Kern Knotts is a historic crag, occupying a strategic position above Styhead Pass near the epicentre of the Lake District. It’s about an hour and a quarter of pleasant walking, especially if you take the scenic route via the Taylor Gill Force waterfall
Traversing around from Styhead Tarn, the sunny East Face of the crag soon comes into view, home to the classic eponymous Kern Knotts and Innominate Cracks. However, it’s The Buttonhook route, E1 5b, that gets the Top 50 gong, snaking a devious way onto the skyline arete from the left, then zigzagging to link easier features.
There’s a long reach to get established on the arete
followed by an exposed traverse back left around half height – a great outing, especially if you run all three described pitches into one, and a testament to the skill and courage of the 1934 first ascent team. Incredible!
Next up, Paul did The Crysalid, E2 5c, with a technical crack
followed by a really tough groove, which isn’t overly well protected. Nudging E3, especially as it’s a bit dirty in places.
With cumulative fatigue and the excuse of stars over E-points, I did the excellent West Buttress Eliminate, E1 5b (though you could argue the initial moves off the ground might be 5c).
We rounded the day off with Fat Freddie’s Cat, E2 5c, with a short but fierce couple of sequences up an attractive arete and continuation corner. Burly and committing climbing above admittedly good gear – they don’t give away the E2s around here!
Stunning views down into Wasdale and beyond to the Irish Sea.
By now we were officially Kern-ackered and the lure of catching the second half of England – Germany over crackly radio reception on the way home swung the decision to call it a day.