Mountain Journeys

Castle Rock of Trierman

#rock-climbing-castle-rock-ambleside-lake-district

The 'walk' pitch

Yesterday we made a visit to the north side of Castle Rock of Trierman. So much different in many ways to the sunny south side. The north crag has a foreboding, menacing atmosphere, it’s dark, shady, and huge, with some massive lumps of fallen rock at its base. The rock debris is a result of the 2018 rockfall which saw a huge chunk of the crag plummet. Activity at the crag was understandably limited for a few years prior to this and for a while afterwards. Thankfully the rock now seems to have settled down again and many of the great climbs here on unaffected.
 
Our plan had been to climb the ‘easy’ route of the crag. Zigzag which is a VS 4c and around 100m split over 4 pitches. However, we managed to misread the guidebook and set out on something much much more difficult. As we slowly teetered towards the E4 6a groove which came after a sustained section of E1 5b, we decided to call it a day and bail out before things became epic.
A handy abseil station was nearby and we were soon safely on thee ground. Feeling deflated, yet happy to be back on terra firma.
 
Last night there was much consultation with the guidebooks to see where we went wrong. It was all so obvious – isn’t it always! We had started way too far right. I think the reason for this is, the start of our intended route was completely caked in lush vegetation, so we didn’t even consider it could be part of a climb, let alone a potentially popular route.
 
So today it was back to Castle Rock for a rematch. This time I took plenty of time to study the guidebook description and make sure we were in the correct place. We were. The start looked hideous!
 
Zigzag VS 4c – 100m
 
Pitch 1: 4c - From a pedestal / rock spike precariously climb the hanging garden to reach better holds at the large bush. Move slightly left from here to make more precarious moves through the jungle to reach the haven of an Ash tree, phew. From here a long gangway heads left, follow this. The rock is now much cleaner, although far from perfect. Protection is excellent throughout this pitch, with the crux being about midway along the gangway and easily protected too. Nearing the top of the gangway another dirty section needs to be negotiated before more direct moves lead to a spacious belay ledge.
It is worth mentioning here this belay is tricky to arrange due to numerous marginal placements. It took four pieces before I was happy.
 
Pitch 2: In one of the guidebooks this is described as ‘a walk’. It’s probably about diff’ standard, so easy but not quite a walk. Start by descending slightly on moss covered rock, going rightwards to reach cleaner rock and satisfying holds. It’s very easy to protect this pitch. After only about 15m an Ash tree is reach and just next to it is a ledge with a spike, good belays can be found just above the ledge.
 
Pitch 3: 4c – Surmount the easy angled slab on the right and follow this to its end. Here the exposure is quite dramatic. Arrange suitable protection before setting off up the vertical crack heading skywards. This gives some sensational climbing, although do beware the big jug is a bit wobbly. A ledge is reached before another steep crack must be tackled, this also gives wonderful climbing. At the top of this crack and immediately prior to reaching the belay stance the rock becomes vegetated once more. Thankfully this time the vegetation mostly consists of Bilberry, meaning snack time if it’s summer. It’s also tricky to arrange suitable protection for this belay, but seek and you’ll find enough.
 
Over to the right is a large Ash tree and this may have abseil gear on it. If climbing on 50m half ropes (or longer) it will be possible to abseil off here if needed.
 
Pitch 4: 4a – The big slab pitch. If it’s a sunny day this will be very tempting as it does receive sunshine. However, the start of the slab is currently very mossy, this makes for slightly more challenging climbing. The moss is only for the first few metres, after this the slab is clean. In fact it very much reminded me of the climbing on South Crag. There are spike belays at the top and the view is rather splendid too.
 
Descent: Walk towards South crag and join the descent for that crag.
 
Is this route worth doing?
Well that depends. If climbing confidently at at least VS4c and enjoy more exploratory climbing and don’t mind some vegetation, then yes it is very worthwhile. If looking for immaculate rock and a friendly atmosphere this isn’t the place to go to.
 
What did I think of it?
Absolutely fantastic.
 
Would I climb it again?
Yes please, anytime.
 
Thanks to Sam and Kristina for joining me on these adventures.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. I’ve enjoyed writing it and this weekend I most definitely saw a return of my climbing mojo. Good times.
 
Mark 

#belay-anchors-for-rock-climbing-lake-district

When belay anchors aren't as good as wanted, use lots of them

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