/ Middlefell Butress at first Trad Lead?
I'm calling up to the Lakes for a week some point over summer with a friend from uni. Whilst I expect we'll spend most of the time hiking/scrambling, I'm quite interested in talking him into MFB as we've both done our fair share of indoor climbing/outdoor TR/2nd'ing.
A few things are making me question how good an idea this is however...
Whilst I've made countless anchors for TR/Abseils in places like the Roaches, Hen Cloud, Froggatt and Stannage, I've never lead outdoors. I'm usually quite happy following up a VS, maybe a low HVS, but wouldn't dream of leading some of them (yet).
My second issue is that the guy I'm going with sometimes struggles with the exposure, which I'd guess could pose an issue if I were at the top of a pitch?
For what it's worth, protection wise, I basically have the DMM Offset's, Hex's and Wallnut's 1-11 (+ plus a sketchy crag swag friend) and 8 quick/sling draws (could make a couple more if needed). From what I've seen, this should be enough to protect the pitches?
I chose MFB as its often recommended as a "first lead", and indeed soloed. I cant imagine I'll struggle with the climb/placements, just the confidence! So, what are your thoughts? Bad idea, or go for it?
Go for it, it's easy climbing and a clear route to follow. If you've not done multi pitch before then you will have to get to use to the routine at the end of each pitch, make sure you are both always clipped in or on belay at all times. If you are sharing leads this is easier, if you are leading every pitch then you have to remember to back coil the rope after your second has arrived at the stance.
I might be tempted to do a couple of single pitch climbs first, particularly as you can have a conference about belay building if necessary and then move onto multi pitch. It would depend, to my mind, whether you are the more or less competent on the pair on this first climb and how much MP you have done before.
As the first pitch ends at a large terrace and you can scramble off from there, then you can see how you manage setting up the belay before getting committed, and bail out if you're not happy. All belays are on large ledges so a good choice for a first multi pitch lead.
Agreed. Its also really just an easy mod after the start. There are mods in Langdale that are far more scary than MFB... Crescent climb is terrifying for Mod: exposed, hard, lose rock, poor belays.
Middlefell is absolutely ideal for your purposes. Perfect rock, very easy climbing (with optional harder final pitch above terrace) and not very exposed. My memory is of a route where you simply drop big slings round spikes for runners as much as 'place gear'.
Recommend doing the right hand crack, a bit trickier than the normal start but after that the rest is much easier. Once you're in the crack get a big nut or medium hex in there and you'll be well away.
I took complete novice up this and he breezed it.
> As the first pitch ends at a large terrace and you can scramble off from there,
Quite a serious down scramble if you ask me. I'd ab off the tree every time but you probably need 60m rope to reach safe ground.
I wasn't meaning from the top. but left from the start where you can walk /scramble a short way get to the big terrace above the first short wall.
Im going to be up there august 6th-10th and will be happy to help you guys get up it, could be done in a cool evening. Drop me an email if you're interested.
Yes, the descent routes are arguably more serious than the climb. Probably better to just carry on scrambling upwards, and then do one of the scrambles up the front of Harrison Stickle for a fun day. I've done that several times with relative beginners, but have to confess that I've only otherwise been up Middlefell Buttress as a solo as the standard way I used to approach Gimmer.
OP here (showing as anonymous as I'm currently looking for my old UKC login, and I don't think my friend would appreciate we know he doesn't like serious exposure!)
Thanks for some great responses - I'm definitely feeling more up to it now!
I think I would be leading each pitch, so will indeed have to remember to back coil the rope - shouldn't be too big an issue! Not that I plan on falling on a Diff which is regularly soloed!
I was considering a few more single pitches first - any suggestions of a similar grade/features in the valley or a short drive from the campsite at Pooley Bridge?
Thanks for the offer Harry, I may take you up on that - we're going a week or so before that, but if I can get the time off work, I'll be there again!
Scout crag, part way in before ODG. Soft touch VDiff, 2 pitches generally but will feel a little steeper. Or shepherds, completely the wrong direction though.
Your plan A is ok. Because of the stance size, it will feel like a series of single pitch climbs. Just take your time, don't allow other parties to fluster you, you will enjoy it more.
> Scout crag, part way in before ODG. Soft touch VDiff, 2 pitches generally but will feel a little steeper. Or shepherds, completely the wrong direction though.
I'll definitely look into these as other options though, even if I can't fit them in this time!
> Your plan A is ok. Because of the stance size, it will feel like a series of single pitch climbs. Just take your time, don't allow other parties to fluster you, you will enjoy it more.
That was definitely my thought pattern too - from what I've seen, they almost look as though you could bivvy on them! It seems there an escape route from each stance if necessary too (which I can only see me using if my partner decides against climbing)?
You can escape left into the gully in places on either short ab, or marginal scramble/ sheep trod. Don't carry the world with you, the pitches aren't that long etc.. and you won't need to escape.
Middlefell, more than a rock climb, its a bit of a mountaineering challenge.
As someone already said, Middlefell descents are potentially serious. The ' descent ' options include 100m straight up grassy gully above the route to the path (safest option). Abseil or loose scrambling descents are also available.
Scout crags - the single pitches are very polished and the upper crag is bold, difficult to protect.
I think MFB could be a good first lead, but there are a couple of "issues" no-one has mentioned.
For pitch one, the original chimney is now unsafe; the "castration crack" is quite tough for the grade, and so unless you're confident I would take the right-hand slab or just skip that pitch altogether (you can walk around to the left or - maybe better - to the right.
For pitch two, it's a very long pitch (45m or so) and the top feeds out onto a large terrace with no obvious anchors. So, I would recommend you split the pitch at a large spike just over half-way up the pitch. Then, when you get to the terrace, you'll be able to reach a large block which you can sling, for an anchor. Otherwise, belay just below the top of the pitch, where you'll find some good nut placements, and can then scramble up onto the terrace.
If you're not sure of anchors, finish the last pitch rather than abseiling of the tree. It'll give you the full tick, anyway. You can then walk down - but, it's probably best to go the long way and avoid the sketchy MF gully descent. To do this, it's probably best to keep going up the hill a little (c.20m), cross the gully on the right and then scramble up the hill taking the easiest ways for about another 50m or more, till the rock runs out. From there, if memory serves, you can walk to the right a fair trek, and descend between Raven Crag and Raven East Crag. Whatever you do, take care on the descent - walking further rather than trying to take precipitous short cuts, unless you know the way. If you do decide to ab, two 50m ropes will do - it's about 40-45m. Check the tat before you use it, as it may not be as good as it initially looks.
It's not as "serious" as I've made it sound - there are just a few "issues" (running out of rope on p2 an the descent) that can marr an otherwise "relaxed" climb. Hope you have fun!
Crescent climb is terrifying for Mod: exposed, hard, lose rock, poor belays.
Really...? Was considering it for tomorrow, with an inexperienced second, on the basis it was ‘only a mod’. Thought about the traverse on the crescent and decided not to- sounds like I made a good decision!
First pitch - some loose rock and maybe not that well protected, couple pegs at belay not sure what else available, it's still a good pitch - you want helmet, theoretically threatened by scramblers above
Second pitch - It's a great traverse, spectacular, quite well protected, big handholds
Third pitch - rock and grass scramble to Jacks Rake
Cross the Rake and climb Gwynnes chimney, great chimney pitch 30m followed by 60 metres approx scrambling rock steps to summit - fantastic
And all dry, second needs to be happy with exposure but doesn't need technical brilliance
Yes it’s the exposure bit I’m not sure about; I took him up the In Pinn a few years back, he did fine with the east ridge, but lowering him off took a lot of coaxing.... will stick with the plan for some high moorland Yorkshire grit.
the scramble above gwynnes chimney- is it protectable?
Grit sound good
Inn Pinn - that's way more exposed IMO
'Scramble above' -yes it's fine, couple of fairly gentle rocky steps, iirc few slings maybe wire or two,
There's a question that's not been asked yet - when you say you've experience of building TR anchors, is that using slings or the rope to equalise?
The point is that, on a multipitch, if you're the only leader, if you used your rope to equalise the first belay, you'll then find you can't lead the second pitch - because your own end of the rope is now forming the anchor. You will need to build the anchor from slings, and only use your rope end to tie yourself into the powerpoint, so that you can easily extricate yourself to lead the next pitch.
Of course, if the two of you are planning on swapping leads, then this isn't an issue.
Hi it’s a good route and if you are sure and confident of placing runners and bomber belays, what’s the worst that could happen?
Appologies if this has already be said (couldn’t be arsed with reading entire thread sorry), but make sure you take the easy start round the left side, the chimney start is a bit tricky and the RH start is plain hard. Make sure you have identified the starts correctly. All very stready thereafter. Also make sure you know where the decent path goes. It’s easy to miss the junction off to the right and stay in the loose gully. The decent is a winding grassy path.
Because the buttress is pretty much barrel shaped, then it doesn’t feel too exposed at all.
I seem to remember a few mantleshelf type moves on route. Might be worth fine tuning this.
It’s probably as good as any multi pitch to get started on. Corvus is also worth a look, though a bigger walk in.
It probably will feel harder on the lead, but it’s a good start. Mountain rock is generally easier to protect with wires than the grit you seem to have practiced on. It’s got sharp holds too!
Let us know how it goes.
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