Grooved Arete - Pikes Crag

Sorting out the images from a day's climbing on Pikes Crag above Wasdale, it was with some surprise that I realised it had been just under ten years since I last climbed here.
On one of those perfect spring days, Simon and I had climbed Wriggling Route, a lovely line that shares the start of Grooved Arete. The image above shows me making the traverse out to the arete on the middle of the second pitch - a lovely bit of climbing - at least when it's dry. Fast forward ten years - Tim and I have driven through persistent showers and the fells whose becks are cascading in ribbons of white water, with the sort of optimism that is peculiar to those heading for the crags. Every patch of blue sky is noted and remarked upon, the roads are studied with due diligence for dry tarmac and every cliff passed is searched for indications that things are improving...
And they did. Remarkably so in fact. Leaving the autumn rains in Langdale, we cleared the passes and drove back into summer sunshine in Wasdale...
...before sweating up the steep path of Brown Tongue that leads directly to the foot of Pikes Crag, in the warm afternoon sun.
The view from the base of the crag towards Pillar and Red Pike.
That it was already early afternoon was a point we noted with an all too familiar sense of resignation. Recent paddling trips seem to have been punctuated with comic frequency, by the comment: "4pm and a 20km crossing..."
In fact we were banking on the afternoon sun drying the crag - which it did rather nicely except for the deeper crack lines which characterise the lower half of the climb. Tim leads up the second pitch, avoiding the corner which is the correct line, to find dryer rock on the left wall. Harder climbing but here the rock was just a touch greasy, rather than wet. A lovely pitch.
Taking the lead I entered the chimney of pitch three relatively easily, before a stop start series of moves took me through some slippery cracks to emerge on the stance above with as dramatic a view of Scafell Crag as you could wish for.
I looked across at the lines still so familiar from years ago: the most prominent being Botteril's Slab, the obvious diagonal ramp on the left of the crag - a VS whose poorly protected and delicate 'don't even think about it if it's damp sort of climbing' - has had many, myself included, questioning their sanity.
Tim approaches the belay, before leading up the fourth pitch, probably the most difficult on the route but thankfully dry. Good jamming technique is useful here - surprisingly so for a route of this grade.
As the sun began to set I ran the next two pitches together, to belay astride a large chockstone. Tim emerged on the slabs below as the rock began to glow in the warm evening light...
...and turned the corner to climb a final slab to the summit.
...before abseiling from the in-situ tat rather than wasting what little daylight was left down-climbing the greasy, broken rock that separates Pikes Crag from Scafell Pike.
The end of a glorious day on the fells - hopefully we will be back before another decade has passed.

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