After camping at Cockley Beck we began the walk into Great Moss and the crag. I had wanted to climb Central Pillar for several years, through my time in the Lakes, when visiting friends up there, climbing trips on the mountain crags nearby, but for some reason it had never quite come together. The crag is stunning, huge clean buttresses of rock looking over Great Moss like a fortress at the head of the valley. I was pretty nervous as we walking in, the anticipation of climbing the route in good style, I knew at this point it would definitely be pushing me close to my limit. The crag grew and grew as we got closer until we were gearing up at the bottom with the crag rising above.
I was leading off, up the start of Bridges Route, a classic Hard Severe until reaching a pinnacle I was heading straight up the wall. I stood comfortably on the ledge looking up the wall for the crack line I was meant to be following which was little more than a few intermittent splits in the rock. For some reason I was worried about what lay ahead, but i managed to talk myself round and got on with it. The pitch pieced together, the holds appeared and the gear was plentiful. I reached the comfortable belay ledge, slipped my boots off and bought Esther up.
Here is what Hard Rock has to say about this pitch: ‘The second man, belayed in this position is excellently placed to apprehend his leader’s fate. A slight traverse onto the wall, which tilts out above the groove below leads to a piton. Despite the situation’s unsuitability for such antics, a series of boulder problems ensues. A pull out onto a block is both insecure in itself and leaves doubts as to the block’s stability. After standing on the block a long grope upward to holds in a quartzite band in the only escape. The band is seized, pulled on to and traversed to a cool haven in Bower’s Route.’ Well I’m glad I hadn’t read that before climbing the route as I probably wouldn’t have done.
My memory is a bit hazy on this next section as I can’t quite remember how I managed to stay on. I reached up again with my left, right gripped this poor pinch crimp, again with my left, flatty. I was grasping, flatty again and stand on the block. I was looking at the air miles into the void below, at least it would be a clean fall I though. I grasped again, the holds had to improve otherwise I was off; jug. Yes. The right hand was a sloper jug with weight on my fingers, and I could guppy the left. Between my hands a small wire slot, number 2. I had to put it in with my left because of my feet, too much weight over my right. I don’t know what possessed me next as I stuck a heel hook out left near my head. What on earth! This took a lot of weight off my right hand and the wire was in. I pulled up onto the ledge and finally had weight on my feet. The holds were small again but I could stand as I traversed right to bridge a groove where I stood for a few minutes before moving up to the belay. I was so relieved, I was sure I was off. Esther came up, surprised that I had managed to stay on and lead us up the last pitch to the top of the crag. Sat on top with the sun beaming on us, I was so chuffed and I was pleased that it was a challenge, maybe a little close to going airborne, but I, we had done it.