route ends abruptly on the top of Scafell Pinnacle from where a short abseil is required to reach easy ground linking with the Scafell plateau.
We packed away the climbing gear, had a bite to eat and started to plan our descents. Anna away down to Wasdale, me over to Eskdale via the summit of Scafell. A long and beautiful walk as the sun dipped ever lower in the western skies.
Climbing on Scafell is a rare and special treat. I’m very much looking forward to the next adventure up there.
For more about the long and illustrious history of Climbing on Scafell it's well worth checking out 'Nowt but a fleein' thing'
If planning a visit to the Lake District and you're keen to check out some fun outdoor activities, please see our Activities Page for what we can offer.
Thanks for reading
Jones Route Direct from Lords Rake - Climbing on Scafell
Anna leaves 'The Waiting Room' - Climbing on Scafell
Abseiling off Scafell Pinnacle - Climbing on Scafell
The walk home isn't bad either - Climbing on Scafell