Rock Climbing in Langdale

Having made multiple trips up to the Lake District with the hope of climbing only to be thwarted by bad weather and ending up at Shepards, it was great to finally have a weekend in the Lake District with decent weather and dry rock. Over the weekend I climbed with Becky and Andrew and come home having completed a decent haul of routes

  • Pavey Arc – Capella – E1 5b, 5b – ***
  • Pavey Arc Golden Slipper – HVS 4c, 5a, 4a ***
  • Gimmer – Intern – E1 5b, 5a ***
  • Gimmer – Whit’s End Direct – E1 5b ***
  • Gimmer – Gimmer String – E1 4c, 4c, 5b ***
  • Gimmer – Detour – VS 4b – **

Day 1: Pavey Arc – Capella & Golden Slipper

Having left bristol at an hour which should not exist we were enjoying a coffee and breakfast in Ambleside at 9am while looking at the unfortunately grey sky. Despite this we held our nerve and carried on with plan A, which was to climb a link up of two classic routes on Pavey Arc.

Having spent too little time in the the mountains and too much time sat at work, the walk in came as a bit of a shock to the body. Thankfully after not too long we emerged at the tarn and were able to admire the crag. We were soon at the start of the route, and thankfully it looked like the route was mostly dry. Unfortunately the start was not one of the sections which was dry, which gave me a good excuse for using the helpfully tree rather than free climbing the start of the route!

The first pitch of Capella was enjoyable balancy climbing which had plenty of gear, until the traverse out left. Thankfully the climbing was then easy and I was soon enjoying the view at the belay. Becky made quick work of the pitch and I was quickly heading off on the next pitch. The first few moves took a bit of working out, and felt pretty serious with poor gear and committing moves, but the climbing was enjoyable. After these first few moves it was an easy romp up onto Jack’s rake.

We enjoyed a nice lunch on Jack’s rake as we watched the rain go by without touching us, but unfortunately this didn’t last as we moved up Jack’s rake to get to the start of the classic Golden Slipper. Initially it started drizzling which wasn’t enough to deter me, so I set off on the pitch as the intensity of the rain was increasing. Thankfully it didn’t end up coming to much and the rock was dry by the time Becky was climbing.

From the top of the first pitch you are greeted by the fantastic slab of the second pitch, which from the ground looks immensely improbable for the grade. The climbing up this pitch was just fantastic with holds appearing all the time and just enough gear to keep you feeling happy. The crux was stepping right as the slab steepened and was just fantastic as just when it looked like you had run out of holds, a big jug appeared.

Becky lead the last pitch, unfortunately by the time we had swapped over who was leading it was properly raining and we got properly soaked. This lead to a quick stop on the summit for a photo, before running down to get out of the wind in our wet clothes.

Becky in front of Pavey Arc

Becky in front of Pavey Arc

Becky on the first pitch of Capella

Becky on the first pitch of Capella

Lots of rain about

Lots of rain about

On the sublime second pitch of Golden Slipper

On the sublime second pitch of Golden Slipper

Summit selfie

Summit selfie

On the way back down

On the way back down

Day 2: Gimmer

With a great forecast for the second day we debated taking a punt and heading up to Scafel, however due to the northerly wind and cool temperature we elected for the safer option of Gimmer. We chose the shorter approach and leant the hard way what the guidebook means when it describes the approach as arduous! After the warm up of the approach I set off on a shady Intern, which in the morning with cold rock suddenly felt very hard, but the climbing was fantastic with spaced but good gear. Andrew lead the stunningly positioned second pitch which just left me to enjoy the climbing up to the ledge.

From the half-way ledge we climbed the appealing slab of Whit’s End Direct, which was a long pitch with excellent well protected slab climbing. I only a short time cursing myself for choosing to climb a slab while trying to work out the very thin crux. Once you are past the crux there is just the easy but exposed move out onto the overlap, before the climbing eases as the top approaches.

After a quick abseil back down and some food we headed up the classic Gimmer String. Which was an outstanding climb, with the first pitch of Gimmer Crack’s being very enjoyable with nice jamming, exposed moves and a comfy belay ledge. Andrew got left with the second pitch which was a bit thrutchy at times, but surprisingly enjoyable for me.

The final pitch was just outstanding, with sustained climbing that was never too hard, in fantastically exposed positions. From below the final crack looked very tough, but as it was approached it was clear that there were plenty of footholds, before one hard pull up to the finishing jug.

After this we abseiled back down and climbed one final route of the day before heading back down in time for a BBQ in the sun.

Andrew on Intern

Andrew on Intern

Excellent slab of Whit's End Direct

Excellent slab of Whit’s End Direct

Exposed headwall on Whit's End Direct

Exposed headwall on Whit’s End Direct

Stunning finale to Gimmer String

Stunning finale to Gimmer String

Enjoying the view from the top

Enjoying the view from the top

Pre descent selfie

Pre descent selfie

Beautiful evening

Beautiful evening

Diedros Mágicos

On our last day we headed up to the the impressive south face of Puig Campana to climb the classic corner of Diedros Mágicos which is a 5 pitch f6a. Unusually for Spain, the route had no bolts other than for the belays which gave the route a UK grade of E1.

Also unusually for Spain there was actually a decent size walk in, although it looked pretty short from the car as the south face is so large. After a hot walk in with a fantastic view of the south face, we were soon at the crag which other than a team on the classic ridge of Espolón Central we had to ourselves.

Looking up at Diedros Mágicos in the morning

Looking up at Diedros Mágicos in the morning

Almost at the base of the route

Almost at the base of the route

From below the groove of Diedros Mágicos looked very impressive so I was pretty psyched to get onto the route and the lack of bolts made me even more excited. The first pitch was much harder than I was expecting, but the climbing was amazing. It involved excellent bridging and laybacking up the steep corner, with excellent unpolished rock, loads of gear and it finished at a very comfy cave belay.

 

Becky on the steep first pitch

Becky on the steep first pitch

The next two pitches involved more of the same, just a bit easier. At the end of the third pitch there was an excellent traverse over to a ledge, there is a vital flake at the start of this traverse which was very loose and will fall off at some point. The fourth pitch was meant to be very easy, but it turned out to involve enjoyable technical climbing which found the line of least resistance up a series of corners and cracks.

 

Approaching the exposed traverse on P3

Approaching the exposed traverse on P3

Local wildlife

Local wildlife

The penultimate belay was on a comfortable ledge below the outstanding final 50m long crux pitch which surprisingly was also not protected by bolts. This involved interesting climbing up to a roof, before some very hard & insecure (but well protected) moves out to the right into the corner above. A few easier moves lead to the second crux which was getting established in the left hand corner above, which was easier than the first but again very well protected. After this some easier climbing lead up to the final belay.

 

Becky approaching the final groove

Becky approaching the final groove

Long way down from the top

Long way down from the top

Summit selfie

Summit selfie

We quickly abseiled down the ground in four abseils down a bolted abseil line and made a hasty retreat back down to the car in order to get back to the airport for our flight home, late flights do have their advantages! (but did mean that we didn’t get home until 2am!)

Looking back up to Puig Campana in the evening

Looking back up to Puig Campana in the evening

Diedros Mágicos was an excellent finish to a brilliant trip, it was great to get on a long traditionally protected route with no polish. As the first few pitches were harder than I was expecting it made it a really balanced & sustained route, with most pitches feeling like HVS apart from the final pitch which was a solid E1. I thought the grades of the pitches were more like 5+, 5, 5, 5+, 6a+.

El Dorado

As we didn’t have time to climb El Dorado yesterday we had another chilled out start this morning with the aim of climbing El Dorado in the afternoon. To warm up we headed to the main cliffs of Sierra de Toix for a few sport routes in the morning.

El Dorado is an impressive line up a striking cliff face above the sea below Sierra de Toix. The first pitch is an exposed traverse onto a ledge below the main groove line, while the climbing was never hard it was pretty serious due to a lack of bolts or natural gear. The main pitches then follow a huge groove line up the cliff, from the bottom this looks incredibly intimidating as it is incredibly steep.

The climbing up the main pitch was absolutely fantastic, it is now also fully equipped with good bolts so it was just a case of enjoying the outstanding climbing. The route was impressively steep, but generally the holds were excellent so it was often possible to get the weight off your arms. This just lead to a brilliant atmospheric pitch, from the hanging belay towards the top of the groove the view down was fairly impressive and exposed.

The third pitch had a thin technical traverse to gain the final slab which had some enjoyable climbing up to the finishing ledge. Two easy abseils lead back down to the ground, the second one was fairly exposed as it went over a large overhang, which I was surprised to see a line of bolts through!

A long way down on P2

A long way down on P2

Sustained & steep climbing

Sustained & steep climbing

Nearly at the belay!

Nearly at the belay!

Slabby finish to the top pitch

Slabby finish to the top pitch

Abseiling back down

Abseiling back down

Glorious evening light

Glorious evening light

Impressive cliff

Impressive cliff

Magical Mystery Tour

After a mountaineering day out yesterday it was back to rock climbing today. We had planned on climbing the classic El Dorado in the afternoon and something else in the morning. After a very leisurely start which involved eating breakfast in the sun, we decided to head for Magical Mystery Tour which is described as a classic expedition in the guidebook.

The guidebook says that the route requires trad gear and is HVS 5a in UK grades, but it is now fully bolted and is certainly not HVS and I am not sure where the 5a the guidebook referred to was. If you aren’t confident climbing f5 then a set of wires may not be a bad idea for the final pitch.

The start of the route was an superb 40m free hanging abseil which was very atmospheric. The first few pitches were very easy and thankfully a slower party in front of us kindly let us past them on these pitches.

The main pitches of the route involved excellent climbing with lots of exposed traversing and enjoyable climbing. The climbing was never hard, but the atmosphere of the route was brilliant and it was just really enjoyable.

After this time was getting on, and we didn’t really feel like heading over to El Dorado, so headed up to some sport and enjoyed a few routes in the setting sun. The light in the evening was really surreal with strange cloud formations, and beautiful mist forming in the lowlands above Benidorm.

Exposed free hanging abseil

Exposed free hanging abseil

Atmospheric Abseil

Atmospheric Abseil

Exposed traverse on P2

Exposed traverse on P2

Becky leading the third pitch

Becky leading the third pitch

Excellent positions

Excellent positions

Another team on P2

Another team on P2

Becky on the last few moves

Becky on the last few moves

Weird evening clouds

Weird evening clouds