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/ Lake District Multipitch for Beginner?

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Northern Star on 02 Jul 2018

So I'm planning on taking a friend climbing later this week to the Lakes.  He's a relative beginner, has done a little bit of easy indoor stuff and can belay okay but has never climbed outdoors. 

With most of my UK climbing restricted to N.Wales and the Peak District then I've very little knowledge of Lakeland crags.  Was thinking Bowfell Buttress as it's a route that might give a bit of a fuller day out (including the walk in and out) without ever being that difficult.  But then I read that there's a pitch of HS near the top - totally fine for me but still fine for a beginner?

What do you think?  Any alternative multipitch routes we could be looking at (Diff to VDiff).  South Lakes much preferred as we need to be in Lancaster by the evening.

mrphilipoldham - on 02 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Middlefell Buttress, good climbing, not too far from the road and once you’re back in to Windermere then it’s an easy drive out to Lancaster.

Tony Jones on 02 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Middlefell Buttress, Raven Crag Langdale.

It's a Diff, and very straightforward, with the choice of an abb off or continuing up Curtain Wall (also Diff) and descending carefully to the left (just needs a bit of care my daughter did it when she was ten).

And you can be in the bar of the Old Dungeon Ghyll within thirty minutes of topping out.

Post edited at 19:03
C Witter on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Middlefell Buttress is boring (and won't take you more than 2hrs up and down) and Bowfell is a long walk - though steady, even for a beginner. If you do go to Raven Crag, though, you might enjoyRevelation (HS 4a) - which is pretty steady climbing, mostly on big holds. Or, you could do Middlefell then head to Gimmer for Asterisk (VS 4b), 'D' Route (S) and then perhaps to Harrison Stickle for Treasure (S). One advantage of this is no belay faff, as there are large ledges.

Troutdale Pinnacle on Black Crag in Borrowdale would be a good outing (I've done with someone with very little outdoor experience).

Dow Crag is great, and there are plenty of easier routes, but Giant's Crawl (D)'C' Ordinary Route (D) and Arete, Chimney and Crack (S 3c) are particularly benign.

Or getting over to Wallowbarrow could be good - Wall and Corner (VD), Thomas (S 4a) and Digitation (VS 4b) are classics.

None of those places should be much more than 1hr 30 mins from Lancaster, with Borrowdale probably being the furthest.

In my experience, up to VS is usually fine for relatively fit beginners, as long as there aren't lots of traverses or belay faffing, but especially routes like Asterisk (jugs) or Digitation (slab), where the difficulty is for the leader rather than the second, who can rest or fall off if they need to with out any harm. If they're more timid, then Wallowbarrow or Dow or Gouther (Kennel Wall (MS 3c)) have plenty to go at.

Baron Weasel - on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

These guys have been looking out good lakes routes and put together some lists of routes at different grades - worth a look! https://arcteryxlakelandrevival.com/routes-list/

 

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

i didnt think Middlefell buttress was boring at all. and sat at a belay, looking across langdale, while a peregrine falcon swooped across below me, was a fine day out...

 

giant's crawl is a great route, remarkably benign way up a big cliff. 

 

merlin slab on  pike o'stickle is an obscure alternative, maybe not a classic like some others mentioned, but atmospheric and there won't be a queue!

 

and i believe corvus is often suggested for this sort of thing- not done it but it gets highly spoken of

SuperLee1985 - on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Gillercombe Butress?

Northern Star on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Thanks everyone, some great suggestions there.  Dow Crag looks promising and really appeals because we also get to tick off a couple of summits too (Old Man if we carry on round).  Giants Crawl in particular looks good.  Will be a weekday when we're climbing so don't expect too many queue's.

Corvus would be great but a bit far North in the Lakes for us with the time we have available.  Middlefell looks lovely and will certainly have a look at this if we feel it's too hot, or were running too late for a bigger walk in.  Camping in Langdale in a few weeks anyway so may do an evening here.  Liking the alternative classics PDF's, will have to buy a proper guidebook and check them out.

Bowfell do you think would be fine for a beginner?  Presume route finding is fairly straightforward compared to the Wales multi-pitch I'm used to (Lliwedd etc)?  Don't mind the walk in so much as it would make a proper mountain day, with a summit included which is preferable to just cragging.  Friend I'm taking is a good club runner and pretty fit.

nickcj - on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Some great suggestions for routes so far but also consider how you are going to look after your second if they are new to multi-pitch climbing. It helps if you can keep in sight at all times and on the belays. For example, if you climb Middlefell Buttress as described in the guidebook, the long second pitch may create problems if you can't see or at least hear your belayer. Also make sure the gear is placed to protect them as well, particularly on traverses and allows them to easily follow the route. Long run outs on easier ground can sometimes cause confusion as to the exact line. Don't forget to make sure you know where the correct descent route lies. Raven Crag in particular has some nasty gullies that should be avoided. Good luck and have fun introducing your friend to some great climbs. 

Post edited at 07:28
Andy Hardy on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

From memory the crux of bowfell buttress is low down (2nd pitch), and it's really a couple of tricky/polished moves. The rest is VD or thereabouts. I've done it in big boots (as have millions before).

I wouldn't recommend troutdale pinnacle, purely on the basis it has a longish traverse, easy enough but could be awkward if your second slips or is unnerved by the exposure.

cathsullivan on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

It's worth thinking about whether your friend is used to scrambling and scree slopes too so that you can plan for a crag that won't involve a descent that will put them off or be a bit risky for them.

I think one of the diffs on Dow would be good if you did it with small rucksacks and carried on around the top.  Getting down from Dow might be harder than getting up if you want to descend to the base of the crag.  But if, as you suggest, you carry on around the summit ridge you would avoid the tricky descents and make a nice mountaineering day of it.

I'd agree that Troutdale Pinnacle might not suit because of the traverse pitch - even if you protect it well, they won't have the rope above them and you perhaps don't really know at this point how they will react to that. 

One of the severes on Raven Crag Langdale might be nice, although it wouldn't make for a long day out with a good walk.  If you can find the correct descent, you could rope your friend down the descent scramble (they really won't want to fall off that) and then climb down after them.

Trinity Slabs on Wallowbarrow would be really suitable, I think, as there's not much traversing and you can belay in such a way that means you'll be able to communicate with them and see them mostly.  Again, not much of a proper mountain day as it's a short walk and descent - but it has a mountain feel to it even though it's virtually roadside (and you could walk through the woods from Seathwaite to make it longer rather than from the farm).

Another idea for a proper mountain day would be to go up to Pavey and go part way up Jack's Rake before doing Gwynne's Chimney.  Or Cook's Tour is a good Vdiff on Pavey.  Or you could go to Gimmer and do Ash Tree Slabs followed by A Route.  If your friend doesn't know how to abseil (which is now a common way to get down from Gimmer) you could descend via South East Gully although that might be hard for somebody who is not experienced at that kind of thing (and potentially a bit risky if they do find it hard).  But you could climb with sacs and go up to Picke o Stickle and back down one of the normal footpaths (I think).

GrahamD - on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

C Ordinary on Dow is, I think, my favourite Diff anywhere.  It feels like a big route, has consistent climbing throughout and gets to the top of a hill.  Will be perfect in hot weather.

C Witter on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Bowfell Buttress is a good route for a beginner if you both enjoy a walk. The route-finding is very obvious, if you have a guide, as the route is well marked by passing feet and crampon scratches. The "HS" pitch is controversial - the route used to get VDiff and still feels like a VDiff. The difficult section is about 4m long and is a little steep, but has good holds. As the pitches are relatively short, you should be able to be in sight of your second all the way, and the belays are on ample ledges. Once at the top, if you descend to the south from Bowfell summit, there's some nice scrambling up white/pink slabs next to the tourist path, and you can continue over Crinkle Crags for a longer walk. 

As for Troutdale Pinnacle, the traverse is about Diff, excepting the pull off the slab, which is about 4a/4b and is directly below the belay. It's really not an issue unless with a very timid second, though it's probably best chosen if your second is "up for an adventure" - in which case it's a very satisfying route for the grade, with great positions.

Post edited at 11:45
Northern Star on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Thanks again, think we're going to head to Bowfell Buttress if we arrive in the Lakes in good time, or if a little later then Dow Crag (Giants Crawl or Ordinary Route).  Will nip out and buy a guidebook at lunchtime.  That said, will look up the other routes suggested in the guide and may change plans if anything jumps out.  Jakes Rake and Walbarrow are of interest.

Thanks for the tips regarding contact with and protection for the second and yes am used to this having another friend who loves climbing but never likes to lead anything ;)

Michael Hood - on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

Agree with you about Ordinary C except that I thought it finished at easy terrace. Can continue up Intermediate Gully with a bit of scrambling.

Northern Star on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

Where is the finish to the top of 'C Ordinary' on Dow?  The guidebook I have just purchased shows it finishing at a terrace half way up the crag.

Michael Hood - on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

That's Easy terrace, you can go left (facing in) and a bit of scrambling along and down gets you back to the ground.

Or you can go into the gully on the right and steep walk up it with a bit of scrambling that gets you to the top.

MFB - on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Never finished up the gully but an alternative to the 'easy terrace' descent is to continue up, scrambling at grade 2, up the crest of the butress to summit, good mountaineering day out, don't leave anything at the bottom, climb with light sacks

Post edited at 20:33
Northern Star on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to MFB:

Any climbs from the 'easy terrace' to the summit?

MFB - on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Sorry big crag i only know bits of it, someone will be along soon (probably) with answer

pasbury on 03 Jul 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

> C Ordinary on Dow is, I think, my favourite Diff anywhere.  It feels like a big route, has consistent climbing throughout and gets to the top of a hill.  Will be perfect in hot weather.

Seconded

Northern Star on 04 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Great, think I've settled on C Ordinary but will be mindful of the recent rockfall higher up.  After C Ordinary rather than descending to the bottom of the cliff, is it possible to link with the top pitch of Giant's Crawl to get to the summit by going left along Easy Terrace?  If so is it straightforward to find?

ChrisBrooke - on 04 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

So, would Middlefell Buttress - Curtain Wall - Asterisk - D Route - be a good day out with a low grade friend (/wife)?  Single 50m rope and 'sacks on.

 

 

GrahamD - on 04 Jul 2018
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

It would be a bloody long day out IMO.

Gav Parker - on 04 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Yes, you can walk along easy terrace towards the start of the descent and its a short scramble up to link up with the final pitches of Giants Crawl.

ChrisBrooke - on 04 Jul 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

That's what the wife thought. We have a family tradition of having a lot of fun, then carrying on until it's no longer fun. This sounds perfect. 

MFB - on 04 Jul 2018
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

What about Middlefell & scramble above then up to the Main Wall on Gimmer - about 6 pitches at a fairly consistent grade, probably get away with 30m rope, a few wires and some slings 

Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Jul 2018
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I think for a beginner, Asterisk and D Route could prove too hard. I think it's really important with beginners never to put them off. A bad experience could put them off rock climbing for ever.

helix - on 04 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star: do you really want to go so high up, requiring an exhausting walkin, for a long multipitch climb, especially when you have to be somewhere later on? Depends on everyone's fitness to some extent. But it could turn into a minor epic. There's lots of good stuff lower down in Langdale, but still with great atmosphere, including some already mentioned and also consider the routes on Upper Scout Crag.

 

ChrisBrooke - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Gordon Stainforth and MFB:

Thanks chaps. I think a more relaxing approach will indeed pay dividends. My wife does climb, but has had a long break for our two kids, so I do want her to actually enjoy it. We’ve not had a day to just the two of us for a couple of years, so I’ve fingers crossed it’ll be a good one. Weather looks great for Saturday which is positive. And if I do push her a bit hard hopefully dinner at the Gilpin Hrishi will raise the spirits

 

 

ChrisBrooke - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Can I ask a naive question? How bad are midges in the Lakes hills at the moment? I live in Sheffield and climb in the Peak, so know what I'm up against and how to mitigate.....but I've not been to the Lakes in years. Are we going to get eaten alive at belays, or is it not such a big deal up there? 

 

(p.s. apologies to Northern Star for the hijack.)

Post edited at 09:42
Jon Read - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Not too bad currently, and any breeze on exposed routes would be in your favour.

ChrisBrooke - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Jon Read:

OK, cool. Thanks. I'll pack the Skin-So-Soft just in case though.

Jon Read - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Good idea!

C Witter on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Don't believe the stoics amongst us - in spots, the midges are awful! Climbing or camping, in the late afternoon/evening they're worst. A friend got 29 bites on just one arm over three days in Langdale. The rest of him was just as bad... :/ I only had about 6 bites, but used bug spray as though it were holy water and I were trying to exorcise the devil...

C Witter on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Since you seem to regularly be leading VS and above, I imagine you could probably quite happily nip up C Ordinary, down Easy Terrace and all the way up Giant's Crawl in a day. I managed to do that with a friend who's just started climbing (and climbs quite slowly), despite being on public transport (cutting the day short at either end). It's a really pleasant day. 

ChrisBrooke - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to C Witter:

Good to know. I'll try to move quickly and be off the hill in good time.

I was out bouldering last night at Gardoms (Peak) and was told the midge situation was brutal as I walked in. So I drenched myself in Skin So Soft and had a nice time.....for an hour or so, then not so nice. I'll pray for some wind!

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to C Witter:

> Don't believe the stoics amongst us - in spots, the midges are awful! Climbing or camping, in the late afternoon/evening they're worst. A friend got 29 bites on just one arm over three days in Langdale. 

 

in three days...? 

 

i got more than  29 bites in under 1 minute while camping near Sligachan some years back now...!

 

<breaks into cold sweat at memory of it>

 

wercat on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> in three days...? 

> i got more than  29 bites in under 1 minute while camping near Sligachan some years back now...!

>


I got 29 Kilobites in a few moments in at Sligachan in 1986 after the Skye music festival.  Enough to convince me to sleep in the car after 30 seconds while other poor fools put their tents up.  (This might have been prior to one of the last proper meets of the Lochcarron Mountaineering club)

Northern Star on 05 Jul 2018
In reply to C Witter:

Thanks for the tips everyone.  We did C Ordinary at Dow Crag yesterday and there was no one else on the route.  Lovely meandering route up the buttress with great views to the lake below.  Friend loved it.  At the Easy Terrace we walked on round to Giant's Crawl only to find another team of three on route.  So instead of waiting for them we went back along the terrace and scrambled up the Intermediate Gulley to the summit and then down back past the Tarn for a well deserved swim.  Great day out.  No midges to speak of at all.

The only worrying section on route seems to be where the large flake has broken off on the second to last pitch.  Quite a bit of debris left on the ledges around where the flake used to be and the remainder of the flake, although secure at the moment, did wobble when stood on (carefully) and it's only a matter of time before this comes loose too.


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