A day on The Napes

A little snow, cloud and mist on the fells can make for an atmospheric shot, but there is a fine line between such an image and one in which the crags are so obscured that any drama is lost.The best of a few not-so-great attempts to find that line while scrambling up past Napes Needle, on Great Gable.
Cold and exceptionally greasy rock added spice to even the simplest of scrambles, the intended route abandoned for another day. But it was good to look in on climbs like Innominate Crack, Eagle's Nest Ridge Direct, Arrow Head Ridge, the Needle itself and of course Tophet Wall, climbed over the years in all manner of conditions. I remember Arrow Head Ridge in particular, attempted in a snow storm. We made reasonable progress, until the temperature plummeted and the slabs became coated with a treacherous skin of verglass. We returned to complete the route the following summer and I later soloed it, relishing the airy moves over the Arrow Head itself. A route out of all proportion to its lowly grade. And Eagle's Nest Ridge Direct, which, with those few delicate moves on the lower wall and it's superb position, must rank as one of the finest Lakeland climbs regardless of grade.
Tophet Wall we finished like many others - having started out particularly late on a short autumn day - in the dark. I remember well the exchange between Karl and I as he led the final pitch. Disappearing around a corner the ropes moved quickly and stopped. A familiar climber's call followed, muffled and whipped away on the wind. Ok - my reply - you're off.
Karl: Err...that's...not...what...I...meant...
Silence.
Quick reply: OK. You're on!
We descended to the screes, fumbling in the dark, sliding, careering out of control, down and down. To the Inn and beers, followed by a bivy, warmed by a fire on the shingle by the lake, looking up to moonlit summits and the memories of time well spent. Happy days.

Comments