Best and worst of the Bob Graham

Whichever way you go about climbing Yewbarrow, the ascent is steep. If you’re intent on completing the Bob Graham, it is perhaps the worst ascent of the entire route taking a direct line up the fellside above the lake. Running is out of the question. It’s a hands on knees, head down, just keep scrabbling upwards type of a climb, its saving grace being that it ends as abruptly as it starts.
On recce days, one can stop a while and appreciate the view. I suspect on the day, the last thing we will want to do is look back on Scafell – though it is not until the descent of Great Gable (some five summits further on) that it is possible to truly turn your back on the Wasdale fells, at which point it starts to feel as though real progress is once again being made.
Back on Yewbarrow, looking across to Seatallan, there are decisions to be made – the steep drop to Dore Head or what I suspect is a quicker traverse of the screes on its northern flank to reach the same point. Another one to go back and try again. That’s the thing with the BG as we are quickly finding out. It’s not enough to know these fells from days spent walking, climbing or running in the past – and I have been over Yewbarrow countless times – most will need to recce each section more than once to find the best line, even on those fells which were thought to be familiar.
Unlike some of the climbs on these fells,the view into Wasdale is one I will never tire of.
Red Pike follows – an easier climb but one on which I have always found it hard to find any kind of rhythm, short rocky steps interrupting the flow. But the summit ridge leading towards Steeple is a joy to run with dramatic views down into Mosedale and across to Pillar. In fact I would go as far as to say that this, the penultimate leg of the route contains all that is best and worst about the Bob Graham.
We stopped here for a short while – snacking and staring. Food is another question. I’ve talked to people who have used everything from the latest energy gels - not something I favour - to cheese and jam butties. Also not ideal.
Another pause approaching Steeple, looking back across Ill Gill Head and the Wasdale Screes towards Black Combe on the coast. Steeple is a fantastic summit, perhaps one of the best in the Lakes, but it is another which lies annoyingly off route. I wonder how many contenders have missed it by mistake or otherwise en-route.
As we began the rocky climb of Pillar, so the rain began to fall. 
Short but heavy showers accompanied us across the summit, easing as we approached Black Sail pass before the skies cleared almost completely to leave one of those stunning evenings which you wish would never end. 
Unless you’re attempting something daft like the Bob Graham when the end will almost certainly not come soon enough.

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