Mountain Journeys

Lake District Rock Climbing Guide – The Best Crags….


High on D Route, Gimmer - Lake District Rock Climbing Guide


Lake District Rock Climbing Guide - Perfect days in the mountains

Last week, when summer came to visit us here in the Lake District, we had the pleasure of spending a day guiding Caroline on the magnificent Gimmer Crag.

Gimmer is quite high up in the mountains and there are a number of ways to make an approach. I’d given Caroline a few options and she went for what we would agree is the finest. This is to start at Middlefell Buttress and enjoy a full mountaineering day being on rock from valley floor upwards.

It’s only a 15 minute walk from The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel up to Raven Crag. Steep, but short. We geared up at the base of the climb, had a refresh of comms and did our buddy checks. Then I set off up Middlefell Buttress (D).

We climbed this in 4 pitches (I think). All nice and dry, the day being bright and pleasant. An easy start like this is a good way to ease back into outdoor climbing. Getting a feel for the rock, the movement, and the exposure. It’s all so different to indoors. By the time we were at the top of the route Caroline was back in the swing of climbing and we were cruising very efficiently.

From the top of Middlefell there is some easy scrambling to reach a path leading on to Gimmer. This gives some amazing views and isn’t ever laborious. In fact, it is mostly level!

Then the South-West face of Gimmer comes into view and our pulses start to race. Always such a wonderful sight. What shall we climb, how will it feel? I already had a number of routes in mind and would put options to Caroline once we were at the base of the crag.

There were a couple of teams at the top of the first pitch of the classic Bracket & Slab (VS). We decided to also start with this route, just climbing pitch one as a way of gaining Ash Tree Ledges. This pitch is tricky but offers good protection for the leader. The climbing on it is varied and on the most impeccable rock imaginable. At the top of the pitch is an abseil station, meaning a ready built belay. This pitch was Carolines introduction to the crag.

Once on Ash Tree Ledge we scrambled across the crag towards the North-West face, stopping a little short of this. D Route was to be our next target. Doable in a single (long) pitch, it tackles the Gimmer headwall at the amenable grade of Severe. Although it’s not about the grade, it’s all about the positions. D Route delivers on this count.

Climbing such a long pitch allows a natural flow to develop, and whilst I remained very focused on placing plenty of protection to keep us both comfortably safe, I did also drift into my own little climbing world from time to time. The moves on this route are never too demanding, but they do require thought and time is needed to take in the stupendous views and atmosphere. Caroline is going to love this route…..

Well, from the noises she was making as she flowed up D Route I’d say plenty of enjoyment was there. The smiles at the top being the perfect finale to this fine route. I can’t remember all the words we collectively used to describe the route, but safe to say it had been thoroughly enjoyed all round.

Now just the business of getting back down. We had chosen to leave bags at the base of Gimmer and would abseil. Firstly back to Ash Tree Ledges (thanks to the guys up top for the rope help), then from the abseil point at the top of Bracket & Slab P1. My friend Sam of Lake District Mountaineering had his ropes on this abseil so we used these, thanks pal. A nice, safe, and quick descent.

Abseils are often the most challenging part of a mountaineering day and bring lots of danger which needs careful management. Everything should be double checked and there should be no doubts about the integrity of any part of the system. On this occasion we were reassured by the brand new abseil chain at the top of the crag, installed just a week previous.

A leisurely walk back to base and celebratory drinks in the sun at The Old Dungeon Ghyll. What a great day. Thanks Caroline. 

Are you looking for a day of guided climbing on Lakeland rock? We offer tailored days so can put together the perfect day for you. Interested to know more? Get in touch

Thanks for reading




Part of our approach to Gimmer, with Harrison Stickle and Thorn crag in full view - Lake District Rock Climbing Guide



Local climber on the crux of Crows Nest Direct (HVS) - Lake District Rock Climbing Guide



Me abseiling off Gimmer - Lake District Rock Climbing Guide (photo courtesy of Caroline)



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