Chasing the Ephemeral

I signed off my last post with the first snows of winter, and that evening a forecasted high pressure / blue-skies day had my thoughts turning to a quick fix of bolt clipping on a south facing, sheltered bit of limestone. Andy was having none of it.

“… still toying with winter climbing plans…” Luckily, by the time I was roped in, ambitions had been scaled back to Cambridge Crag Climb, a Grade 2 gully on Bowfell.

A few further texts were exchanged with my winter climbing mentor and established that Big Boots and crampons wouldn’t be required and a single axe would suffice, “… just throw in a short rope and a couple of slings”.

Arriving at the ODG carpark, I was a bit perplexed to find the cloud down, the snowline up (at around 700m) and everyone decked out in La Sportiva Nepals (having left my pair safely in the garage, along with my crampons and fancy BD axes). I was sporting 5.10 approach shoes and my trusty (oops, should read RUSTY) Charlet Mauser walking axe, a relic from 1980.

Not to worry – given the conditions we’d probably just be having a snowy walk anyway, and I’d always got the rope to “fall back on” if it turned tricky. The wander up The Band was pleasant if squidgy, but as we approached The Climbers’ Traverse things firmed up

Plenty of ice plastering the buttress although nothing very thick or substantial…

… with our chosen line looking more like a snowy scramble.

Turned out that I didn’t really miss the crampons and the rope never did come out of the rucksack (I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that you’re supposed to tie in to it…)

Topping out into the blazing sunshine

…it really was a winter wonderland.

… Time to celebrate with a flask of hot chocolate, followed by the round of Crinkle Crags and the rest of the Langdale Horseshoe.

Fabulous views over Eskdale and Scafell.

… and the added bonus of a swift half in the ODG (accompanied by a substantial meal of course).

By the end of the day I had to admit that I’d thoroughly enjoyed myself (whisper it, but probably more so than a few chilly routes in a grotty quarry.) Andy cited the book “Chasing the Ephemeral” as a source of inspiration – might have to see if Santa can be persuaded to get me a copy…

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