Mountain Journeys

Pillar High Man – The final Nuttall


Ian on the summit of High Man

Pillar High Man - The Final Nuttall

Last year Ian joined us for a day on Pillar High Man. The aim had been to tick the summit. However, even before leaving Wasdale Head we had our doubts due to the unsettled weather. Still we kept with the program and went for 'a look'! Arriving at Robinson's Cairn it was now feeling more certain the weather gods were to stay against us. As it's such a long walk to reach Pillar, we continued the short way further to reach the base of High Man. With a cold wind swirls, rain, and wet rock, it was with heavy heads we walked away without the prize.

Sometimes the right decision is to walk away, sometimes the line is vague and that decision is a tough one. It's arguably the most difficult thing we do. Although the actual decision can be straightforward, breaking the news that plan A is cancelled is always a toughie!

I was asked recently if I had a 'proper job'. It's an understandable question, as when looking in on this type of work, it does all look very lovely. I'd agree, it is very very wonderful and I love what I do. But it is work and making judgement calls in challenging conditions, keeping people safe at all times, and ensuring a great day is had regardless of conditions, that reminds me I'm at work.
Thankfully, along with all that, there's a lot of fun 🙂

Yesterday Ian was back for another attempt at Pillar High Man. We met at Wasdale Head and the strong wind caused us both to be in big jackets, hats, and gloves. Hardly a good start - and yes it is June!!!!

The forecast was reasonable, so off we went. As we neared Looking Stead the wind was close to 'blow us off our feet' velocity. This did not bode well. However, there was a fairly good chance that Pillar High Man would be in the lee of the wind, so on we went.

Looking onwards from Robinsons Cairn we only saw mist! Still, there was very little wind, so we focused on the positives and continued. Arriving at the gearing up spot things were already looking better, we could actually see our route (less than 100m away) and it looked fairly dry. Not much wind either.

We roped up before descending to the start of the route. The gully used to reach the start of Slab & Notch is very loose, so worth using the rope for protection. We cruised through the route, even with thick gloves on (wow it was cold) and soon Ian had reached his goal. To be standing on the summit of Pillar High Man.

By now the clouds had parted and we were blessed with outstanding views into the Ennerdale valley and to the Buttermere Fells. It is such a privilege to stand in these magical places and soak up the atmosphere.

As it was so cold, we didn't stay long. An abseil was arranged as down we went into Jordan Gap and a finish via Pisgah summit before returning to our bags (and more warm clothing).

We returned to Wasdale via the summit of Pillar, thus ticking two summits today, one being notably easier than the other. We both knew that it had come close to calling it off again today, but happy with the decision that was made. And very happy for Ian to have now ticked off the most difficult Nuttall in the round.

For inspiration to get out into the mountains or simply go and do something active, Ian is in his 70's and like a mountain goat. We completed the whole trip in 6 hours 47 minutes. And it's a big day. Don't think that 40's, 50's, 60's is too late to start getting active. It isn't. Start today!

For anyone wanting information about Pillar High Man please feel free to get in touch. And for guiding on this or many other Lakeland routes, we can help with that too.

And for more about The Nuttalls have a look here

Thanks for reading



Pillar High Man from the gearing up spot


Cruising up the crux to the notch belay


Pillar High Man now forms the background as we fly on up to the summit of Pillar



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