Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Langdale Pikes from New Dungeon Ghyll

Date : 10th April 2011
Start/Finish : New Dungeon Ghyll
Wainwrights : Pavey Ark (2297 ft), Harrison Stickle (2415 ft)
Distance : 3.5 Miles
Height Gained : 2074 feet

The route : anticlockwise from the New Hotel

For this short but exhilarating walk I had the company of my 12 year old cousin. Having proved himself more than competent in the fells on previous hikes we decided to tackle the 'Jacks Rake' route on Pavey Ark. It was perfect weather as we set off from the New Dungeon Ghyll car park. The first section of the walk, up to Stickle tarn, is steep but on a good path with plenty of scenic interest along the way.

The iconic Langdale Pikes from the drive in

The initial steep ascent path
As the top of this first section is reached the view suddenly opens up in spectacular fashion over Stickle Tarn towards the imposing face of Pavey Ark, the largest uninterrupted rock face in the Lake District, and Harrison Stickle, the highest of the Langdale Pikes. Its an impressive vista with a knack of making you feel quite small.

Harrison Stickle

Pavey Ark over Stickle Tarn

 The shore of Stickle Tarn is a great spot to rest from the previous hour of uphill labour and then to ponder the options for further upwards progress. The are easy paths up onto Pavey Ark from both right and left of the above picture but the connoisseurs route is straight up the face along the infamous Jacks Rake. This diagonal gouge into the rockface can be seen sloping steeply upwards from right to left across the main face of the crag. It is not a route for bad weather but on a day like this it is a surprisingly straight forward scramble well within the capabilities of most fit fell walkers, despite its savage appearance from below.

Looking up towards Jacks Rake

Stickle Tarn

Jacks Rake with many tiny hikers visible along the route
The start of the Rake

Me, halfway up, by the tree

Rock climbers on the main face

Steep, but not as exposed as it looks from below ... so far

Hands & feet required

The hardest section is right at the end

Views back over Stickle Tarn

The final push before ...

... the Summit !

Pavey Ark summit panorama West

Pavey Ark summit panorama East

It was then an easy hike up to Harrison Stickle, the true summit of the Langdale Pikes and a place worth lingering for a while as the views are up there with very best in Lakeland.

Harrison Stickle summit

Harrison Stickle summit panorama West

Harrison Stickle summit panorama East

Views over Pike of Stickle towards Bowfell and Crinkle Crags

A popular spot for paragliders

Looking back over to Pavey Ark

Views over towards Blea Tarn

Views of Windermere from the descent path

The obligatory post hike paddle in the cool waters of Dungeon Ghyll

A last look back at the Langdale Pikes from near Blea Tarn

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blencathra via Sharp Edge - A Winter Assault

Date : 8th February 2011
Start/Finish : Scales
Wainwrights : Blencathra (2848 feet)
Distance : 5 Miles
Height Gained : 2189 feet

The Route : anticlockwise from Scales

 It had been a tame winter overall but never-the-less this was a challenging route in challenging conditions so no chances were taken. I even wore gaiters, a very rare occurrence for me. Ice axe and crampons were also getting their first outing of the year. The route up to Sharp Edge is fairly easy going on good paths and is overall a thoroughly enjoyable amble. There wasn't much snow around, just a smattering which didn't impede progress. 

First view of Sharp Edge from the upwards path

Sharp Edge & Foule Crag zoomed in : A single hiker about to cross the arete

The path up to Scales Tarn

Scales Tarn
The whole glacial corrie into which Scales Tarn sits

It was now decision time. As the picture above shows, there are route options up to the summit. The bale-out path is shown ascending on the left of the tarn and is an easy prospect. The path on the right leads up to Sharp Edge and then Foule Crag and is a much more challenging proposition. However, the edge looked in good condition and I had watched 2 hikers make their way across it with apparent ease. Mind made up, I headed right.

The onwards path

A tiny hiker can be seen about to take the plunge ...

... and he crosses confidently ...

... without the use of hands ..... yet ?

Looking back down to Scales Tarn

A last glance back eastwards over to Bannerdale Crags

I didn't take any photos while on the ridge, mainly because it was icy and being on my own required all of my limited attention. Once across however I relaxed a little and took a few snaps of what I'd just crossed.

A couple of hikers behind me who chose a lower route

A particularly sharp bit of Sharp Edge

Looking back along the route taken

I then turned my attention to the next challenge; Foule Crag. This turned out to be appropriately named. In fact it was far more difficult than Sharp Edge itself. This may be because of the line I took as there was no obvious path to follow and I didn't see the route the hiker ahead of me chose. It was hands & feet scrambling up some steep icy rock and I do admit to being a bit unsettled at some points!

Foule Crag looking Foul

Once at the top of Foule Crag you find yourself on the summit plateau and it's then an easy walk across the 'saddle' up to the summit. Unfortunately the cloud descended at this point and I couldn't see anything further than about 30 feet. After waiting for 20 minutes on the summit for a break in the cloud that didn't come, I headed back down via the Scales Fell path.

Descending through the cloud layer

The other side of Scales Tarn: Foule Crag now in cloud

Looking back up to the summit, now could free - typical eh!
Views down to Threlkeld

A last glance of Blencathra from the road