Pavey Ark and a big day out

Up in the Lakes to support Nick’s Joss Naylor challenge – a run from Pooley Bridge to Wasdale, traversing 30 summits over a distance of 48 miles and climbing 17,000 feet. Check out https://jossnaylor.blogspot.com/ if you are tempted. Anyway, I’m only doing the tiddler of the four legs – off from Kirkstone Pass at 6am (great overnight spot at the pub there)

a gentle jog up Red Screes,

Hart Crag, Fairfield,

Seat Sandal

and down to Dunmail Raise.

We were down by 9am and my supporting duties were done for the day (not so Nick, who had another 25 miles to go – he made it inside the allotted 18 hours with time to spare. Great effort!)

Anyway, that left me with most of the day to kill, and happily Andy had signed up to a day on Pavey Ark, above Langdale.

After a lung-busting trog up through the crowds to Stickle Tarn

it looked like we had the whole crag to ourselves, but closer inspection revealed a team of three lads on our intended route, Capella, E1. We turned our attention to a newish route to its left – Alphekka, E2 5c, which takes a thin pocketed slab, crack and rib to a shared stance at a holly tree. Not too bad once I’d excavated a few extra holds and gear placements, and we shared some enjoyable banter with the guys (Joe, Tom and Michael?) at the stance before rapping down for more. Next up was Arcturus, variously graded HVS, E1 or E2 depending which book you read. Very fine climbing on the first, crux pitch which gets you back to the same tree.

Another rap (skipping the remaining pitches) and we were roped up beneath Capella with a clear run to the top. I ran the first two 5b pitches together into one huge 50m runout, which is definitely the pick of the bunch – plenty of gear and clean, featured rock taking the sting out of a few tricky moves. Andy strung the remaining couple of pitches together and took us to Jack’s Rake, from which the clean wall and arete of Aardvark (a 2* E1 5c) beckoned.

Andy despatched this pretty comfortably, but we both felt that it deserved another E point (the crux moves left through the bulge are somewhat urgent!) and perhaps another star.

Michael got some great shots of Andy on the upper arete

Meanwhile, we had a grandstand view of Joe enjoying the top pitch of the classic Golden Slipper

We topped out around 4pm and I was starting to contemplate a well-earned beer, but Andy reminded me that we’d intended to take a look at another recent, less-travelled addition Venus / Crescent Slab Direct. This 4 pitch E1 features in this year’s Lakeland Revival (a project to encourage climbing on some slightly more obscure routes) and I agreed to hold his ropes. All I can say is “how does this get the same grade as Capella and two stars???” Pitch 1 is dirty, damp, and very bold, though probably no harder than the 5a suggested, and pitch 2 is properly hard AND quite bold (and quite damp!) Andy ran them together in an impressive push (I dodged a bullet there!)

Pitch 3 is no pushover (4c my arse!) and pitch 4 tops-out to some horror-show looseness. Can’t say I’d recommend it (even if it does earn you a free T-shirt).

That really was the close of play – 5 routes (okay – 4.5) of E1 or 2, a dozen pitches and around 1000ft of climbing. Not bad for “a short day” after my earlier exertions and definitely beer o’clock.

Just a quick jaunt over Hardknot and Wrynose Passes to Nether Wasdale, where Nick’s JN celebrations were well underway. Top day!

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