Sunday, 21 October 2012

White Ghyll Crag

I met up with Chris after had driven down from Scotland earlier that morning. We met in the New Dungeon Ghyll carpark, then set off up the hill towards White Ghyll crag. The morning was cold. A thin film of mist hugged the ground of Great Langdale. The scrammble to the crag took only half an hour. But the time took longer. Upon breaking through the mist, we gazed out across the glaciated Langdale valley The temperature invertion, glazed in the deep reds and oranges of an Autumn sunrise stopped us in our ascent to the crag. We took the time to take in the view, take off a layer, and then to continue on our way.

We geared up by a large boulder and sycamore tree, and decide on wearing helmets from then on after a few rocks had fallen from the cliff. The first route of the day, 'The Gordian Knot' (VS 4c). I took the first pitch, which I found was wet and greasy in places. The climbing was easy, but after looking up at the overhangs above, and watching as the tiny dropplets fall from the lip and coat the slab I'm on in a layer of water, the climbing suddenly got a little harder. Every foothold was wet, no chalk could keep the hands dry. Slow precise movements across the face. When finally i reached the belay, it seemed inadequete. Poor nut placement and a sloping flake. Needless to say, I didn't have much faith in the belay. I wouldn't have wanted to abseil off it...

Chris followed the pitch, swapped gear and set off for the second pitch. The Crux. Only to find however, that the entire pitch was the cause of the dropplets of water from before. It was seaping, and cold. He reversed the moves back to the belay, where we had decided to retreat off the climb...retreat via abseil...via abseiling off the earlier described 'inadequete belay'. I must admit, I was very hesitant to do so. But being the heaviest, I went first. Chris watched the belay with intricate detail. As I lay back, gripping the rope tightly, eyes fixed on the sling the rope is running through, I was waiting for it to slip. For me to tumble backwards, down the slab to the scree slope below. But thankfully, I never did. The sling held. And soon after Chris very rapidly joined me at the base.

We chose a Severe as our next climb. Chris lead the first pitch this time. And I followed shortly after. However, just before reaching the belay, the guide book slipped from my jacket and rested at the base of the crag. 'Meh' I thought, 'Severe climbing can't be too hard to route find on'. Right?


What should have been 4 pitches, turned into 2. God knows where the route went, or even if we were on it. But i know for a fact that my belay at the top, was not THE belay: a micro wire and a sling round a small block. Oh, and less than 3m of rope left. I pretty much just clipped the rope through the belay plate straight away. We sat on top of the crag and overlooked Great Langdale. Across to the Langdale pikes, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags. We walked back to our packs, then set off for a beer at the Dungeon Ghyll pub. After a drink and bite to eat, I left Chris and set off for Halton near Lancaster fro a week of instructing on a Summer Mountain Foundation course with CCAT.

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