Friday, 26 July 2013

Off the beaten trad in the Lakes: Scafell and Goat Crag

Weekends here, cars packed; tent and ropes. To the mountains. We were after shade, more so, my ginger skin was after shade. The weather was looking top, lots of sun and dry mountain crags. A quick escape from work and steady drive to the Lakes followed as people flocked to the mountains. We walked in, camping by Sampson Stones, Great Moss, and I was itching to get on the crags the following day.
Scafell's East Buttress, what a piece of rock!
What we thought was an relatively early start, turned out to be not so early, as we spotted several teams on Scafell's East Buttress as we approached Mickledore at 9am. We moved to the shade of Scafell crag and the popular route of Botterills Slab on the left of the crag. The climbing was superb, smaller holds than I was expecting and quite sustained I reckon, but never desperate. Just really enjoyable climbing on a brilliant crag. We made pretty short work of Botterills and headed back for more, selecting the classic Moss Gill Grooves. Another cracking route, and still in the shade. I looked down to the dots walking up the twisting scree towards Mickledore and Scafell Pike, with the sun beating down on them. 4 pitches up Moss Gill Grooves, we were at the top of the crag, and followed the scramble down Broad Stand to retrieve bags.
Me nearing the top of the main pitch of Botterill's Slab
Piers leading off the first pitch of Moss Ghyll Grooves
Mickledore Grooves was next, on the stunning East Buttress of Scafell, as we followed the shade round. Two long pitches ahead, crossing some impressive territory, steep grooves split by a traverse across an impressive slab. This was probably the best VS route I have ever climbed,  rough clean rock, and interesting climbing kept me throwing some moves as I climbed the long 42m top pitch.
Descending back to Great Moss, I couldn't stop looking back at the crag!
The following day was back down in the valley, slogging through the bracken towards Goat Crag, Borrowdale. Facing North-East and suffering from a lot of seepage from vegetation above, the crag takes a while to dry out. It was my first time here, and initially the crag looks really dirty, covered in moss and lichen but on closer inspection the holds and edges are mostly clean. Rock, paper, scissors for first pitch of the classic DDT. Tom won, racked up and set off up the groove following it to its top. I followed, surprised at how good the climbing was, with sustained interest and good gear, to reach a root ledge above. Stepping out from the ledge across the wall, I was able to gain a groove above, which lead across a mossy slab and the top of a cracking route. After a full length abseil to the deck, we headed round to the Hard Rock classis, Praying Mantis.
Tom bridging up the first pitch of DDT
Stepping out from the belay starting Pitch 2 of DDT
The route heads up a crux corner crack before weaving through some impressive territory by a couple of traverses. Tom won the scissors again, and I'm glad he did as I seconded up the pitch. The route is definitely showing more signs of climbers, the polished crack and lack of footholds meant an aggressive approach was needed. The following 2 pitches weaved across steeper ground as I was landed with fourth pitch to the top, picking my way through, following a faint crack which looked just like a drainage line, to gain mossy slabs above. The moss is just superficial, most of the holds are clean, providing really good moves and positions. The crag is definitely higher than it looks on the approach. It just needs a bit more traffic, which isn't helped by its aspect. Next time there's a dry spell its definitely worth checking out.
Tom on the crux crack of Praying Mantis