Following A. Dolphin

Arthur Dolphin, who died aged 28, following an accident in the Alps on July 25th, 1953, was arguably the finest climber of his generation. Despite his premature death, Dolphin left a legacy of first ascents that are still regarded as test pieces today.
The most famous is perhaps Kipling Groove on Gimmer Butress above Langdale. Dolphin's use of a top rope to test the hard and unprotected crux moves was controversial and it was Joe Brown who hammered in a piton on the 3rd ascent, generating even greater controversy, which finally gave a modicum of protection to coax aspirant leaders out of the groove and across the crux wall. A mistake here would have resulted in a 100ft fall; a frightening prospect today and almost certain death climbing with hemp ropes tied around the middle as was the practise then.
I remember making those same moves, with good modern protection relatively close by; I was pretty gripped all the same. Soloing a less well known Dolphin route, I found myself equally gripped, much more recently.
Tiger Wall at Earl Crag is typical of many gritstone routes at its grade on which awkward and comitting moves lead to an airy finish. High on the arete, shaken nerves an indication of how little I have climbed recently, I shook my head in wonder at the audacity of those early pioneers.
The picture above, taken some years ago, shows me making the last moves of Tiger Traverse on the opposite side of the buttress and gives a better idea of the situation once out on the arete.

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