Mountain Journeys

Rock climbing on Great Gable – the birthplace of British mountaineering

It's been a busy few days here with many hours spent rock climbing at a variety of Lakeland crags. So definitely feeling pretty privileged at the moment, being out with lovely people, stunning scenery, and beautiful weather.

Earlier in the week it was Wallowbarrow Crag in the Duddon valley, this is my favourite valley crag and enjoys unrivalled views out over the valley.
Then Long Scar x 3 visits. This crag nestles on Pike O' Blisco and commands fine views of Wetherlam and into the Duddon valley.

And after a day of rest, yesterday we decided on a big day out!

Starting from Seathwaite in Borrowdale, we walked in to the Napes area of Great Gable. Being steeped in history a visit here always gives me the shivers, I just love it.
The walk alone is very dramatic and worthwhile in its own right. The small trod known as 'the climbers traverse' is easy enough and actually quite level, but takes you close to the crags so provides a real buzz of excitement.

Our chosen route was 'Needle Ridge' and this is located right next to Napes Needle - probably the most famous piece of rock in the country. Good for us as it makes locating our climb much easier.

There was a party of 3 climbers already on 'Napes Needle' and whilst it had been in my mind to climb this too, the wait would have probably added too much time to an already long day out, so we gave it a miss.

The initial pitch of our climb is quite polished now, so care is needed. Thankfully the polish is not so acute higher up on the route. Every pitch is fun and gives increasingly fine exposure, with Wasdale as a constant backdrop.

The final pitch is an easy scramble over a gendarmed arete (see photo above), and whilst the climbing here is not at all challenging, for me this is the best part of the route, giving loads of exposure in a high mountain setting.

A short scramble leads away from the top of the crag and onto a grassy shoulder, from here Westmorland Crag can be seen on the right. We decided to also climb Pinnacle Ridge on this crag, meaning we would climb all the way to the summit of Great Gable.
Only graded 'Moderate' this was likely to be quite a quick ascent, and it was. But the route wasn't what I had expected.
Although clearly well travelled, the rock was still in a friable state with many loose flakes. It's also more buttress than ridge, at least until the final 50 metres or so, here the ridge becomes more well defined.

The top of the climb brought us out only a couple of minutes walk from the summit of Great Gable, which we had all to ourselves. Stunning views into Ennerdale, the Scafells, the Buttermere fells, even the Langdale Pikes.

I'd certainly recommend linking these routes for a fine and long mountaineering style day in the Lake District. 

A top day out, thanks Anna & Kristina.

The gendarmed arete of Needle Ridge
The walk in along the 'climbers traverse'
Climbers on Napes Needle
The first pitch of Needle Ridge



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