Mountain Journeys

Wow, what a week so far…Esk Gorge & Napes Needle + how to descend Napes Needle

On Monday we were over in Eskdale with the returning Earey family, great to see you all again.
The Esk Gorge was our agenda and the weather played ball for us, sun, sun, sun all day, yippee!

Pool jumps, wild swims, cascade climbs, and the most beautiful scenery imaginable, that's the Esk Gorge.
Yes it's an effort to get to, but more effort = more fun!

We also managed a foray into the nearby Lingcove Beck, more jumps and swims await in the emerald pools.

Tuesday was a team day out for us. Me & Kate hot footed up to Great Gable and The Napes climbing area. Birthplace of English traditional rock climbing and so steeped in history, I always find it an emotional place to visit and today was no exception.
After a number of visits to the Napes for other climbs, today it was 'The' climb we were here for, 'Napes Needle'. As I sat in the gully to gear up, looking up at the needle I tried to imagine what Haskett-Smith must have been thinking before and during his 1st ascent back in 1886!
We chose 'The Arete' (HS) as a route to the tiny summit. Slightly less polished and probably more exposed, this provided everything I was expecting and oh so much more. The shoulder belay may be spacious, but that doesn't prepare one for the true summit that lies a further 4 metres above. This is very small, flat, and exceptionally exposed, absolutely fantastic!

Kate cruised up and we managed as summit selfie before a quick retreat to the shoulder and an abseil back to the base.
Extremely happy to have finally climbed this magnificent piece of rock and so pleased it was with Kate.

Descending from Napes Needle:
So you've climbed the needle, taken a selfie, admired the outstanding views to Wasdale and the Scafell range. Now there's the problem of getting back down!
A number of options are available, here's some to consider:

1) Lower your second and down climb back to the shoulder belay (using the runners placed during ascent as protection). The climbing is challenging but very doable and a runner will never be far away. From the shoulder, arrange an abseil back to the base.
2) As above, only for added safety place a sling over the flake at the back of the Needle, clip the rope through this prior to down climbing.
3) Lower your second all the way back to the base, have them stay tied into the climbing rope. Place the rope through the notch feature on the Needle and counterbalance abseil down the opposite side of the Needle.

All 3 options for retreat require great care and involve a degree of risk. It is up to the individual climber to decide which is most suitable for them, or indeed more options are available should none of these suit.

Two brilliant days amongst stunning Lakeland scenery and with many lovely people.

Thanks all.

Mark

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