LMC Borrowdale (Salving House) Meet - April 2016

by Neil McAllister

We arrived in Rosthwaite about mid-day on Thursday to see a plume of smoke rising from the Salving House roof, Tim commented that the Pope was in residence so at the least the meet would be blessed. With an enthusiastic turnaround we soon headed out leaving the existing occupants to continue tending the holy fire. Tim and Ron made their way along the nearby lane and then took a route that included Castle Crag and the delightful oak clad river side down to the village of Grange. Michael and I drove up to Stonethwaite and then further via a notorious narrow and rocky track and across the deserted campsite beyond. In summer this rough site is heaving with campers of all denominations and intentions, the only giveaway to its forthcoming popularity was the many circles of stone with their blackened areas of grass. By now we could see some of the crags further up the valley, including our particular destination Bleak How.

As expected there were some signs of seepage but we set off up the soggy slope knowing there was some dry rock and decent climbing to be had. After a slight miscalculation and bought of turf pulling (Note to self - must skirt around well to the left on the approach) we were soon at the foot of The Boj Eliminate (HVS 5a). The rock hereabouts is slate-like and felt quite slippery with unaccustomed hands and a winter absence from the rock for much too long. Nevertheless steady and enjoyable progress was made, first right then left, then right again and finally across a delightfully exposed traverse line to a tree festooned with slings. Michael followed and confirmed it was an interesting route and worth its 2 stars. We abseiled down the line of The Reiver  (HVS 5a) which Michael was soon going back up on the sharp end.  I thought the route was pretty runout in places and certainly reared up on the finishing section; Michael thought this too but was happy yarding it out and pulling confidently between the positive ledges and pockets, a proper 3 star excursion.  Wing mirrors folded back in we re-joined the main road to Rosthwaite and congratulated ourselves on bagging a brace of fine routes on day 1.

Friday dawned damp and dark and promised little improvement during the day. A gallon of tea later and it was nearly mid-day before we were out of the hut. Michael and I drove around a bit to pass the time, seeking out the Climbing Wall (Outdoor Centre) near Castlerigg and checking what it had to offer. On this day it was colder inside the purpose made building than outside so we slipped away unnoticed.  From there we conducted a car based Lakes crag tour (Iron, Raven, Castle Rock and Bram), the aim being to whet Michael's appetite for future excursions, which we did.  Phil joined us later in the afternoon and we made our way to a now dry Shepherds Crag, he was soon leading us up Ardus (MVS 4b) and enjoying every move. We then dropped down and around the corner and pointed Michael at Conclusion (E1 5b), this is a fantastic route with great interest throughout. Of course Michael gave a fine account of himself and sailed up the route without any drama, Phil hung on and continued to work his way to the top showing real determination, I followed thinking bleedin eck this is steep! Again another couple of good routes helped to complete our day 2.  Tim and Ron had spent most of the day bog trotting across Ullscarf, this became most unpleasant for Ron having his new Goretex boots subjected to such a demanding field trial, and failing! Early in the evening Scott arrived full of enthusiasm and bearing haggis; gathered together we sauntered off down the beck side to the Langstrath Inn. A good meal and some decent beer were had with plenty of talk of great things ahead (Note: the local Riverside Bar in Rosthwaite was not currently at its usual best). Guided by an array of powerful head torches we returned to the hut and met up with Jamie and Alice who had since arrived slightly later than they had hoped.

Saturday was dry but the wind blew bitingly out of the North and chilled the bones if you were stood around for too long.  To hopefully get some mileage in we headed for Shepherds Crag apart from Tim who decided to keep on the move, he hopped on the local bus up to Honister Pass and spent the day on the Dale Head - Maiden Moor ridge before making his way back down to the hut. Tim was not alone up there and found he was accompanied by a few hundred fell runners taking part in The Anniversary Waltz race, the event starts and finishes at Stair and is a popular outing.  Scott, Ron and I thought better of shady Shepherds and decided to decamp to the sunny side of the valley and Steel Knots, a crag just along from Grange. We found a couple of routes out of the wind and on pleasantly warm rock. Scott sunned himself on Ambling Ant (MVS 4b) and I kept my body temperature up leading Route 2 (VS 4c). Ron said he felt good being back on the rock and showed no signs of slowing up; he is still full of beans (sorry, cabbage and mackerel).  Far across the valley we glimpsed two brave souls on a very dark and cold looking Quayfoot Buttress, this could only be Michael and Phil, later we found out that it was indeed they. Phil had led Aberration (VS 4c) and Michael balanced his way up (and down) The Go Between (E2 5c), brrrrrr!

It was mid-afternoon and by now the sun was blessing Shepherds Crag so we made our way back via a brief cafĂ© stop. Here we met up with the Quayfoot team and also bumped into Jamie and Alice who were retreating after having a go at Little Chamonix (VD).  Jamie had taken one look at the final headwall and decided he'd leave it for another time (someone helped them recover their gear later in the day).  This was Alice's first go at multi-pitch cragging and they were pleased to have experienced a successful morning on Brown Slabs. Scott and I left Michael, Phil and Ron at the bottom of Kransic Crack Direct (HVS 5a) whilst we headed off to a stern test for Scott on Finale (HVS 5a), true to form it remains sustained and energy sapping (see separate article penned by Scott for the full personal experience). On the way back to the car we stumbled upon Michael and Ron eagerly uncoiling their ropes at the bottom of North Buttress , later we found out that Michael had made a tactical retreat before any true action had begun, in part due to a distant storm cloud making its way rapidly down the valley. That evening we tucked into a communal meal of Chill Con Carne, garlic bread and salad, polished off with a few bottles of wine and beer, all in front of a roaring Salving House fire.

Sunday, our final day remained chilly but there was less wind (in the valley) and it was dry again. After a spell of hut tidying and cleaning Michael, Phil, Ron, Scott and I made our way up Honister Pass and then traversed across to Buckstone How. It was colder than expected but the crag promised to be in the sun in an hour or so, so we waited for it to hit the rock and the temperature to go up a degree or two. This brought on sufficient enthusiasm as Michael set forth on the classic Sinister Grooves (VS 4a, 4c, 4c), I then made my way to the foot of Honister Grooves (HS ). Linking the first 2 pitches I was soon joined by Scott and Ron on the roomy stance.  A quick swap and Scott slipped out of sight from atop a large bollard while Ron and I continued to huddle against the rock out of the wind. After what seemed like an eternity - including Ron and I making all manner of restricted exercise movements and singing rousing songs to help keep body temperatures up - the rope did go tight and I followed up with wooden fingers.  Scott had tried to link the next 2 pitches but missed a large grassy corner and continued to go too far right onto untraveled ground, hence the added concentration and time it took him. We later confirmed he had ventured onto the final pitch of Caeser (HVS). Once we were topped out I went and checked that Michael and Phil were ok on their route before we made our way down a well-defined ramp line and pleased to be moving again. At Honister Pass we glanced back to see Michael and Phil appearing over the top of the crag, reassured we drove  back to the hut and a rendezvous with Tim, a quick brew and we were on the road to Lincoln by 4.00pm. Tim had spent most of the day exploring the upper reaches of Langstrath, passing the relatively new Sergeant Crags Slabs and the long scramble that is the Cam Crag Ridge (both highly recommended). Jamie and Alice had spent the day with a combination of Shepherds Crag and a worthwhile session at the King Kong climbing wall in Keswick.  All arrived home safely having had a good if not chilly weekend based at a great hut in the Lakes.

Attendees: Neil McAllister, Tim Smith, Ron Crowe, Michael Teanby, Phil Shaw, Scott Herrett, Jamie Bradshaw and Alice Stableford.


 2016 April - En route to Buckstone How

Conclusion (E1 5b) - Michael Teanby & Phil Shaw, April 2016

2016 April - Phil & Michael on Conclusion 

Buckstone How Team - Ron Crowe, Phil Shaw, Michael Teanby & Scott Herrett, April 2016