Borrowed time for rock

The summer season is coming toward its end. I’ve been fortunate enough to bag some excellent routes in the late summer.


At the belay after pitch 4 of The Pause E1,5b
Another trip to the Etive slabs found me on The Pause, another 4 star classic and an absolutely brilliant slab route. 

Belaying Kev on pitch 5 of The Pause E1,5b
Possibly one of my top five routes on Scottish rock so far.


Esk Butress, Lake District
Heading in a different direction, Chris and I teamed up to bag 2 classic routes on the impressive Esk Buttress in the Lakes. Trespassers Groove and The Red Edge. 

Chris flying up pitch 1 of Trespassers Groove HVS,5a

Trespassers Groove, a classic “thuggy” HVS was sadly looking very dirty and neglected, more traffic needed. 
Pitch 1 of The Red Edge E1,5a

The Red Edge conversely was clean and sound with brilliant moves from start to finish.

There have been lots more routes in between then and now but another highlight came today on Totalitarian of Raven Crag, Thirlmere.


Looking back at Ole after the traverse pitch of Totalitarian E1,5c
Ready to tackle the crux pitch of Totalitarian E1,5c. Didn’t look so fresh shortly after!

An excellent route of sustained interest, although having an audience which included a trainee British Mountain Guide on the lead of the crux pitch certainly added a “no pressure” feeling to it.


Hard Rock and some granite


The underling pitch of Kipling Groove, HVS 5a
This summer I have had to make quality the focus of any climbing ventures rather than quantity.

Recently, that has been very solidly achieved without attention set on classic adventurous and mountain crag routes when the weather has permitted.

Andy and I had a great day checking out the ominous Etive Slabs. We opted for the 4 star classic VS, Spartan slab. A great route taking a rising traverse across the slabs with incredible views and continually interesting climbing at every point.

The sustained corner pitch of Spartan Slab, VS,5a

A few days later, Adam and I headed to Gimmer Crag in Langdale to get on the two “Hard rock” classic routes The Crack and Kipling Groove.

Adam Godwin on pitch 2 of The Crack – Gimmer, VS,4c

Two excellent and contrasting routes, with The Crack proving to be a strenuous and thuggy route (certainly stiff for VS,4c) compared with the exposed and delicate Kipling Groove. 

Adam Godwin on pitch 3 of Kipling Groove, HVS 5a

Adam and I agreed that Kipling Groove is without doubt one of the finest routes of its grade which either of us have climbed and possibly one of my top 3 rock routes thus far. An outstanding climb with great moves and outrageous positions and exposure.  

Descending from Gimmer for tea and medals

There is still plenty of time for more adventure before the tools come out for winter… 

A day with the big herdsman

It’s been a while since I have been able to go for a mountain day and recently the Scottish weather has been very… Scottish. This week though Ole and I decided to strike during the fleeting high pressure ridge and head for the Buachaille Etive Mor to climb some routes from bottom to top.


The Buachaille

The “Buachaille” is probably the most photographed mountain in Scotland and has an iconic place in Scottish mountaineering and climbing. There is something special for everyone on this mountain and I have never had a bad outing on it.

Our first route choice was the 3 star classic Hiccup (VS,5a) lower down on the mountain. I have been keen to do this for a while and it didn’t disappoint.

On the main pitch of Hiccup, VS,5a

Two contrasting pitches of interest in an amazing position. Great stuff. 


Ole in a great position on the second pitch of Hiccup, VS,5a
The top out of hiccup took us the the rim of D gully which we then skirted round and across Curved Ridge to reach the Rannoch wall.

Here we decided to go for Engineers Crack (E1,5b) which is unsurpringly, a crack route up the far right hand side of Rannoch wall. Ole lead the main pitch after I had hogged the main pitch (and a bit of the second!) on Hiccup.


Ole going steady on the main pitch of Engineers crack, E1,5b
This is a nice well protected climb on excellent rock, highly recommended. After this, we moved together to the crest of Crowberry Ridge then down Curved Ridge to finish feeling very satisfied.

Great to return to the mountains and even more satisfying this time to go home to my two little boys after a trip for the first time.

Trouble where you least expect it

Borrowdale from the belay after pitch 3 of Fool’s Paradise (VS,4c)

The spring into summer period has been a productive and enjoyable one for me. A good number of excellent starred routes ticked mainly in the Lakes and the Southern Highlands. 
Some notable routes I’ve really enjoyed recently include:

Catacomb (E1,5b) and Murrays Route Direct (VS,4c) at Dow Crag.


Looking back from the start of Catacomb (E1,5b) on Dow Crag
Raindrop and Jubilee grooves (E1,5b) at Black crag Borrowdale.

Sobrenada (VS,4c) at Eagle crag, grisdale.

Fool’s paradise (VS,4c) at Gowder crag.

Hanging around after the crux traverse of Fool’s paradise (VS,4c)

The Rut, The End (VS,5a) and Terminal Buttress (VS, 4c) at Polney crags 

Keith Falkingham on pitch 1 of The End (VS,5a) at Polney
For the past couple of weeks I have been staying close to base camp, training at TCA and working on projects at the local crags.
Today, I ventured over to Loudoun hill to shunt up some routes and practice Epitaph Variation (E2,5c) before trying to lead it at some point. On arrival I came across a climber who had fallen off Dee’s crack (HVS,5a) and taken a ground fall. Before long, the air ambulance, numerous paramedic teams and the MRT were at the crags to deal with the unfortunate climber in question.  

Air ambulance and emergency teams at Loudoun Hill
Serves to remind that climbing accidents can happen when you least expect them.

Lakes multi pitch – mini adventures

Me getting to grips with Conclusion (E1,5b)
Adam and I had originally spoken about heading to Skye this weekend for a ridge traverse and some mountain rock routes but given the plummet in temperatures and the pants weather forecast, we decided to head South to the Lakes and get some routes in before the weather closed in. 
On Friday evening we headed to the all too accessible Shepherds Crag to squeeze as much climbing in during the evening as possible before dark. We warmed up in the Classic VS Fisher Folly, finishing it more directly than normal by following the line of the E2 route, M.G.C. 

After this I was keen to get on a good extreme and opted for Conclusion in the Brown slabs area, a classic multi pitch E1. No route finding required here, a stunning, pure line of great technical climbing the whole way. It didn’t help that it was a bit wet but with the winter climbing mentality still engaged I wouldn’t entertain backing off!

Feeling pleased with our efforts we bivvied up for the night.


What a view to wake up to

The following morning we headed to Black Crag in Borrowdale with Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect and Raindrop in our sights. Superdirect turned out to be an outstanding climb, particularly the crux pitches and the grande finale emerging on to the iconic Troutdale pinnacle. 


Adam on the second pitch of Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect (HVS, 5a)
5 excellent pitches of contrasting climbing were enjoyed on this route with balancy, technical sections and steep, thuggy crack climbing in the mix. It is easy to see why this is a route held in high regard. 


Me tackling the crux pitch of Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect (HVS, 5a)
A bit annoyingly, it started raining as we tackled the last 2 pitches of the route which assigned our ascent of Raindrop to another day but it didn’t spoil this route. Another outstanding line and a great mini trip

Evening climbing, Shorts and everything!


Spot the climber!

This week, despite being back at work I was determined to make the most of the sun and longer evenings.

Tuesday night saw Adam and I head to the local crags at Loudoun hill to do battle with a savage HVS route, Pulpit Crack and get back on the E grades with The Belk. Hard to believe it was only 2 weeks ago that the pair of us climbed a very wintery North East Buttress together.

Adam looking solid on The Belk

Thursday night saw me take some slightly more extreme measures to get on the rock with a quick blast (within the speed limits of course) down to Shepherds Crag in the Lake District where  Paul and I blasted up 2 Lakes multi pitch classics, Eve and Adam.

Me on the main pitch of Adam while the gentlemen below commits to the crux moves on Eve

Both absolutely excellent climbs and what a fabulous way to spend an evening after work!

The Arran Climathlon

The traverse pitch of South western slabs

A great day was had by all on the excellent granite mountain crags today. Well, at least by Paul and me.

Hoping to make the best of the rare West coast sun we hoped on the ferry to Arran and cycled through Glen Rosa towards the striking outline of Cir Mhor.

Our first route was Southwestern Slabs for Paul’s classic rock tick which was a delightful climb and in a stunning setting, especially with weather like today’s.

Paul skylined on the traverse pitch

Following a complex descent, we decided that our plans to climb the South ridge direct route as well were slightly ambitious give our need to catch the ferry so we opted for the shorter route, Hammer which turned out to be another excellent route with fantastic climbing every inch of every pitch.

Abbing off after Hammer

A fantastic days climbing.