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Title: Rock-climbing in the English Lake District - Third Edition
Author: Jones, Owen Glynne
Language: English
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[Illustration: Owen Glynne Jones]


ROCK-CLIMBING IN THE ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT

by

OWEN GLYNNE JONES, B.Sc. (LOND.)

Member of the Alpine Club

With a Memoir and Portrait of the Author, Thirty-one Full-page
Illustrations in Collotype, Ten Outline Plates of
the Chief Routes, and Two Appendices by
George and Ashley Abraham

THIRD EDITION



G. P. Abraham and Sons
Keswick, Cumberland
1911

All rights reserved

Price 21s. net]



PUBLISHERS’ NOTE.


The rapid exhaustion of the first edition of Mr. OWEN GLYNNE JONES’
book on ‘Rock-climbing in the English Lake District,’ and further
numerous enquiries for copies of this unique and invaluable work,
induced us to make arrangements for the publication of another issue. A
third edition has now become necessary.

Since the first edition appeared in 1897, several important new climbs
have been made, most of which have been written about by the author,
and are here found just as they left his pen. Of some of the other
climbs nothing had been written, so, in response to the request of
several climbing friends, two appendices, bringing the book up to date,
have been added. The memoir by Mr. W. M. Crook, which is accompanied by
an excellent portrait of Mr. Jones, will, we are sure, be welcomed by
all as a valuable addition to the work.

We are glad to avail ourselves of this opportunity of acknowledging the
kindness of several friends for much valuable advice and assistance
given.

  G. P. ABRAHAM & SONS,
  KESWICK.



PREFACE.


I feel I owe a word of apology to the readers of this brief and
inadequate memoir of a dead friend. At the request of Jones’ most
intimate friends I have compiled it in the scanty leisure moments of
a few weeks of a busy life, too few to do justice to my theme. I wish
to return my heartiest thanks to those of his friends who have so
quickly and generously aided me with the materials at their disposal,
especially to Mr. F. W. Hill, Dr. W. E. Sumpner, the brothers Abraham,
of Keswick; Mr. W. J. Williams, Mr. Harold Spender, and M. Spahr, of
Evolena. I hope if any inaccuracies are detected by these or other
friends, they will communicate with me. It has been difficult to
avoid them, for all the written documents do not agree in facts and
dates. I trust, however, that this brief record of great effort, great
achievement, and great tragedy will be more acceptable than no record
at all.

  W. M. CROOK.

  _National Liberal Club,
       Whitehall Place, London, S. W.
           Feb. 26th, 1900._

    Region separate, sacred, of mere, and of ghyll, and of mountain,
    Garrulous, petulant beck, sinister laughterless tarn;
    Haunt of the vagabond feet of my fancy for ever reverting,
    Haunt and home of my heart, Cumbrian valleys and fells;
    Yours of old was the beauty that rounded my hours with a nimbus,
    Touched my youth with bloom, tender and magical light;
    You were my earliest passion, and when shall my fealty falter?
    Ah, when Helvellyn is low! Ah, when Winander is dry!

    _William Watson._



OWEN GLYNNE JONES.



CHAPTER I

_EARLY LIFE AND FIRST CLIMBS_


Owen Glynne Jones was born on November 2nd, 1867. A Welshman by
blood, he was a Londoner by birth, for he first saw the light of day
in Clarendon Street, Paddington. His father, Mr. David Jones, was a
carpenter and builder, and the son commenced his education at a local
school. Of his early life there is little to tell. He seems to have
spent his holidays in Wales, and there to have developed, among what
may without inaccuracy be called his native mountains, that passion for
climbing which made him famous, and which led to his early and much
lamented death.

In 1881, when not yet fourteen years of age, Owen Jones was sent to the
Central Foundation School in Cowper Street, City Road, of which Dr.
Wormell was head master. Those who knew him there speak of him as ‘a
bright, promising schoolboy.’

He remained at Dr. Wormell’s for three years (1881-1884). He
distinguished himself in science and won several prizes while at the
school. On leaving he was awarded the Holl scholarship, and passed to
the Technical College at Finsbury, under the City and Guilds of London
Institute.

Jones spent two years (1884-1886) at Finsbury. During that time he
passed through the complete course of instruction in the Mechanical
department there. He worked with conspicuous ability and success
at mechanical engineering, mechanical drawing, mathematics, and
chemistry, as well as in the mechanical laboratory and in the wood
and iron workshops. When he left, his teachers spoke of him in the
highest terms. ‘Mr. O. G. Jones,’ said Professor Perry, ‘was as able,
as earnest, as promising as any other whom I can now remember.’ Mr.
John Castell-Evans speaks of his ‘eager enthusiasm and scrupulous
conscientiousness;’ and Professor Silvanus Thompson wrote of him:
‘He is imbued with modern methods, ... and is possessed of a healthy
enthusiasm for his work that is infectious.’ At the close of his course
he passed with a Clothworkers’ Scholarship to the Central Institution
in Exhibition Road, South Kensington, where he passed the next three
years of his life.

The three years (1886-1889) he spent in the Engineering Department,
and at the end of his course he had attained the highest position in
the class-list of any student of his year, and he received the diploma
of Associate of the Institute. On the completion of his course he was
appointed assistant in the Mathematical Department. During his life at
South Kensington he made the same impression as heretofore on all with
whom he came in contact. Intellectually alert, diligent, energetic,
enthusiastic, he seemed bound to make some mark in the world.

In the year following the completion of his course, and while he was an
assistant at South Kensington, I first met him.

It was during the Easter holidays of 1890. Having broken away from the
party with whom I had been spending most of my holiday in Borrowdale,
I made my way to Wastdale Head Inn. I picked up a chance acquaintance
with two young fellows in the inn, and we agreed to go together to
climb the Pillar Rock--with the aid of a ‘Prior’s Guide’ which I had in
my pocket.

When we commenced the ascent, which proved very easy--I believe we
went up the easiest way--the dark, slim young fellow somehow naturally
assumed the lead. Before we started he had discovered that I had
been to Switzerland and had done some climbs there, so he was very
modest about his own powers. A few seconds on the rocks dissipated all
doubt. With great confidence and speed, climbing cleanly and safely,
he soon showed he was no ordinary climber. I had been out with some
very tolerable Swiss guides, but never before with a man to whom
rock-climbing seemed so natural and easy. My curiosity was excited. He
could not be one of the great climbers, for he had never been out of
the British Islands, but he could climb.

On the top we found a small, rusty tin box, in which were a number of
visiting cards. One of these belonged to Mr. A. Evans, of Liverpool,
and a subsequent visitor had written on it the date of his death in the
central gully of Llewedd. One of us produced a card, on which the other
two wrote their names. The dark young fellow signed his name ‘O. G.
Jones.’ I wonder if that card is there still.

That afternoon and the following day he plied me with questions about
Switzerland. How did the climbing there compare with these rocks?
Had I climbed the Matterhorn? Did I think he could do it?--absurd
question--and so on. Restless, eagerly active, very strong,
good-tempered, enthusiastic, he was a man one could not forget. We
parted after a day’s acquaintance. I never dreamed I should see him
again.

His companion on that occasion was another South Kensington man, Dr.
Sumpner, now of Birmingham. The next time we met was at Jones’s grave
in Evolena. During our conversations at that first brief meeting I
learned that Jones was at South Kensington; he told me he first learned
serious climbing on Cader Idris; I marvelled at his wonderful grip
of the rocks, his steady head, his extraordinary power of balancing
himself on one foot in what seemed to me then almost impossible
positions, and I felt that his enthusiasm would soon lead him to the
Alps, if any opportunity offered. His heart was already there. Yet he
was so ignorant of the ‘lingo’ of the climbing world that my use of the
words ‘handholds’ and ‘footholds’ considerably amused him.

The following Easter he was again among the Lake Mountains, having
devoted the Whitsuntide and Christmas holidays of the preceding year
to his favourite pursuit, the last mentioned period being spent in
North Wales. I hurry over his climbing in the Lake District for the
very sufficient reason that in this volume, so characteristic of its
author, his work there is described by himself with all the accuracy
of a trained scientist, and with all the enthusiasm of an ardent
mountaineer. Descriptions of all these climbs were kept by him in
numerous small notebooks, full of neat shorthand with dates, proper
names, &c., written in, and with occasional pen and ink sketches of his
routes up crags and gullies to illustrate the shorthand notes. Full of
mournful interest are these touches of a vanished hand, these silent
echoes of a voice that is still.

It was, I believe, during this Easter of 1891 that he met Mr. Monro, to
whose enthusiasm he was subsequently wont to attribute his first visit
to the Alps, which took place in the autumn of that year. The result of
that meeting and the wonderful amount of climbing in ‘the playground
of Europe’ that Jones managed to cram into eight short years must be
reserved for another chapter.



CHAPTER II

_CONQUERING THE ALPS_


In the autumn of 1891 Owen Jones was an unsuccessful candidate for the
Professorship of Physics at University College, Aberystwyth, and almost
immediately afterwards he was the successful candidate for the post of
Physics Master in the City of London School, which he was occupying at
the time of his death. In the previous year, 1890, he had taken his
B.Sc. degree in London University, coming out third in the list of
First Class Honours in Experimental Physics. These facts are mentioned
here now, somewhat out of their proper chronological order, because,
with the exception of a few papers he contributed to magazines (the
_Alpine Journal_, the _Climber’s Journal_, and _Cassell’s Magazine_)
and sundry newspaper articles, they are the only facts that need be
mentioned in his otherwise uneventful, though busy, life.

Jones’ real life was lived among his beloved mountains. His devotion to
them was unsurpassable, his zeal was consuming, his enthusiasm knew no
bounds. In the summer holidays of 1891 he had his first introduction
to the Alps. His most original work was undoubtedly done among the
rocks of his native Wales and in the English Lake country, but he flung
himself into Alpine work with all the ardour and energy of which his
peculiarly ardent and energetic nature was capable. He spared neither
time, money, nor comfort in his devotion to the noblest and most
exacting of all sports--that of mountaineering.

The following table--very imperfect, I fear--compiled by his own hand
up to the close of 1897, and for 1898 and 1899, from letters kindly
sent to me by his friends, will give some idea of his marvellous
physical endurance and the extent of his knowledge of the Alps. His
own portion of the list was found in his handwriting in his copy of
Cunningham and Abney’s ‘Pioneers of the Alps’:--

  1891  Dent des Bosses
        Grande Dent de Veisivi
        Pas de Chèvres
        Col de Seilon
        Col de Fénètre
        M. Capucin
        Tête de Cordon
        Tête d’Ariondet
        Grand Combin
        Grivola

  1892  Thälihorn
        Rossbodenjoch
        Matterhorn
       [1]Mittaghorn and Egginerhorn
        Punta di Fontanella
        2 cols to Prerayen
        Col d’Olen
        Combin de Corbassière
        Col de Boveire
        Fénètre de Saleinaz
        Col de Chardonnet
        Pic du Tacul
        M. Redessan

  1893  Dent Blanche
          (This was in April, 36
          hours.) No summer
          season in Alps.

  1894  Piz Languard
        Piz Morteratsch
        Zwei Schwestern
        Piz Bernina
        Croda da Lago
        Kleine Zinne
        Grosse Zinne
        M. Pelmo
        M. Cristallo
        Sorapis
        Cinque Torri (3 ways)

  1895  Rothhorn from Zermatt
        Rothhorn from Zinal
        Traverse Zinal to Zermatt
        Riffelhorn from Glacier
        Dom from Randa
        Täschhorn and Dom (traversed from the Mischabeljoch to
          Randa--first time by this route--in one day)
        Monte Rosa
        Rimpfischhorn (from Adler Pass)
        Matterhorn (traverse)
        Weisshorn
        Obergabelhorn
        Grand Cornier
        Triftjoch
        Furggenjoch
        Lysjoch
        Süd-Lenzspitze (traverse)
        Nadelhorn
        Hohberghorn
        Steck-Nadelhorn (?)

  1896  Little Dru
        Blaitière
        Col du Géant (twice)
        Charmoz (traverse)
        Aig. du Plan
        Aig. du Midi
        N. peak Périades (by the Arête du Capucin)

  1897  Schreckhorn (in January)
        Finsteraarhorn
        Jungfrau
        Aletschorn (traverse)
        Beichgrat
        Bietschhorn

  1897  Lötschenlücke
        Mönch
        Mönchjoch
        Eiger
        Aig. d’Argentière
        Aig. Moine (traverse)
        Aig. Tacul (traverse)
        Col du Midi
        Portiengrat } In one day
        Weissmies   }
        Fletschhorn } In one day
        Laquinhorn  }

  1898  In winter: From Grindelwald to Rosenlaui by the
          Wetterhorn-Sattel, Finsteraarjoch, and Strahlegg
        Two Drus (attempted traverse)
        Big Dru
        Grèpon (traverse)
        Dent de Requin
        Aiguille du Chardonnet
        Aiguille du Midi
        Mont Maudit
        Mont Blanc (traverse)
        Aiguille du Géant
        Two Drus (traverse)
        Riffelhorn
        Wellenkuppe and Gabelhorn
        Lyskamm and Castor
        Alphubel, Rimpfischhorn, and Strahlhorn
        Allalinhorn
        Dent Blanche by South Arête
        Täschhorn by Teufelsgrat
        Dom, Täschhorn, and Kienhorn, descending by Teufelsgrat

  1899  Riffelhorn                             } In his
        Pollux                                 } first five days
        Breithorn (traversed from Schwarzthor) } at Zermatt
        Six chief points of Monte Rosa         }
        Matterhorn
        Cols d’Hérens and Bertol
        Petite Dent de Veisivi } In 12 hours
        Grande  ”              } from Kurhaus
        Dent Perroc            } Hotel and back
        Aig. de la Za (by face)
        Aig. Rouges (traverse of all peaks)
        Mt. Blanc de Seilon in one day
        Dent des Bouquetins
        Mt. Collon
        Pigne d’Arolla
        Dent Blanche (West Arête attempt)

I cannot pretend that this list is perfect, and the brief notes I
append are intended rather to give in a small space some of the
points of human interest in the above bald list of names than for his
mountaineering friends, to whom anything that could be printed here
could convey little or nothing that was new.

It is a coincidence that he commenced his acquaintance with the Alps
in the very valleys--Ferpècle and Arolla--in which he spent the last
days of his life, and down which his friends mournfully escorted his
body eight years later. It was on one of the Dents de Veisivi (the
Petite Dent) that, in 1898, Professor Hopkinson, one of Jones’ numerous
climbing friends, met his death with his two daughters and his son.
As we walked down the Arolla valley the day before he fell from the
Dent Blanche, Owen Jones was chatting, with a wonderful freshness of
recollection of detail, of his climb up the Grand Combin during his
first season in the Alps, and I believe the guide who led him up then
was one of the search party from Evolena who found his body on the
rocks of the Dent Blanche.

The earlier climbs of 1892 were described by him in a paper entitled
‘The Dom Grat and the Fletschhorn Ridge,’ which appeared in the _Alpine
Journal_ in 1898. A brief quotation from his own account will give some
idea of the easy vivacity of his style.

Speaking of the Saas peaks which ‘were designed in pairs,’ he writes:--

‘It is, perhaps, to our credit that we took an easy pair first--the
Mittaghorn and the Egginer--but our stay at Saas that year was to be
short, and we could not afford to fail at higher work. A couple of
Saas loafers undertook to guide us, but proved to be lamentably weak.
They shed tears and ice-axes, and required much help from us dismayed
amateurs. Then we left the district, and before my next visit my
comrades were scattered over the globe, beyond the seductive influence
of axe and rope.’

How characteristic of poor Jones the whole of that passage is! The
unconcealed evidence of his own great physical strength, the playful
sense of humour--his friends will remember how he used to explain his
own initials, O.G., as standing for the ‘Only Genuine Jones’--in the
words ‘they shed tears and ice-axes,’ and the touch of pathos, in the
light of after events, of the phrase ‘beyond the seductive influence of
axe and rope.’

The omission of the names of the Mittaghorn and Egginerhorn from
Jones’s own list in 1892 shows that even his own record cannot be
regarded as complete, a thing not to be wondered at considering the
enormous amount of work he did.

It will be noticed that in this year, as in the year before and in
1894, Jones has entered the names of peaks and passes that in the
succeeding years he would have considered quite unworthy of serious
notice.

But next year he ventured on a feat that, so far as I know, was not
only extraordinary for one with comparatively so little experience
of the higher Alps, magnificent climber though he was, but it has
remained, I believe, unique in the annals of the great mountain on
which it was performed. At Easter, 1893, Jones climbed the Dent
Blanche, the mountain with which his name will be for ever associated
in the climbing world. The ascent was made on the 25th and 26th April,
and the expedition took thirty-six hours, a wonderful feat of strength
and endurance. M. Adrien Spahr, the landlord of the Hotel de la Dent
Blanche at Evolena, and of the new Kurhaus at Arolla (from which Jones
started the day before his last, fatal climb), has kindly favoured me
with the following brief note in reference to that expedition:--

    ‘C’est bien le 25 Avril, 1893, que Monsieur Jones a fait
    l’ascension de la Dent Blanche avec les guides Pierre Gaspoz et
    Antoine Bovier père d’Evolène. Je suis redescendu moi-même avec lui
    depuis Evolène à Sion.’

In an interview which appeared in the press in 1894 Jones said of this
climb, one of the most difficult things he ever did:--‘The longest
day I ever had afoot was at Easter, ’93, doing the Dent Blanche. We
took two guides and a porter, and had great difficulty in getting
them to attempt the last two hundred feet. We were out in the open
for thirty-six hours, with very short rests, no sleep, and excessive
labour, but we revelled in every minute of it. The mountain was in a
dangerous condition, and the last five hours on the way home we spent
in wading, waist-deep, through soft snow. It was rather painful, of
course, but there was a certain pleasure even in our pain, for it
helped to make philosophers of us. We agreed to think of other things
in the midst of our sufferings, and we succeeded creditably well. I
believe now that I could stand almost anything in the way of pain or
exposure.’

In 1894 he commenced in the Engadine and then went on to the Dolomites,
where his great skill as a cragsman and his familiarity with all
sorts of rock-work made him much more at home than he yet was among
the snow-peaks, as his list shows. On rocks I think it is not using
the exaggerated language of friendship to say that he probably had
no superior among his countrymen at the time of his death, and
comparatively few equals. Among the great snow-peaks he had not
attained so high a level. Had he lived he would, I believe, have ranked
with the greatest, for he had not done all he was capable of; and when
he met his death he was still in his prime, and he was a man of great
courage, immense resourcefulness, and phenomenal physical endurance.

In 1895 he devoted himself largely to the reduction of the great peaks
in the Zermatt district, some of which he already knew. In that year
also he returned to the Dom Grat and the Fletschhorn Ridge, whose
acquaintance he had made in 1892. The following passage from the
_Alpine Journal_ derives an added interest from the fact that Elias
Furrer was his guide then, as he was his guide on the last, fatal
climb:--

‘In August, 1895, Elias Furrer took me from the Täsch Alp to the
Mischabeljoch, and thence over the Täschhorn and Dom to Randa, a course
of seventeen and a half hours, including halts. Shortly afterwards
Mr. W. E. Davidson followed our route from the Mischabeljoch. During
the same week Furrer showed me a third pair of the Saas peaks. We
bivouacked on the Eggfluh rocks one bitterly cold night, and next day
traversed the Südlenspitze and Nadelhorn. The usual _grande course_
is to include the Ulrichshorn, and descend to Saas again; but Furrer
had business and I fresh raiment at Zermatt, and we hastened over the
Stecknadelhorn (or was it the Hohberghorn?), and thence by the Hohberg
Pass and Festi glacier down to Randa in fourteen hours from the start.’

His energy in climbing this year was remarkable, I had almost said
stupendous. In addition to the long climbs referred to in the
above extract, it will be seen from the list given above that he
twice ascended the Zinal Rothhorn, traversed the Obergabelhorn and
Matterhorn, and did two important climbs without guides. The ascent
of the Rothhorn from Zinal was the first that Mr. Hill and he made
together in Switzerland. The traverse of the Rothhorn and the ascent of
the Weisshorn he did without guides, in company with the Hopkinsons,
who perished in 1898 on the Petite Dent de Veisivi. Mr. W. J. Williams,
who climbed much with Jones in the Alps, has kindly placed in my hands
a very characteristic post-card of Jones’s, giving, in his own brief,
vivacious way, a clearer idea of his boundless enthusiasm and energy
in his favourite sport than anything that anyone else could write.
It is dated ‘Bellevue, Zermatt, Monday, Sept. 2, 1895,’ and reads as
follows:--‘The Hopkinsons and I traversed the Rothhorn without guides
in grand style. Reached the summit from the Mountet in 4¼ hours,
including ¾ hour halt. Had a shock of earthquake on the top. Next day
we went up to the Weisshorn, bivouac in open air, and the day after
managed the Weisshorn. It was delightful. Then they went off to their
people at the Bel Alp, and I stayed on at Zermatt ever since. The
weather was bad at the end of the week (Weisshorn on Friday), but on
Monday I crossed the Furggenjoch with Elias Furrer, whom I took on for
14 days at 20 francs, and Tuesday traversed the Matterhorn; Wednesday,
the Monte Rosa hut; Thursday, Monte Rosa from the Lysjoch, a lengthy
expedition, but magnificent; I carried my camera the whole time;
Friday, the Fluh Alp; Saturday, the traverse of Rimpfischhorn from the
Adler pass, dangerous by falling stones, but very jolly; Sunday, I
rested and photographed down here. To-day I go to the Täsch Alp, and
to-morrow shall attempt the traverse of Täschhorn and Dom in one day.
If the weather still holds I shall then traverse the Dent Blanche,
which is now in fine condition, like ourselves. Love to all.--Owen.’

Lived there ever a keener mountaineer? On the day before he was killed,
as we were walking down the Arolla Valley together, I expressed
surprise at the vast amount of eager work he was crushing into every
week. He replied, ‘You see there are only a few years in which I can do
this sort of thing, and I want to get as much into them as possible.’
Alas! Owen Jones had not twenty-four hours more; the years were ended.

The season of 1896 was a terribly bad one and Jones suffered with
less energetic and less daring mortals. In the _Alpine Journal_ he
laments that he only did six peaks, but he crossed the Col du Géant
twice, traversed the Aiguille de Charmoz, and did the North peak of
the Périades by the Arête du Capucin. And the disappointments of
that summer season had the effect of sending him to the Alps in the
following winter--his first winter visit. He deserted his favourite
Christmas hunting grounds, Wastdale Head Inn and Pen-y-gwrwd, for the
Bear Hotel at Grindelwald. It so happened that I was there when he
arrived. On the last day of 1896 I had made an unsuccessful attempt on
the Schreckhorn after being out fourteen and a half hours, and after
an accident to the leading guide, which confined him to bed for three
weeks. I returned to Grindelwald and thence to England. Jones, who had
just come out, determined to climb the Sehreckhorn. The first attempt
failed, as the snow was in very bad condition, and he only got as far
as the hut, where he spent a far from comfortable night. A few days
later, however, he made a second attempt with successful results.
Both in print and in manuscript he has left an account of the two
expeditions. I quote a short passage--it has not too close a relation
to the climbs, but it illustrates the playful humour which made Jones
so charming and vivacious a companion, alike in an alpine hut or in the
smoke room of ‘P.Y.G.’

‘I approach for a moment with some delicacy the threadbare topic of
the insect population of alpine huts, the fauna of the alpine bed. In
summertime the traveller must not assume that the straw on which he
lies is more dead than alive. Carelessness in this respect may cost him
his peak next day; he should bring Keating and use it liberally. But
in winter he is almost safe and unmolested. Some say that the fleas
go down to the valley with the last autumn party, and come up in the
early summer with the first tourists. Others think that they hibernate
in the warmest corners of the hut and make it a rule to emerge only
when it is well worth while. An occasional winter tourist is probably
too tough, his attractions too few. The solution of the problem I must
leave to others. It will probably be offered by some conscientious
German biologist, in an exhaustive illustrated monograph, published in
the Mittheilungen.’

The autumn holidays of this year were again very busy ones. Jones spent
them in the Alps, and, as his list shows, his climbs included the
traverse of the Aletschhorn, Aiguille du Moine, and Pic du Tacul. He
did the Portiengrat and Weissmies in one day, and the Fletschhorn and
Laquinhorn in another. Young Emil Imseng was his guide, and he found
Jones rather too hungry for peaks to be the easiest sort of patron to
travel with. When they had done the Portiengrat he had had enough for
one day, so he suggested that Jones should rest. But he did not know
his ‘Herr;’ the Weissmies was taken that day likewise.

In 1898 Jones again paid a winter visit to the Alps. Grindelwald was
a second time his centre. He crossed from there to Rosenlaui by the
Wetterhorn-Sattel, and crossed the Finsteraarjoch and the Strahlegg.

In the Summer of 1898 he went first to Chamounix, and afterwards
to Zermatt, and got through a portentous amount of work. He began
by attempting the traverse of the two Drus, but failed owing to
bad weather. However, he climbed the Grand Dru, and then in rapid
succession the Grépon, Dent du Requin, Aiguille du Chardonnet, Aiguille
du Midi, Mont Maudit, traversed Mont Blanc, climbed the Aiguille du
Géant, and finished up in that district by accomplishing his formerly
thwarted purpose, and traversing both the Grand and the Petit Dru.

Then he came on to Zermatt. He climbed the Riffelhorn again (by
the Matterhorn Couloir), did the two peaks of the Lyskamm (in
conversation with me the last time I met him he seemed to think this
the most difficult thing he had ever done) and Castor, Strahlhorn and
Rimpfischhorn, Wellen Kuppe and Gabelhorn, Allalinhorn and Alphubel,
Dent Blanche (by the south arête), the Täschhorn by the Teufelsgrat,
and the traverse of the Dom, Täschhorn and Kienhorn.

I was standing outside the Monte Rosa Hotel, in the main street of
Zermatt, one bright sunny day, that summer, when early in the afternoon
Jones, with his two guides, came in from one of these climbs. He had
been frequently doing two peaks in one day (I believe he had once done
three). All the party showed signs of wear and tear, but Jones was the
freshest of the three. His face and hands were as brown as berries,
covered with dust and sweat; his clothes were literally in rags, torn
to pieces on the rocks. Yet in a few minutes he had washed, changed
into the garb of civilization, and reappeared as fresh in body and as
vigorous and vivacious intellectually as if he had undergone no fatigue
at all. Twenty hours’ physical work did not appear to take as much out
of him as five hours does out of humbler mortals.

It was just about this time that his friends the Hopkinsons were killed
in the Arolla Valley. Jones was a good deal upset by the news, and
knocked off climbing for a couple of days, a wonderful thing for him;
but then he resumed as busily as ever. Of the climbing skill both of
Dr. Hopkinson and of his young son, who was killed with him, he spoke
in the highest terms. He had frequently climbed with both.

I have said little of Jones’s British climbs, for the simple reason
that the fullest and best record of his work in Lakeland is contained
in the book to which this brief memoir is prefixed, and his work in
Wales (which he also intended to describe in a volume) is not so easily
accessible or so fully recorded in any published documents as is his
work in the Alps. Apparently there does not exist among his papers any
list of his Welsh climbs, though he kept voluminous shorthand notes of
almost everything he did in the climbing world; but it is not possible,
in the short space and time at my disposal, to attempt to give from
them any complete picture of the work he did in Wales. The Messrs.
Abraham, however, have kindly placed in my hands the following brief
notes of some of the most remarkable experiences they have had in
company with Jones, both in Wales and in the Lake District:

‘Two climbs with Mr. Jones are most strongly impressed on our memories,
and these two would probably rank as the two finest rock climbs made in
our district.

‘These are Scawfell Pinnacle from the second pitch in Deep Ghyll in
1896, and the conquest of the well-known Walker’s Gully on the Pillar
Rock in January, 1899.

‘Both of these were generally considered impossible, and it is probably
no exaggeration to say that no leader excepting Mr. Jones would have
had confidence to advance beyond the ledge where the last _arête_
commenced on the Scawfell Pinnacle climb.

‘The same thing might be still more emphatically said of the last
pitch in Walker’s Gully, and to those who know the place it is almost
incredible that the climb could even be commenced under such conditions
as prevailed during the first ascent.

‘We visited North Wales with Mr. Jones in 1897, and explored the climbs
in the Cader Idris district. The finest climb in this district is the
Great Gully above Llyn-y-Cae on Mynydd Pencoed, and Mr. Jones was the
first explorer and climber of this and most of the Cader Idris climbs.
Some time was also spent at Penygwryd during this visit, but unsuitable
weather prevented any climbs of importance being done.

‘Shortly after Easter, 1899, Mr. Jones paid his next visit to North
Wales, and on this occasion much new and first-class climbing was done
from Ogwen Cottage as centre.

‘The second ascent of Twll Du was made by a party led by Mr. Jones, and
shortly afterwards the two great gullies to the right of Twll Du were
first ascended under Mr. Jones’ leadership. Amongst several minor first
ascents the gully in the Eastern Buttress of Glyder Fach and the first
direct ascent of the Northern Buttress on Tryfaen from Cwm-y-Tryfaen
are most worthy of note.

‘The following Whitsuntide again saw Mr. Jones at Ogwen Cottage,
but the weather conditions were such as to prevent any very notable
climbing being recorded.

‘Of course it is impossible to give in the space at my disposal any
idea of the large amount of climbing done in these various districts by
Mr. Jones.

‘To one with his abnormal physical powers, and true love and enthusiasm
for the mountains the most was generally made of every opportunity to
climb.

‘He was never so happy as when in a really ‘tight’ place, and to
many climbers the spirit and energy shown by him under most trying
circumstances will act as an incentive to worthy imitation.

‘As a climber he was unique, and many years must elapse ere another
can hope to fill his place worthily; but, as a friend under all
circumstances, he was always to be depended upon, for the weakest and
heaviest members in every party were generally his special care, and
many can never forget his true unselfishness and the kindly way in
which personal blunders were criticised.

‘Whether the party was struggling up a waterfall or resting shivering
and wet under a huge chock-stone, or clinging desperately to a
wind-swept ridge or icy couloir, everyone felt happy with Jones as
their comforter and leader.

‘The musical gatherings in the evenings seem now to lack one voice,
and nought but sadness can be left for many of those who remember
companionships which can never be replaced.’



CHAPTER III

_THE LAST SEASON IN THE ALPS_


I come now to the last season in the Alps, the season of 1899. The
first part of his holiday was spent at Zermatt, and then he and Hill
met by arrangement at the Kurhaus at Arolla. They soon got to work,
beginning with the two Dents de Veisivi (the scene of the accident to
the Hopkinsons the previous year) and the Dent Perroc, in twelve hours
from the Kurhaus and back. Then followed the Aiguille de la Za by the
face, a traverse of all the peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges, Mont Blanc
de Seilon and the Pigne d’Arolla in one day, the Dent des Bouquetins,
and the traverse of Mont Collon. A slight accident to one of the party
of which I was a member, necessitated an unexpected descent on the
evening of August 26th to Arolla, in the hope of finding a doctor.
There was none there, but we found many friends and acquaintances,
among them being Owen Jones. On the morning of Sunday 27th, our party
left for Evolena just after breakfast, as we heard there was a German
doctor there, and we wanted our wounded member attended to without
delay. Just as we were starting we found Jones and Hill leaving also,
intending to traverse the Dent Blanche, climbing it by the west arête,
which had only been done twice before, and we all hoped shortly to meet
again in Zermatt.

It was a bright sunny morning, hot and dusty. For a good part of the
way from Arolla to Haudères I chatted to Jones. We did not go very
fast on account of the damaged member of our party, about whom Jones
was very solicitous. He himself seemed very fit, and was full of life
and enthusiasm for his favourite passion. He chatted freely of all
his climbs, of our first meeting nine years before, of all that had
happened since, of frostbite on the Dom, and the remedy--sticking his
fingers into boiling glue--worse than the disease. His traverse of the
ice arête between the two peaks of the Lyskamm and his Easter ascent of
the Dent Blanche seemed to me to have made the deepest impression on
him of all his achievements in the mountains. He was rather inclined
to underrate his wonderful rock-work in North Wales and in the Lake
District, a department in which, in my opinion, he was really greatest,
though his feats of endurance in the Alps were something off the
common. He told me that his ambitions inclined towards a tour in the
Himalayas, if circumstances allowed of his realising that dream.

At Haudères we parted company. Hill and Jones, with their guides, who
met them at Haudères, turned up to Ferpècle; we went on to Evolena. If
my friend’s health permitted, I had arranged to see Jones in Zermatt on
Tuesday afternoon. Difficult as was the expedition he was undertaking,
the awful reality of the morrow never crossed my mind even as a
possibility. A stronger or more well-equipped party I had never seen
start on an expedition. It was about 12-30 when we all said good-bye.

At Evolena the doctor ordered our invalid a day or two of complete
rest. So on Monday morning the third member of our party, with his
guide, started for the Col de la Meina to return to his wife, whom he
had left in the Val des Bagnes, from which we had come. For the sake
of the walk I accompanied them to the top of the Col. About 9-15, just
before we lost sight of the west arête of the Dent Blanche, I searched
the arête with my field glasses to see if any trace of Jones and
Hill’s party could be detected. None of us could see anything, so we
concluded, as the mountain was in very good condition, that they had
probably already got to the top, and were then descending by the south
arête. But they were still on the arête, though we failed to see them
on the dark rocks. Had it been three-quarters of an hour later we might
actually have been witnesses of the accident.

On the top of the Col de la Meina we were caught by a storm of mist and
rain, blowing up from the west. I bade adieu to my friends and hastened
back to Evolena. That was the mist which caught Mr. Hill on the
gendarme in his descent after the accident and detained him 22 hours
alone on the great mountain.

But of the accident no one dreamed. No premonition, no presentiment,
troubled our thoughts. Monday and Tuesday passed quietly and
uneventfully for us.

On Wednesday morning my friend got permission from his doctor to walk
up to Arolla for lunch. We gladly availed ourselves of the new freedom.

At Arolla we found many of Jones’s friends hoping to meet him shortly
in the Zermatt Valley. On our way back to Evolena we passed the body
of the Tiroler guide, Reinstadler, of Sulden, which was being carried
down the valley. He had been killed on Monday, August 28th--that black
and fatal day in the Evolena Valley--by falling into a crevasse on the
Pigne d’Arolla.

As we re-entered the garden of our hotel, M. Spahr met us looking very
grave. ‘Had we heard of the great accident on the Dent Blanche?’ For
the first time the thought of danger to Jones and Hill crossed my mind.
I quickly asked him for details, telling him why I was apprehensive.

He had had a telegram from Dr. Seiler from Zermatt, which he showed
me. It was in French and ran something like this: ‘A tourist and
three guides have fallen from the Dent Blanche. A caravan of guides
is starting from Zermatt to look for the bodies, which will reach
Haudères about six o’clock to-morrow evening. Have four coffins ready
at Haudères. I am coming round myself.--SEILER.’

Four bodies! This could not be Jones and Hill’s party, there would
be five or three, for they had intended to make the ascent on two
ropes, three and two respectively on each. If all five had been roped
together, one could not have been saved. My mind grew easier. So we
reason when we do not know.

But I could not avoid thinking of the awful accident, and as I thought
my fears returned. No other party had left the Evolena Valley for the
Dent Blanche that week. The bodies had fallen on the Evolena side. It
was improbable they had climbed from the Zermatt side. Could it be that
the fifth body had not been seen? One climber and three guides was a
most unusual party? I grew uneasy again, and finally telegraphed to Dr.
Seiler: ‘Have Messrs. Jones and Hill arrived?’

While we were waiting for dinner and a reply, a voice hailed me by name
out of the gathering gloom. It was that of Mr. Harold Spender, who had
just driven up the valley with his sister and a younger brother, Mr.
Hugh Spender. We exchanged greetings and discussed the accident. I told
them what I feared.

We were sitting in the balcony outside the hotel in the summer darkness
when a villager put a yellow telegraph envelope in my hand. I hastily
tore it open, and this is what I read: ‘M. Hill arrived safely this
morning, but Jones and three guides fell an hour and a half from the
top on Monday morning.--SEILER.’

Owen Glynne Jones was dead. My mind almost reeled at the fact.
Intellectually I knew it must be so, but I was utterly unable to
realise it. I could almost hear the sound of his voice and the rattle
of the nails of his dusty boots on the stones that last Sunday morning.
But his voice was stilled for ever.

And Hill! He had escaped, but how? Where had he been since Monday
morning? Out on the mountain alone, without guides, or food, or drink.
The thing was incredible, impossible. But the impossible and the
incredible was true.

At eleven o’clock fifteen guides and Mr. Harold Spender started as a
search party. My injured friend and myself went with them as far as we
could. The little village was already in darkness, swathed in sorrow.
For the telegram that brought me news of Jones’ death announced the
death of a village guide too.

In the chapel only lights burned. It was the vigil round the body of
Reinstadler. Silently and sadly we tramped up the valley along the
carriage road to Haudères. Then in single file, like an army on a night
march, we marched up the steep and narrow path to Ferpècle. Far below
us, on our right, the torrent roared. We picked precarious steps by the
light of our lanterns and the aid of our axes. We talked little and in
muffled tones.

We reached Ferpècle about 1.30 a.m. on Thursday. The hamlet was asleep.
The guides broke eight huge poles out of the fences of the fields and
from the outbuildings. Grim duty! The poles were to make four rude
biers on which to carry the bodies down.

Between 3 and 4 a.m. we gained the Bricolla Alp, where Jones and
Hill had slept the night before the fatal climb. The kindly shepherd
provided us with milk and a fire--it was now very cold--and we produced
provisions from our rücksacks and had a much-needed meal. It was a
curious sight--the little stone hut, a big wood fire blazing in a hole
in the floor, pails of milk all round the walls on shelves, a circle
of rough weather-beaten men, their faces lighted by the flickering
flames and by the uncertain light of one or two of our lanterns.
Rembrandtesque--and profoundly sad.

A little after four we went out. The grey dawn was just breaking, but
a cold, thick, clammy white mist had swept down on the alp and chilled
us to the bone. At the top of the moraine my friend and I had to turn
back. We should only have been a hindrance had we gone on, as both of
us were damaged. Spender and the guides went forward. Let Mr. Spender
describe the rest.

‘At four the column resumed its way. Rain had begun to fall and a dense
mist was closing down upon us. But it was soon light enough to put out
our lanterns, and courage came with the dawn. We rounded the alp, and
then began to climb the long, dreary moraines which lead up to the
glacier. The guides went at a terrific pace. But it was good to be
taken into this noble fraternity--to be accepted as a comrade and not
as a “climber”--to be honoured by a share in the generous quest.

‘But the pace soon slackened. We halted on the edge of the glacier,
roped in fours, and began to search gingerly for a way through the
terrific ice-fall of the glacier. We were mounting by the old approach
to the Dent Blanche, up the ice-fall, now long since abandoned. The
glacier was, of course, quite changed since any of these guides had
last visited it. The ice was split and rent into every conceivable
shape. We were surrounded with leaning towers of ice, threatening at
any moment to fall on us and crush us.

‘A great pile of seracs on the Northern ice-fall, across the ridge,
fell with a mighty crash. Away to the right we could hear the thunder
of avalanches. But never for a moment did the guides hesitate. Steadily
and unflinchingly they threaded their way between the menacing seracs.
Crossing broken fragments of ice, balancing between profound crevasses,
not thwarted but ever searching for a way. At last we suddenly struck
upon the tracks of Jones’ party away to the North side of the glacier
close to the rocks. There we scrambled up, half by the rocks and half
by the ice, and then at last, after many hours, found ourselves on the
great plateau beneath the long snow couloir running down from the West
Ridge. There, if anywhere, they were likely to be. And there, high up
among the rocks, we could just see, with the aid of a good telescope,
some dark objects which were not rocks.

‘“There are our friends,” said the guides.

‘Yes, there was no doubt of it. It was now ten o’clock and the sky had
cleared. A party was formed, and mounted the rocks to fetch the bodies.
As they climbed, suddenly another army of men appeared below us, above
the ice-fall, advancing swiftly. They were the party of the Zermatt
Guides. They came on unroped, climbing fast. It was a magnificent sight
to see this troop of giants in their own element, a troop of equals,
masters of peril. They halted below the rocks and sent up another small
band to join the Evolena Guides. There was a long pause, and then they
all began to descend, bringing the bodies.

‘I will draw a veil over what we found. Men cannot fall many thousands
of feet and lie in artistic attitudes.... But it was four o’clock
before the Bricolla hut was reached, and darkness had fallen before the
bodies came to Haudères. The Zermatt Guides were out for twenty-four
hours, and the Evolena Guides over twenty.’

Mr. W. R. Rickmers, a German resident in England, and a member of the
Alpine Club, sends the following to the _Alpine Journal_:--

‘Mr. Seiler sent out thirty guides under Alois Supersaxo. Dr. R. Leuk,
Mr. K. Mayr, and Mr. W. R. Rickmers joined them. We left the Staffelalp
at 10 p.m. on August 30th, reached the Col d’Hérens at 6 a.m. on the
31st, in fog and snow, which cleared away later on. Descended Ferpècle
Glacier towards termination of W. ridge of Dent Blanche, and ascended
the small glacier which comes down from point 3,912 on the S. _arête_.
At the spot under the “g” in “Rocs rouges” this glacier forms an
icefall (moderately difficult), and besides that a bit of the Glacier
de la Dent Blanche hangs over the narrowest part of the W. ridge. We
then came to the foot of a great gully. On the map it is the first one
from W., and it is very clearly indicated. In the rocks to the right
of the couloir (looking down) and about three hundred feet above the
rim of the glacier, the bodies were found. It was about 10 a.m., and a
party of Evolena guides, accompanied by Mr. Harold Spender, was already
on the spot.

‘The height above sea-level was ca. 3,600-3,700 m. Straight above, on
the ridge, one saw a smooth cliff (ca. 400-500 feet below summit),
and if that was the fatal _mauvais pas_ the fall must have been about
1,500-1,700 feet in a series of clear drops of many hundred feet. The
rope was intact between Furrer and Zurbriggen.

‘The guides did their work well; the icefall, of course, caused a great
deal of trouble.’

While the search party was crossing the glacier and the snow-fields, I
watched them through my glasses. Presently the sun got the better of
the morning mist, and the pure white snow gleamed beautifully. Then
from the Col d’Hérens there swept a tiny, serpentine black line,
moving fast. It was men. I turned my glasses on them. They were the
Zermatt party, some thirty strong, advancing at a rare pace. It was a
beautiful sight, so masterful, so sure was their progress.

As the long, hot hours of mid-day passed, I descended to Ferpècle, and
sent up a boy with food and drink for the certainly wearied searchers
when they returned from their sad duties. At length they came, drawing
the bodies over the grass slopes till they reached a path where they
could be carried on their shoulders. Darkness had fallen when we
reached Haudères.

Late on Friday night Mr. Hill came round for the funeral. His voice
seemed to me strangely altered. Otherwise he had come through his
terrible experience wonderfully, thanks to a splendid constitution and
nerves of steel. Then first I heard the true story of the accident.
I reproduce his own account from the _Alpine Journal_. All had roped
together early in the climb, and the accident took place about ten
o’clock. Mr. Hill says:--

‘When I reached the level of the others, Furrer was attempting to climb
the buttress, but, finding no holds, he called to Zurbriggen to hold an
axe for him to stand on. Apparently he did not feel safe, for he turned
his head and spoke to Jones, who then went to hold the axe steady.
Thus we were all on the same level, Vuignier being some twenty-five
or thirty feet distant from them and also from me. Standing on the
axe, which was now quite firm, Furrer could reach the top of the
buttress, and attempted to pull himself up; but the fingerholds were
insufficient, and before his foot had left the axe his hands slipped,
and he fell backwards on to Zurbriggen and Jones, knocking them both
off, and all three fell together. I turned to the wall to get a better
hold, and did not see Vuignier pulled off, but heard him go, and knew
that my turn would soon come. And when it did not I looked round, and
saw my four companions sliding down the slope at a terrific rate, and
thirty feet of rope swinging slowly down below me.

‘It is difficult to analyse my sensations at that moment. My main
feeling was one of astonishment that I was still there. I can only
suppose that Vuignier had belayed my rope securely to protect himself
and me during our long wait on the traverse.

‘It must be admitted that Furrer did not choose the best route; but
his choice is easy enough to understand, for the only alternative
did not look inviting. At all events, it is certain that he acted
on his own initiative. I say this reluctantly, and solely for the
purpose of contradicting a statement I have read in an account of the
accident--that he was induced by Jones to climb straight over the
gendarme instead of going round it. It is a pity that historians, who
must of necessity be ignorant of the facts, should go out of their way
to make such conjectures.

‘The problem before me was a difficult one. It was quite impossible to
climb down alone, and I could not expect to succeed where guides had
failed; the only course open was to attempt to turn the gendarme on
the right. This I succeeded in doing with great difficulty, owing to
the ice on the rocks and the necessity of cutting up an ice slope in
order to reach the ridge. In about another hour I gained the summit,
and was greeted with a faint cooey, probably from the party we had
seen. I could not see them nor make them hear, so made my way down
with all reasonable speed, hoping to overtake them. When I reached the
lowest gendarme--the one with a deep narrow fissure--a sudden mist
hid everything from view. It was impossible to see the way off; and
while I was trying various routes a snowstorm and cold wind drove me
to seek shelter on the lee-side of the rocks. There, tied on with my
rope, and still further secured by an ice-axe wedged firmly in front
of me, I was forced to remain until mid-day on Tuesday. Then the mist
cleared, and, climbing very carefully down the snow-covered rocks I
reached the snow arête, where most of the steps had to be re-cut. The
next serious difficulty was the lower part of the Wandfluh; I could not
remember the way off, and spent two or three hours in futile efforts
before I found a series of chimneys on the extreme right, leading down
to the glacier. The sun set when I was on the high bank of moraine on
the Zmutt Glacier, and in the growing darkness it was far from easy to
keep the path. The light in the Staffel Alp inn was a guide as long as
it lasted, but it went out early, and, keeping too low down, I passed
the inn without seeing it, and being forced to stop by the nature of
the ground, spent the night by the side of the torrent. It was late in
the morning when I awoke, and then a scramble of a few minutes brought
me to the path, near the sign-post, and I reached Zermatt at half-past
eleven.’

Mr. Hill’s escape is one of the most wonderful in the history of
mountaineering. His endurance and courage are not less remarkable. To
have been out alone, in bad weather, without anything to eat save five
raisins, and with nothing to drink but ice and snow, on a difficult and
dangerous mountain, and to have returned safely is, I believe, a record
in climbing annals. I may add a few details, given me by Mr. Hill when
I first met him after the accident, which he has not reproduced in the
above narrative.

He thinks his companions were killed instantaneously. They uttered no
sound; they made no apparent attempt to save themselves. With arms
outspread they rolled helplessly down the awful face of the mountain.
He watched them for a few seconds, powerless to help, if help would
indeed have availed, and then turned from the sickening sight.

During the last part of his descent, even his great strength began to
fail. Once, on the Wandfluh, he lost his axe and had to spend an hour
in climbing down to recover it, as it was absolutely essential to his
safety. After he left the Zmutt glacier in darkness, he appears to have
become delirious. He was constantly talking to imaginary companions.
He fell into holes in the ground and went to sleep without strength to
rise. He wakened from cold, called to his companions to go on as it was
time to be leaving, stumbled, and fell asleep again.

On Saturday morning Dr. Sumpner arrived, having travelled straight
through from Birmingham to Evolena. Friends tramped down from Arolla,
others had come from Zermatt, the secretary of Jones’s section of the
Swiss Alpine Club came from near Neuchâtel. A carriage bore Jones’s
plain black coffin, with a gilt cross on it, down from Haudères. We
buried him and the Evolena guide, Vuignier, in the little graveyard
of the Roman Catholic church, almost in sight of the glorious, but
terrible, mountain on which they met their fate. The scene in the
village almost baffles description. All the villagers, men and women,
attended the funeral, clad in coarse white robes. The grief of the
women, especially of Vuignier’s poor old mother, was heart-rending to
witness. The little Roman Catholic chapel was crowded, the congregation
all in white, save the acolytes, two village boys, who served the altar
in their coarse brown, everyday clothes, and the choir, whose strong
voices rang through the whitewashed, humble building. A little knot
of Englishmen, sunbrowned, of another faith or of no faith at all,
joined in the impressive and solemn service. It was a sight that no one
present can ever forget.

After the service, we bore the two coffins to the graveyard. Rev. Mr.
Scott, the Anglican chaplain, read the English burial service over
Owen Jones’s grave. Mr. Hill sent a beautiful wreath of edelweiss and
the foliage of the Alpine rose. A rude wooden cross marked the spot
till Jones’s friends erected a suitable gravestone. The lovely warm
sunshine and the bright blue sky, and the gleaming snows on the slopes
of the Dent Blanche, formed a curious contrast to the mourning of the
village in that Alpine valley.

Thus perished, as he would, I doubt not, like to have died, Owen Glynne
Jones, a brave and dashing mountaineer, a cheery and kindly friend,
whose presence will be long missed by all who had the privilege of
knowing him. His death was due to a pure accident, occurring when he
was in the plenitude of his powers, and when he seemed just about to
reap the reward of long years of patient, ardent toil.

  W. M. CROOK.



CONTENTS


        PAGE

  MEMOIR OF OWEN GLYNNE JONES                            vii

  CHAP.

  I. PIKE’S CRAG                                           1

  II. DEEP GHYLL, GREAT CHIMNEY AND PROFESSOR’S
  CHIMNEY                                                 12

  III. THE RAKE’S PROGRESS AND CERTAIN SHORT CLIMBS
  NEAR IT                                                 29

  IV. MOSS GHYLL, COLLIER’S CLIMB, AND KESWICK
  BROTHERS’ CLIMB                                         43

  V. SCAWFELL PINNACLE                                    69

  VI. GREAT END AND ITS GULLIES                           89

  VII. GREAT GABLE, THE ENNERDALE FACE, AND THE
  OBLIQUE CHIMNEY                                        114

  VIII. THE ENNERDALE CENTRAL GULLY AND TWO LITTLE
  CHIMNEYS                                               134

  IX. THE GREAT NAPES AND ITS GULLIES                    146

  X. THE RIDGES OF THE GREAT NAPES                       153

  XI. THE GABLE NEEDLE                                   168

  XII. KERN KNOTTS                                       175

  XIII. THE WASTWATER SCREES                             190

  XIV. PAVEY ARK                                         208

  XV. DOE CRAG, CONISTON                                 219

  XVI. COMBE GHYLL                                       237

  XVII. THE PILLAR ROCK                                  254

  XVIII. NOTES ON REMAINING CLIMBS                       285

  APPENDIX I.                                            295

  APPENDIX II.--

  CHAP.

  I. THE PILLAR ROCK AND ITS PURLIEUS UP TO DATE         317

  II. NEW CLIMBS ON GREAT GABLE, SCAWFELL, AND
  AROUND WASTDALE HEAD                                   332

  III. THE BUTTERMERE CLIMBS, AND THOSE IN OUTLYING
  DISTRICTS                                              344

  IV. RECENT CLIMBS AROUND LANGDALE, AND DOE
  CRAG                                                   358



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  PORTRAIT OF OWEN GLYNNE JONES                   _Frontispiece_

  THE PIKE’S CRAG GULLIES                _To face page_        6

  DEEP GHYLL, FIRST PITCH                      ”              12

  SCAWFELL PINNACLE AND THE PROFESSOR’S
      CHIMNEY                                  ”              20

  SCAWFELL CRAGS FROM THE PULPIT ROCK          ”              26

  THE ASCENT OF THE BROAD STAND                ”              30

  THE PENRITH CLIMB FROM MICKLEDORE            ”              40

  COLLIER’S CHIMNEY, MOSS GHYLL                ”              51

  KESWICK BROTHERS’ CLIMB                      ”              66

  ATTITUDES ON SCAWFELL PINNACLE               ”              69

  SCAWFELL PINNACLE AND DEEP GHYLL             ”              73

  THE LAST HUNDRED FEET ON THE SCAWFELL
  PINNACLE                                     ”              76

  ASCENT OF SCAWFELL PINNACLE FROM DEEP GHYLL  ”              83

  THE GREAT END GULLIES, SEEN FROM SPRINKLING
  TARN                                         ”              90

  TOP OF THE CENTRAL GULLY IN WINTER, GREAT
  END                                          ”              99

  WASTDALE AND GREAT GABLE                     ”             114

  ENNERDALE FACE OF GREAT GABLE                ”             127

  GREAT GABLE FROM LINGMELL                    ”             146

  THE RIDGES OF THE GREAT NAPES                ”             153

  THE UPPER PART OF THE NEEDLE RIDGE           ”             156

  THE GABLE NEEDLE                             ”             168

  KERN KNOTTS CHIMNEY                          ”             178

  KERN KNOTTS CRACK                            ”             184

  THE SCREES AND WASTWATER                     ”             191

  THE PAVEY ARK GULLIES FROM STICKLE TARN      ”             208

  DOE CRAG AND GOATSWATER                      ”             220

  FIRST PITCH IN DOE CRAG, GREAT GULLY         ”             225

  THE EAST FACE OF THE PILLAR ROCK (viewed
  from the Shamrock)                           ”             257

  ROUND THE NOTCH, PILLAR ROCK, EAST SIDE      ”             267

  THE NORTH FACE OF THE PILLAR ROCK            ”             271

  OVER THE NOSE--THE PILLAR ROCK               ”             325

  THE BROADRICK’S AND HOPKINSON’S CRACKS, DOE
  CRAG                                         ”             376


OUTLINE DRAWINGS OF THE CHIEF ROUTES

  PLATE

     I. THE PIKE’S CRAG GULLIES              _To face page_    2
          _Diagrammatic_

    II. SCAWFELL FROM THE PULPIT ROCK               ”         46
          _From the photograph facing p. 26_

   III. THE GREAT END GULLIES                       ”         94
          _From the photograph facing p. 90_

    IV. THE ENNERDALE FACE OF GREAT GABLE           ”        135
          _From the photograph facing p. 127_

     V. THE GREAT NAPES RIDGES                      ”        161
          _Diagrammatic_

    VI. i. THE WASTWATER SCREES                     ”        203
          _From the photograph facing p. 191_

       ii. THE PAVEY ARK GULLIES                    ”        203
          _From the photograph facing p. 208_

   VII. DOE CRAG, CONISTON                          ”        370
          _Diagrammatic_

  VIII. PILLAR ROCK, EAST SIDE                      ”        242
          _From the photograph facing p. 257_

    IX. PILLAR ROCK, NORTH SIDE                     ”        254
          _From the photograph facing p. 271_

     X. PILLAR ROCK, WEST SIDE                      ”        318



INTRODUCTION


Some eight years ago chance led me to the Lake District for the first
time, and a kindly acquaintance whom I then met at Wastdale taught
me something of the joys of rock-climbing. Since that occasion every
holiday has been spent on the mountains, either in Cumberland or
North Wales or Switzerland, and they have taught me much that is
worth knowing and that when once learnt can never be forgotten. Men
with the highest literary qualifications have written of the charm of
mountaineering, and every aspect of the subject has been touched upon
with fullest justice and with a grace of style that has captivated many
a non-climber in spite of his prejudices. Yet I cannot refrain from
adding my own humble tribute of praise to the sport that has done so
much for me and my best friends.

It satisfies many needs; the love of the beautiful in nature; the
desire to exert oneself physically, which with strong men is a
passionate craving that must find satisfaction somehow or other; the
joy of conquest without any woe to the conquered; the prospect of
continual increase in one’s skill, and the hope that this skill may
partially neutralize the failing in strength that comes with advancing
age or ill-health.

Hunting and fishing enthral many men, but mountaineering does not
claim the sacrifice of beasts and fishes. Cricket and football are
magnificent sports, and it is a perpetual satisfaction that the British
races are becoming enthusiastic in their appreciation of keen contests
in these games. Yet there is something repulsive in the spectacle of
five thousand inactive spectators of a struggling twenty-two, and the
knowledge that the main interest of many players and observers is of a
monetary character does not tend to convince one of the moral benefits
that these sports can offer. On the other hand, it is scarcely fair to
judge a sport by those who degrade it in this manner, and we all know
that genuine cricketers and footballers play for love and honour.

The mountaineer does not reap any golden harvest by his exertions--even
if he writes a book on his subject. He does not exhibit his skill to
applauding thousands; and his vanity is rarely tickled by the praise of
many. He must be content with the sport itself and what it offers him
directly.

Probably the scientific mountaineer gains most. He is certain to
acquire rare and valuable knowledge of facts in zoology, botany, or
geology, if he starts with the necessary intellectual equipment. The
physicist’s mind is perpetually exercised by the natural phenomena
he witnesses; mist bows, Brocken spectres, frost haloes, electrical
discharges of the queerest description, mirages, all these offer him
problems of the most interesting kind. But the fact is, there is
so much to do that is directly connected with the climbing itself
that the natural sciences are usually left to themselves, and their
consideration reserved for special expeditions.

On the other hand, science can often assist the climbing. The engineer
can triumph with applications of the rope. He can tell us some facts
worth knowing on the value of friction as an aid to stability, on
the use of an axe as a support or as a lever, or on the safe methods
of negotiating loose stones. The man who knows something of geology
is a useful member of an exploring party; he is often able to guess
correctly where available passages occur in a wilderness of rock, and
can judge at a distance what quality of climbing the party may expect.
The expert in mountain weather does not exist; perhaps he does not dare
to, or perhaps the subject is too complicated for a nineteenth-century
scientist. However this may be, it is worth while paying a little
attention to meteorology and noting the quality of weather that follows
any definite condition of the wind, the barometer, or the atmospheric
temperature.

The causes that have resulted in the publication of this little book
are as difficult to define as those that produce a rainy day in the
Alps; and, now that the book is written and nothing remains but an
introduction, I wish that the reverse order of proceeding had been
adopted, and that the introduction had been written as a peg on which
succeeding chapters might have been definitely hung.

From the outset the illustrations have been regarded as the chief
feature of the book, and it was my good fortune early to obtain
the co-operation of Messrs. G. P. Abraham & Sons in the production
of good photographs of the most interesting pieces of rock scenery
that the Lake District affords. Messrs. George and Ashley Abraham
have accompanied me on several climbing excursions with the express
purpose of obtaining artistic and yet accurate photographs of the main
difficulties that beset the cragsman’s course, and I am bound to add
that they are as skilful in tackling severe pitches as they are in
taking successful pictures. The practical troubles in manipulating
heavy photographic apparatus where most people find work enough in
looking solely to their own safety, the frequent impossibility of
finding a sufficient contrast in light and shade among the crag
recesses, and the subsequent difficulties in development of such
awkward subjects, will convince the reader that theirs has been
no light task, and at the same time will offer sufficient excuse
for certain small defects that we have been unable to eliminate
from the photo-mechanical reproductions. These are in collotype
on platino-surface paper which shows the fine texture of the rock
structures.

For the benefit more particularly of climbers several outline diagrams
have been introduced to explain the outlines of those more important
crags up each of which many different routes have been found, lines of
ascent that cannot be readily recognised in the photographs themselves,
and that cannot be briefly described in words. Some of these are purely
diagrammatic, where it has been found impossible to base them on good
general views. The others are outlined from photographs, and can in
most cases be compared directly with the corresponding views from which
they are derived.

With the knowledge that I was getting substantial aid in the
illustrative portion of the book, the management of the rest has been
much simplified. There are very many people who come regularly to the
English Lake District to ramble about on the fells and to make the
ordinary ascents. Of these, by far the greater number steer clear of
the precipices and other steep parts, wisely recognising the danger
that attends the inexperienced in such places. Nevertheless, they enjoy
the mountains and are charmed with the scenery. They do not know much
about the innermost recesses of even their favourite peaks. To many
of them Mr. Haskett Smith’s little book on ‘Climbing in England’ must
have been a revelation; for it indicates with sufficient clearness
that every crag in the country of any considerable dimensions has been
explored with wonderful thoroughness by Alpine climbers, and that these
abrupt walls and gloomy gullies are the happy hunting-ground of many
an enterprising athlete. If my accounts of the different ascents were
briefly stated in the orthodox climbing-guide form, the book could
appeal to none but the elect; only an athlete in excellent training
could digest such solid diet. If, on the other hand, they were recorded
in narrative form, with a little expansion of detail where serious
difficulties occurred during the expeditions, the book might at the
same time appeal to many a tourist who loves the country and who likes
to learn more about it. The latter course has been adopted, and it is
sincerely to be hoped that the succeeding chapters will interest such
tourists.

There was another and more important consideration which helped to
decide on the form actually taken. Our Alpine climbers of the highest
rank are born, not made. But most of the others, taking with them
some natural aptitude and plenty of money, are made abroad. Why do
they not take their preliminary training for a year or two in Wales,
or Cumberland, or on the Scottish hills? It would be much wiser and
cheaper to support the ‘home industry’ so far as it goes, before
making their _débuts_ on the high Alps. Our British hills can give
them no glacier practice, but they can learn a vast deal concerning
rock-climbing before they leave the country. To such as these the book
is primarily dedicated. There are no professional guides in Cumberland
who know anything about the rocks. The amateur must come out and manage
for himself. But it is here intended to show that the Cumberland school
is a well-graded one; that the novice can start with the easiest and
safest of expeditions, and can work his way up to a standard of skill
comparing favourably with that of the average Swiss guide. There is
nothing so instructive as guideless climbing, be it ever so humble in
character. It makes the man wonderfully critical when taken in hand by
guides later on, and renders him also much more able to profit by their
practical instruction.

For such beginners, the mere statement of the position of a gully
and the number and character of its chief obstacles would be quite
useless. He requires something more; a suggestion here and there of
the manner in which the troubles can be avoided or overcome, and a
comparison of these difficulties with others. It is natural that every
man has his own way of employing the limbs; my way of dealing with a
pitch might not at all suit another climber, who perhaps relies less
upon balance and more on strength of arm than myself, or _vice versâ_.
It is therefore unwise to appear dogmatic in describing methods, and
I hasten to assure those knowing critics that I have never meant to
appear so. And yet it is none the less a definite object throughout
to render the accounts in sufficient detail for those who want
assistance in repeating the ascents. I have not hesitated to draw on
old experiences, gained when the ground was comparatively new to me;
for there is a tendency to depreciate, or indeed to overlook entirely,
the difficulties in any familiar route after constant practice has
removed those elements that introduce risk or uncertainty of success,
and a novice can often explain to a novice far more effectively than an
expert.

The Lake District is becoming more popular every year as a centre of
operations for cragsmen. Yet there is no corresponding development of
a set of professional guides out there, though I believe they would
thrive exceedingly, and all stock information about the mountains is
confined to a few manuscript books, and to Mr. Haskett Smith’s little
publication already referred to. The new comer is continually at a
loss for details; he has no means of learning what is difficult or
easy, how to circumvent dangerous obstacles or to discover the safe
points of attacking them; he is dependent for such facts on chance
acquaintances made in the country or on correspondence more or less
painfully elicited from authorities. When unsuccessful in these ways
he is sometimes tempted to launch out on his own account and wrest
the information from the mountains themselves. This heroic method is
undoubtedly the most effective, but it involves too much risk for the
unpractised hand, and the wonder is that so few serious casualties
occur in its application. Such accidents do occur through ignorance of
the district, and always will so long as the necessary knowledge that
gives safety to the explorer is confined to the few.

Mr. Haskett Smith’s book serves in the fullest manner to indicate where
good scrambling can be obtained, to define the few technical terms
in the cragsman’s vocabulary, and to give general advice concerning
the best centres. It has been of the greatest use to the climbing
fraternity, who owe their thanks to him. But he gives no detail of the
scrambling itself. He has appealed more particularly to the expert, who
can manage all his pioneering for himself. Notably is this the case
with the Pillar Rock--practically his own particular preserve--where
most of the routes have long since been made out by him. For years
he knew the Rock as no one else knew it; every chimney and ridge and
wall was within his ken. Yet in his little handbook there is scarcely
an indication of the possession of all this unique knowledge. Most
climbers expected some expansion in the description of his early
explorations; but he has kept rigidly to his scheme of treatment, and
dealt but scant justice to himself throughout the work. This book,
then, is to be regarded in some sense as supplementary in character,
the cordial witness of the good sport obtainable by following his
advice and general directions.

There are many men who think well of the sport, but speak slightingly
of the narrow field offered for it by the Lake District. No doubt the
Alps offer far more scope both in range and quality. But we cannot
very conveniently reach Switzerland at every season of the year. At
Christmas and Easter it is entirely barred to most people. The expense
of foreign travel is a consideration, and the question of length of
holiday is rarely negligible. Cumberland can be reached in a night
from London; the district is an inexpensive one for tourists. The fact
that there are hundreds of climbs at our disposal in the Alps is no
great inducement in itself; we can never climb more than one or two at
a time, and for most of us there will always remain scores of ascents
that we shall never have the opportunity of accomplishing. One can
learn how to swim as effectively in a swimming-bath six feet deep as
in an ocean; and one can gain an extensive and practical acquaintance
with rock-climbing in a district where the whole set of climbs can be
accomplished by the expert in a few short holidays, as in a country
where the choice is unlimited. Personally I should always go to the
high Alps when the chance offered itself, but Cumberland serves
remarkably well to allay the desire for mountain air and vigorous
exercise when Switzerland is out of the question.

What does it matter that a climb has been done before? Climatic
conditions and the members of one’s party introduce sufficient variety.
Years ago an expert reporter was trying to teach me shorthand. His
method was to induce me to copy out the same report again and again;
it was an excellent idea, and the system was well vindicated with
apter pupils. Likewise in climbing, an apt pupil will learn rapidly by
repetition of the same ascents.

This introduces a point on which I am scarcely qualified to speak,
that of physical aptitude on the part of the would-be climber. Mr.
Clinton Dent in the Badminton volume bestows a chapter on the subject
of ‘Mountaineering and Health.’ Here we have an authoritative summary
of the physical qualifications required by the mountaineer, and of the
bodily ailments he may possibly incur. A perusal of the chapter will
convince the reader of the suitability of a mountainous region such
as our own country can offer for preliminary training before the high
Alps are approached. There is much less likelihood of over-strain;
snow-blindness, frost-bite, and mountain sickness are rarely met with
here.

Climbers are absolutely incapable of any sustained effort when they
reach certain altitudes, and the limit depends on the individual. It
is the misfortune of some to feel an uncomfortable perturbation of the
heart when once a definite level is passed. They are well enough able
to exert themselves below that level, but can hope for no pleasurable
exercise above it. With every desire to climb, with muscle and mind
enough to excel in the sport, they are nevertheless debarred from
enjoying the high Alps. Let them therefore make the best of our British
hills for a while, and then perhaps proceed to the Dolomites in the
Austrian Tyrol for fuller applications at a safe low level of what they
have here learnt.

Solitary scrambling is universally condemned. Most climbers of
experience have learnt something about it, and are unanimous in their
unfavourable judgment. Nothing teaches the scrambler so quickly, if
his nerve is sufficiently strong; but the penalty paid for slight
mistakes is often extreme, and the risk is too great for him to be
justified in deliberately choosing the single-handed venture. A party
of two makes the strongest combination for most of the ordinary
Cumberland climbs; three are generally better for the severest courses.
Any beyond that number will to a greater or less extent increase the
difficulty of the ascent and the time spent in effecting it.

A rough classification is here appended of over a hundred well-known
courses judged under good conditions. They are divided into four
sets. The first are easy and adapted for beginners, the second set
are moderately stiff, those of the third set rank as the difficult
climbs of the district, and the last are of exceptional severity. Some
attempt has been made to arrange them in their order of difficulty,
the hardest ones coming last; but the variations of condition of each
due to wind, temperature, rain, snow, or ice are so extensive that
no particular value should be attached to the sequence. But even if
only approximately correct, the lists may help men in deciding for
themselves where to draw the line that shall limit their own unaided
performances. As for the items in the fourth class, they are best left
alone. Mark the well-known words of an expert (Mr. C. Pilkington): ‘The
novice must on no account attempt them. He may console himself with
the reflection that most of these fancy bits of rock-work are not
mountaineering proper, and by remembering that those who first explored
these routes, or rather created them, were not only brilliant rock
gymnasts but experienced and capable cragsmen.’


_Easy Courses._

  Deep Ghyll, by the west wall traverse.
  Cust’s Gully, Great End.
  Traverse across Gable Crag.
  ‘Sheep Walk,’ Gable Crag.
  D Gully, Pike’s Crag.
  Broad Stand.
  Needle Gully.
  ‘Slab and Notch’ Route, Pillar Rock.
  Great End Central Gully (ordinary ways).
  South-east Gully, Great End.


_Moderate Courses._

  West Climb, Pillar Rock.
  C Gully, Pike’s Crag.
  A Gully, Pike’s Crag.
  Bottle-nosed Pinnacle Ridge.
  Westmorland Crag, Great Gable.
  Penrith Climb, Scawfell.
  Scawfell Chimney.
  Old Wall Route. Pillar Rock, East Side.
  Deep Ghyll (ordinary route).
  Scawfell Pinnacle (short way up).
  Dolly Waggon Pike Gully.
  Raven Crag Chimney, Great Gable.
  Crag Fell Pinnacles, Ennerdale.
  Gable Crag Central Gully (ordinary way).
  Black Chimney (High Stile).
  Pendlebury Traverse Route, Pillar Rock.
  Combe Ghyll.
  Fleetwith Gully (easy way).
  Arrowhead Branch Gully
  Smoking Rock, Great Doup, Pillar Fell.
  Professor’s Chimney.
  Needle Ridge, Great Gable.
  Pillar Rock, the Arête.
  Arrowhead Ridge, by Traverse from East Side.
  Eagle’s Nest Ridge (ordinary way).


_Difficult Courses._

  Deep Ghyll West Wall Climb.
  Great End Central Gully (chimney finish).
  Pillar Rock by Central Jordan.
  The Doctor’s Chimney.
  Shamrock Buttress.
  Pillar Rock by West Jordan.
  Kern Knotts Chimney.
  Little Gully, Pavey Ark.
  Great Gully, Pavey Ark.
  Gable Crag Central Gully (direct finish).
  Oblique Chimney Gable Crag.
  Gable Needle.
  Arrowhead Ridge (direct climb).
  Pillar Rock Far West Jordan.
  Gimmer Crag Chimney.
  Doe Crag, Great Gully.
  Pillar Rock by the Great Chimney.
  The B Chimney, Pike’s Crag.
  Scawfell Pinnacle, by Steep Ghyll.
  Pavey Ark, Crescent Climb, and Gwynne’s Chimney.
  Keswick Brothers’ Climb.
  Pillar Rock, West Jordan Crack.
  Doe Crag Buttresses (ordinary routes).
  Sergeant Crag Gully (ordinary way).
  Mouse Ghyll.
  Pillar Rock (by north face).
  Smuggler’s Chimney, Gable Crag.
  Rake End Chimney, Pavey Ark.
  Moss Ghyll (by branch exit).
  Bowfell Buttress.
  New West Climb (Pillar Rock).
  The Brothers’ Crack, Great End.
  Sergeant Crag Gully (direct).
  Keswick Brothers’ Climb (variation finish).
  Stack Ghyll, Buttermere.
  Bleaberry Chimney, Buttermere.
  Deep Ghyll (by various routes).
  Collier’s Climb, Scawfell.
  Raven Crag Gully, Glaramara.
  Moss Ghyll (by direct finish).
  West Jordan Gully, Pillar Rock.
  Shamrock Chimneys.
  Fleetwith Gully (direct).
  Shamrock Gully (left-hand route).
  Kern Knotts West Chimney.
  Shamrock Buttress (Route II).
  Shamrock Gully (ordinary route).
  Pisgah Ridge, by the Tennis Court Ledge.
  Iron Crag Chimney.
  Engineer’s Chimney, Gable Crag.
  Eagle’s Nest Ridge by Ling Chimney.


_Exceptionally Severe Courses._

  Doe Crag, Intermediate Gully.
  Scawfell Pinnacle, High Man (direct from Deep Ghyll).
  Gimmer Crag, B route.
  The Abbey Buttress, Great Gable.
  Screes Great Gully (direct).
  Doe Crag, North Gully.
  Gimmer Crag, A Route.
  Toreador Gully, Buttermere.
  Birkness Chimney, Buttermere.
  Warn Gill, Buttermere.
  Haskett Gully, Scoat Fell.
  Doe Crag, Easter Gully, O. G. Jones’ Route.
  Scawfell Pinnacle _viâ_ Low Man by Deep Ghyll, Gibson’s Chimney.
  Scawfell Pinnacle by Deep Ghyll, O. G. Jones’ Route.
  Kern Knotts Crack.
  North Face Pillar Rock, by Hand Traverse.
  Doe Crag, Easter Gully, by Hopkinson’s Crack.
  Doe Crag, Central Chimney.
  Eagle’s Nest Ridge, Great Gable.
  Doe Crag, Easter Gully, by Broadrick’s Crack.
  Walker’s Gully.
  C Gully, the Screes.
  North West Climb, Pillar Rock.
  Scawfell Pinnacle (direct from Lord’s Rake), O. G. Jones’ Route.

In every expedition the party should be provided with a sufficient
length of rope--varying from twenty to fifty feet for two men, thirty
to eighty feet for three--according to the character of the climb and
the lengths of its individual pitches. It is very unwise to dispense
with the rope, even on simple courses; the fact is patent in the Alps
that amateurs take a long time to learn how to look after their portion
of the rope when busily engaged on rocks; they are apt to leave all
such details to the guides in front or behind them, and would do well
to practise regular independence in that respect.

Ice-axes are generally necessary during the colder months of the year.
They are inconvenient to manipulate on very difficult rocks, whether
the climber is going up or down. But in the rapid descent of easy
crags, face outwards, they are invaluable as aids to balancing; and
steep grass or scree can undoubtedly be descended better with their
assistance. The Cumberland crags are too smooth to make _scarpetti_
(_Kletterschuhe_) worth trying. These are rope-soled shoes that grip
better than nailed boots when the texture of the rock-surface is
sufficiently rough, but our expeditions are best made without them.



ROCK-CLIMBING



CHAPTER I

_PIKE’S CRAG_


The Pikes of Scawfell are bold and picturesque, but their precipices
are slight and climbers can find but little on them that needs the use
of a rope. One genuine exception must be made in favour of Pike’s Crag,
the rock that guards the Pikes end of Mickledore. Here a good deal of
practice may be obtained, and although in comparison with Scawfell
Crag over the way we may feel that everything is in miniature, yet the
quality of the work is good and some of the pitches really severe. Few
people seem to have troubled to examine the detail of the cliff until
September, 1894, when Messrs. Fowler and Wilberforce spent a few days
on it, and prepared the effective diagram of the lines of route that
they subsequently transferred to the Wastdale book.

The crag is visible from the road near the head of Wastwater, and its
three chimneys show up as black recesses of inviting steepness and
difficulty. These retain their interesting appearance all along the
walk up Brown Tongue, and it is surprising that at Hollow Stones
everybody turns off to the right towards Deep Ghyll, when straight
ahead they cannot but observe the opportunity for novelty that Pike’s
Crag can offer them.

Between the Pulpit rock that overlooks the Mickledore screes and the
main mass of the Pikes is a little _col_ or neck that can be reached
with ease from either side. A gully runs up to it behind the Pulpit
from the Mickledore screes, with no difficulties whatever to obstruct
the walker. Another (D) leads to the same spot from the Lingmell side,
starting near the foot of the great buttress of the Horse and Man rock,
and boasting of two pitches. Between D and a scree gully well away to
the left lie the three chimneys, A, B, and C, and the best climbing of
these crags is here concentrated.

It is true that we can get some pleasant scrambling up the outside of
the Pulpit. A grass gully shows well in the illustration, close to
the right-hand edge of the picture. The square tower of rock to which
its left branch leads overlooks the D gully and offers fair sport.
There are probably a few interesting problems in the short gullies
leading from D towards the Horse and Man ridge. But to cover the best
ground in a single expedition I can recommend the ascent of A and
descent by C, then the direct climb up the right branch of B and a
return down the two pitches in the D gully. Such was an afternoon’s
work that I was advised to undertake when inquiring of those who
knew best how to gain a general knowledge of Pike’s Crag. My companion
was unacquainted with Lake District climbing; it was his first day in
Wastdale, and during our walk homewards, after following as rigidly as
we could the directions given us, he was reluctantly compelled to admit
that Cumberland climbing had good points that he had never hitherto
attributed to it.

[Illustration:

  PLATE I.

THE PIKE’S CRAG GULLIES.

AA is about 300 feet high.

  _a_ Initial Variation in the A Chimney.
  _b_ Left Branch of the B Chimney.
  _c_ Great Pitch in the C Chimney.
  D Easy Gully between E and F.
  E Horse and Man Rock.
  F Pulpit Rock.
  G Easy Grass Gully.]

We bore up from Hollow Stones directly towards the A chimney, over
a good deal of rough ground and an occasional snowslope. It is the
longest climb of the three, and the hand-and-foot work commenced at
once. A block at the bottom, some fifteen feet in height, was turned
by a vertical crack on the left, with excellent holds on the side
wall. An easier way is by the right, up a series of steep, wet, and
mossy ledges. This block was crowned by long tufted grass, and more
moss in the bed of the gully indicated clearly that we were not on a
much frequented route to Scawfell Pikes. A few feet higher we noticed
a grass terrace stretching across the face of the crags to the right.
There proved to be several such terraces on the same buttress between
us and the B chimney, and we concluded that it would be possible to
climb up from one to the other and so avoid the chimneys altogether.
Soon our route became steeper and careful clambering was necessary.
The gully was narrow and its walls smooth, and no chance of further
side-exit was open to us. Then came the first genuine pitch, in three
portions of increasing severity, though the hardest is not in any way
difficult or dangerous. We worked first over a small boulder, then
a bigger one followed, and we were brought to a standstill at the
entrance of a narrow cave. We decided in favour of the right wall,
which showed good holds up near the level of the roof. It looked a
bad bit to surmount, but when once the right leg of the climber had
been swung on to a sloping ledge on the wall, it was only needful to
edge along towards the jammed boulder and step off into the bed of
the gully again. The whole pitch is about thirty feet high. Walking
up the scree that now presented itself, we were rather disagreeably
impressed by the appearance of the second pitch that confronted us.
It was a mossy wall about ten feet high, and water streaming down it
gave us but little hope of continuing the climbing beyond it with dry
garments. Nevertheless the reality was not so objectionable. The wall
stretched from side to side of the gully and offered many routes up.
Taking a course to the right of the middle, we found small footholds
beneath the moss that gave the chance of using the fingers and toes
only. Clammy embracing we avoided, and our satisfaction on reaching the
top was altogether disproportionate to the actual difficulty we had
overcome, and will be unappreciated by those who tackle the gully in
drier weather. It seems to be still better to work up the left corner.

Forty feet higher we could see the third and last pitch. The gully is
now very much more open. We made a digression on the right again, and
peered inquisitively down the hole at the top of the B chimney--the
hole that was said to discriminate nicely between a thin man and a
thick. The buttress was considerably broken about here, and offered
admirable scrambling of a heterogeneous description; but we had yet one
more stage in our own direct course, and returned to finish it. Several
boulders had combined to form another cave, whose interior appeared
to be rather complicated--judging by the number of times I knocked my
head in exploring its upper regions. We tried hard to force a route
up the right wall, but after twenty minutes had been wasted in futile
attempts we decided to take the regulation route to the left, and leave
the variation for another day that might find us there with an ice-axe.
The left wall is sufficiently provided with holds to make the climb
easy; but at the top there were several stones to be passed that report
said were in a shaky condition. We were not troubled by them, and after
passing over, a glance at the screes that remained above gave assurance
that the presence or absence of a few loose stones at the head of the
pitch would be quite fortuitous.

After a short halt called for photographic purposes we made for the
head of the C gully, the next to the west that actually reaches
the sky-line when viewed from below. It was nearly all scree at a
steep angle, and we had good reason to be thankful that no exploring
parties were further down. There were two or three places passed in
our descent where the craggy bed of the gully jutted out through the
layer of loose stones, and at such spots, though no actual climbing was
necessary, the danger of one man bombarding the other with projectiles
made us both proceed with an excess of caution. The one difficulty in
the gully, which we were now preparing to descend, is by far the finest
looking pitch on Pike’s Crag. A large boulder with square edges roofs
in a cavern thirty feet high; a stream of water pouring down the gully
spreads over the boulder, and forms a thin curtain of spray stretching
from side to side of the cave entrance. The two walls of the gully are
black and glistening, the floor of the cave is slippery, and slopes
steeply down to the foot of the ghyll. The only safe way up or down the
pitch is by a series of ledges in a square recess on the left, well
marked in the opposite illustration.

We were ignorant of the character of the climbing here, but there was
no resisting the conclusion forced upon us by a peep over the edge of
the pitch, that the recess on our right offered us the only chance of
descent. The ledges were tufted with thick grass that now and again
threatened to give way. But on the whole we felt very safe, and when
the actual corner of the recess was reached, the difficulties vanished
and we had a simple traverse back towards the waterfall. The descent
of six or eight feet to the foot of the fall was partially under the
spray, but haste on such slippery ground was out of the question, and
we moved one at a time with a solemn indifference to the damping
influences around us, that might have argued a whole day’s previous
exposure and the absence of a vestige of dry clothing. We had a steep
slide down the snow banked up at the foot of the gully, and then picked
a way across to the B chimney, the centre of the series and the most
attractive.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE PIKE’S CRAG GULLIES]

A and C may be reasonably called easy. They are not too hard for
muscular novices, and are comparatively safe. But the central chimney
is decidedly stiff, and should not be indiscriminately recommended with
the others. It is very narrow all the way to the jammed stone at the
top; it is about as difficult to get out, when half-way up, as it is to
continue the direct ascent, and suitable belaying for the leader or his
followers cannot be found at the hardest parts of the climb. I tried
the chimney once when there was a considerable quantity of water coming
down, and was compelled to give it up: it is probable that even with a
second man to help me I could not have managed it.

We found our way safely to the entrance of our chimney and started up.
Almost immediately we passed the branch gully on the left. It looks
very formidable, and indeed its first pitch is undoubtedly hard. It
consists of a two-storied cave, the first floor composed of three
jammed stones, which are passed by backing up the crack and traversing
outwards. The second pitch is of a simpler character, consisting
of a cave that can be passed on either side. We had no designs on
this variation, and were contented to throw a casual glance towards
the lower obstacle as we proceeded up the rocky bed of our central
chimney. Our field of view soon became very limited, for the clean-cut
parallel walls on either side were scarcely five feet apart, and the
average slope of the gully exceeded forty-five degrees. During the
first hundred feet the work was distinctly safe and easy, but a glance
backward at the point whence we had started, seemingly the first
stop in the event of our falling, made us both inclined to imagine
dangers in our way. The side walls in intense gloom formed a fitting
frame to the narrow picture of the distant sunlit fells. The general
aspect of the situation closely resembled that of the upper half of
Collier’s climb on Scawfell, and of the Oblique Chimney on Gable Crag,
though in each of those cases the chimney is at a considerable angle
to the vertical, whereas here the fissure in the rocks is almost
perpendicular. We were a little perplexed by some ice that had frozen
in large rounded knobs to a thickness of eight or ten inches over a
steep six feet of the gully. An axe would have summarily disposed of
any icicles of doubtful security, but we had not expected any such
evidences of cold and were unprovided. The ice was not absolutely
continuous; here and there we could kick out levels for our feet, and
to our relief the trouble was passed in a few minutes. Then came the
worst bit of the ascent--the scene of my discomfiture eighteen months
before. First came a vertical wall stretching across the gully, and
rising twenty feet above our somewhat insecure standing. Beyond that
the gully sloped evenly to the dark recesses of a cave, the jammed
boulder of which almost appeared vertically above our heads. We mounted
an upright block at the foot of the wall, and prospected for holds.
None were visible. I peered at the sides in search of scratches, which
would show whether the earlier party or parties had backed up the
chimney. No! they had not availed themselves of that process. Then,
with the conviction that an indirect way must exist, we examined
the walls a few feet below the pitch, and at last hit upon a way of
mounting higher. I was belayed by a rope passing round the upright
block already referred to, and proceeded to walk along the horizontal
edge of a thin crack on the right wall, leaning across to the other
side of the gully for general support on the hands. I had implicit
trust in the rope and the man at the other end of it, or the manœuvre
would have given me agonies of apprehension. Just as the second step
was being made along the crack, its thin edge broke away under my foot
and I slipped a few feet down the gully, till the rope tightened and
brought me to a stop. A second attempt was more successful. The edge
was followed till it expanded into a respectable foothold, and then,
holding myself straight, I was able to reach good ledges for the hands.
It was now easy to stride across to the left wall and climb directly
upwards along its crest to a platform large enough for both of us;
hither my companion followed me, adopting almost the same tactics and
taking but half the time. We were now virtually out of the gully, and
found the sunshine pleasant after so much darkness. But the joy that
might have attended our remaining efforts in working up to the head of
the chimney was marred by the reflection that we had not conquered the
chief difficulty; we had only avoided it. This is right and proper for
snow-climbers, but distinctly unorthodox for cragsmen. Our doubts grew
as we advanced, and at last I proposed to descend again and settle them
finally. This suggestion was met with a very prompt approval, and ten
minutes later found me at the foot of the vertical wall again. It did
not look any easier, and I am not prepared to say how narrowly I missed
a second failure. After leaving the upright block the scanty holds soon
disappeared, and with some desperate struggling I found myself backing
up the chimney with the feet thrust hard against the left wall. Both
sides seemed dangerously smooth, but cautious wriggling for a distance
of two or three feet brought a handhold within reach, and the top of
the wall was gained. The only other ascent known to me was by a man
with a singularly long reach, and in some marvellous way he managed to
climb the wall without any backing up.

Thence to the cave was fairly easy after a few mossy loose stones
had been flung down, and the finish was effected by a neat little
ledge along the left wall, passing out just at the edge of the pitch.
The hole through the cave is not so small as the first investigators
imagined; the trouble in passing through is due to its crookedness,
but the name of the chimney is generally supposed to indicate with
proper remoteness the garment that is here threatened with a complete
inversion.

We hurried across the top of C gully and round the Horse and Man to
the Pulpit rock. The D gully had a great deal of snow in it, and we
indulged in sundry glissades. The snow was not too hard nor the angle
too great, otherwise ice-axes would have been necessary. The upper
pitch was passed on our left with perfect ease. Then further snow
led to the lower pitch, a much more imposing sight. Two sharp-edged
boulders of immense size formed a cave. On the side of the Pulpit rock
there seemed to be no chance of passing it. The other side, though
mossy, might easily be made to go. In our descent we kept a little
further away, and came down ledge after ledge with excellent holds to
the foot of the pitch. Then more glissading brought us down to the open
fell again. We spent a quarter of an hour watching with much interest
a party coming down Scawfell Pinnacle by Steep Ghyll, and having seen
them safely into the lower part of the ghyll, where the steady click
of the leader’s axe intimated slow progress over ice-covered rocks, we
turned our backs to the fell and moved leisurely homewards.



CHAPTER II

_DEEP GHYLL. THE GREAT CHIMNEY AND PROFESSOR’S CHIMNEY_


DEEP GHYLL.--This will remain for long a favourite resort of
climbers, partly because the two pitches are always interesting and
may be turned in so many different ways, partly because the gully
gathers annually a big snow drift, which can generally be relied upon
between Christmas and Easter to afford some practice in the use of the
ice-axe, and partly because the rock scenery is of the finest character
throughout. The ghyll has been familiar to the visitors of Scawfell for
many years. It was first ascended in March, 1886, by Messrs. Geoffrey
Hastings and Slingsby, and an interesting account of the expedition
appeared in the ‘Alpine Journal.’ It had been descended twice before,
in 1882, by Messrs. Mumm and King, with heavy snow blocking the
pitches, and in 1884 by Mr. Haskett Smith. The quickest way of reaching
the foot of the ghyll is to walk up Brown Tongue till within a couple
of hundred feet of the level of Hollow Stones. It is here unnecessary
to keep straight over towards the centre of Mickledore, for a shallow
depression to the right of Brown Tongue may be traversed obliquely
upwards, and the scree struck close to the well-defined edge of the
lower crags of Scawfell. Thence it is best to keep close under the
cliffs, following an easy gradient up to the Lord’s Rake. This is the
large scree gully passing up to the right, under the main mass of
Scawfell. The scree forms at the foot of the Lord’s Rake the usual
fan-shaped talus, which here stretches down towards Hollow Stones. In
summer it may occasionally be worth while making directly up the centre
of the scree.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

DEEP GHYLL, FIRST PITCH]

Just opposite the corner round which one turns into the Lord’s Rake
a rather slightly marked gully starts up from the side of the rake.
It becomes better defined a few yards higher, and leads directly
into Steep Ghyll. Almost at the same spot a ledge is to be noticed
passing round to the left of the huge wall fronting us at this corner.
This is the start of the Rake’s Progress, the happy name given to
the well-known terrace leading to Mickledore. We shall have further
occasion to allude to this ledge, but we now pass up the Lord’s
Rake till in a few feet we come to a magnificent gully on our left,
recognizable under any conditions except the most snowy by the cave
at its foot. A fine View of Deep Ghyll and its surroundings may be
obtained by scrambling up to the low ridge that faces us as we look
outwards from the cave. The ridge is somewhat broken up, and the
terrible accident that caused the death of Professor Milnes Marshall
at this spot must be a warning to any who wander up without thought of
danger.

The orthodox route up the first pitch in Deep Ghyll is by the cave and
chimney. It is the most interesting way, and probably in dry clean
weather it is the easiest. When the chimney is cased with ice the route
may become impossible. In that case a recess in the right wall (right,
of course, when looking up at the climb) is often taken as a winter
emergency exit; for although the holds are slight in summer, loose
stones well bound up make it quite feasible in frosty weather.

The hardest way up the pitch is by the thin cleft between the big
boulder and the left wall.

Passing up for about 150 feet we find a steep slope of rock occupying
the left half of the gully. The scree in the other half leads up into a
cave whose black rectangular aperture may have been observed from the
Lord’s Rake ridge. The cave is formed by the ubiquitous jammed boulder,
and no through route can be effected. A thin chimney cuts between the
rock slope and the huge vertical left wall that rises with scarcely a
break to the Low Man on the Scawfell Pinnacle. This chimney constitutes
the easiest and safest route over the second pitch. On the right face
an irregular ledge leads to a larger chimney (Robinson’s), which with
some trouble can be followed till a level about twenty feet above the
top of the cave pitch is reached. Thence a small terrace offers an easy
promenade to the upper bed of the gully. A third way of taking the
difficulty has been found; indeed, it is the most obvious way, though
much the hardest. It is to climb the left wall of the cave entrance,
and then wriggle up between the rock slope and the cave boulder.

There are many pleasant reminiscences of parties in Deep Ghyll. The
hardest struggle I ever had with the first pitch was on Christmas
Day, 1897. The rocks were badly glazed, and though we had no trouble
in penetrating to the inmost recesses of the cave, we could find no
easy way of getting higher. We were loth to try, seeing that one of
our party had, with a mistaken philanthropy, loaded his rücksack with
preserved fruit, prunes, and Carlsbad plums, and proceeded forthwith
to dignify our primitive lunch with these unwonted luxuries. A halt
called to consume a beef sandwich may be quickly terminated--and
that, moreover, without a sense of sorrow, unless the beef is very
bad--but those who know Carlsbad plums will realise how easily we were
demoralised by their seductiveness, and how much we preferred to sit in
our cave and argue on complicated topics with the plum-box open. But
the owner was a man of some resolution, and heroically vowed that we
should see no more of the plums till we reached a small recess at the
top of Moss Ghyll, where we should ensconce ourselves after climbing
the gully. So we made a start at once. The back way out of the cave
promised well at first. It showed no trace of ice, but on emerging
from the chimney (at the spot where the lower figure is shown in the
View facing p. 12), and looking straight down to the entrance of the
cave, it was found that a thin sheet of ice covered all the rocks.
Generally speaking it would be better to let the rocks alone on such
an occasion--in fact always, unless Carlsbad plums are at stake. Then,
perhaps, the second man may be held firmly by the rope from behind
while he gives the leader a shoulder. This help is of no use unless
the leader can venture to trust the icy handhold above him, by which
he is to swing round the awkward corner to the right. Some such scheme
our party devised, after many futile attempts to fix an axe firmly as
a foothold, and the leader dragged himself up the glazed surface to
the deep snow above. In the ordinary state of things, be it remembered
that where the climber emerges from the hole, he has first to stride
round to a small ledge on the right. He can use as a take-off the
rough surface of the boulder, and can reach a rigid handhold of small
dimensions but good shape. Thence to the top of the pitch is easy
scrambling, though care is needed.

The snow in the gully was in grand condition for kicking steps, and
after the last man had been brought up the pitch in safety we marched
to the upper cave and discussed the question of route over the second
pitch. The direct way was ruled out of court at once, for its largest
ledges are but half an inch wide, and ice on these rendered them
useless. With a keen recollection of our trouble down below, we thought
of the Robinson Chimney on the right, which is quitted by crossing
on to a slabby rock that slopes down towards the centre of the gully.
With ice on this an attempt to force the way up would more likely find
us shooting over to the foot of the cave. Such a finish to our little
day would no doubt exactly coincide with the anticipations of our more
sanguine relatives and friends, but for the moment we had to consider
each other’s feelings and I suggested the easy way up. There was a
smiling unanimity of agreement in the party which pleased me far, very
far more than a hundred strictly impossible ascents. We descended the
gully again to the foot of the rock slope, and rounded into the little
chimney. Things went very well for a few feet. But as we rose the ice
became more troublesome, until it was necessary to chip it away from
each diminutive ledge, and to proceed upwards with the utmost caution.
The first part finished with a little snow patch twenty feet above the
top of the cave boulder and the bed of the ghyll. Some years before,
when first I visited Deep Ghyll, we had found it impossible to climb
directly upwards from this point, and a man was let down by the rope
into the ghyll. He cut steps up until he had obtained a higher level
than the others waiting, and then induced them to traverse out a bit
and jump into the snow below. The process was possible only with a long
rope. Here we could all rest and contemplate the rock slab opposite
which finishes the Robinson Chimney. Forty or fifty feet higher we
could see, well marked out by the snow, the upper traverse that enables
a careful walker to pass up Deep Ghyll without any hand-and-foot work.
It is readily accessible from the Lord’s Rake, a few feet higher than
the ordinary entrance to Deep Ghyll, and leads at an easy angle to a
point in the main gully some hundred feet above the second pitch.

Looking up at the left wall of the Ghyll we could see that our slender
chimney was but the beginning of a long crack that cut obliquely into
the wall, and curled upwards in a fine sweep of eighty feet towards the
summit of the Low Man. The curtain of rock that closed in the crack
on its right hand made our next few yards rather troublesome, for it
encroached on our ledge and rendered the work too open. Facework is
always more trying than chimney climbing, especially when ice is about.
But the leader’s recollection of the ease with which this part could
be overcome in summer time divested it of all its fancied terrors and
perhaps of some of its real dangers, and he had therefore a better time
of it than his companions, whose extremities were somewhat benumbed
by their patient waiting in awkward places, and whose activities were
confined to their vivid imaginations. All actual danger was over when a
horizontal ledge was reached well above the centre-level of the gully,
which we followed with ease to the broken rocks that almost form a
third pitch for Deep Ghyll.

Here the pleasantest way of finishing the day was to cut steps in the
snow up the central gully, the angle gradually steepening from 35° to
55° at the top. That way we therefore took, and were soon enjoying
the plums. But a rise of a few feet will show the Professor’s Chimney
immediately to the left, cutting deeply into the rock between the
Scawfell Pinnacle on the left and Pisgah on the right, and terminating
at a fine-looking notch, ‘The Jordan,’ in the sky-line. Exactly
opposite, on the right-hand side of the ghyll, is the Great Chimney, a
black and formidable square-walled recess crowned by a jammed boulder.
This was for a long time regarded as impossible and scarcely ever
attacked, but at last it yielded to the combined ingenuity of Messrs.
Blake and Southall, and has since shown itself to be very amenable when
approached with due precaution.

_First pitch, New route._--The Christmas Day of 1896 was very windy and
cold. Our party had fought continually against the weather all the way
to Deep Ghyll, and inasmuch as we had only the previous day arrived
at Wastdale our limbs were scarcely fit for such a desperate grind.
I had the pleasurable responsibility of guiding a lady, Mrs. H., who
had been persuaded to accompany her husband on a winter excursion. We
had a great deal of very soft snow to get through on our way up, and I
was looking forward to a long halt in the lower cave, where we should
at least be protected from the wind and snow. Great was our distress
when we found the entrance completely blocked up by a huge drift. It
must have been fully twenty feet deep in front of the cave, and the
prospect was most disheartening. In disgust I clambered up the wall
immediately to the right of the boulder, and at last managed to reach
the aperture leading into the cave from above. It was festooned with
huge icicles, and at first the entrance looked effectually blocked.
Smashing down the ice with the energy of despair, the tremendous
clatter suggesting to my friends that of a bull in a hardware shop, I
discovered that the chimney was only iced at its entrance, and that the
upper storey of the cave could be reached. Some of the others quickly
followed, and we found ourselves in a spacious chamber into which the
great heap of snow had scarcely encroached. This was delightful. We
threw ourselves into the drift that blocked the main entrance, and cut
away at it with vigour till at last we had tunnelled through to the
daylight. The biggest man of the party yet remained outside and we
persuaded him to insert his legs into the aperture. Without giving him
time to change his mind we seized his boots and hauled hard. For one
dread moment we thought him jammed for ever, but immediately afterwards
we found ourselves lying on our backs in the cave with a yawning
opening in the snow-drift, the while our massive friend measured his
diminished circumference with a loop of rope. The others then came in
and made themselves at home on ropes, ice-axes, and other people’s
cameras. We were a party of ten, large enough to be a merry one.
Our surroundings were weird and savage, unlike the British notions for
a Christmas Day, but I remember that we behaved like civilized people
in perhaps one respect. We discussed the year’s literature. Fancy
Troglodytes discussing ‘Trilby’! Then it occurred to us that our feet
were very cold, and that we should not have much daylight for climbing
if we waited longer. Our intention had been to climb Deep Ghyll in
two separate parties, by the ordinary way. But the drift suggested a
trial of the crack up the left-hand side of the first pitch. The snow
would serve as a high take-off, and also a good cushion to soften the
fall if the leader were destined to fail. The first difficulty was to
get safely into the crack; then it was found that the holds were very
scarce, and the recess somewhat too constricted to allow any bracing
across from one side to the other.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

SCAWFELL PINNACLE AND THE PROFESSOR’S CHIMNEY]

Think of a foothold; double it. Put your whole weight on to it as
you straighten out. Take away the hold you thought of, and you will
find yourself wondering how you got there. In some such vague way are
very bad bits climbed, and while gasping for breath at the top the
climber usually feels that it was the worst place he has ever been in.
Seriously, however, this route is severe at all times. In summer the
drift is absent, but with rocks slightly wet, as they usually are in
that corner, the effort of working upwards is extreme. It is probably
best to keep one’s back to the boulder all the way up.

My section of the party came up first. We were very cold, and some
fear that Mrs. H. would have frost-bite prompted us to change our minds
concerning Deep Ghyll, and to traverse away to the left towards the
foot of Steep Ghyll. The others came up the pitch by our route, led in
good style by Mr. H. V. Reade. They expressed regret at our untimely
departure, and worked laboriously up the ghyll. It was ungenerous of us
that evening to gloat over the fact that they had had a terribly cold
time of it higher up.

Our route out of the ghyll was known to Mr. Haskett Smith in 1882.
It is not often used, and, indeed, in winter it offers certain risks
of its own. Starting from the top of the pitch we bore directly down
towards the entrance to Lord’s Rake, and when within a reasonable
distance of the snow, jumped down to it, sinking in up to our necks.
Hurrying down to Hollow Stones as fast as our limbs would carry us, we
endured the pangs of returning circulation in our hands and feet, and
finished the descent in exhilaration, and with a sense of having well
earned our share of the Christmas festivities.

_Second pitch, Variety routes._--A description of the direct way over
the second pitch is scarcely necessary. The leader must start just at
the entrance to the cave, and work up the corner to the recess between
the jammed stone and the cave boulder. The holds are minute, and the
necessary stress on the finger tips excessive. He should try it first
when there is snow below him, and with his second arranged to pay
out twenty feet of rope from the innermost corner of the cave. If the
leader is destined to slip, it will take place at the point where the
slope suddenly becomes easier, for then his fingers are fatigued, his
centre of gravity wants for the first time an onward as well as an
upward motion, and his foothold will fail him at the crisis. Therefore
his centre of gravity will describe the ordinary parabola back into
the snow, and the tremendous jerk on the rope will make the man wonder
whether the remains of his centre of gravity are worth retaining.
Supposing that he has safely rounded this awkward edge, the utmost
caution is necessary for six feet till the scree is reached. Then comes
the trouble of manipulating the rope without shaking down stones on
the next man who is to pass up. If the leader wants the rope to be in
actual tension on his account, he has a hard task in bracing himself
firmly without dislodging the scree from under his feet. This trouble
of course is minimised when good firm snow can be cut to supply him a
footing.

On the whole this direct route over the second pitch may be regarded
as too risky, except under the best possible circumstances--such, for
example, as existed when Messrs. Robinson and Creak found the two
pitches in Deep Ghyll entirely covered with snow, and an easy route
available straight up the middle from bottom to top. Then there was no
second pitch!

The chimney on the right is excellent, but is not a course open to
beginners. It is in two parts. At the two places where it must be
quitted the route lies up the buttress on the left. I recall the remark
of an unenterprising follower as he looked up at the vertical walls
above him; he had been in difficulty down below and was inquiring
my intentions. His patience had been all but exhausted, and he said
so, adding: ‘It is not merely steep parts that so upset me. They can
be borne, but I don’t like this infernal dangling.’ The discussion
was diverted into a side issue, as to whether the adjective was
permissible, but in justice to his memory--he never visited the Lakes
again--be it said that very few climbers like the sensation of suspense.


THE GREAT CHIMNEY.--The position of this has already been
defined. Its ascent affords the best finish to the Deep Ghyll climb if
snow is absent from the gully and the screes are wearisome. The aspect
of the chimney is most forbidding from below, and there is probably
but one way of vanquishing it. I had been told how the first party had
proceeded up it, and had also heard an account of their defeat at a
second attempt. There is much likelihood of defeat even when one knows
the way, by reason of the awkwardness of the corner that needs careful
negotiation, and I am bound to admit that a first ascent rapidly
accomplished may help the climber very little in his second attempt. At
the time of my visit the rocks were warm and dry, our party of three
had just come up Collier’s Climb, and were keen on completing their
knowledge of Scawfell by making for the only chimney with which they
were unacquainted. We all gathered together high up in the recess,
and then, when the rope had been satisfactorily arranged for a long
run out, I started working up the right wall by some small but strong
ledges till the roof of the cavern was approached. Then it became
necessary to work out of the cave and round by the jammed stone. Just
outside was a ledge within reach for the hands; but to work the body
up the corner so as to kneel on the ledge was very awkward, the main
trouble arising from the depressing effect of the corner of the jammed
stone which forced head and shoulders almost to the level of one’s
feet. The prayerful attitude realized, I could anchor myself a little
by looping the rope round a stone in the roof and had then only to
stand up and clamber between the boulder and the living rock, trusting
to footholds on the latter. A few feet landed me in safety and the
others came up like smoke, carrying my cap that the gymnastics round
the corner had shaken down to them. A short scree and a few easy rocks
completed the gully, which both in regard to the aspect from above and
to the form of its one great difficulty reminded us of the Shamrock
Gully over in Ennerdale. The main differences in these two pitches are
that the Shamrock Gully pitch looks easier but proves to be harder,
also that it has less cave and more boulder. Neither pitch is suitable
for beginners.

By walking across to the foot of the lower part of Professor’s
Chimney--a name, by the way, given first to the easy exit on the right
of Pisgah--a pitch of some severity can be taken or left, as fancy
dictates. The platform above this pitch leads well into the chimney and
the climb again gets stiff. A direct ascent of the pinnacle is probably
feasible from this level, but the first thirty feet will need the
utmost enterprise on the part of the daring aspirant to fresh honours
in this well-explored region.

THE PROFESSOR’S CHIMNEY.--This looks almost as difficult as the
Great Chimney opposite, but is more a test of style than skill, the
only trouble being that of loose rocks. Though unworthy of perfect
confidence at all times, it may become most friendly in times of frost;
many loose stones occur that can be safely _pressed_ though dangerous
to _pull_, so that with a slight modification of style they are
rendered highly useful. Then of course two loose stones may share one’s
weight when one cannot take it.

The introduction of all this elementary practical mountaineering is
due to my recollection of a huge stone that came away near the top of
the Professor’s Chimney when my party were coming up it. I was out of
harm’s way on the Jordan above, but in wrestling with the last part of
the chimney, a portion that slightly overhangs, the second in the party
pulled away the rock. It bounded down, ricochetting from side to side,
and for a moment placed the startled climbers in imminent peril.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

SCAWFELL CRAGS FROM THE PULPIT ROCK]

In conclusion, just a word to pedestrians who have come out to climb
only by telescope. The ascent of Scawfell from the Lord’s Rake may be
safely and rapidly accomplished by following its lead past the entrance
to Deep Ghyll.

The best plan is to keep as straight a course on the scree as the
up-and-down nature of the Rake will permit, with the steep rocks
immediately on the left. A pinnacle is almost at once passed on the
right that in former times was oft mistaken by the unlearned for the
great Scawfell Pinnacle, more especially because a cairn had been
erected on its crest as a decoy, by the wily discoverer of the true
pinnacle. Then it becomes necessary to descend a little, taking care
not to slither down to the right with the loose _debris_. After a few
yards the slope again rises for a while, and an easy gully shortly
discloses itself on the left, following which the tourist will
find himself in a few minutes on the stony plateau that at an easy
inclination travels away westward to Burnmoor. In clear weather he
will see the huge cairn that crowns the top of Scawfell, at a slight
elevation above the top of the gully, and can safely make a bee-line
for it. Climbers often descend by this route in bad weather when the
Broad Stand appears to elude their anxious search.

The quickest way down from Scawfell is to make for the head of this
gully, and then, instead of descending, leave it on the right and
follow the edge of cliff straight towards the head of Wastwater;
where the edge is deflected to the left, a scree-run to the foot of
Brown Tongue takes us over rough but safe ground to the diminutive
footpath that starts at the stone wall. It should be learnt first in
clear weather, if possible, as there is no royal road to safety for the
befogged novice on the fells.



CHAPTER III

_THE RAKE’S PROGRESS AND CERTAIN SHORT CLIMBS NEAR IT_


THE RAKE’S PROGRESS.--This happy title dates from about 1881.
The Progress is an easy ledge leading from the lower end of the Lord’s
Rake to the point where the Mickledore ridge joins the main mass
of Scawfell. It runs along the base of the vertical walls of this
mountain, and though at a great elevation above the huge Mickledore
hollow, is scarcely entitled to the thrilling adjective _vertigineuse_
of the French climbing vocabulary. Yet it is capable of carrying one
into the finest situations; and even the hardened expert, with his
steady head and well-trained muscles, realises while on it that danger
is hovering about him at every step, though it does not touch him.
Years ago I read, in Freshfield’s ‘Italian Alps,’ of the Pelmo traverse
in the Ampezzo Dolomites, and memory seized on the Rake’s Progress as
the nearest approach to it that mountain experience had then afforded.
Let there be no rise on the Mickledore; make the Progress thrice as
long, and a little more rakish; change the rock from porphyry to
magnesian limestone; let the drop below the ledge be a few hundred feet
instead of a few score; make it necessary to crawl on all fours in one
or two corners, and the resemblance will be perfect! In a few yards
after the preliminary scramble on to the ledge, the crags are broken on
our right by the short chimney entrances to Steep Ghyll and Moss Ghyll.
These cannot be mistaken, inasmuch as they mark the last possible
points of attack on these cliffs for one-half of the traverse.

Passing the entrance to Moss Ghyll, to which we must return for the
ascent of this fine gully, a steep rise marks the accomplishment of
one-third of the course. A little further a thin cleft cuts obliquely
up the cliff towards the left. It is wonderfully straight, and the
slabs of rock on either side are hopelessly smooth. The crack widens
higher up, but until 1897 the terrific simplicity of its lower portion
had warned off all who examined it with the view of storming this side
of Scawfell. The upper half, reached by an ingenious zig-zag route on
the face, is now well known as one of the safest and best climbs on
Scawfell. Shortly afterwards we reach a rectangular recess looking as
though it had been quarried for a gigantic monolith. Here again the
great difficulty of starting up is manifested at a glance, though in
the same direction up above the recess is so much more deeply cut and
the sides so much nearer to each other that one’s safety is assured for
the second half of the climb. In this case also, the middle is reached
by a slight detour on the left. A few yards further along the Progress
are two thin cracks uniting at a height of twenty feet and leading to
a platform ten feet higher. Thence a perfectly safe cleft passes
directly up for another forty feet, till a grassy ledge, clearly
visible only when marked by snow, takes one easily to the middle of the
long chimney. To mount the chimney is an undertaking well within the
powers of the average rock-climber, and with the additional merit of
being perfectly safe for a party of three.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abrahams & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE ASCENT OF THE BROAD STAND

(_Face page 30_)]

Such are the Keswick Brothers’ Climb and Collier’s Climb, two of
the best conceived problems of the district and worthy of their
discoverers. The lower half of the latter is undeniably severe; even
the best have failed at it, and I propose in a separate section to
describe an ascent in detail, to point out the method our party adopted
to eliminate the risk that the climber is popularly supposed to accept
as inevitable, and to indicate how the Keswick Brothers’ route enables
us to avoid the worst piece altogether.

The next halt we make close to the Mickledore, within thirty-five feet
of the end of the Progress. Here a thin cleft, known as Petty’s Rift
for the last twenty years, leads to a square recess ten feet up, and
marks the start of the North or Penrith Climb up the Scawfell crags.
These are now only a few score feet above us. The illustration facing
page 26 shows how the upper outline of the cliff and the Mickledore
ridge approach to within a few feet of each other.

Having reached the Mickledore ridge it is well worth while walking
along it to its furthest end, and then bearing to the left on to the
Pulpit rock, for the sake of the fine view of the climbs we have
just been enumerating. The Eskdale side of Scawfell is terminated by
an abrupt vertical cliff that seemingly offers no sort of route for
the cragsman. Half way down to the corner of this cliff, a gully cuts
deeply into the mountain, and passes upwards at an apparent angle of
45° towards the tops of Moss Ghyll and Collier’s Climb.

The gully--Scawfell Chimney or Mickledore Chimney, as it is sometimes
distinctively called--has its own peculiar difficulties in wet or snowy
weather, but when at its best it may be attacked by comparatively
inexperienced men, if they are properly equipped and exercise ordinary
precautions. On the other hand, the gully represents the drainage
channel for a considerable area, and is usually wet.

Undoubtedly the easiest way from Mickledore up to the ridge facing us
is by the Broad Stand. The start is made in the cleft half way between
Mickledore and the foot of Scawfell Chimney. Three short pitches, each
less than ten feet, take us on to an easy slope that can be followed
to the upper part of the chimney. To keep up between the chimney on
our left and the steep cliffs to our right is an easy matter in clear
weather, till Pisgah appears on our right, the descent into Deep Ghyll
straight in front of us, and the cairn-crowned summit of the mountain a
hundred yards away towards the left.

This finishes the preliminary survey of the eastern face of Scawfell,
during the perusal of which the reader is recommended to examine the
diagram facing page 46.

THE BROAD STAND.--My first climb in the Lake District was up the
Broad Stand. Dr. S. and I had planned a week’s walking tour over the
Cumberland fells, guided by Baddeley and Jenkinson, and ignorant of the
existence of any regular rock practice hereabouts. We walked up from
Langdale one Sunday morning in heavy snow to the top of Rossett Ghyll,
and then studied the guide book for information concerning the small
tarn that lay a few feet beneath us. ‘Deep and clear, and good for
bathing,’ we read; so we bathed. It was long ago, and neither of us has
bathed during a snowstorm since. Our feet got benumbed standing on the
snow while we were dressing ourselves, and we had much ado to restore
circulation. Then as the day advanced and the air cleared a little,
it seemed possible that we might find a way up Scawfell Pikes, which,
we had read, was the highest point in England. With much ploughing
through soft snow, loaded with heavy knapsacks, and supported by but
one broken walking stick, we reached the topmost cairn in perfect
safety and realised the height of that Easter ambition. Then it was
that Dr. S. read aloud to me a thrilling description of the Mickledore
chasm, which presented an almost impassable barrier between the Pikes
and Scawfell, a terrific gap that only hardy cragsmen of the dales were
able to traverse. The ice-cold bath on that Sabbath morn had done much
to quench our spirit, but we had partially recovered ourselves, and a
burning desire to scale the majestic peak opposite flamed up in each
of us simultaneously, and drove us down towards the Pulpit rock that
sentinels the Mickledore. The guide-book was not wanting in detail.
There were three Ways of attacking Scawfell from Mickledore; first
the Chimney, then Broad Stand, and then the Lord’s Rake. I believe we
guessed the position of the chimney correctly, for after all there is
something to show for the name; but we were hopelessly at sea with
the other two. Dr. S. argued that Lord’s Rake sounded so much worse
than Broad Stand that we were bound to go for it wherever it might be
and however easy its aspect. Nobody at home would believe us if we
described a Broad Stand as a vertical wall hundreds of feet in height,
glistening with ice, and guarded above by overhanging boulders ready
to pulverise the bold invader. On the other hand, the Lord’s Rake
seemed remotely to suggest Jacob’s Ladder, and offered the imagination
a goodly choice of adjective and epithet. Where, then, was the Lord’s
Rake? We had little time to consider, and rapidly decided that the
Broad Stand was away down in Eskdale on the left, and the Lord’s Rake
straight up from Mickledore. Wherein we were wrong, as the previous
pages may show the reader. Then we tried to get up the wall just where
the Mickledore ridge strikes the cliff, but the cold soon drove us to
seek some easier start lower on the left. Thus it was that fate took
us to the actual Broad Stand, up which, inexperienced though we were,
we could scarcely help finding the correct route. Place a man at the
right starting point, and he will easily find the upward line of least
resistance, though not so swiftly as he would trace out the downward
line if he slipped.

Twelve yards down from the Mickledore we came to a deep recess in
the mountain side, large enough to penetrate if one is not burdened
with a knapsack. (A confirmation of the right spot is supplied by a
thinner crack six feet lower down the screes.) Wriggling up into the
recess and then out on to the slightly sloping platform above it was
a matter of only a few seconds, and we then found facing us a wall of
from eight to ten feet in height offering very little hand or foothold
for a direct attack. But by descending the sloping grassy ledge at its
foot we could see some iced ledges (clear rocks show the marks of many
boots) that suggested the circumvention of the difficulty. To these we
in turn trusted ourselves, and by passing round the somewhat awkward
left-hand corner of the wall we found an easy though steep route to
its flat top. Then a smaller wall of about seven feet barred the way.
It was easier than the last, though in those days the frost had not
scooped out the hollow on the edge, and by the help of my comrade’s
shoulders I reached the summit. The difficulties were obviously over;
we could walk up by the right on to the snow slope, above which, as our
early inspection from the Pulpit rock showed, there was an easy route
to the top of Scawfell. Unfortunately my friend was not up the last
step. I could not reciprocate his kindness and offer him my shoulders.
We had no rope, and the rocks were all glazed. I had not intended to
mention our ropeless condition, but the truth will out sooner or later;
neither had we nails in our boots. But apparently we had sense enough
to realize that an accident might happen if we tempted Providence any
further, and with some sorrow we decided to descend again. We found
our way down the Mickledore screes and Brown Tongue to Wastdale, and
there learnt that we had tried conclusions with the Broad Stand at
its worst. We also learnt that from the top of the third step which I
had reached the route lay up the snow slope to the broken rocks, then
slightly to the left until the easy part of the chimney could be looked
into, then obliquely up to the right over rough ground to the small
cairn overlooking Deep Ghyll. Many times since then, rattling down the
Broad Stand when the rocks were dry and our party well acquainted with
every inch of the ground, have we recalled that Easter Sunday and our
first essay of the Broad Stand. There have also been many occasions to
remember the golden rule in the descent of these crags. First find the
top of the Scawfell Chimney; keep it on the right till its one pitch is
just below. Then bear to the left down the grassy slope and hunt for
the notch in the top step of the Broad Stand.

The usual thing in a fog is to find oneself down in Eskdale. I remember
a photographic friend once leaving his camera at the foot of Deep Ghyll
while he went for an hour’s round of Lord’s Rake, Scawfell Cairn, and
the Broad Stand. The dense mountain mists gathered about him at the
top, and rendered useless his efforts to steer the true course. That
night he discovered himself at Boot, and three days elapsed before he
found his camera, suffering from the effects of over-exposure as much
as himself.

THE NORTH CLIMB.--This starts at Petty’s Rift, already
referred to on page 31, about twelve yards from Mickledore along the
Rake’s Progress. From a distance it looks as though the climb would
necessarily include the funnel-shaped gully below the Progress, and
the whole aspect of the work is somewhat forbidding. Nevertheless the
difficulties are concentrated in the first six feet. When once the
climber can get a foot on to the floor of the little square recess, his
safety is assured. In the photograph facing page 40 the positions of
the three members of the party indicate sufficiently well the course
usually taken. The last man is taking off with his left foot, and has
his right hand at the edge of the recess on to which he intends to
climb. The face is very exposed in wintry weather, and several stories
are told of parties who have suffered here from frostbite. It is not a
safe place to descend when ice is about the rocks.

The following account of the North or Penrith Climb is taken from Mr.
C. N. Williamson’s article in ‘All the Year Round.’ Introducing, as it
does, Mr. Seatree’s original description, I make no apology for quoting
it in full: ‘There is yet another and a more direct way of climbing the
Scawfell cliffs from Mickledore, which, for want of a better name, we
may christen the “North Climb.” The route is known to very few. It was
discovered for himself in 1874 by Mr. George Seatree.... Major Cundill
had already climbed it in 1869.

‘From the ridge we traversed a ledge of grass-covered rock (the Rake’s
Progress) to the right until we reached a detached boulder, stepping
upon which we were enabled to get handhold of a crevice six or seven
feet from where we stood. To draw ourselves up so as to get our feet
upon this was the difficulty. There is only one small foothold in that
distance, and to have slipped here would have precipitated the climber
many feet below. Having succeeded in gaining this foothold, we found
ourselves in a small rectangular recess with barely room to turn round.
From here it was necessary to draw ourselves carefully over two other
ledges into a small rift in the rocks, and then traverse on our hands
and knees another narrow ledge of almost eight feet to the left, which
brought us nearly in a line with the Mickledore ridge. From here all
was comparatively smooth sailing.

‘The detached boulder may be identified with certainty by noticing
that it is imbedded in the Rake’s Progress close to the top of a
funnel-shaped grassy gully about ten or twelve yards from Mickledore.
None but experienced climbers should attempt the North Climb from the
Mickledore.’

SCAWFELL CHIMNEY.--A year after our first sorry attempt on Broad
Stand Dr. S. and I were being shown the merits of Cust’s gully on Great
End as a school for step-cutting, by an enthusiastic wielder of the
ice-axe, Mr. C. G. Monro. Neither of us knew much about the subject,
but it was pleasant to be well instructed, and on reaching the summit
of Great End we wondered where we could cut steps next. Monro suggested
an adjournment for lunch at Mickledore and a subsequent passage up the
doubtless snow-filled chimney: to which we all agreed.

On reaching the chimney, Monro took the lead and hopefully ploughed
through heavy wet snow as a preliminary. Unfortunately, the snow became
softer and deeper as we advanced, until at last we were up to our
waists in slush, and wet through. The pitch was not very far to seek.
We saw long dripping icicles barring our direct route onwards. Both
sides of the gully were heavily glazed with wet ice, and we foresaw
an anxious time of waiting while the leader prospected. At the time
we were not aware that the usual exit was upon the right-hand side of
the pitch, by a couple of easy broad ledges. Nor could we see that the
pitch was in two parts, cave upon cave, with a large resting-place
between; for the icicles hung in an impenetrable curtain. Monro
attacked the icicles valiantly. Twice he succeeded in working half
way up between the centre and left wall, but twice he was repulsed
vigorously, and found himself landed in the snow below. I was getting
cold and impatient. Monro was willing to take a breathing space. I
unroped and made for the left wall. Cutting little steps for hands and
feet in the ice that covered the wall, and using the fingers for all
they were worth, in some ungainly fashion I reached the level of the
top of the pitch and traversed on to the snow above. The axe had been
used, I suspect, more like a croquet mallet than anything else, and
introduced its own particular dangers. But it was of no consequence,
the pitch was climbed, and the shivering pair below tried to fling up
the rope to me. This was a matter of much difficulty, placed as we
were, but by approaching each other as far as we dared, a happy fling
brought the end of the rope to my hand, and I responded by throwing
down, to their extreme peril, the ice-axe that they needed to effect
their ascent. We managed the rest badly. My position was insecure in
the upper snow of the gully, or at any rate it seemed to be so. The
others were benumbed with cold and wet, unable to feel the holds or to
rely on getting any help from me. We certainly were not a strong party,
and there was no possibility of mutual aid. The only consolation was
in the fact that all danger was absent; a fall could only result in a
plunge into ten feet of soft snow, but we never afterwards spoke with
pride of that afternoon’s work. The other two decided to give it up,
and go down to Mickledore again. My own feelings were not consulted,
but what matter? The Broad Stand was somewhere about. I might descend
that way and shout when in trouble. We joined again at Mickledore, and
rather gloomily glissaded to Hollow Stones.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE PENRITH CLIMB FROM MICKLEDORE]

That evening at Wastdale we hunted out Williamson’s reference to the
Scawfell Chimney. ‘It is impossible to get straight up the chimney,
as the way is blocked by an overhanging slab, and escape must be
effected either by the right-hand wall near the top, where handhold is
miserably inadequate, or by the “corner,” forty feet up the chimney.
The passage of the corner is a matter of stride and balance, as there
is no positive hold for the hands. There is a bad drop into the chimney
behind, and a slip in rounding the corner would end in broken limbs, if
not a battered skull. A man essaying the corner must apply himself like
a plaister to an unpleasantly projecting rock, and then by shifting the
weight from one foot to the other (for the legs are stretched widely
apart) he can creep round.’

The chimney has not often been climbed by that variation of mine since
then. In dry weather it is perfectly safe to ascend or descend direct
by the pitch. In the ascent both sides of the gully may be used at
first; then comes an awkward crawl over the first jammed boulder, into
the secondary cave. Then, taking care of a few loose stones, another
jammed boulder forming the roof is overcome--it is only a few feet
high--and a passage out on the right is made possible. A long stretch
of scree next fills the bed of the gully, the right wall of which is
here broken away almost entirely, so that the climber generally makes
an exit, and passes straight up to the Deep Ghyll cairn. But a pitch
still remains to terminate the scree, and must be climbed by him who
would assure himself of having explored the gully in its entirety.

THE PARSON’S GULLY.--An easy way of descending to upper Eskdale
other than by the Mickledore route was pointed out a few years ago by
the Rev. T. C. V. Bastow. It is by a short gully with two pitches,
due south of the summit cairn. When drift snow lies about it, it is
generally possible to walk or glissade down the whole length of the
gully on to the screes below.



CHAPTER IV

_MOSS GHYLL, COLLIER’S CLIMB, AND KESWICK BROTHERS’ CLIMB_


MOSS GHYLL.--There are accounts of explorations of this famous
gully as far back as 1889. It was styled Sweep Ghyll by Mr. R. C.
Gilson, partly for euphonious grouping with Deep Ghyll and Steep
Ghyll, and partly as a suggestion of ‘the probable profession of its
future first climber.’ In June, 1889, a strong set of four managed to
penetrate upwards into its recesses a yard or two beyond Tennis Court
ledge, 300 feet above the Rake’s Progress, and almost exactly half way
from start to finish. Here the explorers saw the great jammed boulders
apparently barring all further progress, and decided to return the way
they came. Then, a few days later, another party went round to the top
of the gully and descended to the lower edge of the small scree that
so quietly terminates the high and difficult last chimney. Here they
firmly anchored themselves, and let down an adventurous member on 160
feet of rope. He descended in this way as far as the upper portion of
the great obstacle in the middle of the gully, but saw no way whatever
for an ascending party to circumvent or attack successfully the immense
barrier. He apparently realized that the upper chimney could be fairly
climbed, though of course it would tax the resources of the best of
cragsmen; but the jammed boulders he judged to be insuperable, and
returned to tell his companions the melancholy news. They left Moss
Ghyll with the conviction that it would never be climbed, and until
December, 1892, everyone else who came and saw turned back with much
the same impression.

On the 27th of that month Messrs. Collie, Hastings, and Robinson made
a determined attack on the ghyll. The winter was exceptionally fine
and the rocks were clean and dry. They easily reached the Tennis Court
ledge, and thence traversed into the gully. Penetrating the cave below
the big pitch, Dr. Collie, who was leading, climbed up to the roof
and out by a small window between the jammed boulders. Thence, by the
ingenious expedient of hacking at a thin undercut plate of rock, he
exposed a small foothold on the wall that enabled him to traverse out
from the pitch and into a place of safety beyond. Thence to the top of
the pitch was an easy matter, and the remaining members of the party
quickly followed him. It has since been discovered that the hardest
part of the gully was yet before them. They, however, had practically
solved the main problem, and were contented to work out of the gully by
steep ‘mantelshelf’ climbing up to the left. The honour of the first
strict ascent of Moss Ghyll fell to Dr. Collier a few days later,
who climbed the ghyll from beginning to end under the impression that
the previous party had done the same. Dr. Collier was accompanied by
four others, and was emphatic in his opinion that the final chimney
represented the hardest part of the climb. Two days later he took
up Professors Marshall and Dixon, and from the former I obtained
sufficient information to start off one morning on my own account to
learn for the first time what Moss Ghyll was like.

It was distinctly a day of adventure, and I learnt a great deal
concerning the ghyll. The passage across the Collie step appeared
to me the most difficult, but the loose slabs over which one has to
walk adroitly were then covered with fresh snow. The famous step was
invisible, and I had to stoop and scrape in order to determine its
exact shape and position. At the first attempt on the traverse I
slipped, and fell into the snow-bed of the gully below. The result
was scarcely surprising, though eminently uncomfortable. But the
falling was, under the circumstances, almost part of the programme,
and a rope had been fixed in the interior of the cavern, passed out
through the ‘window,’ and then attached to my waist, to eliminate the
danger of plunging some 400 feet down to the foot of the gully. The
second attempt was successful, though I confess to a feeling of lively
apprehension as the critical point was being passed.

Thence to the parting of the ways was easy travelling, and an exit
was made by the left-hand route. I returned two days after to fetch
axe and rope, that had been left at the big pitch, but it was not
until the Whitsuntide of 1896 that a suitable opportunity occurred of
visiting Moss Ghyll at its best, for the purposes of comparison and of
exploration of the direct finish. During that interval the climb had
been repeated many times, and Moss Ghyll was by way of becoming ‘an
easy day for a lady.’ Hot-headed youths would arrive fresh at Wastdale,
inquire for the hardest thing about, and at the mention of Moss Ghyll
would straightway fling themselves into the breach and by hook or crook
wriggle themselves up and out in triumph. Others were unsuccessful,
and it was always amusing to learn where the stupendous difficulty
had arisen, where no mortal man could have gone further. The personal
equation was always in evidence, both in the actual climbing and in the
history thereof.

[Illustration:

  PLATE II.

SCAWFELL FROM THE PULPIT ROCK (p. 26).

The height of Pisgah above the Lord’s Rake is about 520 feet.

  _a_ Scawfell Chimney.
  _b_ Broad Stand (p. 30).
  _c_ Penrith or North Climb (p. 40).
  _d_ Collier’s Climb.
  _e_ Keswick Brothers’ Climb.
  _f_ Moss Ghyll.
  _g_ Dr. Collie’s Variation-exit.
  _h_ Steep Ghyll.
  _j_ Pinnacle Climb from Lord’s Rake.
  _k_ Low Man.
  _l_ Scawfell Pinnacle (pp. 69 and 76).
  _m_ Pisgah.
  _n_ North Ridge of Pinnacle (p. 83).
  _p_ Lord’s Rake.
  _q_ Easy Terrace into Deep Ghyll.
  _r_ Great Chimney.
  _s_ Entrance to Deep Ghyll (p. 12).
  _t_ Rake’s Progress.
  _v_ Mickledore Screes.
  _w_ Mickledore.
  _x_ West Wall Climb (App.).]

My companions at Whitsuntide were Messrs. W. Brigg and Greenwood.
Neither of them had been in the ghyll before, but both were very keen
to make its acquaintance, though so far as reading could take them the
smallest details of the climb were perfectly well known. We separated
off from a larger party on the Rake’s Progress, and at the entrance
to the gully, which I have already defined in position, we roped up
and began the rock climbing at once. There are a few small and stiff
pitches that may be taken as they come in the first fifty feet of
ascent from the Progress; but we were quite willing to make the
usual divergence to the right from the entrance to the first cave. This
led us up easy grass and rock close to the gully, which soon dwindled
into utter insignificance by reason of its right wall being almost
entirely cut away. Keeping out in the open until the slope suddenly
steepened, we made a traverse into the gully, and walked up the screes
until stopped by a long and awkward-looking grass-crowned chimney. Then
we were hemmed in on both sides, and my friends were invited to define
the nature of the next move. They knew something of the locality;
we had to climb up the right-hand wall on to a level platform some
eighteen feet higher, and then work back into the ghyll by a slightly
upward traverse. The platform was the well-known Tennis Court ledge,
and its vertical wall was one of the chief difficulties of former days.
When in 1893 I had first occasion to climb the wall, there was much
ice about and it was easiest to work some way up the chimney before
stepping out on to the wall. The second attempt, two days later, was
in worse circumstances, and I preferred working directly upwards to
a still higher level before diverging. On that occasion it seemed as
though the simplest plan would have been to avoid the Tennis Court
ledge altogether and keep to the chimney. But Mr. Kempson has since
pointed out that the grass holds at the top are unreliable except when
frost holds the earth together. With Brigg and Greenwood I should
have been loth to leave the Tennis Court unvisited. So we clambered
directly up to it. The holds in the lower part of the wall were slight
but very firm. The surface was rough and reliable. Two-thirds of the
way up we found a little spike of rock that offered an admirable hold,
sufficient to belay the rope safely while rounding the top edge of the
wall and drawing up on to the platform. The others then came up with
ease, and we halted a moment to look at the view.

The ledge is scarcely large enough for tennis, it might be eight feet
long and two or three feet wide; the name is just the overflow of the
pretty wit of some early explorer. Above us rose threateningly the
vertical rampart that separates Moss Ghyll and Steep Ghyll. We could
see the jammed boulders a little higher up in our ghyll. They appear
small from Hollow Stones, but from our ledge each looked almost as
large as a church. Wastdale Church we had in mind. The opposite wall of
the ghyll looked hopelessly inaccessible, and we were little surprised
that so many before us had been content to look and return. The
traverse into the ghyll again was not so easy. If the leader slipped it
would require clever management of the rope on the part of the others
to avoid an unwilling follow on, though I believe a party was once
tested here in that manner--and survived the test.

It was necessary to pass round a small buttress on to the scree bed
of the gully. The first two steps were upwards, with just a steadying
hold above for the hands. It was not desirable to keep too high,
an unnecessary lengthening of the _mauvais pas_ that some climbers
recommend. The footholds are not perfect; they are large, but slope the
wrong way. When dry, the friction is ample to prevent slipping. Where
the rocks are glazed, as I have good occasion to remember, the passage
is distinctly dangerous, especially the return from the gully to the
Tennis Court ledge.

Thence, when all had rounded the corner safely, we walked up scree into
the large cavern formed by the two jammed boulders. The one would of
itself have formed a bridge across the gully, with a recess between it
and the steep bed of the gully; the other, which is much larger, has
fallen on to the first and roofed over the recess. When well within the
cave we could see the ‘window’ high up between the two boulders, the
one weak point by which the pitch could be attacked. I clambered up
the interior of the cave and on to the window-sill. One of the others
followed me, the third staying below to anchor the rope more firmly.
From the window we could see the smooth steep wall on our right by
which we were to traverse outwards. A couple of feet below our level
we could observe that the rock formed a sharp horizontal edge six feet
long, below which it overhung considerably. Just along this edge we
were preparing to walk, using two steps that were sufficiently large
for our needs. The first was the step cut by Dr. Collie. The second
was at the further end of the short promenade, and was just capable
of holding the toes of both boots. Starting with the right foot on the
first step, the further end of the second step was taken in a long
stride with the left. The right was then brought up to it, and the left
reached round the corner at the end on to a respectable and satisfying
foothold. The trick of balancing was not very difficult, providing of
course that the body was kept as nearly as possible vertical. A tumble
when no snow was about would be painful even with a rope to limit its
freedom, so we moved with deliberation and with a due sense of the
difficulties of the place. After passing the dreaded _pas-de-deux_,
I reached in about ten feet of ascent a satisfactory recess, where a
‘belaying pin’ was to be found. It is an excellent projection of rock,
sometimes overlooked by climbers, behind which the rope can be slipped,
and held with firmness in the event of a fall. It is a little awkward
for the leader to pass directly up into the ghyll again before the
second man moves away from the window. Such a course would require a
long rope. Using the belaying pin we found that a sixty-feet length
of rope was ample for the party of three, and no time was lost in
unroping or re-adjusting. When our second man reached the pin I quitted
the recess to make room for him, and mounted into the gully while he
played up the last man. A few feet of easy scree brought us into the
large open portion of the ravine which marks the only spot where it is
possible to break away to the left from the gully. The final crags in
front rose abruptly up for another 200 feet, and were deeply cut
by the vertical Collier’s Chimney, which starts almost at once from
our level. The skyline trended downwards by the left, so that the open
route to the top was not so long in point of distance as the other.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

COLLIER’S CHIMNEY, MOSS GHYLL

(_Face page 51_)]

It certainly was easier to work up the wall to the left. It rose at
a steep angle, and was columnar in structure, with long, porphyritic
slabs crowned by small levels of tufted grass. The leader would often
be unable to help his followers with the rope, but the successive
ledges could be so chosen that no great distance would exist between
the resting-places. Such open work is often more trying for the nerves
than harder chimney climbing, but it is always admirable practice when
the ledges are reliable.

I had quitted the gully by this variation three years before, and
wanted both on my own account and that of my friends to work out the
alternative route. I started up the right wall, at first steadied by
the left, but soon found myself too far out of the chimney to feel
at all comfortable. Thirty feet up was a jammed stone blocking the
narrow way, apparently very effectually. But we had heard of a possible
wriggle behind the jammed stone, and with a reprehensible lack of
daring I made a traverse to the chimney again, and began working up
it with back and knee in the orthodox manner. The situation was safe
enough, but the effort of lifting oneself inch by inch was supremely
fatiguing, and when I discovered the hole behind the boulder to be
about half my minimum sectional area I began to regret the scheme. But
it was too late to return, and with a dread fear of closing up the
‘through’ route for ever, I straightened out one arm above my head and
thrust it through the hole. Fortunately I had no camera sack to hold
me back, a frequent source of annoyance in a tight place. Here we were
all travelling light, and I had nothing to thrust through the aperture
but a limp body that was at every moment lessening its rigidity. As
soon as both shoulders were well in, the rest followed more easily
by vigorous prisings with the elbows, which are so useful in upward
thrusting. Dragging myself into a standing position on the jammed
boulder, I called on the others to follow. They chose the outside
course, making two little détours out and back on the vertical wall,
probably the exact plan adopted by Dr. Collier in the first ascent. My
position in this little ‘sentry-box’ was secure, and the rope could be
manipulated with all necessary care till the three of us were gathered
close together in the tiny recess. Then we had a somewhat easier
scramble up the next vertical portion of the chimney, to pass some
small jammed stones twenty feet higher. We used the same wall and found
the footholds in it more obviously arranged for our convenience. The
first climber had surely a bad time of it on this wall, seeing that it
was all moss-covered, and required an immense amount of preliminary
clearing before the holds could be discerned. But moss has had no
chance of growing there for the last four years, and we had none to
trouble us. A couple of minutes carried us from the sentry-box to the
top of the next pitch. The slope of the ghyll suddenly became easier,
scree led to a short and easy rock pitch, somewhat spoilt by loose
stones, and then a walk to the top brought us in contact with friends
and the commissariat.

THE PISGAH BUTTRESS.--In the second chapter mention was made
of the small pinnacle of Pisgah that flanked the Professor’s Chimney.
Viewing the crags from Mickledore, it will be seen that this pinnacle
is the culminating point of the ridge between Moss Ghyll and Steep
Ghyll. It is convenient to introduce here a brief account of the first
ascent of this ridge directly from the ‘Tennis Court.’ Messrs. G.
and A. Abraham had repeatedly assured me that their inspection from
neighbouring points of view had been favourable, but it was not until
April 22, 1898, when ascending Scawfell Pinnacle by the Low Man, that
I examined the Pisgah ridge with the object of attacking it. The same
afternoon these two friends awaited my arrival on the ‘Tennis Court.’
I came along the Mickledore towards the Pulpit Rock to enjoy a rest
and the society of a party of friends, but was disappointed of both
by a call from the Ledge. In ten minutes from the Mickledore I joined
them, and while recovering breath, was interested to hear of their
attempts to reach the Ledge by other ways than Moss Ghyll. Then,
disposing the rope properly, we went to the extreme right corner and
started the real business. I had a vertical crack about twelve feet
high to surmount. It led to a small platform similar to the one from
which we began our climb, and presented the usual difficulties--no hand
or foothold. A shoulder was given me, then probably a head, then a
steadying hand for my struggling feet, the left arm being thrust well
into the crack and the right doing as best it could on the wall, until
it could reach the grassy edge of the platform above. Once on this the
prospect was pleasing, and we dubbed the spot a ‘Fives Court.’ Thence
a steep chimney rose directly towards the ridge. I mounted some twenty
feet and debated whether the others might safely come up and help.
There seemed to be a fair chance of entering an overhanging chimney
away up to my left, or of following the direct route to the ridge. The
first course attracted me a yard or two along a narrow ledge, until the
way was barred by an immense poised block. It trembled as I touched
the horrible thing; so did my friends down below, and they besought
me to play the straight game, and aim for the arête instead of aiming
at them. They were perfectly just in their choice, and it is as well
that their advice was followed, for we should have had a terrible time
working the overhanging chimney. Ten or fifteen feet of rather careful
scrambling brought me to the edge of the buttress, at a point where I
could descend a little on the Steep Ghyll side and belay the others
with absolute security while they mounted.

The point we had reached was on a level with the top of the Slingsby’s
Chimney on the Pinnacle. Another party of climbers were operating over
there, and gave us some useful information as to the work we had above
us. Our rock was not altogether firm and reliable, so that the next bit
of vertical ridge in front was discarded in favour of a slight détour
on the left face. Belayed as he was by the others, the leader ran very
little risk, and employing a succession of moderately firm, tufted
ledges, he dragged himself steadily up for another twenty feet before
his companions quitted their belay and joined him. Then we unroped
and walked up the remaining hundred feet with no trouble whatever,
astonished to find that our difficulties had been so few and so rapidly
overcome. In an hour from the ‘Tennis Court’ we were swinging down the
Broad Stand ledges.

COLLIER’S CLIMB.--For many years it was currently supposed
that any attempt to scale the precipice between the North Climb at
Mickledore and Steep Ghyll round by the Pinnacle, ranked the daring
enthusiast as one _quem Deus vult perdere_, and, moreover, that the
gods would not give him the chance to finish his undertaking. But
with the advent of a greater number of experienced climbers, coming
to Wastdale with recollections of the stupendous rocks in the Swiss
Alps or the Austrian Dolomites, a reaction gradually set in. To many
nothing seemed impossible with a party of three and an Alpine rope.
But a line must be drawn somewhere to separate the possible from the
impossible, and some try to draw it by their own experience. These
constitute what is called the ultra-gymnastic school of climbing. Its
members are generally young and irresponsible. With years will come
a desire to depart this life in one piece, after the common joys are
realized that life is able to offer. The quick-burning fever for wild
adventure dies away with the approach of workable theories of life.
Whatever the mental phenomenon may be, I am convinced that the physical
is vestigial--a trace of our former savagery, a suggestion of the
lively past, when the struggle for existence involved more muscle than
mind.

Wherefore let live the ultra-gymnasts, if indeed they can pass through
their March-madness without coming to grief; nor should we attempt to
inoculate them with some harmless sport, for the result is to render
the sport dangerous.

To return to the separating line that suggested this digression. Those
who have sought to define it theoretically have been of the foolish
ones, for it has no absolute position for mankind. Each individual
possesses a line of his own, and at first in looking for it he causes
it to re-arrange itself. What was once impossible for him becomes easy.
But his search is more rapid than its advance, and a time comes when
he realizes that he is perilously near; and in wisdom he vows evermore
to keep at so many feet or centimetres (according to his choice of
units) from its nearest point. The nearer he habituates himself to
approach, the oftener does he discover some obvious retreat of his
line. Those who live far from it find that it can narrow its limits.
Which things are an allegory, for this line is a closed curve and
limits us in all directions, only one of which leads to rock-climbing.

Our walk along the foot of the Scawfell wall by the Rake’s Progress
showed three breaks in the cliff after we left Steep Ghyll. The first
marked Moss Ghyll, the second Keswick Brothers’ Climb, the third
Collier’s Climb. The history of Moss Ghyll and its gradual yielding to
the persistent attacks of active parties has been recorded in the first
section. The news of its ascent came as a surprise to all who knew
the place, so great a surprise that no room was left for wonderment
when Dr. Collier a few months later proved the practicability of his
route. But whereas Moss Ghyll became popular in a week by reason of
the writing-up it immediately received, Collier’s Climb was almost
untouched for three years. The unknown is always the most terrible, and
the brief note in the Wastdale climbing book recording its first ascent
left much to an anxious imagination. Queer tales were told round at the
inn of men who were flung back over the Rake’s Progress after rising
only ten feet. Even Dr. Collier was reported to have said he never
wished to see the place again. Report was inaccurate, but that made no
difference. I candidly admit that there seemed little chance of ever
getting up such an awful wall. It was not till I found myself twenty
feet up the crack that the attack seemed in the least degree hopeful.

It was just after Easter in 1896 (April 22), and my party had been
climbing well on the Screes and in Deep Ghyll. The rocks were in
marvellously good condition, perfectly dry and warm to the touch. G.
and A. were with me, their last day before returning home. I thought
it imprudent to take their votes, and announced that we were going to
look at the first part of Collier’s Climb, and to ascertain where its
difficulty lay. Fortunately they were both sanguine, and placed their
heads and shoulders at my disposal as footholds. We made straight for
the right spot in an hour and a half of easy going from Wastdale. There
could be no possible doubt of the place. A thin crack rose direct
from the Progress, overhanging for the first ten feet, then leaning
back a trifle towards the left. A yard or two to the left of this a
square corner led directly up so as to join the crack just below a thin
chimney, that started some twenty feet above our heads. To get to this
chimney was the difficulty. Either the cleft or the corner should be
taken. Which was the easier?

I first tried the cleft, but it overhung so seriously that I dared not
venture further. Equally futile was the attempt up the corner. Was it
possible that we had mistaken the right take-off? To gain time and
recover our spirits we walked over to the other side of Mickledore
and prospected the climb. There could be no doubt that I had actually
started on the correct way. Thirty feet up we could plainly distinguish
a grassy platform that promised us temporary safety. If we could get
as high as that we had Dr. Collier’s authority that the remainder of
our chimney offered no such difficulties as those we had overcome.
Even if it had, we could as a last resource fix an axe in the chimney
and descend on a doubled rope in the usual Alpine fashion. In this
manner, assuring ourselves that we had the worst immediately before
us, we returned with some little courage to the attack. This time we
decided to take the corner. A. was to stand on a small ledge about
a foot above the Progress, and brace himself firmly enough to hold
my weight. G. acted as a sort of flying buttress for his brother,
and paid out my rope with extreme care. From A.’s shoulders I could
just reach a high handhold with the left. But one grip at that height
was useless, as the body had to be lifted up on to the rib of rock
separating the two clefts. A. then padded his head with a handkerchief
beneath his cap, and begged me to stand on it. However steady a young
man may be, there are times when his friends think him weak in the
head. Such a time was this, and I anxiously asked him if he could hold
it perfectly still while I used it. ‘You may do anything except waltz
on it,’ was the encouraging rejoinder, and I promptly placed my left
foot on his parietal. ‘That’s all right,’ the tough young head called
out, ‘you may stay there all day if you like.’ This was reassuring,
but I had come out to climb and meant to move on. Yet for the life
of me I could not see what to do next. The left foot required a lift
before the high handhold could be employed, and there was nothing for
it to rest against except the square corner of the recess. Two or
three times I tried hard to grip the corner with the toe of my boot,
but ineffectually. Then A., seeing my trouble, reached up a hand and
held my boot on an infinitesimal ledge. It felt firm, and I trusted to
it. With the first movement upwards my right hand felt a charmingly
secure depression in the rib above, and swinging clear from A.’s head
I dragged up on to the buttress and felt that the game was half won
already. The rib was easy to ascend for a foot or two, till indeed it
terminated at the small chimney above. But caution was the instinct
uppermost in my mind, and the climb to the grassy platform above might,
in spite of appearances, prove nasty. Casting around for some means
of anchoring on my own rope, I saw that in the crack to my right a
bunch of small stones were firmly jammed, and that daylight could be
seen behind them down a hole that pointed through to the Progress,
fifteen feet below. Here was a chance that, if we had known of it at
first, might have been used to conserve our strength and nerve from
the start. The others were as yet unroped. Calling to them to let go
the rope, I drew up the free end by my teeth and my ‘unemployed’ hand,
and let it fall straight down the hole to them. If a fall occurred now
in trying the next few feet I could only tumble three or four yards,
and should not pass over my friends’ heads and the Rake’s Progress.
But the chimney into which a few moves brought me was of no high
order of difficulty; the situation was certainly a trying one, for a
downward gaze could only take in the rib of rock immediately below and
the distant screes 200 feet beyond. I flung some loose stones far out
into space, and could only just hear a faint clatter as they touched
the scree. Now was the time to appreciate the joy of climbing, in
perfect health, with perfect weather, and in a difficult place without
danger, and I secretly laughed as I called to the others that the
outlook was terribly bad and that our enterprise must be given up.
But they also laughed, and told me to go higher and change my mind,
for they knew by the tone that my temper was unruffled. A few feet
more and I drew up to the platform. It was about a yard wide and three
yards in length, reminding us strongly of the Tennis Court ledge, a
similar formation half way up Moss Ghyll. Between the ledge and the
wall rising above it a fissure cut down into the mountain. It still
held some old winter snow, and its depths were cold as a refrigerator.
Shouting to the others to rope up at a distance of thirty feet apart,
I sat down on the grass with my legs dangling in the frigid fissure,
bracing myself to stand any jerks that might be given to the rope by
a sudden slip of the second man at the rounding of the rib. G. came
up second, using his brother’s shoulders and head much as I had used
them. When he reached the ledge he helped me to haul his brother. A.
was unable to stand on his own head as we had done, though we reminded
him of Dent’s famous climber’s dream, and he hung on to the rope with
both hands while we pulled. It must have been rather an unpleasant
sensation that of swinging away from the rocks, but he bore it like
a philosopher, and caught cleverly on to the rib and so up to us. I
am afraid our satisfaction was now somewhat premature, but we were
certain of a safe descent whatever the remainder of our climb might
involve. But there was no sign of failure in store. The chimneys above
us looked steep, but they were deeply carved and therefore safe. Also,
they cut obliquely up the vertical wall, and were not likely to involve
any inch-by-inch wrestling against gravity. These surmises all proved
correct, though we were astonished at the ease with which the remaining
difficulties were overcome. It was now two o’clock in the afternoon,
and we had been half an hour getting up the first thirty feet. The
remainder only took us an equal time, though five times the height, and
consisting of genuine rock-climbing all the way, as the following notes
testify.

After a short lunch and a few minutes spent in erecting a diminutive
cairn, we moved on. Dr. Collier had climbed into the upper part of
the next chimney by a traverse of some difficulty from the right. I
started the same course, but A. had descended a little to look up
the direct route, and called out that it was safer, though perhaps
awkward. Therefore we all descended and entered the chimney, which
is practically a continuation of the crack up which our climb had
started. It sloped slightly to the left, and offered just a sufficiency
of holds, without demoralizing us with a superfluity. In fifteen
feet its difficulties were over, and a few yards higher we reached
another grassy ledge, more protected than the former but giving an
equally grand view of the neighbouring precipices. There then followed
a vertical pitch of twelve feet, simple enough with the help of a
shoulder--or without it, for that matter--and an easy step from the top
towards the right led to the beginning of the upward grassy traverse
that so strikingly marks the break in the continuity of direction of
Collier’s Climb. Many people have expressed doubts as to the safety of
this traverse; on the other hand, these many have not all been there
to see. The route is perfectly safe; there are corners on the Rake’s
Progress that are intrinsically as hard, though perhaps the sublime
situation may have its effect on some susceptible organisations.
Possibly in wintry weather the traverse may have its difficulties, but
if ever it were dangerous the first pitch would be impossible.

We found the first part of the final chimney slightly moist. Probably
it is very rarely dry. As the diagram facing page 46 indicates, it
slopes up towards the left and is very deeply cut. The first piece was
practically a walk up a steep incline, using tiny ledges that were
disposed along the slope in the most suitable places. It ended with a
magnificent pull up with the arms over a projecting edge on the left.

Then came the pleasantest part of the whole, the negotiation of
twenty-five feet of smooth, slabby rock by faith in friction and
occasional reference to the overhanging side of the gully. Collier had
rightly made special mention of this part, but to his account I should
like to add that with dry rock and rough garments all will go well.
Even a slip on the part of the leader will not be serious if he is
carefully watched and fielded at the bottom of his slide.

At the finish of this exciting portion we saw the sky-line a few feet
in front of us, and with a spurt we ran up and reached the summit
breathless.

Since that time I have descended by the same route with a different
party. We had just come up Moss Ghyll, and my two friends were well
contented with their day’s work; for Moss Ghyll had been the limit of
their ambition, and they were willing to rest contentedly on their
laurels. To tackle Collier’s Climb had never entered their heads
before--like the death-dealing pebble for poor Goliath--and they shyly
suggested that we had climbed enough for one day. But with the sense
of possession of a trump card up my sleeve--that handy rope-hold at the
bottom pitch--I succeeded in rousing their enthusiasm sufficiently,
and we started downwards. They were perfectly safe men to accompany;
this had been proved in Moss Ghyll, and it was perhaps not so very
wrong to indulge in a harmless exaggeration of the excitement that
the finish had in store for them. But they climbed extremely well in
spite of forebodings, and gratified me immensely by agreeing that for
beauty of surroundings Collier’s Climb has no equal in all the gullies
of the Lake District. The descent was rather easier than the ascent--a
state of things so often experienced in difficult climbing work--and
we reached the lowest grassy platform in half an hour. There we found
the little cairn I had erected a few months before, and were cheered
to see a couple of friends approaching from Mickledore to give us any
aid necessary near the finish. I let down the first man by the rope;
he went well till within ten feet of the Progress, and then, slipping
away from the hold, was left for an uncomfortable moment dangling in
mid-air. Lowered a yard or so his legs were seized by the men below and
he was pulled to their level in safety. There he unroped, and thus also
descended the second man. But he came on the middle of the rope, and
before reaching the spot where he was destined to quit the rocks he was
instructed to slip the lower end of the rope through the safety-hole.
On reaching the Progress he also unroped, and with the united strength
of the party holding me through the jammed stone I also was willing,
when my turn came to let myself hang and be lowered gently down like a
bale of goods into a ship’s hold.

To descend alone, without adventitious aid of this kind, it would be
better to take to the crack.

KESWICK BROTHERS’ CLIMB.--This occupies a position between the
two chief routes already described in this chapter, but chronologically
it comes last, and on that account we find it best to treat of it after
the others. The brothers Abraham and I had independently arrived at
the conclusion that the Scawfell face offered a feasible route between
Collier’s Climb and Moss Ghyll, of which only the lower half required
any elaborate planning. In the summer of 1897, before I had a suitable
opportunity of trying my fortune there, came the news that my two
friends had succeeded with their design, considerable assistance having
been given them by the preliminary scrambling of Mr. J. W. Puttrell at
the lower end of the course.

On Christmas Day, 1897, I was one of a large party exploring the new
route and its environs. An attempt to work directly up the long crack
marked by the top _e_ in Plate II. was thwarted at a height of forty
feet or so above the Rake’s Progress by the smoothness of the rocks,
and by the presence of ice in the crack. It will probably go some day
when conditions are more favourable. I managed to traverse to the edge
of the buttress on my left, but the prospect round the corner was
not a bit more attractive. A descent was therefore effected and the
ordinary route tackled forthwith. It was interesting and remarkably
safe. We started close to the foot of Collier’s Climb, and, working
along a nearly horizontal cleft, arrived without trouble at the corner
of the rectangular recess of which mention was made on page 30.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE KESWICK BROTHERS’ CLIMB

(_Face page 66_)]

Thence we had a steep bit of edgework for thirty feet before the leader
could ask his second to advance from the Progress. This part admits
of a little variation, but the main fact to be grasped is that the
long chimney in which Collier’s Climb finishes is retained close on
our right for fully ten yards, until it suddenly narrows, and a grass
platform extends away to the left with ample accommodation for a score
of people. This platform, in fact, is part of the same grassy ledge
that forms the first resting place after the troublesome introduction
to Collier’s Climb; and since that date I have frequently taken friends
up and down the latter course by this variation. The expedition is one
that can be strongly recommended for moderately good parties, both for
its beauty and its sustained interest throughout. That day, however,
our course was ordered differently. We had first to follow the original
line of ascent for fifteen feet up an awkward chimney with its best
hold insecure. Then on reaching an upper grass corner there came an
open movement across the face of rock to our right, working gradually
upwards and aiming for a narrow cleft that partially separated a small
pinnacle from the face. The view of this pinnacle from the middle
of Collier’s Climb is simply exquisite, well worth showing to an
enterprising camera.

From the pinnacle a slight descent gave an inspiring view downwards
of the long smooth corner that I had unsuccessfully attacked a short
time previously. At our level the crack had expanded into a respectable
chimney, that could be easily entered twenty feet higher after a
brief clamber on the buttress. It was disappointing to find then that
something very like a scree gully, with only moderately interesting
scrambling, was to finish our work in the great cleft. Rather than
close the operations so quietly the majority voted for an attempt on
the slightly-indicated branch exit thirty feet to the right; and their
enterprise was rewarded by the conquest of a particularly neat pitch at
the top.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

ATTITUDES ON SCAWFELL PINNACLE

(_Face page 69_)]



CHAPTER V

_SCAWFELL PINNACLE_


ORDINARY ROUTE.--This magnificent pinnacle offers the finest bit
of rock scenery in the Scawfell _massif_. It rises up some 600 feet
from the foot of Lord’s Rake in steep and almost unclimbable slabs of
smooth rock, forming the left-hand boundary of Deep Ghyll and the right
of Steep Ghyll. The latter, and the Professor’s Chimney springing up
out of Deep Ghyll, cut it away to some extent from the main mountain
mass, from which it is separated by a narrow _col_ or gap familiarly
known as the ‘Jordan.’ Unfortunately this gap is too high, and the
top of the pinnacle is reached therefrom by a couple of minutes’
scrambling. If only the gap were impossible to reach from above, the
climb of Scawfell Pinnacle would necessarily involve some splendid
work, and it could almost claim the suggested name of the Little Dru of
the Lake District.

From a higher point of view Mr. Williamson’s comparison is very apt.
‘The most conspicuous object at the upper part of Deep Ghyll is a
pinnacle rock with some slight resemblance, from certain points of
view, to the celebrated Pieter Botte, in Mauritius, except that the
stone on the top is much smaller than the knob which forms the summit
of the Mauritius mountain. The Deep Ghyll Pinnacle is perhaps best
named the Scawfell Pillar, for on examination it will be found to
have several features in common with the Ennerdale Pillar. Both have
a Pisgah rock and a Jordan gap, both have a High and a Low Man, and
both have a slanting slab in similar positions. So inaccessible does
the Scawfell Pillar appear, that it is probable no one ever thought of
making an attempt upon it till Mr. W. P. Haskett Smith, whose climbs on
the Ennerdale Pillar were referred to in a previous article, looking at
the rock with the eye of a genius for climbing, thought he could see
a way to the top. He made the attempt alone in September of this year
[1884] and successfully reached the top, being the first man to set
foot on the summit of this ‘forbidden peak.’

But the gap can be reached easily from the summit of Scawfell. If we
walk over to the top of Deep Ghyll we may look across to the pinnacle
on the right and notice the black out made by the Professor’s Chimney
that separates it from us. The knob of rock to the right of the Jordan
gap is appropriately called ‘Pisgah’; it is almost exactly of the
same height as the cairn on the pinnacle, and is barely thirty feet
away from it. By rounding Pisgah to the right, and carefully skirting
the head of Moss Ghyll, we reach the Jordan, and find ourselves on a
narrow ridge with extremely steep plunges on either side. The short
climb that faces us begins in an awkward way, for we have to get up a
few feet of overhanging rock before the slope eases off, and a slip
backwards of an unroped man would inevitably result in a fall down the
Professor’s Chimney or down Steep Ghyll. The firmest rope anchorage
for the leader is at the top of Pisgah, but with more to follow him
the usual plan is to descend to the gap and loop the rope over a large
boulder that lies on the crest of the _col_. He need not worry about
the danger of the pitch if the rocks are in good condition. When Mr.
Haskett Smith first found this way up on September 3rd, 1884, a few
days before he reached the top by way of Steep Ghyll, large quantities
of moss had to be removed, and the finger-holds cleared of earth before
they could be estimated and safely utilized. Not a particle of moss
remains here now; nay, more, a decade of gymnasts have removed much
rock by dint of scraping with their nailed boots, and have made obvious
the safest route to the summit.

It starts a yard or two to the right of the gap, where a sloping
foothold in the overhanging wall shows traces of considerable wear and
tear. The hands can find a sufficient bearing pressure near the edge of
rock above, but it is unwise to place them too high up on the sloping
slab. Then, straightening out on the foothold for a moment, the left
hand can find a thin crack good enough for a hold while the body is
being levered up over the awkward edge. Then the crack can be followed
up the slab to the left till it ends near a little chimney, up which
a scramble of six feet brings the climber within touch of the cairn.
Formerly a small tin box held many visiting cards, and an ancient
pocketbook with the names of the early climbers of the pinnacle. It
was almost a breach of etiquette to pay a call here without leaving a
card, but the polite old days are past, and men come and go now without
this ceremony. A year ago I hunted in vain for the box and fancied that
some curiosity-monger had feloniously appropriated it, but since then I
believe it has again been seen there. It may easily slip down between
the loose stones.

This little climb is dangerous in icy weather, and should not then be
undertaken. For there is no particular fun in it when the rocks are
glazed, when bare fingers are necessary for the diminished holds, and
the slow going inevitably involving benumbed hands.

The long routes up are impossible except when conditions are favourable.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

SCAWFELL PINNACLE AND DEEP GHYLL--WINTER

(_Face page 73_)] ]

The first long way up the pinnacle was climbed on September 20th,
1884, by Messrs. Haskett Smith and John Robinson. They made the ascent
of Steep Ghyll, and then, emerging on the right, climbed up a steep
_arête_ to the pinnacle, where they left their names in a glass bottle.
Descending again to the upper portion of Steep Ghyll, they passed over
to the Jordan and so on to the mountain. With but slight variations,
these were the only ways known until 1888. In July of that year a
party led by Mr. W. Cecil Slingsby succeeded in climbing out from the
lower part of Steep Ghyll on to the north-east face of the pinnacle.
By a long and difficult chimney in this wall they reached the Low
Man, as the nearly horizontal crest of the first huge buttress is
called. Thence a sharp ridge took them direct to the final rocks, which
were sufficiently broken to make the finish easy. This route at once
commended itself to the better climbers at Wastdale as being safe and
sound. The rocks throughout are excellent, and indeed enthusiasts like
to compare the finish with the famous ridge of the Rothhorn from Zinal.
The chief objection to be urged against the climb is the exposure to
wind and cold. I remember once starting up with Mr. Robinson one wet
day in August. He led as far as the foot of the difficult Slingsby
Chimney, and then resolutely refused to budge an inch further because
of the wind, which he asseverated would blow us away to Hollow Stones.
I am inclined to believe him now, but at the time we wrangled all the
way down to the Lord’s Rake, where some damp but enterprising tourist,
pointing up to the vertical crags down which we had been dodging our
way, inquired in a feeble tenor voice: ‘Is there a road up there?’

It was not until December 31, 1893, that I made my first complete
ascent by this route, accompanied by M. and C., the latter leading
all the way up. We crossed the foot of Lord’s Rake, and made for the
slight suggestion of a gully that serves to mark the beginning of the
ordinary Steep Ghyll Climb. It was quite easy to follow, and rapidly
deepened as we rose. In a hundred feet we were in view of the enormous
cleft of the ghyll, with its black and glistening walls apparently
almost meeting each other a hundred feet over our heads. None of us
were attracted by that climb, which is never quite free from hazard,
and we looked about for the spot where our route diverged to the right.
Here the side of the ghyll was very steep for thirty or forty feet
up, but was cut about by ledges and clefts quite good enough for us
to mount the wall safely. Then we bore up a little towards the left,
so as to approach the smooth outer face of the Low Man. Advance was
only possible in one direction, our course taking us out on a nose or
pinnacle of rock separated from the main mass by a deep fissure.

The position was very exposed. It could only be approached from one
direction, that of Steep Ghyll. A glance down the fissure beneath
us revealed the lower half of the tremendous wall to which we were
clinging, and though we had plenty of room to sit down and rest
ourselves, there was a sense of coming peril in the next move. The
illustration facing page 73, taken off the wall from the Lord’s Rake
ridge, shows the pinnacle and the fissure that partially separates it
from the face. Standing on the highest available point, C. had next
to draw himself up on to the little shelf by means of the smallest
of holds and the use of his knees. We were able to guard against his
slipping back, and were glad to see him clamber up easily to the
beginning of the Slingsby Chimney. This begins very awkwardly; it would
be proof of unusual agility and nerve for the leader here to manage the
first six feet without assistance from below. But an unaided ascent
is not impossible, and careful examination will generally cause the
climber to discount much of the terror that he is pretty sure to have
invested in the spot after reading the early literature of the subject.
We hoisted C. up on our shoulders; without hesitation he crept well
into the crack vertically above our heads, and wriggled his way out
of sight. When we had paid out forty feet of rope, he shouted out to
M. to advance, and I was left to speculate on a possible variation of
the ascent by the left of the chimney. In due course M. was firmly
fixed, and my turn came. The steepness of the first fifteen feet was
rather appalling, but it was so simple a matter to wedge firmly into
the chimney that there was no sense of insecurity. After the vertical
bit, the chimney sloped back at an easier angle, and though some
distance had to be climbed before a man might be of much help to those
behind he would be perfectly capable of looking after himself. When
we reached this level the aspect of the remaining rocks was very much
less threatening. It was still a matter of hand-and-foot work, but we
could all forge ahead together instead of moving one at a time. The
slope eased off again when we reached the Low Man, and by preference we
kept to the ridge on the right as much as we could. This was for the
sensational view down into Deep Ghyll, though that day we saw little
but the rolling mist above and below us. The rock was firm and rough
to the touch, and we could well appreciate the comparison with the
best parts of the Zinal Rothhorn. Leslie Stephen’s frontispiece in the
‘Playground of Europe’ might have been drawn on our ridge. There was a
sense of perfect security out there as we sat astride the sharp ridge
or clasped the huge blocks with a fraternal embrace. My only regret was
that the _arête_ was all too short--we arrived at the pinnacle much too
soon. I proposed to descend to the Jordan and down by the Professor’s
Chimney, but my companions pointed out that the latter would be damp
and rickety, and such a change from our recent sport that we could get
little fun out of it. I reluctantly yielded to the vote of the majority
and went off to a halting-place in the hollow at the head of the Moss
Ghyll variation exit.

SCAWFELL PINNACLE, DEEP GHYLL ROUTE.--In October, 1887, a strong
party led by the brothers Hopkinson found a way down the outside face
of the Scawfell Pinnacle, to a point on the ridge within a hundred feet
of the first pitch in Deep Ghyll. There they built what is now known
as the Hopkinsons’ cairn. In April, 1893, Messrs. C. Hopkinson and
Tribe worked up the left wall of the ghyll from the second pitch,
and reached the main north _arête_ about sixty feet above the cairn.
They were apparently unable to force a way directly up the ridge, and
managed instead to descend it for a few yards and then to climb up the
face of the Low Man by the 1887 route on the east side of the _arête_.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE LAST HUNDRED FEET ON THE SCAWFELL PINNACLE

(_Face page 76_)]

They thus succeeded in reaching the summit of the pinnacle from Deep
Ghyll, and an examination of the illustration facing page 83 of the
great wall that they climbed will prove that the performance was an
unusually brilliant one. (The photograph shows the north ridge twenty
feet to the left of the leader, who is about forty feet above the
second man.)

Very little was generally known of that day’s work, the note in the
Wastdale climbing book being of the briefest description; and it cannot
be counted unto me for originality that in a climb made in 1896 that
was intended as a repetition of the above our party left the older
route at a point eighty feet up the Deep Ghyll wall, and reached the
Low Man by a new line of advance.

We were a party of three. Messrs. George and Ashley Abraham were very
keen on trying the new route, and equally anxious to get some good
photographs of the great wall. We climbed up the first pitch in Deep
Ghyll by the crack on the left, and took the second in the ordinary
way. Just where the traverse commences fifteen feet above the top
of the central obstacle, a crack starts up the left wall, with a
prominent jammed block guarding its entrance. Traversing over a leaf
of rock on to the jammed stone, I was steadied for the first twenty
feet of ascent by the rope, and could not have come to much harm in
the event of a slip. But there was scanty room for a second, and I was
compelled to rise with an ever lengthening rope below me. The crack
was followed closely, though it soon became so thin and so erect that
there was nothing to do but keep on the face of the mountain just to
its left, every now and then gripping its sharp edge for handhold. It
seemed to be a virgin climb, though this part had really been visited
two or three times before. Stones had to be flung down, and grit
scraped from the tiny ledges. But on the whole that first sixty feet
was not very difficult, though markedly sensational, and I went on
slowly to a little niche in the wall.

The eighty-feet length of rope just reached to the crack from which
the start was made, and getting George to tie himself on at the lower
extremity, I mounted to a higher and larger niche while he cautiously
climbed up the crack. The situation was very novel. Some may remember
the _firma loca_ in Mr. Sanger Davies’ account of the Croda da Lago.
This grass-floored hermitage of mine was truly a _firma loca_, and
sitting down comfortably in it I took out a biscuit from my pocket and
tried to realize all the view.

It was every bit as appalling as a Dolomite climb. Direct progress
upwards seemed quite impossible; a feasible traverse over some
badly-sloping moss-covered ledges to the right led to the sky-line
at a spot where the _arête_ made a vertical spring upwards for forty
feet. A descent would have been seriously difficult, but it was the one
thing we did not want. I could hear another climbing party finishing
an ascent of the pinnacle by the ordinary route, their voices echoing
down the ghyll and cheering me with a sense of neighbourliness. My
companions were holding an animated discussion below on the subject of
photography. The light was excellent, and our positions most artistic.
The cameras were left in the cave at the foot of the ghyll. Ashley was
afraid I meant to go up without him; but his professional instinct got
the better of his desire to climb, and, shouting out to us to stay
where we were for five minutes, he ran round to the high-level traverse
on the other side of the ghyll, and down the Lord’s Rake to the cavern.

George had the tripod screw and could not hand it to his brother; so,
asking me to hold him firmly with the rope, he practised throwing
stones across the gully to the traverse. Then, tying the screw to a
stone, he managed to project this over successfully. We composed our
limbs to a photographic quiescence. Ashley had a splendid wide-angle
lens, which, from his elevated position on the traverse opposite, could
take in 400 feet of the cliff, showing the entire route to the summit.
It was his turn to take the lead. ‘Mr. Jones! I can’t see you, your
clothes are so dark.’ I apologized. ‘Will you step out a foot or two
from that hole?’ I was in a cheerful mood and ready to oblige a friend,
but the platform was scarcely two feet square, and to acquiesce was to
step out a few hundred feet into Deep Ghyll. For this I had not made
adequate preparation and told him so. ‘Well, will you take off your
coat?’ That I could do with pleasure, and for a while his instructions
were levelled at George.

He was in an awkward place and was much cramped in ensuring safety,
but Ashley was dissatisfied and insisted on his lifting the left leg.
This gave him no foothold to speak of, but in the cause of photography
he had been trained to manage without such ordinary aids. He grumbled
a little at the inconvenience but obeyed, resolving that if he were
living when the next slide was to be exposed he himself would be the
manipulator and his brother the centre of the picture. The ghyll had
become rather gloomy and we had a lengthy exposure. I was glad to slip
on my jacket again and draw in the rope for George’s ascent. When he
reached the smaller platform just below me, we tried the traverse over
the slabs to the north ridge, and found that it went well enough. We
were delighted to find traces of the previous party on the rocks at
the corner. They were made by the Hopkinsons three years before (April
2, 1893) in their attempt to mount by the ridge. Their cairn was fifty
feet further down, and we now had the satisfaction of seeing for
ourselves how to connect the Hopkinson cairn directly with Deep Ghyll.

Then came the question of getting our third man up. We tried to
throw the rope-end to him, but it persisted in clinging to the face
vertically below us and would not be caught. I had to return to the
_firma loca_ and throw the rope from there. Ashley now reached it
safely, tied himself on, and hastened up to our level, having left his
camera on the traverse below. In this way we found ourselves together
again, on the corner of the _arête_. The others fixed themselves to a
little belaying-pin while I attempted to swarm up the vertical corner.
A couple of feet above their heads I found that the only available
holds were sloping the wrong way. They could be easily reached, but
were unsafe for hauling, and after clinging for some minutes without
advancing an inch I was compelled to descend and reconsider the
problem. I thought of Andrea del Sarto:

    Ah! but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp
    Or what’s a Heaven for?

and wondered whether Browning meant this to apply to the crests of
climbing-pitches as well as to other objects in life.

At the time we did not know the exact history of the early attempts on
the _arête_. As far as we could judge our corner might be inaccessible
except with the help of a rope fixed above us. Certainly the scoring
of bootnails on the face was scanty. The earlier party three years
before might have planned to avoid the bad bit. With doubts like
these, I craved permission to look up a chimney on the Deep Ghyll side
of the ridge. The other party of climbers had now reached the top of
the ghyll, and were watching our manœuvres with interest. Seeing my
hesitation they called out to inquire whether we should like a rope
from the Low Man. We were grateful for the suggestion, but there was
no peril our position, and we asked them to wait for awhile at the top
of the gully, and see the issue of our next attempt upwards. Then,
traversing over a buttress, I looked up and down the chimney.

It was what is generally called hopeless. To speak definitely, it was
much worse than the _arête_, and seeing no alternative I returned to
the corner and prepared for another attempt. This time Ashley gave me
a shoulder at a slightly lower level on the ghyll side of the ridge.
A trying drag upwards with very scanty fingerholds brought my knees
on to a satisfying hollow in a little ledge, and steadied by the two
side faces of the sloping slab I stepped up and on to it. The cheers
of the observing party told us that our _mauvais pas_ was practically
overcome. The other two men came up with a little assistance from
the rope, and we cleared away the loose stones from our platform. It
shelved badly downwards and offered no guarantee of safety in case
I fell from the next vertical bit. But George sturdily rammed his
brother close against the wall and intimated that the two would accept
the responsibility of fielding me if necessary. I mounted their
shoulders, and reached up at arm’s length to a sharp and firm edge of
rock. A preliminary grind of my boot into a shoulder-blade and then a
clear swing out on the arms, a desperate pull-up with knees and toes
vainly seeking support, and at last the upper shelf was mounted. But we
were all breathless.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

ASCENT OF SCAWFELL PINNACLE FROM DEEP GHYLL

(_Face page 83_)]

The lower edge of the broken crest of rock that marks the Low Man was
now close at hand. Close by was the fine cairn built when the pinnacle
was first climbed from Lord’s Rake. A few yards off to the east the
edge of the cliff was cut by the top of Slingsby’s Chimney, and before
us remained the magnificent ridge up to the summit.

Boot scratches were now numerous, both along the ridge and by the left.
We took the finish hand over hand, and reached the pinnacle cairn in
five minutes. Our time up from Lord’s Rake had been slow--something
like four hours--but much had been spent with photography and in
reconnoitring. Another day, two years later, I managed it in less than
half the time.

A party of three should have 150 feet of rope, or else our awkward
tactics in letting the rope down to the ghyll would have to be
repeated. Perhaps the long run out for the leader will prevent this
route ever becoming popular. It is a great pity that there is no
resting-place half way up the wall. With icy conditions it would be
criminal to attempt the open face. Yet the climb is one of the very
best in the district, and I shall always look back with pleasure to my
first introduction to this side of Scawfell Pinnacle.

We hurried down Deep Ghyll by the traverse above both pitches. One of
us rushed down too jubilantly, and ill repaid the kindly attention of
the other party, now below us, by a profuse shower of stones. With
thoughts of all the possible consequences of this indiscretion, we
picked up our cameras and strode more sedately down to the others and
to Wastdale.

SCAWFELL PINNACLE FROM LORD’S RAKE.--A very fine expedition
was undertaken in December, 1887, by Messrs. C. Hopkinson, Holder, H.
Woolley, and Bury. Their note on the day’s sport is quoted almost in
full: ‘Three of the party, led by Hopkinson, made an attempt on the
Deep Ghyll Pinnacle from the entrance to Lord’s Rake. They succeeded
in climbing 150 to 200 feet, but were stopped by a steep slab of rock
coated with ice. From this point, however, a good traverse was made
to the first gully, or chimney, on the left. They forced their way up
this gully to the top of the chimney. At the top there was a trough
of ice about 30 feet long, surmounted by steep rocks glazed with ice,
which brought the party to a stop. They descended the chimney again and
returned to Wastdale, unanimously of opinion that the day’s excursion
had afforded one of the finest climbs the party had ever accomplished.’

So we may well think, and it is a great pity that the icy conditions
of the rock prevented their direct ascent into Slingsby’s chimney. The
gully they entered and almost completely ascended, is marked plainly in
the general view of the Scawfell Crags from the Pulpit, and at first
sight appears to run up continuously to Slingsby’s chimney. Actually,
however, it finishes on the side of the nose or pinnacle of rock a few
feet lower down, and I believe this pinnacle could be ascended from
it by either side. What this earlier party found impossible in the
Winter of 1887, Mr. G. T. Walker and I in April, 1898, favoured by the
best of conditions, were just able to overcome. We had spent a long
and exciting day in the neighbourhood, and were descending Slingsby’s
chimney late in the afternoon, when we were suddenly struck with the
idea of descending the fissure behind the nose and prospecting the face
of rock between it and Deep Ghyll. A rough inspection of the first
fifty feet below us proving satisfactory, we hastened down Steep Ghyll
and traversed across to the top of the first pitch in Deep Ghyll. In
spite of the late hour I could not refrain from a trial trip on the
edge of the great Low Man buttress. At the point where the earlier
party found the direct ascent barred by smooth ice on the wall, and
decided to traverse off to the gully on the left, we had a council
of war. It resulted in my throwing down my boots to Walker, and then
crawling up fifty feet of, perhaps, the steepest and smoothest slabs
to which I have ever trusted myself. This brought me to a tiny corner
where I essayed to haul in the rope attached to my companion. But he
also had to remove his boots and traverse to a point vertically below
me before he could follow up in safety. We were now some distance to
the left of the edge of Deep Ghyll, and straight up above us we could
distinguish the crack where our new route was to terminate. Getting
Walker to lodge firmly in a notch somewhat larger than mine, six feet
away on the Steep Ghyll side, I went off again up another forty feet
of smooth rock, aided by a zig-zagging crack an inch or so in width,
that supplied sufficient lodgment for the toes, and a moderate grip
for the finger-tips. After both had arrived thus far, we were able,
with extreme care, to reach the side wall of the nose itself, and at
a point, perhaps, fifty feet from its crest we turned round its main
outside buttress and found ourselves in a spacious chamber with a flat
floor and a considerable roof, the first and only genuine resting-place
worthy the name that we found along our route. We could look straight
down Hopkinson’s gully, and would gladly have descended into it
and ‘passed the time of day’ with a little speculative scrambling
thereabouts. But darkness was coming on apace, and we had yet a most
awkward corner to negotiate before finishing our appointed business.
Standing on Walker’s shoulders I screwed myself out at the right-hand
top corner of our waiting-room, and started along a traverse across
the right face of the nose. The toes of the feet were in a horizontal
crack, the heels had no support, and the hands no grip. It was only
by pressing the body close to the wall, which was fortunately a few
degrees away from the perpendicular, and by sliding the feet along
almost inch by inch, that the operation could be effected. It was with
no small sense of relief that the end was reached in a few yards, and a
narrow vertical fissure entered that gave easy access to the top of the
nose. Then we put on our boots again and hurried.

It is thus possible to reach the summit of the Scawfell Pinnacle by a
route up the buttress quite independent of either of the great ghylls
that flank it. A good variation that has yet to be performed in its
entirety, though I believe that every section has been independently
climbed, is that of the Hopkinson’s chimney, the nose, and Slingsby’s
chimney. Further, that evening’s climb has convinced me that we could
have safely reached Hopkinson’s cairn on the edge of Deep Ghyll, and
that there is in consequence a most thrilling piece of work possible
in the direct ascent of the buttress, the whole way up to the High
Man from its base. Slight divergences are, probably, unavoidable in
the lower half of the climb, but permitting these there now remain
only about forty feet of rock hitherto unascended. It is worth while
inspecting the view on page 73. The top of the nose is there plainly
seen in profile 4⅜ inches from the bottom; our climb was roughly
speaking up to the nose, by a vertical line drawn an inch from the
left edge of the picture--somewhat less as it approached completion.

UPPER DEEP GHYLL ROUTE.--Three days after the ascent recorded
in the last section, I found that the sharp ridge between the Low Man
and the summit of the pinnacle could be reached from the foot of the
lowest pitch of the Professor’s Chimney. The suggestion is due to Dr.
Collier, who told me some years ago that the only real difficulties
are concentrated in the first thirty feet of the ascent. The climb is
almost in a straight line, running obliquely up the Deep Ghyll face
of the Pinnacle, and is best inspected from the west wall traverse.
The first part overhangs considerably, and the holds are of the same
character as those on the long slabs of the Low Man buttress, with a
sort of absent look about them. But the rocks were dry and warm, in
the best possible condition, and two minutes of deliberate movement
led me out of danger. There is great variety just here, but the
simplest course was to make for a slight chimney in the sharp ridge
above my head. In twenty minutes the High Man had been crossed, and
the starting-point reached by way of the Professor’s Chimney, but if a
companion and a long rope had been vouchsafed on that occasion it would
have been a pleasing undertaking to have tried the traverse along the
wall to the _firma loca_ of the second section in this chapter.



CHAPTER VI

_GREAT END AND ITS GULLIES_


As we walk up towards the Styhead Pass from Wastdale we may see well in
front of us the long ridge of the Pikes monopolizing a goodly portion
of the sky-line. The high dependence at the head of the valley we are
skirting is Great End, a reasonable enough name for the north-east head
of the range. It sends down a buttress towards the Styhead Pass that,
at a closer view, is shown to be well separated from the main mass by a
deep gully of some architectural merit. This is Skew Ghyll. It twists
its way up to the ridge, and offers a pleasant variation route over
to Sprinkling Tarn, whence a steep rise brings the tourist to the Esk
Hause, the lowest point between Great End and Bowfell. The climber’s
interest will be concentrated in the view of the long northern face of
Great End, well seen from Sprinkling Tarn, and his experienced eye will
notice at once that the face is marked by various gullies that invite
approach. The whole ground has been thoroughly well examined from time
to time, with the result that several gullies which from below or above
appear to promise continuous climbing have proved to be deceptive in
this respect. Yet there remain two that are always interesting, and a
third that is at any rate popular as a winter course.

Seen from the tarn there are two gullies that cut the full height of
the precipice from top to bottom. The lines of fresh scree that trail
down from their lower ends show up plainly on the older _débris_ that
marks the decay of this mountain wall. They both slope downwards
towards the left when seen from this point, and are both obviously
provided with variation exits at their upper extremities. That to the
left was formerly called Robinson’s Gully, but is now generally known
as the South-east Gully. There has always been a lack of originality
in the nomenclature of such places, and with several routes on the
same mountain the christener’s wits seem driven to all points of the
compass. The second gully is a hundred yards to the right of the first,
and has long been known as the Great End Central Gully. It divides half
way up into two well-marked portions, the right-hand route constituting
the main bed of the gully, and terminating at a huge notch in the
sky-line. The left-hand branch as seen from below appears to terminate
blindly in the face, but actually it leads to a deep and narrow chimney
cutting into the top wall within a hundred feet of the main gully.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE GREAT END GULLIES SEEN FROM SPRINKLING TARN

(_Face page 90_)]

Far away to the right, where the cliff has shrunk to but one-third of
its full height at the Central Gully, a black cleft may be descried
that leads from scree to sky-line. This is Cust’s Gully, indifferent
as a summer climb, but always beautiful in the richness of its rock
scenery, and especially interesting in winter, when drift snow offers a
royal road to the top. Every one has a kind word for Cust’s Gully. It
is only called the Cussed gully by ignorant novices who inquire whether
Skew of Skew Ghyll fame was a member of the Alpine Club. When it is
marked out by snow we can from the path just distinguish the great rock
bridge or natural arch across the upper part of the cleft.

GREAT END CENTRAL GULLY.--This wonderful ravine offers some
special feature every winter. Its individuality changes so completely
under the mask of snow, or ice, or rain, that an attempt to describe
the gully by an account of any one expedition must of necessity be only
partially successful.

One fine winter morning a year or so ago we had a large party
at Wastdale, and for once in a way were all of the same mind as
to our day’s plans. The walk up towards the Styhead Pass--the
Schweinhauskopfjoch of the Swiss travellers among us--would just suit
our conversationally-minded fraternity, to whom Brown Tongue or the
Pillar Fell or the Gable-end offered gradients too steep for words. We
sallied forth from the inn with many axes and great lengths of rope,
and lazily worked our way along the valley. The lower path, entirely
obliterated by the snow, took us across the stream to the right on to
the low slopes of Lingmell. Piers Ghyll stream was crossed without
notice, for here the gorge is not at all in evidence and requires
closer examination to reveal its magnificence. Then, rising a few feet,
we crossed the hollow of Grainy Ghyll and made towards Spout Head and
Skew Ghyll. The snow gave us some glorious effects on the hills around.
The Mosedale amphitheatre of noble mountains towered above Wastdale,
and mutely questioned us as to the accuracy of the surveyors who could
give them not even three thousand feet of elevation above us. Nowadays
theodolites are taken to the mountains and misused with great effect;
why should not the Pillar and Red Pike benefit similarly to the extent
of a thousand feet or so? There above us on our left was Great Gable,
a White pyramid cutting into a dark sky, at least ten thousand feet
of mountain beauty between us and its snowy crest. Who could believe
that the summit was only 2,900 feet above sea level? But the engineer
among us calmly reminded me of an interesting aneroid observation I had
once taken of the top of Moss Ghyll on Scawfell, making it a hundred
feet higher than Scawfell itself. Was I to rank myself as a truthful
scientist and be contented with the ordnance survey records, or as
an artist who should represent heights, shapes, and colours as his
imperfect senses make them? We closed the discussion in favour of the
artist and then sloped (without slang) up to Skew Ghyll.

This was in splendid condition; the snow was deep and hard, and out of
sheer pleasure in step-cutting, three or four enthusiasts carved their
own staircases up through the ‘narrows’ and away towards the little
pass above us. It was to be noticed that the steps gradually converged
to one line as the leaders felt their muscles wearying, and they were
willing to fall in with the caravan now trailing up in single file
like the elements of a kite’s tail. At the top of our little pass we
could see straight down Borrowdale. Skiddaw and Blencathara formed the
distant background. Derwent-water reflected a dark sky, and by contrast
with its snowy shores looked of an inky blackness. Styhead Tarn was not
very beautiful; ice had formed on it a week before, but had since been
broken up by the wind, and the great flakes of crystal unevenly crusted
with drift snow gave a sense of roughness and of incompleteness out of
keeping with the finished beauty of the surroundings.

We stayed up here for a few minutes, and then contoured along the side
of Great End in the direction of Esk Hause. The ground was rough; here
and there the snow required cutting. But no difficulties were met with
until the narrow entrance to the Central Gully suddenly disclosed
itself in the precipitous wall on our right. The gully points down
towards the eastern corner of Sprinkling Tarn. It begins where the
cliff stands nearest to the Esk Hause path, and is not to be mistaken
for the South-east Gully that points directly towards the sharp bend in
the little stream rattling down to Borrowdale.

At the entrance to our climb we stopped to consider the question of
roping up. ‘Union is strength’ only within certain narrow limits, when
the bond of union is an Alpine rope. It often involves loss of time.

    Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
    He travels the fastest who travels alone,

and his speed is inversely proportional to the number of his followers.
We decided to split up into three equal parties of four, my men to
lead up the main gully, the engineer to convey the second set up the
middle course, and the more substantial residue to bear to the left, up
a slighter branch that contains a very creditable cave pitch half-way
towards the summit ridge.

Our work was easy at the outset. The gully was narrow and steep, but
the snow was good, and small ledges on either side were utilized
whenever the little icicle-clad pitches were too slippery for direct
attack. Where the gully widened a little we could see the first
serious obstacle in front of us--a vertical wall with a ragged
ice-curtain flung over it in a most artistic way. It would perhaps
have been possible to cut directly upwards, but the crowd of eager
climbers behind could not be expected to fight against frostbite for
an hour or so while the leader amused himself, and the obvious method
of circumventing the difficulty had its own merits. The right wall
slightly overhung; close below was a glazed rib of rock leading up at
an easy angle to the top of the pitch.

[Illustration:

  PLATE III.

THE GREAT END GULLIES (p. 90).

The height of BB is about 450 feet.

  A Holmes’s (or Brigg’s) Cave Pitch.
  B South-east Gully.
  C The Central Gully.
  D Cust’s Gully.
  E Head of Skew Ghyll.
  F Sprinkling Tarn.
  c Left Branch of the Central Gully.
  d Difficult Chimney.]

Steadying myself against the wall, I started cutting slight steps up
the thin ice on the rock, keeping as near to the corner as possible.
Now and again the foothold felt insecure, but for the most part the
ascent was safe, with slight probability of a slip into the snow below.
The second man followed close up, and steadied my feet occasionally
with an ice-axe. Then came a more gentle snow-slope, up which we could
kick steps without effort; and while the second party were busy with
the difficulties that we had just overcome, we reached the second pitch
and hastened to leave it behind us. This was rather a harder task than
we had yet undertaken. The gully was more open and its ice covering
less extensive, but the pitch was higher and involved our climbing up
to the centre from the right-hand wall, so as to reach the base of
the big boulder that crowns the pitch. All this would have been easy
with the rocks clear and dry, but we had to make our footholds on the
flimsiest rags of ice, and the traverse to the middle demanded some
long stepping with scarcely a hand to steady. On reaching the boulder I
was compelled to crawl on all-fours round its front to the slope on the
left-hand side of the gully, and then by cutting a dozen steps or so in
the hard snow found myself in the wide part of the gully at the foot of
the great divide. The others of my party followed on rapidly, and we
shouted adieu to our companions beneath.

Here we had the finest view of the climb. Below, the beauties of the
two pitches were greatly increased by our own elevation. They looked
very difficult, and the picture offered its living element in the
cautiously advancing parties now just in the interesting part of the
climb. Above us rose the huge buttress that divides the gully, and on
either side the most fantastic drapery of ice well-nigh frightened us
with its appearance of impregnability. We advanced carefully up to
the right, congratulating ourselves on having taken the lead, for our
friends were not pleased with the battery of hard chips of snow that
our step-cutting gave them. The buttress was rounded, and we gained a
full view of the troubles in store for us. Immediately on our left a
smooth rock-shoot led straight up to the top of the buttress. Between
the vertical pillar on the right of this shoot and the opposite side of
the gully rose a sheer wall of ice, like a frozen waterfall twenty-five
feet in height. So far as we could see at first, there was no chance of
forcing a quick way up this obstacle, and it was obvious that slowness
would introduce the risk of frostbite. During the previous summer my
fingers had been rather badly frostbitten in the Alps, and there was
some chance of their still manifesting a susceptibility to cold. We
almost turned back to follow our friends up another way; we could
trust each other to exaggerate the terrors of this bit, which honestly
enough was a trifle too stiff for a cold winter day. But while mentally
framing an excuse for the return, I had advanced up to the left-hand
edge of the ‘ice fall,’ and started the ascent of its spiky edging of
rock. From below the spikes had appeared fragile and untrustworthy.
Actually they were too well frozen into place to become detached with
one’s cautious drag. This discovery altered the prospect for us all,
and the chilly watchers below warmed up with the returning enthusiasm.
In fact they needed reminding that I might yet come down suddenly to
their level and sweep them off their feet unless they were prepared to
receive me. When ten feet up, the axe was called into requisition to
cut a few steps in the fall itself. These were useful just so long as
the left hand could utilise the rocks, but they tended to carry me away
from my comparatively safe corner, and I soon decided to keep away from
the fall as far as possible. The corner where the gully sloped back
was very exciting, for implicit trust was reposed in the benumbed left
hand that had been thrust, well gloved, into a thin and icy crack in
the wall, and held there by frost and friction. It offered no sensation
either of security or of danger, but it could not very well slip out,
and we hoped for the best. A few moments’ struggling landed me safely
on the steep slope above the pitch, and a vigorous handling of the
ice-axe on the bed of the gully fully restored circulation to my hands.
Then followed my cold companions, who had been shivering spectators for
a long twenty minutes. They were thus handicapped from the outset, and
found the pitch very severe, notwithstanding the gentle suggestion of
safety that the rope offered.

We had some careful work still before us. The bed of the gully led
steeply up to another large and slightly overhanging boulder that
blocked the direct route, and our only possible method of getting above
it was to cut steps away on the right, trusting to sundry very insecure
grass holds. But these were much better than usual by reason of the
frost. In fact the whole climb is perfectly sound in winter, though
rendered very difficult. In summer it is often easy but dangerous.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

TOP OF THE CENTRAL GULLY, IN WINTER. GREAT END]

From the steep right-hand side of the gully we could traverse with care
to the main bed again, just above the boulder; whence to the top of
the gully, looking from here like an Alpine pass, was a broad stretch
of unspotted snow. There we joined the second party, who had come by
the steep grass ledges of the central route. Their labours had been
great--or else, indeed, they would easily have managed to get ahead of
us--but not so much from the intrinsic difficulty of their route as
from the need of continual caution in the more open portions of the
climb. They had reached a ledge that overlooked the right branch, and
were proposing to descend to our snow slope and cut steps up with us.
We were nothing loth to give them a chance of showing their skill with
the axe, and for a while halted to enjoy the grand prospect behind
us, looking straight away towards Sprinkling Tarn and Borrowdale. But
we found ourselves frequently buffeted by strong gusts of wind that
swept furiously down the gully. The whirling snow at the little
_col_, now so near, warned us of an approaching _tourmente_ on the
ridge. Our section soon decided to start again, and just below a small
cornice that crowned the gully we forged ahead, and plunged through the
powdery fringe of overhanging snow. We sank in up to our waists, and
had to wrestle mightily against the hurricane to find a firm footing on
the wind-swept rocks beyond. It was no joke standing about there with
the sharp, cold, drift snow from the Pikes blowing into our smarting
faces. We could not hear ourselves speak, it was almost impossible
to see the correct course; but there were two or three among us well
acquainted with this ridge in its bitterest moods, and to these the
others trusted. We floundered down to the right towards Esk Hause
across the wilderness of blocks strewn over the great plateau, and in a
hundred yards came to a boulder large enough to possess a lee side of
its own. Here we halted for a chilly half-hour, waiting for the third
section to arrive. I possessed their luncheon in my knapsack, a most
regrettable circumstance from our point of view, inasmuch as it tied
us to Great End so long as it pleased them to amuse themselves down
there on the leeside of the mountain. We quickly demolished our own
share of the provisions, and with an unselfishness rarely present in
the great latterday mountaineering expeditions, decided to leave them a
few sandwiches and to cloy the hungry edge of our remaining appetites
with tobacco. We were not all smokers, but everybody present assisted
in lighting the first pipe, such a labour was it to keep a match
burning. We waited there in a close bundle until our feet were half
frozen and our faces stiff with icicles. Then we became rather nervous
about our missing friends, and debated whether they meant to reach the
top that day, or whether they had turned their backs to the lunch and
made for Sprinkling Tarn. The latter course seemed at once the most
expedient for them and the most convenient for us, and gladly we acted
on this assumption. It was just as well we did so, for the frost had
sharply nipped some of us, and it was long before my heels gave me any
sensation but that of a pair of snowballs in my boots. We slung round
the Esk Hause, and had some fine glissading to the hollow of the hill
below the crags.

When well opposite our climb at the point whence we had started some
five hours earlier, our united shouting brought back an answering call
from the gully. Soon we could see the burly form of their greatest
member slowly descending the crags at about the same spot where we
had long before left him. Having distinguished him as a preliminary
landmark easy of recognition, the three others were one by one made
out. We were relieved to observe that they were all coming down in a
normal condition; no broken limb or sprained ankle had occurred to
spoil their pleasure and stop their climbing. After a few minutes’
waiting we learnt their story. The left-hand route had begun in
a vertical ice-sheet twenty feet high that took them two hours to
surmount. Then, when with sighs of relief, or hyperbolic language, or
eloquent silence, that marked each individual’s satisfaction at the
happy completion of a difficult pitch, they had cut their way over the
edge of this wall and rounded the traverse that dominated it, they were
aghast to meet a wall of ice in every respect similar to the first,
but magnified! This was heart-breaking, but they made a bold bid for
success, and started afresh on the new task. But the daylight was
already within an hour of vanishing, and a night on those rocks would
have been too much for even the sturdiest of them.

So with a wisdom not often met with in such cases where an element of
competition enters into the day’s work, they resolved to retire and
join us below. There we met again, and they received their lunch. I
was censured to a slight extent, but blame is pretty sure to be the
portion of him who carries the provisions. He that shoulders the bag is
a responsible individual, and the condition of good training that it
induces is moral as well as physical.

Then let me insist on the value of such physical training. The
photographer who takes his camera to the High Alps is often too fond of
his apparatus to give it up to a guide or porter; he frequently decides
hurriedly to take a shot, and soon learns that it is best to carry all
for himself. Economy may often preach the same precept. Now to lift his
own weight is a labour he at first fancies will tax all his strength,
but a little practice in carrying a well constructed and well packed
rücksack on small expeditions will teach him something different. The
weight of the whole equipment for half-plate photography--camera,
three lenses, tripod, and other accessories--is so small a fraction
of his own weight that its mere lift is a negligible consideration.
His pace will be diminished and his back often uncomfortably heated.
But supposing the burden well arranged, many a climber could habituate
himself to it. One of our greatest Alpine climbers is said to train
in Cumberland by carrying a rücksack filled with stones. Without
attempting to persuade any one but a geologist so to burden himself
on principle, I strongly advise the man who hopes ultimately to climb
without guides to get early into the habit of carrying loads on smaller
ascents. It will always be a joy to travel free when occasional
opportunity offers, and then he will assuredly improve his pace. On a
really stiff pitch the sack may have to be raised independently by the
rope, a cause of serious delay when the rope is rigid with frost and
the party inexperienced in tying knots or reliable loops. It should
be remembered that the sack has more than once protected the climber
from serious injury by falling stones, and that a pound or two of extra
luggage carried up to an Alpine hut may mean all the difference between
a night of misery and a comfortable rest before an arduous expedition.

I have mentioned that the middle route up the Central Gully leads by
easy stages to the upper portion of the right-hand branch. Some three
years ago a strong party effected an ascent of the chimney that points
directly up to the top of the cliff from the high ledge between the two
routes. We found the main difficulty was in traversing over an open
slab on the right of the foot of the chimney. The slab was split by a
narrow fissure, but the handholds were slight and rather insecure. To
have trusted to one alone would have been dangerous, and I recall with
amusement the spread-eagle attitude of the leader as he endeavoured to
distribute his weight equally on four rickety points of support. The
position was good enough in itself, but to move involved a dangerous
increase in the stress on one of the supports. Fortunately the second
on the rope was able to offer an axe-head as additional security, and
the passage to the left was effected in safety. The chimney was narrow
and its sides smooth, but with the exception of a loose stone near the
finish, which rattled down and tended to disturb our wedging, nothing
seriously interfered with our advance.

But there was one amongst us who, in expectation of falling stones,
had thrust his head and shoulders into the little cave at the foot of
the chimney. When the leader shouted to him he did not hear, and the
accompanying pull on the rope resulted in the hitching of his shoulders
firmly in the cleft and the elevation of his legs only. The previous
evening we had been having a heated discussion as to the futility of
naming the sides of a gully or cave after the manner of the banks of a
river--_i.e._ of calling the ‘true’ right side of a gully its left and
_vice-versâ_. Professor M., who was with us now, had been a listener to
the discussion. Looking down from the top of the chimney and observing
the unusual method of our friend’s ascent, he called out, ‘It’s all
right, Jones, he is coming up well enough--the “true up.”’

SOUTH-EAST GULLY.--This in summer time can often be accomplished
in half an hour if the climbers are few and in a hurry. Before
December, 1896, I had not made a winter ascent; moreover, I had
forgotten much of the detail. Thinking of climbing notes, I persuaded a
small Christmas party to join me in exploring the gully under these new
conditions.

We were only a band of three ultimately, though at Kern Knotts, which
we visited _en route_, our number was considerably larger. The other
two were both experienced Alpine climbers, one a very tall man, the
other very short. I was anxious to determine the advantages and
disadvantages of size and weight, and to that end took the lead myself
and placed the tall man second on the rope. We had but little wind, and
the temperature was slightly above freezing-point.

The climbing began almost at once, for in five minutes from the foot
the gully walls were close together and were encrusted with thawing
ice. The narrow bed was broken up into easy pitches, but to avoid the
stream of water that came down beneath the soft covering of snow it was
necessary to use small ledges on either side, and span the gully like
diminutive colossi--here I am referring only to myself and the little
one. Now and again we would plunge up the gully for a short distance
in loose snow. Occasionally the crystals became more compact, and two
of us could manage to creep over its surface without slipping through.
Rarely was this the case with our middle man--a sixteen-stone Teuton
with a scientific training. If snow could be crushed he crushed it.
He became so indifferent in the matter after awhile, that he made no
attempt to distribute his weight evenly over the surface according
to the rules laid down by Badminton. The little one, coming last,
naturally suffered by this indifference, and was plaintive over what he
called the ‘fallacy of the undistributed middle.’

The first pitch of any size occurred within 200 feet of the foot of the
gully, a perfectly vertical rise of twenty feet in the bed level with a
slender waterfall interfering with our direct progress. The retaining
walls were the least bit too far apart for the utilization of both
simultaneously, and the right side commended itself to us as the easier
to attack. Our only trouble again was the glaze on the rocks, a black,
shiny veneer too thin for axe operations, too thick to be trifled with.
Such ice always interferes more with the hands than with the feet,
for sharp boot nails can roughen the surface of an ice ledge enough
for a foothold, whereas the hands can make no impression. If the ice
is very cold, gloves must be worn as a protection against the frost.
They have the merit of adhering slightly to the ice when pressed, and
often in that way give the climber a safe-enough grip. With wet ice
such regelation will not occur, and if the work is hazardous I prefer
to climb with free hands, trusting to friction to restore circulation
wherever an ‘easy’ may be called.

Making slowly up this wall to a snowy ledge at the top level of the
pitch, I called on the others to follow, and then worked back into
the gully. Here we found ourselves facing the ‘divide,’ a high and
narrow rib of rock that cut down into the gully and gave us a choice
of routes. Our way lay up to the right, which a distant view from
Sprinkling Tarn had shown us to be really the main line. The other
branch ends somewhat abruptly out on the face, and involves a traverse
into the main again. A few yards further up, and a very imposing pitch
rose before us. It was in three portions, the gap between the second
and the third blocked by a huge stone that bridged the gully. As on
the lower fall, so here the water kept us off the centre-line of the
ravine, and drove us to seek diversion on the right. On the first part
we had the difficulty of snow and wet ice. Without comment I noticed
the little one carefully wipe out a handhold with his handkerchief
when it was his turn to mount. By the same manœuvre he had some
three years before shown me how to scramble up a small boulder in the
Engelberg valley that I was forced to admit I could not climb. It was
interesting to observe how little space he needed for his fingers. On a
wall with diminutive ledges that might easily pass unnoticed, he could
show us all what ‘walking up’ a face of rock really meant, though his
short reach naturally handicapped him now and again very seriously. I
believe a short man generally does best on rocks. His hands are as a
rule stronger in proportion to his weight. The long climber can reach
further but is often unable to utilize the distant grip to which he has
stretched, if it is small or badly rounded. Moreover, he often finds
himself in the attitude of a looping caterpillar, a pose that demands a
firmer handgrip and that rapidly exhausts the muscles.

We all reached the first ledge safely. Then came the passage of the
bridge. If we passed under it we should get terribly wet and cold,
though there would be no particular difficulty in getting through to
the final chimney. Every inch of the boulder was glazed, and it offered
very few excrescences to hang upon. But it had the making of an edge
at its crest, and I gradually worked up the outside till I could reach
this and pull up. There is one advantage of a glaze--possibly its only
one--it offers no friction to one’s body in an arm-pull.

Thence it was an easy step over to the final chimney. A small spout
of water as thick as one’s wrist was jetting from the top against
the right wall, and we were inevitably in for a wetting in spite of
the circumvention of the bridge. I essayed to finish the pitch before
the others started from their ledge twenty feet below. A fairly good
lodgment for the right foot was utilized and passed. The body had to be
jammed across the chimney, the fingers seeking for a crevice high up
on the right wall. When a slab is streaming with water and handholds
can be found within easy reach, it is a good plan to keep ‘thumbs down’
as much as possible; for then the water will drain off by the thumbs,
and run clear of the coat-sleeves. The strain is too great to operate
in this way with arms at full length above the head. That was manifest
in my trouble on the wall. The ice-cold water trickled down my arms
and body, making me wet through in a few moments. But the horror of
it came with the realization that I was unable to move backwards or
forwards. The situation was almost critical, but not an unusual one
for winter climbing in Cumberland. I could at any rate give it my cool
consideration, and decide whether to call up the big one to help me
or to try an independent descent. The men below saw me in trouble and
made a move upwards towards the pitch. Then it occurred to me that the
big one would not be able to force a way under the bridge, and that he
might be a long time working over it, longer than I could manage to
hold out. That decided me, and I started wriggling downwards. Luckily
the hands were not yet benumbed, and by entire disregard of the main
water-supply down the central line of flow, which now included the back
of my neck, I managed to reach the platform again. Until my second
came up it was useless to make another attempt, and indeed it was now
eminently desirable that everybody should get wet. I am not an advocate
for monopoly in such cases. With some slight inducement suggested by
the rope, the big one pulled himself over the bridge and came up to
the platform. Here he was invited to hold himself firmly against the
wall, and give me his shoulders and head for elevating purposes. He was
immediately drenched before I had effected a start up his mighty back,
but there was a sense of perfect security now; it would be impossible
to fall past him. As for the effect of cold and wet on him, we could
neglect so small a consideration. In any case he would not feel it till
the trouble was over. I thought of the old dynamics problem beginning:
‘Let a fly of mass m be crawling up the trunk of an elephant, whose
mass may be neglected,’ and realized for the first time that there was
some sense in the quaint hypothesis. Once on his shoulders I reached up
to a dry ledge, dragged myself on to it, and thence strode across to
the top of the pitch.

The third man had managed to reach the platform during these
operations, and now nobly offered his little all as a foothold for
the giant. My heart sank when I heard it graciously accepted, but it
rested with me to share the responsibility and let the rope take up
some of the stress. The big one came up grandly with these small aids,
and we hurried the little one to send along my camera sack and then
himself. This pitch was the hardest part of the day’s work, and showed
itself to vary much with existing circumstances. I can just remember
enough of a former expedition to add that it needs care in summer time,
though it cannot, rightly speaking, be called difficult.

We then went upwards again over snow at a gentle angle till the third
pitch was reached. This was of a simple design, just a cave formed
by a fallen boulder, and no doubt it could be taken in many ways. We
climbed up a six-feet wall on the right from the entrance to the cave,
and scrambled easily into the snow-bed beyond. Thence to the top was
a matter of only ten minutes, the single hindrance being a pile of
boulders that were climbed by an easy tunnel that led to the crest
of the left-hand wall of the gully. We walked out at the top just as
twilight set in, after some two hours’ gentle excitement. We were
naturally still damp, and felt no inclination to stay about on the
ridge, so hurrying round towards Esk Hause we glissaded rapidly to the
path and walked home.

The left-hand variation in the gully is often taken, but is scarcely
as interesting. Just after passing the divide we find another buttress
of rock cutting the gully into two sections. Here the buttress is not
much thicker than an ordinary brick wall; it is sometimes called the
‘curtain.’ There are pitches on each side of it, that on the right
being more definite and more interesting. It leads up a steep chimney
to the crest of the curtain, which is crossed to the left. The climber
is then in the left-hand branch, and has no difficulty in ascending the
gully till it dwindles down to nothing, and he finds himself looking
into the main south-east gully just above the third pitch. It will be
best, then, to climb down and finish by the usual route.

CUST’S GULLY.--The climbing in this is of the slightest
character in summer time, there being but one short pitch beneath the
natural arch, and very little in that. But with hard snow about there
is scarcely a pleasanter way of playing at Alpine climbing above the
snow-line than by taking Great End viâ Skew Ghyll and Cust’s Gully.
The snow slope will alter in inclination from about 30° at the bottom
to 70° at the top. If the pitch is but thinly covered, there is
the fun of tackling a pitfall, and of bringing to bear on the safe
crossing all the science that glacier crevasses may have taught us in
Switzerland. Nor let any think that it is all make-believe and that
of difficulty there is none. I have had grand times in Cust’s Gully,
where we were actually tired out with the labour of cutting steps.
The snow when fresh is soft and yielding. Give it a week or two to
settle down, and it will bind together so as to offer firm support
on scraped footholds. But let cold rain fall on hard snow and the
temperature then fall below freezing-point, the surface will become icy
and every step will require careful making. Then should the picturesque
attitudes of step-cutting depicted in Badminton be imitated in all
seriousness, and the axe wielded with the scientific swing. It has
happened more than once that a bad axe has proved its worthlessness
when tested on the Cumbrian fells in a winter expedition--a much less
dangerous discovery than if it were taken new to the Alps and there
found wanting. The difficulty in the latter case is that our axes are
so rarely used for hard work, if we are led up the great peaks by
competent guides. They delight in removing every obstacle in our way,
and it may be that long usage of the axe has really been but a test of
the _bâton_, not at all of the pick. Then comes a time when the leading
weapon is broken, or carelessly dropped, or still more carelessly
pitched up to a ledge of only suppositious safety. Do not imagine that
these things never happen, for each has been within my own experience
during the last three years; and woe to the party if the untested axe
is a weakling when emergency calls on it!

The upper part of Cust’s Gully when the snow is at its hardest may
almost be regarded as a test of nerve for the novice. I once was
starting to cut down the gully in such a state, with a young man of
limited Alpine knowledge, who diffidently suggested that step-cutting
was rather slow and that he would prefer a glissade if I did not
mind. I shuddered at the vision his naïve suggestion conjured up, of a
species of chain-shot shooting viciously down the tremendously steep
slope, ricochetting from wall to wall of the gully, and scraped very
bare by the sharp-toothed icy surface. That novice had no nerves, and
my remarks are not intended for him. The contention is that an amateur
party cutting up the steepening slope, and forging a way through an
incipient cornice of overhanging frost crystals at the top, will learn
much of the genuine safety of an ice-slope, and will see how to divest
it of its imaginary dangers. There are many Alpine climbers positively
afraid of harmless slopes, that are not nearly so bad as they appear,
and still less formidable than they show up in photographs. Such men
have never led up steep snow.

Near the foot of Cust’s Gully a branch passes up to the right, of less
altitude and gentler inclination; its rock scenery is not so fine, and
the place is rarely visited.



CHAPTER VII

_GREAT GABLE. THE ENNERDALE FACE AND THE OBLIQUE CHIMNEY._


Great Gable takes high rank among the hills of Britain for grace of
form and for the beauty of the views it offers to the climber. It is a
square pyramid in shape, and shows nearly its full height (2,949 feet)
from the Wastdale level. It stands at the head of the valley, and when
seen from the shores of the lake appears completely to shut off the
valley from all approach by the north end. Its four main ridges offer
fairly easy walking to the summit. The north-east ridge runs down
towards Green Gable, Brandreth, Grey Knotts, and the Honister pass, a
little _col_ marking the lowest point (2,400 feet) between the peak and
Green Gable. A moderate path leads the pedestrian from Borrowdale up
by way of Aaron Slack towards this little pass, which is known as Wind
Gap, and then bears up towards Great Gable. The pass may be crossed
into Ennerdale and a rough descent taken to the Liza stream.

The north-west ridge leads down towards Kirkfell. The broad depression
between the two mountains is known as Beckhead (2,000 feet). It is
often marshy in the neighbourhood of the diminutive Beckhead Tarn. A
wire fence that adorns the summit-ridge from Kirkfell can be followed
for some distance up Gable. Thence to the summit is somewhat craggy,
but not difficult for pedestrians.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

WASTDALE AND GREAT GABLE

(_Face page 114_)]

The south-west ridge is called the Gavel Neese (Gable Nose), showing
from Wastdale Head as a rounded grassy shoulder leading directly
towards the peak. Up this shoulder we may make the shortest ascent of
Gable from Wastdale, avoiding the easy crags of White Napes that face
us where the upper limit of the grass is passed, by skirting round the
screes on the left. An ancient path with the strange name of Moses’
Sledgate leads up Gavel Neese till the level of Beckhead is nearly
reached, and then bears away on a traverse over the screes round to
the middle of the Ennerdale side of the mountain, there to lose itself
in the wilderness of stones that are bestrewn all over that desolate
region.

The remaining ridge to the south-east is scarcely definite enough to be
worthy the name, though from Wastdale it seems to be at least as well
marked as Gavel Neese. It leads towards the Styhead pass (1,579 feet)
and offers a quick route to the top. Mr. Haskett Smith suggests ‘half
an hour’s rough walking,’ but that pace is too severe for most walkers.

Of the four faces of the pyramid the north and south are precipitous,
the west offers very little scope for the cragsman’s skill, and the
east absolutely none. The north or Ennerdale face is practically a
single, exposed section of some 400 feet of rock, seamed with traverses
and split with numerous gullies and chimneys. The south face is of a
complicated design. Springing up from the 2,000-feet level, the Great
Napes appears in the centre of the south face as a great rock screen
belonging to the main mass of Gable. In reality it is well separated
off by deep hollows cutting behind it to right and left. The highest
point of the Napes is connected with the upper crags of Gable by the
crest separating these two hollows, either of which may be followed
down in safety by benighted wanderers who are past all wish to avoid
screes, and whose one desire is to reach a low level in some inhabited
valley.

Let us more happily suppose for the present that we are upward bound
and desirous of circumventing Great Napes. We can observe from Wastdale
Head the line of lighter scree that comes down either side of the
Napes. That to the left leads through a beautiful natural gateway
between White Napes and Great Napes, and thence trends to the right up
to the summit ridge connecting the latter to the final crags of Gable.
The streak of reddish scree to the east leads up through larger portals
into the very heart of the mountain, penetrating round to the back of
the Napes, and thence up by the left to the same summit ridge. This
hollow is floored with small red scree that glows with a marvellous
richness of colour in the sunlight.

The passage between the foot of the Napes and a rock pinnacle at the
entrance to the hollow is called Hell Gate. Philologists may be led to
connect the name with the colour of the scree, for the primitive mind
of the namer would have naturally associated redness with an infernal
intensity of heat. The White Napes offers a little scrambling, but
the Great Napes precipice gives us the best climbing to be had on the
Gable; and if, after reaching the crest of this wall, we bear slightly
downwards across the upper part of Hell Gate screes, we can finish our
climbing by some excellent rocks that lead to the large Westmorland
cairn close to the highest point of the mountain. These Westmorland
crags, as we presently find it convenient to name them, are irregularly
continued away towards the south-east and the Styhead pass, by Tom
Blue, Raven Crag, and Kern Knotts. The last named are in two tiers, the
lower being close to the Styhead path, and only some 1,200 feet above
Wastdale Head. The upper Kern Knotts offer climbing of great interest
and perhaps exceptional severity, and are rapidly becoming popular
among the climbing fraternity.

THE ENNERDALE FACE.--Looking first to the north side of Gable
it is a matter of regret that no satisfactory inclusive view may be
obtained of the whole width of this mountain wall. Seen from the
slopes of Kirkfell the face recedes in such a way that very little of
its climbing can be prospected. From the ridge between Scarth Gap and
Brandreth we have a front view of the crags, but they are much dwarfed
by distance, and their northern aspect is unsuitable for long range
photography.

From Kirkfell we can readily mark the Oblique Chimney which cuts deeply
into the upper half of the centre of the face, and terminates at a
right-angled notch in the sky-line. Some distance to the right we may
with a good light identify the Great Central Gully that cuts the face
from top to bottom. To the immediate right of this is an easy scree
leading the whole way to the top of the crags. Near the foot of this on
the right there used to be a slab pinnacle some fifteen feet in height
that has since been completely disintegrated by rain and frost. A year
or two ago the freshly exposed rock that bore witness of the recent
departure of the pinnacle could be clearly recognised by contrast with
the older face. This climb is now reported to have been exceedingly
difficult; such will probably be the future reputation of the fast
disappearing Stirrup Crag on Yewbarrow. A little higher up this scree
slope, on a small platform out to the left, the remains of an old
stone-walled enclosure could once be distinguished. It may have been
the haunt of whisky smugglers or the hiding place of some miserable
outlaw. It is to be regretted that the remains are now in too bad a
state of repair to be recognised as artificial. Between the Oblique
Chimney and the Central Gully lies the easy route or natural passage by
which a mountain sheep of ordinary powers ‘might ascend’; though it not
infrequently occurs that the perplexed climber roundly declares that
the mountain sheep of average mental capacity is not so foolish as to
venture into such a bewildering region of small grass traverses, steep
stony slopes, and ledgeless walls.

Immediately to the left of the Oblique Chimney is the climb that leads
past the Bottle-shaped Pinnacle and up the huge retaining buttress
of the chimney. Further towards Wind Gap the sky-line suddenly drops
at the upper level of Stony Gully--an easy, though rough, passage up
broken boulders and loose scree, by which the crags can be outflanked.
The wire fence that leads over Wind Gap to Green Gable and Brandreth
begins here, and is a useful landmark in misty weather. Mr. Haskett
Smith found in 1882 a ‘high level route’ across the face at about
two-thirds of the way up. It is an excellent ramble, and full of
strange surprises, passing along exposed ledges, in between towers of
rock and the great upper wall, offering a peep into the black recess
of the Oblique Chimney, and an easy digression up to the Bottle-shaped
Pinnacle. It finishes close to the foot of Stony Gully, and can be
recommended for a preliminary survey of the more difficult routes up
the Ennerdale face.

OBLIQUE CHIMNEY.--From a few notes added to a sketch of the
known routes up the Ennerdale face, which Mr. John Robinson inserted in
the Wastdale Climbing Book, April, 1890, I derived my first impressions
of the Oblique Chimney: ‘This has, I believe, not yet been climbed and
is not very safe, owing to the jammed stones in it being loose, and
the clean-cut walls on each side making these stones of consequence.’
This description was realistic though brief, but I thought little of
the place till the Christmas vacation of 1892-3, when I learnt that Mr.
R. C. Gilson had proposed to attack the chimney one fine day, but was
forestalled by Dr. Collier’s party. These latter took the precautionary
measure of partly descending the chimney, so as to clear away the
_débris_ and loose stones that hovered over the edge of each pitch;
they then returned to the foot of the chimney and forced a way directly
up to the top. The important jammed stones required for the middle
portion were quite firm enough for safe holding, and the party returned
with a fuller praise of the beauties of the chimney than any one had
anticipated. I was given an account of the expedition a day or two
later, and was glad enough to get the opportunity of trying conclusions
with the crags on that side of Gable, which till then was unexplored
country for me.

My companion that Christmas was a learned classic, weary of brain work,
whom I had induced to take a little climbing in Cumberland as a tonic.
Some people cannot take quinine, others apparently cannot benefit by
rock-climbing. This latter I found to be the case with my friend, whose
struggle with the _confracti rudera mundi_ made him despondent instead
of inducing a healthy exhilaration. The sore limbs and torn clothing he
never seemed able to forget, far less to enjoy. Yet the ruling passion
of phrase-making was strong even _in extremis_, and he longed to put
his sufferings into words. Sometimes on the rocks I might casually turn
to see that he was coming up well. His eyes would be gazing at nothing
and his lips moving as if in prayer. But it was not prayer, it was a
Greek or Latin quotation, preferably the former because of its rich
vocabulary for description of scenery. On the whole he was enjoying
the new experiences hugely in his own melancholy way, and I felt no
compunction in insisting on his joining K. and A. when we planned our
excursion up Gable by way of the Oblique Chimney. The day was rather
cloudy and snow threatened, but we took plenty of provisions, and K.
carried a pocket compass. We started somewhat late in the morning,
and walked leisurely up Gavel Neese and round the Beckhead by way of
Moses’ Sledgate. But on reaching the wire fence we found that the
mist completely enveloped the Gable crags and gave us no chance of
identifying our climb from below. Then we skirted along the base in the
vain hope of a momentary disclosure of the chimney by a parting of the
mist, but no such chance offered, and we reached Stony Gully without
making a start up. Here we saw the ‘rake’ or traverse that has been
described as passing along the face about two-thirds of the way up.
It was an obvious course to take, inasmuch as it led to within a few
feet of the foot of the Oblique Chimney--so near that even the dense
mist could scarcely prevent our striking it. Here the classic assured
us that he would much prefer ascending by Stony Gully to the top of
Gable, and that it would give him extreme pleasure to carry our lunch
up to the cairn and wait for us there. We let him go, and promised that
we should join him again by three o’clock in the afternoon. Thus did
we lose our lunch, not to find it again for another week. There was
much ice and fresh snow plastering the rocks, and the so-called ‘easy’
traverse wanted all our care. K. was an expert Alpine climber, his
friend A. a plucky young Harrovian with plenty of nerve and endurance
in him, but at that time with next to nothing in the way of experience
of the mountains. He came along well enough, but our pace was
necessarily very slow. Three o’clock found us still working westwards
on the traverse, but without a sight of the Oblique Chimney. I think
in one place we must have descended too much. At any rate, we found
ourselves in difficulties on a sloping slab of glazed rock that gave me
serious pause. A. slipped on this, and started slithering away rapidly.
Luckily he held his axe tightly, and was brought up by the rope with a
jerk. Shortly after this, he pointed to some blood on the rocks, and
solicitously asked me whether I had cut myself very badly. It turned
out, after a hasty glance at my hands, that he himself was the wounded
one. My little complaint was a slight frostbite in the finger-tips, my
gloves having been worn threadbare by much scraping with the hands.

At last we reached a pinnacle that promised us variety. We tried to
climb up it by the outside edge, but found the ice too troublesome.
Then, when resting on the shoulder half way up, we saw a deep and
narrow cavern in the mountain wall behind the pinnacle. Surely that
must be the object of our quest and our pinnacle the redoubtable
‘bottle-shaped.’ Eagerly we scrambled over the shoulder and down a
slight gully on to the scree that issues from the mouth of the cavern.
It was getting dark, and we were very hungry. My jacket pocket still
held the crumbs of a pulverized biscuit that I had taken up Snowdon
the week before. These and a fragment of chocolate we scrupulously
shared, and then began the attack in earnest. The conditions had much
changed since Dr. Collier had effected his ascent, and though the
gully overhangs too much to permit any drift snow to settle in it, the
smooth walls of the gully were black and shiny with ice, and the damp
cold of this dark hole tried our endurance to the utmost. It must be
admitted that my ascent of the first part was slow and ungraceful. I
had started with my back resting against the left wall, bracing my feet
as firmly as the ice would permit against the diminutive knobs on the
opposite side. Now in this position the back cannot be worked up an
overhanging wall unless the hands have something definite to thrust
against. The process went on fairly well for about twenty-five feet,
working outwards as well as upwards, but then the two sides of the
chimney became perilously far apart and the smooth left wall commenced
to overhang.

Then ensued a few moments of awkward suspense, an uncertainty as to
the best method of transferring one’s weight to certain small ledges
against which the feet were now pressing.

The process of ‘backing up’ is excessively fatiguing, the thrust
necessary to hold oneself firmly _in situ_ being as a rule much greater
than the equivalent of one’s weight, and the whole of this thrust being
at every slight lift transmitted through the arms. He who fails to
realize the attitude I am describing may easily perform an experiment
that illustrates the mechanical principles involved, by sitting down
across a doorway or narrow passage, and attempting to work upwards by
pressure of the feet against one side and back against the other. If,
when some three feet from the ground, he waits a minute or two and
then attempts to move again, either up or down, he will perceive that
the simple holding in place has tired his muscles and made advance or
retreat equally difficult.

Our doorway had already extended up for twenty-five feet and yet
another five remained before a comfortable halting-place could be
reached. The cleft forming the chimney was so much undercut that the
view vertically downwards included the scree some distance below the
entrance to the cavern, and anything that I might have let fall, myself
for instance, would have dropped some feet further out than the two
men waiting below. The halt was a mistake; there was only one course
open, and that should have been taken at first. It was to work inwards
until the doubtful jammed stones could be reached with the left hand,
and then, trusting mainly to the footholds, hoist the body over to
that side of the gully and thrust the hand into the recesses between
the stones. K. shouted up some suggestion to this effect from below.
How he managed to discern the proper place through the dim twilight
I never was able to ascertain. But I resolved to try it, and in some
strange way the cramped muscles that had appeared incapable of further
effort were in a second or two relieved by the change of attitude, and
the pull over to the right side that I had dreaded as the severest tax
on my strength proved to be easy enough. With fists in two convenient
little holes clenched to prevent the hands slipping out, I was able
to take a momentary survey of the slightly rickety ladder of jammed
stones that led to safety. The passage of these few feet was not at
all pleasant. Had ours been the first climb of the chimney we might
have reasonably decided to brave the perils of descent and return again
by daylight, rather than fumble about in the dusk pawing at wabbly
boulders that threatened to fall out with us at even a caress, much
more promptly at a cross word.

But the knowledge that others had tried them, and had learnt the
futility of these threats, gave me some degree of courage, and, taking
heart of grace, I, walked up the ladder and out of the first great
difficulty. A. came up next, and as the hour was late and we were all a
little anxious to finish, he did not scorn to use the rope at the bad
corner just below the ladder. K. came up remarkably well, and I felt
that if he had led us we should have mastered the pitch earlier.

We were now able to walk towards the roof of the upper portion of the
gully, which was as completely closed in as the cave below. The left
wall everywhere overhung so much that there was no chance of climbing
out by its aid. The right wall was nearly parallel to the left and
showed a few more possibilities.

Looking backwards we could see the two walls projecting several yards
out, apparently a little nearer together at their extreme edges than
they were in our upper chamber, which was now much too wide for any
opportunity of backing up. But we knew that the second pitch was not
so bad as the first, and started prospecting. I crept up as high into
the cave as possible, and then felt round the edge of the roof for a
firm hold. This came to hand almost at once, and with a step out on to
the sloping wall, and probably a steadying hand from below, I worked up
between the roof-stone and the right side. This led to a steep little
snow-slope, evidently covering loose stones that might prove excitable
in dry weather, and thence a few yards of broken rock extended to the
summit of the crags.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE ENNERDALE FACE OF GREAT GABLE]

In five minutes we had assembled there, and decided that we were still
distressingly hungry. I felt in my pocket for more crumbs, but only
brought out stones. We hurried up to the cairn at the highest point
of the mountain. It looked a picture of Alpine solitude. Not a trace
of the classic, no hope of our lunch. Fresh snow had fallen during
the last hour or two, and had obliterated all signs of his visit.
Nay, worse, we had not that implicit confidence in his knowledge of
the district to feel certain that he had found his way safely down to
Wastdale, for he had never been on the mountain before; nor was he
quite so familiar with the mountain mists as we proud climbers of the
Oblique Chimney. But he had the laugh of us that night! We expressed
sorrow for the poor man, and then with a sigh turned to consider our
own position. It was a trifle unpleasant to be on the summit of Great
Gable after six p.m. on a snowy winter’s night, with something of a
wind blowing through us and very little to obstruct its free passage.
But for all that we were happy enough, and arranged elaborately to
steer by compass direct for White Napes and Gavel Neese. South-west by
west was our direction. K. was positive of that fact, and offered to
lead. Some twenty yards behind him came young A., still going well;
then I followed at an equal distance behind him, just able by the
reflected light from the snow to distinguish the leader and keep him in
the straight line he was marking out for us.

By the light of a match that we kept flaming for a sufficient time
in an improvised tent of coats, he examined the pocket compass he
carried, and was confident that ten minutes’ good going would carry us
down to the grassy shoulder below the White Napes. On we went steadily
downwards, and I wondered whether, if we took to running when the
boulders were passed, we might get down in time to start dinner at the
usual hour. Happy thoughts in this connection kept me from attending
particularly to our route and its details, but when we got to a thicker
mist I looked about for a landmark. Nothing could be recognised. The
ground sloped rapidly down on the right; the left seemed to rise most
oddly to a sort of ridge. But the strange thing was that there seemed
to be another mountain fronting us. K. was at a complete loss, and took
out his compass again. We erected the tent once more, and all crowded
over the instrument to determine our fate. Alas, we had been travelling
towards the north! K. had mistaken the two poles of the magnet. The
mountain mass looming ahead was the Green Gable, and we were within a
few feet of the Wind Gap. Our dinner was at least two hours further
away than ever, and we were still hungry. There was nothing to be
done but walk round the mountain by way of the Styhead tarn and pass.
We had no lantern, and it would have been a legbreaking business to
attempt to skirt the Ennerdale face and strike off the Moses’ Sledgate
in the dark. The snow was soft all the way down Aaron Slack. I have
often come down in daylight since and wondered what we could have
found to tumble over that night; we were always slipping through snow
pitfalls into water, or tripping over boulders and on to our heads
in snowdrifts. Now and again we would find ourselves sitting side by
side in the stream, the leader’s tumbling having been too sudden to
permit of any warning to the others. Such occasions we generally seized
on as suitable opportunities for halting, only to be ended by sleepy
realization that the water was both damp and cold. And all the time the
inexperienced classic was enjoying his dinner and his phrase-making in
princely luxury and comfort at the inn.

At last we reached the shores of the frozen tarn and turned wearily
up to the right. The path was in a shocking state, and on arriving at
the cairn at the top of the pass we found a continuous glaze of ice
along our route. So, at any rate, it seemed to be that night--my first
experience of crossing the Styhead in the dark. It was nothing less
than actual hand-and-foot work in many an awkward corner. Subsequent
opportunities of climbing down the path in the dark have often been
given me, but that first night was the worst. How we managed to avoid
broken limbs has ever been a mystery. We would suddenly slip over on
the ice, and slide furiously down the path and into some obstruction
below. We had tried to smoke, but pipes were too dangerous to hold
between the teeth during these unpremeditated rushes. But time ends
all things. By ten o’clock we were anointed with Vaseline and massaged
with Elliman, with the prospect of substantial fare to follow. The
classic slippered into the dining-room to report himself. He had waited
on Gable cairn till half-past three, and then had returned by the way
he had come. Our lunch he had left under a stone, and as a guide to
our finding it had stamped the snow down and drawn with his finger
several arrows or asterisks or other marks of reference in the snow.
It was very clever, but the fresh fall thwarted his ingenuity only too
effectually.

The Oblique Chimney rapidly became popular, and has since been visited
by many climbers. But it can never be regarded as an easy ascent.

Some time during the summer following I looked down it to see how
a descent might be managed. The loose stones at the top were most
uncomfortably unstable, and the clamber down towards the entrance of
the upper cave required great care, without being exactly perilous. A
friend was with me who counselled waiting till we should find ourselves
up there again with a rope, and ultimately his advice prevailed. Some
eighteen months later, in January, 1895, a large party of Wastdale
Christmas revellers made for the Oblique Chimney top. The crags were
approached from the scree below, a few feet to the north of the
entrance to the Central Gully. We took to a little chimney at once,
and then up a grassy slope to another chimney that brought us to steep
grass and scree with frequent outcrops of rock.

Thence we made up towards the entrance to the Oblique Chimney then
visible, and before reaching it clambered up an incipient gully on the
left wall that bounds the scree just there. It led over the sharp crest
of the buttress that supports the bottle-shaped pinnacle, and thence we
had a steep but fairly easy descent of ten or twelve feet to a ledge
that led round to the other side. The rocks were dry and very free from
snow, so that each member of our party found himself able to pull up
easily from ledge to ledge in the little gully till the notch between
the pinnacle and the main wall was reached.

Thence the leader turned up to the left, and recommenced a similar
series of ledge-climbing operations, of which only the first from the
notch could be called in any sense difficult. We had a magnificent view
down the face, which is particularly steep just here, and the frequent
halts rendered necessary by the size of our party afforded plenty of
time to admire the huge slabs that separated the ‘sheep walk’ from
us. A small stone-man marked our point of arrival at the summit of
the crags, and after adding a block or two as our contribution to the
cairn we turned right, and in a few yards had reached the rectangular
entrance to the Oblique Chimney.

The main difficulty in the descent was to prevent stones sliding on to
the heads of men lower down, who were in the direct line of fire and
rarely able to raise a protecting arm for themselves. The upper ones
were continually cautioned by those in peril to keep an eye to the
rope, and prevent its dragging over the bed of the gully. All passed
down safely, but I remember making a mistake when descending the great
overhanging pitch at the bottom, in assuming that it was an easy matter
to climb down with a camera sack on my back. I had descended part of
the ‘ladder,’ but then found the need of a back pressure, and hesitated
about crushing in the contents of my sack. The rope is of no use to
the last man in a place of that kind, and I therefore was permitted to
untie the knot round my waist and fix on the sack instead, letting it
down gently to the others by the left hand. The right was needed to
hold on firmly to the ladder, so that the teeth were in requisition for
the tying. The descent offers another instance of the ease with which a
chimney that is exceptionally severe in the ascent may be traversed in
the reverse direction. Where gravity helps the motion we have only to
consider the best means of opposing it. During an ascent much strength
is spent in the mere lift, to say nothing of the extra force needed to
prevent slipping.

At the foot we joined up again and traversed round to the ‘sheep
walk.’ This was easy to discover but hard to describe. The route bore
obliquely upwards towards the right, always well out in the open,
giving us pleasant hand-and-foot work the whole way. We reached the
top in safety, and then proceeded homewards by way of White Napes.

Mr. Haskett Smith says that the top of the easy passage bears 23° east
of north when viewed by prismatic compass from the highest point of
Great Gable. It probably means magnetic north, and the fact is of value
to benighted climbers who know which end of the compass is the north
pole.

On April 3, 1896, a new variation route was found into the upper cave
of the Oblique Chimney by Messrs. C. and A. Hopkinson and H. Campbell,
who worked up a slightly marked gully in the great wall to the left
of the sheep walk, and then, after an ascent of fifty feet, traversed
round by the left into the chimney.



CHAPTER VIII

_THE ENNERDALE CENTRAL GULLY AND TWO LITTLE CHIMNEYS_


There is no royal road to learning, and the converse proposition is
equally true. There is no learning along a royal road. Some years
ago I went up the Central Gully of the Gable behind an experienced
climber, when conditions were at their best. It was a royal road to me,
and I came away with but a vague notion of its difficulties, without
having learnt anything. It is the leader that can give the truest
description of an easy climb. Where the one man can do all the work,
his followers go up without a thought beyond their rope’s length. When
difficulties are shared discussion is necessary, and the memory is
assisted by subsequent references to faulty moves or to troubles that
all were instrumental in overcoming. It is astonishing how few men can
recall the details of a rock climb to the extent of recapitulating
the successive pitches in, say, two hours of gully work. And yet the
faculty is well worth cultivating, inasmuch as it accentuates the
pleasures of retrospection and may be called into active service by the
inquiries of others wishing to follow. Indeed the best introduction to
guideless climbing is to ascend rock peaks that we have afore-time
accomplished with guides in front of us, where we shall find our
memories taxed now and again in the effort to recall the route taken
previously. To lie in bed and remember every foothold on the Matterhorn
may require more ascents than one; but however wicked it is for a
Zermatt guide to indulge in such a pastime, the average amateur may
well envy him his accomplishment.

[Illustration:

  PLATE IV.

THE ENNERDALE FACE OF GREAT GABLE, Showing about 400 feet of Cliff.

  A Wind Gap.
  B Stony Gully.
  C The Oblique Chimney.
  D The Bottle-shaped Pinnacle Ridge.
  E The Sheep Walk.
  F The Ennerdale Central Gully.
  G Scree Gully.
  H The Doctor’s Chimney.
  K An Easy Scree Gully.
  L Gable Crag Traverse.
  X Engineer’s Chimney.
  _d_ The Bottle-shaped Pinnacle.
  _f_ Chimney Finish of F.
  _g_ Smuggler’s Retreat.]

Quite recently I had the opportunity of joining a party up the Central
Gully. We had come over to Gable Crag after an hour or two on the
Eagle’s Nest _arête_ and the neighbouring rocks. Our plan was to get
up the chief pitches in the gully, and then, instead of bearing up to
the right at the foot of the final wall, to take to the narrow vertical
chimney that passes up its centre and leads to the highest point of the
crags--to treat it as an old friend with a new face.

But before taking to the gully there was another little chimney to
visit, that had been recently ‘invented’ by Dr. Simpson and Mr.
Patchell, on their way to the Great Central. It is a singular thing
that this remarkably interesting way up Gable Crag should have so
long remained undiscovered. The reference in the Wastdale book is as
follows: ‘A walk of a hundred feet along a grass ledge from the point
where the wire fence from Beckhead touches the rocks of the Gable,
followed by a hundred feet of scrambling up a wild and much broken
gully, leads to a small cairn which marks the foot of a chimney on
the left. This runs up in a direction parallel to the face of the
cliff, and so is not clearly seen except at close quarters. It is very
straight and narrow, especially in the middle pitch, and makes an
interesting climb of about eighty feet.’

We worked round the scree and broken rock from the top of the Napes to
Gable Crag. Then by keeping fairly low down we arrived at the end of
the wire fence from Beckhead, and were in a position to profit by the
description already supplied. The fence ends abruptly on the face of a
crag that is somewhat separated from the main mass of Gable. Between
the two a scree gully runs downwards in the direction of Brandreth, and
the Doctor’s Chimney is found to spring from a point a hundred feet
up from the foot of this gully. The crag interferes with the view of
the chimney from the neighbourhood of Beckhead, though from the nearer
slopes of Kirkfell the little climb is almost as well marked as the
Oblique Chimney.

The hand-and-foot work begins on the right side of the recess, and
the climber makes directly up to a little pinnacle about thirty feet
above him. There is no need to back up the chimney at first. The
pinnacle offers comfortable standing-room for one only, but the leader
can manipulate the rope for the second until the latter is within
a foot or two of the platform. Then by passing a few coils of rope
round the top of the pinnacle he can make the second safe while he
effects the rather awkward passage back into the crack. Both hands
seize an excellent hold on the opposite wall, perfectly safe but a
trifle remote for a man with a short reach, and then the foothold is
quitted and the body dragged into a good jamming position. The crack
is very narrow, and extensive slipping is almost an impossibility.
It now becomes necessary to wriggle up inch by inch with slight hold
for the extremities and too much for intermediate excrescences. A
few feet higher and the chimney is at its narrowest. Here follows an
uncomfortable rearrangement of the system. The handholds have hitherto
been best on the left wall, and the climber has accordingly faced
that way. But now the holds dwindle down to nothing on that side and
others appear on the right. We may either climb out of the crack and
on to the buttress, or preferably effect a half-turn of the body and
so get to face the right wall. This is most safely accomplished by
working outwards a bit before twisting. A small stone is half jammed
in the crack and may be used for a foothold, though too insecure
for any hauling purposes. The struggling now becomes a little less
irregular. The ledges are excellent for the hands, and in a few feet
we reach the level of the floor of a little cave roofed in by a
couple of overhanging blocks. This place again is only large enough
for one cave-dweller to inhabit, and the leader has his choice of
procedure--either to run out another twelve feet before the second man
comes up, or to wait till his follower reaches the narrowest part of
the crack. To avoid the trouble of re-arranging the rope, the latter
plan is better, though it involves a little risk of peppering the crack
man with small stones that are only too willing to lower their present
level at the roof of the cave.

The last move is moderately easy. By pulling up on to the horizontal
ledge on the left buttress the loose stones are almost avoided, and
then some easy steps land the leader in safety a few yards from the
upper edge of the crags. When all are up, a traverse of about fifty
yards to the right discloses a rough but quick route down to the scree
gully and the wire fence, or the same traverse continued along the
contour-line leads to the Westmorland crags and the beginning of the
ordinary scree descent towards Gavel Neese.

The Doctor’s Chimney deserves to be popular. It is a perfectly safe
climb, and offers excellent practice for the arms. On the whole it is
probably a little easier than the Oblique Chimney, especially when
descended, for it is so narrow that there is little need to seek
footholds until the level of the pinnacle is reached. It has the
advantage over its more famous rival of being easily hit off in misty
weather; for a scree gully is then less mistakable than a rocky sheep
walk, and a wire fence than a ‘bottle-shaped’ pinnacle.

Such, then, was our digression before making for the foot of the
Central Gully. Another party of friends had comfortably ensconced
themselves in various corners on the small crag opposite the chimney,
and were interested observers of our performance. They smoked
cigarettes and offered advice freely; their day’s work was done, and
to watch others still hard at it was perfect luxury. When we emerged
panting from the top they threw away their cigarette ends and strolled
down to Wastdale for tea. It required much moral strength to refrain
from joining them, but there was the Great Central still on hand, and
that other little chimney to prospect. If it were as difficult as
report said, then we were bound to stay and climb it. So we worked
round to the end of the wire fence and looked for our gully. Its name
perhaps suggests a great gap in the mountain side, visible for miles
round, and as unavoidable by the wanderer on this side of Gable as the
Edgware Road is said to be by the Frenchman in London. But if this
be so the name is misleading. Many people fail to find the gully in
bad weather. Its entrance from below is narrow and its exit above is
ill defined. A short distance to the east of the Doctor’s Chimney the
scree-walk up the crag, that leads past the relics of the smuggler’s
inclosure, insures a safe passage to the top of the cliff. This scree
gully faces Kirkfell, and but for the usually poor light on this north
face of the mountain it might be easily recognized from that side.
Scarcely a hundred yards away from the end of the fence the narrow
opening of the Central Gully may be found; from Beckhead it appears
in profile, and is not-always manifest. Walking eastwards along the
scree beneath the crags, it is the first really obvious passage into
the heart of the mountain after leaving the Doctor’s Chimney; the easy
scree walk is not much impressed in the face, and in a mist it has
often been entirely overlooked. Even in cloudy weather the first pitch
of our gully can be discerned a few feet above us, and identified by
the buttress that partially divides it, the chock-stone in its right
branch, and the fine-looking ‘jammed-stone pinnacle’ that shows up a
little higher on the left.

The first clear account of the gully appeared in the Wastdale book: ‘In
the great gully are found two pitches near the bottom. The top part may
be varied by crossing a grass slope and joining the easy scree route,
or the climb may be continued by going straight forward. This looks
very hard, but on close inspection the difficulty entirely disappears;
for the climber is able to pass behind a square tower of rock, and in
this way to enter on the final bit of grass and rock that brings him
out at the top.’

We were a party of three, and managed comfortably with eighty feet of
rope. The first pitch was easy, what with dry rocks and warm weather.
Our guide started up the buttress that divides the gully, and at a
convenient opportunity stepped back on to the loose stones in the bed.
A few feet brought us to the second pitch, a trifle harder than the
first. Again the leader worked up a buttress on the left of the gully,
but this time well in the hollow. Near the top of the obstruction the
left leg had to take the place of the right, a good handhold above
serving to insure the safe transfer, and then a ledge could be reached
by the right foot. The body was next swung over to that side, and so to
the crest of the pitch.

Here the gully looked very attractive. On the left rose the
jammed-stone pinnacle, an easy chimney leading up to the cleft that
separates it from the mountain. Two big boulders bridge the cleft near
the crest of the little passage, the higher one offering a safe way
to the summit of the pinnacle. It is from here that the progress or
‘rake’ can be made out across to the foot of the Oblique Chimney and on
towards Stony Gully at the east end of Gable Crag.

Just above us a third pitch barred the way. The gully was much
wider here, and greater diversity of method was now possible. The
guide counselled the direct attack of the short crack in front. The
philosopher prudently suggested that time was an object and the crack
a hard nut; we ought to take the easy corner on the left. The friend
that completed our trio gave the casting vote in favour of overtime
and ten hours’ work per day during holidays. The crack was certainly
awkward. It was at first easiest to face towards the right and work up
nine or ten feet. Then when the foothold was of the fanciest of orders
it became desirable to effect a half-turn of the body so that the other
side of the crack might be faced. Once the turn was accomplished, a
fine hand-hold made the rest easy; we could pull up the corner and walk
out at the top, some twenty-five feet above the foot of the pitch. Our
friend was thinking evidently of his casting vote when he followed the
guide; for at the turning-point a slip cast him on to the rope and
gave him an extra turn that he scarcely appreciated. But the leader
was safely ensconced above, and the poor fellow hastened up to assure
himself that the rope really had been held tightly. The philosopher
eschewed the cause of this momentary retrogression, and came quietly up
the grass and rock corner well to the left of the gully.

We were now almost out on the face of the mountain. Very little
remained of the gully as such. The ordinary walk away towards the right
was perfectly plain. Mr. Robinson’s route upwards, described in the
extract just quoted, was a little to the left, but not at all easy to
locate, for the square tower of rock blocked the direct view of the
climb. Straight up above us we saw a wall of about a hundred feet of
apparently sheer rock, down the centre of which passed the crack or
chimney that we were to take for our finish.

Loose earthy steps led to the foot of the wall, and for a moment we
thought with some apprehension that the first part was going to be
seriously troublesome. At a height of twenty-five feet or so some
narrow splintered boulders completely filled up the crack and overhung
considerably. Just below them the climbing was obviously awkward,
by reason of the footholds that were not there, if the ancient
Hibernianism may be tolerated, and the necessary leverage on the
boulders when we were using them for all they were worth would imperil
their stability and our own. But after mounting the first twelve feet
with, perhaps, more case than we had anticipated, a narrow ledge showed
up on the right wall for about ten feet, and we noticed with relief
that at its further extremity another traverse led back to the crack
in a slanting direction to a point just above the critical spot. This
diversion we promptly accepted, and found it altogether satisfactory.
The lower ledge was just wide enough for the feet, and handholds just
good enough for the balance of the body during the transfer. At the
further end it was easy scrambling to the upper ledge, which showed
itself as a broad and safe path to a little niche where the crack was
somewhat enlarged. The floor of the niche was formed of loose stones
supported on the larger jammed blocks that had affrighted us below,
and was sufficiently commodious for all the party to place themselves
securely thereon. Probably the next part of the climb was the hardest.
That, at any rate, was the opinion of those who had recommended the
route to us, and after their kindly advice we were gratefully prepared
to accept anything from them in the way of opinion. The chimney was
vertical and its two walls almost holdless.

Direct progress seemed barred by three thick plates of rock wedged into
the crack and projecting outwards some three or four feet. Over these
we had to make our way, and if their edges proved to be unsatisfactory
for the fingers to grip or the arms to clasp, then we should have to
return with the ignominy of defeat. On the one hand appearances were
against us; the pitch looked impossible. But on the other we knew it
had been climbed once or twice before, and assuredly under no better
conditions than were vouchsafed to ourselves. Far away down at the
foot of the gully we noticed a couple of men who had been walking
Wastdale-wards after a hard day, but were gazing up at us in some
curiosity to know how we were going to tackle our problem. It would
never do to go back now.

And thus, after sacrificing such time and small reflections to the
reputed difficulty of the place as its admirers would have claimed
of us, we turned our gaze upwards and climbed the pitch. It went off
pleasantly enough. An easy clamber led to a second platform immediately
below the jammed plates. A foot or two higher, and a ledge on the left
could be used for the one hand, the edge of the lowest overhanging
block with the other, while the left leg was swung up on to a shelf.
The attitude was awkward just for the moment, but with both arms
clasping the plate of rock, which was perfectly trustworthy, there
could be no thought of falling for the leader, who had only to thrust
himself forward into an upper recess and wriggle into safety.

Here he discovered another level platform, neatly turfed and obviously
constructed as a climber’s resting place. It would have been easy to
stay there and negotiate the rope for the other men below, but the next
pitch was only ten feet higher up, and led to a still better corner.
Therefore he went on by straightforward hand-and-foot work, and climbed
the pitch by its left-hand branch. The chimney is here about eight feet
wide, divided into two by a long and narrow boulder.

The right-hand branch is just possible, but the sense of insecurity at
one spot almost demands help from below. On the left a deep recess is
floored with splintered blocks that threaten to break away but cannot
easily manage it. The boulder offered enough assistance in the way of
holds, especially a sharp edge at the top, and when overcome showed
itself to be the last genuine obstacle in our course. We were soon
all gathered together at the little notch that marks the top of the
chimney, and after adding a stone to the cairn that stands there, we
marched up some thirty feet of solid buttress and broke at a plunge
through the thick cornice of old snow that yet remained as a token of
the hard winter that had come and gone.

The easy finish to the right of the last vertical wall passes up scree
from the top of the third pitch, and takes us on to a ridge of rock
above the Smuggler’s Retreat. Here it joins the Scree Gully, and we
have a small piece of hand-and-foot work before it narrows, then curves
away to the left, and finally ends on a ledge of broken rock close to
the highest point.



CHAPTER IX

_THE GREAT NAPES AND ITS GULLIES_


It has already been explained that the Great Napes rises like a huge
screen out of the southern slopes of Gable. Its crest runs from
north-west to south-east. It is possible to travel along the whole
length of the ridge from Hell’s Gate (called Deep Gill on the Ordnance
map) to the White Napes scree at Little Hell Gate, and this route,
religiously followed without divergence on to either face, will be
found to offer many interesting pitches. The outside face of the Napes
is cut by the Needle Gully, the Eagle’s Nest Gully, and the Arrowhead
Gully, taken in order from east to west.

The Needle Gully has two separate branches leading to the crest of
the Napes, neither of them particularly difficult or interesting.
The Eagle’s Nest Gully is in summer time little more than a scree
walk. So likewise is the main Arrowhead Gully, which, however, has
a branch up to the left leading to a fine-looking chimney and out
on to the open face two-thirds of the way up towards the ridge. To
the west of the Arrowhead Gully the Napes is much less imposing, and
though small gullies cut it up considerably they are too indefinite to
particularize.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

GREAT GABLE FROM LINGMELL

(_Face page 146_)]

The chief _arêtes_ on the face are, taking them in order from east to
west, the Needle ridge immediately to the right of the Needle Gully;
the Eagle’s Nest ridge between the Eagle’s Nest Gully and the Needle
Gully; and the Arrowhead ridge between the Eagle’s Nest Gully and the
Arrowhead Gully. All these _arêtes_ offer most enjoyable climbs. The
Gable Needle (or Napes Needle) is a sharp pinnacle rising vertically
from the lower part of the Needle ridge. It is a climb for experts
only, with steady heads. The Bear rock is a smaller pinnacle a few
yards to the west of the foot of Arrowhead Gully. Its ascent is a
simple problem in rock-climbing--a pull up with the arms from the notch
at the back--but it is worth visiting on account of its singular aspect.

THE ARROWHEAD GULLY is almost entirely devoid of interest.
It has not often been visited, for the reason that its material is
loose, its one pitch is easy, and the neighbourhood is very rich in
more inviting climbs. A large party went up it last April and were
exceedingly unhappy so long as a single member remained in it. Our
interest had been concentrated on the Eagle’s Nest ridge, and after
some considerable time had been spent about the crags, we found
ourselves at the foot of the Arrowhead Gully, afflicted with the
unanimous desire to reach the summit of the Napes by a way that none of
us had attempted before. There remained to us this gully and its branch
up by the left. It soon became manifest that we should have to divide,
for the place was too small to hold us, and too narrow to permit free
passage of loose stones that the higher members almost immediately
began to dislodge. We lunched a few feet up the left branch, and were
decidedly uncomfortable during our hasty meal. The ledges that we had
chosen were so uncertain and the scree below so steep that all were
glad when the sandwiches were finished and preparations commenced for
roping-up. My own section of the party elected to follow the branch
to its abrupt ending out on the face. The others kept to the main
gully, and were busy chimney-sweeping most of their time. Their one
pitch was straightforward, but loose blocks abounded and required
careful treatment so long as their fall might endanger the safety of
any one. Over would go a boulder as soon as the last man had passed
it, smashing from side to side, and we in our gully vaguely wondered,
at each successive bombardment of the Arrowhead, whether it would not
be fair to give the next comers the credit of trying a new climb;
the old gully was rapidly altering, and the change in its ancient
landmarks testifying to the influence of man as a geological agent. But
in spite of their extensive quarrying operations they reached their
destination before us. We found that our variation involved some good
climbing, spoilt, however, by a plentiful supply of dangerous _débris_
on all its available ledges. I was leading, and therefore safe from
bombardment; but those below me were now and again peppered, and my
feelings hurt by their objurgations. Those who read this book as a
literary production will, no doubt, sympathise with the writer in his
difficulties with so limited a vocabulary as climbing affords. That
words of primary importance are few is a fact patent to all students
of the “Alpine Journal.” But in moments of excitement the climber is
urged to expand his limits, and to call on other sciences (notably the
theological) for suitable expressions that will relieve his feelings.

We started by working up on the right to a ledge at the foot of the big
pitch. Then followed a traverse across to a short chimney on the other
side. This chimney was obviously a possible route, but for greater
safety and in order to avoid a lengthening of the rope between the
second man and myself, I worked up for a few feet and then rounded
the buttress into the central portion of the gully, where a second
crack started upwards. Six feet higher this crack terminated at the
same level as the left-hand chimney, and some dangerously loose grass
holds helped me to drag up into a small cave where moderate anchorage
could be obtained. Unfortunately a block as large as my fist managed
to escape past me and to attack deliberately the unlucky member of
our party. He, poor man! has the reputation of never being missed by
a vagrant stone, and on this occasion he was hit rather badly on the
head. It was no use hurrying, but we feared a faint, and when two of us
were squeezed well into the cave, the wounded man was engineered up
to our level. He was a bit dazed, but on the whole seemed moderately
jubilant at this latest proof of his case-hardened condition. When
reassured as to his welfare we wriggled clumsily out of the narrow
cave, feet foremost, and made our way easily by the left wall to the
roof of the cave and the top of the pitch. The rest of the gully was
little more than mere walking, and a few minutes later we joined our
friends on the crest of the Napes.

THE NEEDLE GULLY has rather a bad reputation. My personal
experience of it has not been altogether pleasant. I tried it in
January, 1893, with the enterprising classic referred to in my account
of the Oblique Chimney, and found the soft snow so troublesome in its
steepness and want of tenacity that we decided to leave the gully for
some more auspicious occasion. The opportunity came in the following
August, after an ascent of the Needle, and with it came the conviction
that in dry weather the gully possesses no interest to the climber pure
and simple, if such an anomaly exists, but that it should be visited by
those who take pleasure in rock scenery. The Eagle’s Nest ridge is a
marvellously fine sweep of clean-cut rock bounding the western wall of
the gully. The jagged outline of the Needle ridge on the eastern side
is scarcely inferior in grandeur.

We found two easy pitches to begin with, taking us to about the level
of the Needle summit. Then a vertical wall interposed itself directly
in our way. We scrambled in or near a slight cleft on our right,
using rather treacherous grass-covered ledges, and distributing our
weight over as many points of support as possible. That portion of
the pitch was only about three feet high, and then came a momentary
‘easy’ before another steep little bit of eight feet. The resting
place is just large enough for one man. At the top of the second piece
a ledge led round by the left past an awkward corner that seemed to
alarm our more substantial members by its narrowness, and then two
or three steep grass steps had to be taken directly upwards. There
we found a projecting knob forming a convenient saddle for each to
anchor as he manipulated the rope for the man below, a deep crack
offering itself in the right position for belaying the rope. A foot
or two higher, and we were able to traverse back into the bed of the
gully, and thence find an easy way up screes and short rock slopes to
the top. The climb along the ridge itself to the highest point of the
Napes was pleasantly varied. We could readily distinguish the points
of articulation of the chief buttresses, for the general angle was too
steep to disguise the contours. When close to the connecting ridge
between Napes and the Westmorland crags we bore down on to Hell’s Gate
screes and crossed over to the opposite rocks to hunt out the little
climb up to the Westmorland cairn. This was not so easy to find, and we
wasted much time in attempting an attack by some smooth slabs too high
up the scree. At last we found that the climb began in a small gully
some distance down, which bore upwards a little to the right till a
short pinnacle was reached. Then from the neck behind the pinnacle we
traversed across the face to the left for a few yards, before climbing
hand over hand to the summit ridge. It came as a surprise that the
ascent had such neatness; and we were all at the end willing enough
to indorse the favourable opinions expressed in the climbing book.
Be it remembered that the cairn at the top was built by the brothers
Westmorland of Penrith, not for the purpose of indicating the finish
of a climb, but to mark the coign of vantage for one of the finest
mountain views in the country. Remember also that proposition of a
well-known mountaineer that the view from a summit is much the same
whatever be the route taken to get there; and apply it by visiting
Westmorland cairn to look at the Napes, even if the expedition involves
no troublesome climbing.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE RIDGES OF THE GREAT NAPES

(_Face page 153_)]



CHAPTER X

_THE RIDGES OF THE GREAT NAPES_


THE NEEDLE RIDGE is usually taken from the foot of the Needle
itself. It was explored first in 1884 by Mr. Haskett Smith, who then
made a general survey without actually completing the climb. Two
years later he effected a descent of the whole route; and in 1887 Mr.
Slingsby’s party made the first strict ascent, and were emphatic in
their praise of its fine character.

The introductory few feet from the notch behind the Needle are
difficult, the problem being to climb up a steep slab of six feet or so
to the foot of a slight grass chimney that slopes upwards to the right.
Three fingers of the right hand can be inserted in a curious pocket in
the slab; rather poor foothold is all that can be found for steadying
purposes, and for the rest just enough will manifest itself to enable
the climber to cautiously drag himself up to a small ledge, and thence
to the foot of the chimney.

This takes him easily to about the level of the top of the Needle.
There a poised block is passed on the left, that used to give trouble.
I once saw my leader attempt to climb directly over it. When in the
very act of pulling himself on to its upper surface it slowly swung
round, as if pivoted at each extremity. Fortunately he was not tempted
to let go, and it readjusted itself in a firmer position without
quitting its niche. My friend led no more that day, and we afterwards
solemnly warned folks against the boulder variation. The stone is yet
there and is still insecure, but climbers pass round by the right and
then work back on to the edge of the _arête_ and up to the foot of
the vertical wall that begins the second part of the climb. It is not
unusual for the first part to take so long a time in severe weather as
to convince a prudent party that it is expedient to utilize a grass
traverse into the Needle Gully that here discloses itself on the left.
This ledge takes them safely to a point in the bed of the gully above
the chief pitch, and within a few minutes’ easy scrambling of the top.

The first part of the Needle Ridge may be neatly varied by climbing the
buttress up from the gully, or by working across to the same buttress
from the Needle notch. These variations are a little harder than the
usual climb, but both are safe in dry weather.

As illustrating the way not to use a rope, an amusing story is told
of the first difficulty on the Needle ridge. Two young fellows had
walked up to the foot of the gully with another party of climbers, and
had lazily discussed their lunch and their plans for the day while
the others were busy on the Needle. After deciding that they knew the
Needle too well to learn anything by climbing it, they went on to
examine critically, from a distance, the Eagle’s Nest opposite and to
point out the way that they would insure their own safety in an attack
on it. They scoffed at its reputed severity, and would really have then
and there shown the neatest method of vanquishing it. On the other
hand, it was a warm day, and they felt a little slack. Perhaps the
Needle Ridge would tickle their jaded appetites a bit. Yes! they would
walk up the ridge and get some fresh air 400 feet higher. Then they
tossed up for leadership, and tied on their forty feet rope--one man at
each end. Away went the leader from the notch, over the slab and up the
chimney. When at the end of his rope it occurred to him to look back
and see what his companion was doing. The poor fellow had stuck at the
slab, and was in imminent danger of falling backwards. ‘Good gracious,
man, what are you thinking of?’ shouted the indignant leader. ‘I am
not going to be pulled down for any one!’ and promptly began to unrope
himself. Then the man who tells the story hurried up from below, and
fortunately arrived in time to prevent a catastrophe. Such an aspect
of the utility of the rope need scarcely be commented upon, but I was
not surprised a day or two after hearing the story to be characterized
by a non-climbing acquaintance in town as a desperate venturesome
individual, one who went about climbing mountains _with a rope_. By
non-climbers a rope must indeed be regarded as a source of danger.

The plainest view of the upper platform of the Needle and the awkward
corner that rises from it is to be had at the expense of a few minutes’
digression from the ridge. It is best to climb from the top of the
grass chimney over to the right, and then down a steep and loose recess
to a grass platform. A photograph of the Needle from this point of view
has been published, and is an interesting one to study.

The second part of the Needle Ridge begins with a vertical wall of
rock that from below appears very formidable. With ice about it is
certainly difficult, and the traverse to the gully on the left is the
wisest course to pursue under such conditions. But on close inspection
a square corner discloses itself in the wall, and the fifteen feet of
scrambling in the cleft are perfectly straightforward. At the top of
the wall the ridge is broken up in a wonderful way, and huge blocks are
distributed along the route in great profusion. The climbing becomes
very easy, though retaining its interest to the finish at the top of
the Napes; and the whole ascent may be disposed of summarily in half an
hour from the Needle notch.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE UPPER PART OF THE NEEDLE RIDGE

(_Face page 156_)]

THE EAGLE’S NEST RIDGE was climbed on April 15, 1892, by a
strong party of cragsmen. They were led by Mr. G. A. Solly, who was
well backed up by Mr. Cecil Slingsby. They left a record of the
expedition in the Wastdale book, and let the climbing fraternity
decide for themselves as to whether the ascent was worth repeating.
No exception can be taken to the rocks, which are perfectly sound
and reliable, but an inspection of the ridge from the Needle shows how
little hold there is for hands or feet. Moreover, the hardest part
is so situated that a safe descent from it is well-nigh impossible
for the unlucky leader who finds his strength or skill inadequate to
cope with it. Nevertheless, I have recently discovered that with an
exact knowledge of the available holds, and with the best conditions
of the rocks, a man may safely tackle the ascent if well supported
by a sturdy second. The situation is terribly exposed for the first
140 feet, and will try the nerves of even experienced mountaineers.
Dependence is often placed on small footholds that slope slightly to
the climber’s disadvantage; and on such ledges good nailed boots and
perfect confidence are essential. The fact is that the ridge is not
to be recommended; and its virtue is that there is no deception about
it. The clean sweep of the sharp nose of rock from the green platform
at the foot up to the patch of grass where the slanting chimney begins
scares everybody away, tyros and experts alike. That almost vertical
buttress looks impossible, and to nearly everybody it is so.

It was a felicitous discovery of Mr. Solly’s, a day later, that the
worst part of the _arête_ could be avoided by taking to a chimney a few
feet away to the left. Looking up at the ridge from the grass platform
at its foot, the appearance presented is that of a vertical face of
rock out by two chimneys each about a hundred feet long. The right of
these is shallow and open, with tufts of grass interspersed with smooth
slabs. Whether it can be climbed or not I have never ascertained. But
the left chimney or gully is deeply cut into the wall. Its aspect is
ferocious, but its disposition gentle. It can be easily reached and
comfortably climbed. Solly’s original route was up the strict _arête_
to the right of both chimneys. The _arête_ to the left of both was
investigated at Easter, 1895, and manifested an inclination to yield to
the attack of a party. But the party has not yet preferred the attack,
and the suggestion may be taken at its worth. Our gully is rather
earthy for the first forty feet, and care must be taken by the leader
to avoid dislodging stones on those below him. Then the rockholds
change in character just above an outstanding pinnacle on the left, and
there is an interesting passage into a niche at the back of the gully,
a sloping and well-worn hold for the right foot offering the safest
support as the body is dragged over into the corner. Hence the route is
up the crack for a few feet and across a long slab to the right-hand
wall, care being taken with a loose splinter that is generally seized
as the handiest grip available. The rest of the gully is of grass
and small scree, and at the top a view may be obtained down into the
Arrowhead Gully. But for the ridge climb a divergence is made to the
right almost immediately after the chimney pitch is passed.

A split is noticed in the _arête_, forming a small and sharp pinnacle,
just below which the shallow, grass-tufted chimney finishes in sorry
fashion. The climber passes through the cleft, utilizing a large block
that is not quite fixed. On the other side he finds the junction with
the original ridge route, ten feet below the finish of the curdling
part. His next move is awkward, over a smooth rock with unsatisfactory
sloping footholds, but there is no real danger with the second man at
the cleft, and the leader reaches the grassy recess where, in the words
of the first explorers, the difficulties moderated. It is large enough
for two men to brace themselves firmly, and manipulate 150 feet of rope
for an enterprising third man who may wish to come up by way of the
outside edge.

This route to the recess we shall now briefly describe, suggesting at
the same time that no man should attempt to lead up it who has not
already explored the ground with the safeguard of a rope from above.
From the horizontal grass platform at the foot of the climb a narrow
cleft runs up to the ridge in such a way as to separate off the first
fifteen feet from the main mass. The cleft is mounted with facility
by aid of numerous holds of first-rate quality. At the top we find
ourselves on the strict ridge, but after mounting ten feet the holds
disappear entirely, and the verticalness of the next seven or eight
feet makes a slight divergence absolutely necessary. On the face of the
ridge that bounds the Needle Gully below us two parallel cracks run
up steeply about a yard apart. They are so closed, and they run so
obliquely up the wall, that good foothold is impossible in either, and
handhold of even moderate quality requires much seeking. Nevertheless,
they are both of immense importance, and are capable of giving all
the required aid. The leader should here be joined by the second, and
should belay himself to the highest effective part of the broken rock
below him. His companion should be belayed independently. Then his next
move is to work up for three feet on to the right-hand crack, with his
fingers gripping the other, until the latter is felt to be good enough
for a pull towards the ridge. The transfer of the right foot into the
crack on the left is critical. I prefer to effect the passage without
boots, as the toes can feel so much better where the crack is deepest.
Then the outside edge a yard away to the left is within reach of the
hand, and the leader, cut off from further assistance below, must
manage very carefully to climb on to the ridge.

His holds are obvious; the difficulty is not so much in finding the
way as in keeping to it. Fortunately a little flat platform is now
reached, on which he can sit in comfort and recover his strength
before attacking the next part. It is at about the level of the top of
the Gable Needle, and Mr. Slingsby tells me it is the spot that the
first climbers named the Eagle’s Nest. It is just visible against the
sky in the view facing page 153, 3-1/2 inches from the foot of the
illustration. The awkward part first ascended is scarcely twelve
feet high, but is exceptionally severe if the leader takes it without
the assistance of a second.

[Illustration:

  PLATE V.

  THE ARROWHEAD RIDGE.    THE EAGLE’S NEST RIDGE.   THE NEEDLE RIDGE.
  From the South-east.      From the South-east.   From the North-west.

  _a_ Eagle’s Nest.
  _b_ Easy Chimney Route.
  _c_ Finish along the Ridge.
  _dd_ Severest Portion.
  _e_ Ling Chimney.

THE GREAT NAPES RIDGES.]

The consequences of a slip in the next portion of the climb are more
serious, but probably it is technically less difficult than the lower
bit. The Eagle’s Nest is barely large enough for the leader to brace
himself firmly when helping the second man up on the rope, and he may
naturally prefer to mount higher without assistance rather than peril
the safety of both for the sake of a helping shoulder up the next
piece. There are no belaying pins, and traversing to either side of the
buttress is seemingly impossible. If he cannot be certain of holding on
to the rope when a slip occurs to his follower, he had better decide to
advance another fifty feet before the second man moves from his secure
position below. The first ten feet above the Nest are remarkable for
steepness and smallness of holds. If the rocks are cold and the finger
tips benumbed, the holds cannot be appreciated at all, and the place
becomes horribly dangerous. Yet there is a sufficiency of grip for
hands and feet, and bootmarks can now be detected on the chief ledges.
With perfect coolness and the exercise of his best judgment, the
solitary leader will gradually mount the ridge step by step, and the
tension on his nerves and muscles will be relieved when the level of
the narrow pinnacle to the left is reached, and he notices the numerous
scratches on the rocks of those who have climbed to the junction by
the easy route. Mr. H. C. Bowen and I made the second strict ascent in
April, 1898, with 100 feet of rope between us.

At the foot of the slanting chimney it again becomes possible for
the leader to obtain assistance from his companions, though he is
not the sort of man to require it if he has come up by the difficult
way. The climbing is now delightfully safe and interesting. The holds
are good and the ridge varied. From the top of the slanting chimney,
which can be ascended without trouble, the true _arête_ below looks
desperately stiff. The remainder of the climb will be found to consist
of alternating horizontal and vertical passages. It is often possible
to pass down the grassy ledges on the left, but the ridge is much
pleasanter, and in wet weather actually safer. The views down the
vertical walls on the right into the Needle Gully are magnificent, and
the Needle Ridge is seen at its best.

The first party took two hours and ten minutes to accomplish their
ascent. The ridge with the initial variation by the chimney has been
climbed in half an hour by a party of three; hunger lent wings, for
their lunch was waiting them on Gable.

THE ARROWHEAD RIDGE derives its name from a very prominent crag
a short distance to the west of the Eagle’s Nest Ridge. It offers a
very fine specimen of rock architecture, though the artist photographer
has been known to express dissatisfaction at its outline, and to claim
artistic license in modifying his pictures to suit his theories. Many
of those who have been attracted to the Great Napes in search of the
original have been much perplexed at the discrepancy between the old
photographs and the modern reality. Some in their wrath have desired
to get the photographer and his camera below them in a rickety gully,
where, as Dent puts it, no stone is left unturned in their struggle to
reach the top.

But if the artist cuts away a few thousand tons of rock from his
negative with one fell stroke of his brush, if he commands the sun
to stand still and the shadows to move on, if he subjects his angles
to the influence of the personal equation of the climber instead of
the mere observer, these weaknesses are not to be recorded against
him. Mountaineering as a sport owes its advancement far more to
the inaccurate descriptions of its literary devotees than to the
simple statements of facts of the scientific, and its best pictorial
advertisements have been those where art has assisted nature and
laughed at science.

This to some extent is what we all need, and what we all understand.
From the top of the Kern Knotts’ crack the evidence of a freely
hanging rope as to the direction of the vertical actually contradicts
one’s best judgment. The Kern Knotts wall is perhaps 15° from the
vertical, but looking down it one would judge it perpendicular. Yet
we never fancy a foothold horizontal when it is at a slope of 15° to
our disadvantage, else the Eagle’s Nest Ridge would lose much of its
terror. Rather are we then inclined to magnify the angle, and the
actual slope plus our own inclination make together something like the
30° that would figure in a fancy sketch or a popular article.

Education is a marvellously fine thing, and in mountaineering it works
wonders. It enables men to interpret the barren truth in accordance
with their own experience. Notes of new ascents in the ‘Alpine Journal’
they can enjoy and assimilate; but, as in eating caviare, the taste
needs cultivation, and many remain unequal to such food to the ends of
their lives. Now because there are many false translations possible of
the one true original, it must be easy with a knowledge of the truth
to interpret it variously, and correspondingly difficult to get at
the correct version from a bad translation. Even the mountaineering
education fails to help us. All it does is to give us the taste for
truth, and the sense of right to demand the genuine article. It might
be printed in italics at the beginning of the chapter, like the usually
inappropriate and obscure poetical references, and so isolated from
the author’s personal exposition. This text and sermon notion has
not, so far as my little library of Alpine books can tell me, been
adopted by any popular writer on mountaineering, though the difficulty
has been grappled with in other ways. Thus the Alpine historian or
geographer may find the required facts neatly gathered together in a
brief appendix, or still more briefly summarised in a letter published
simultaneously with a review of the book in the ‘Alpine Journal.’

The sale of caviare is strictly limited, and the demand for ‘Alpine
Notes and New Ascents’ confined to the few. Hence mountaineering
books intended to sell well are written for the uneducated many, not
for teaching purposes, but for the satisfaction of their desire for
tales of adventure. So long as climbers tolerate this professionalism
introduced into mountaineering--and there is every reason why they
should in all cases where the professional is recognized as such--they
must necessarily give the artist a free hand, whether he writes or
paints or takes photographs. Personally I should ask for information
as to the treatment of any negative that has been employed for
reproduction of pictures. ‘From a photograph by,’ nowadays suggests a
bad camera, a shaky tripod, an amateur operator, a cunning artist, and
a long purse. But ‘truth is mighty and will prevail,’ so we may as well
get on to the Arrowhead.

Viewing this Arrowhead from the easy ground near the Bear rock, it is
seen to bear some resemblance to the Gable Needle (see Chapter XI.). In
each case the rock forms the lower extremity of a Napes ridge, and its
sides are remarkable for their steepness and smoothness. The outside
edge of each is broken by a well-marked shoulder, and the head of the
Arrow may be fairly well likened to the top overhanging boulder on the
Needle. Here, perhaps, the resemblance ends. Certain parts of the
climbing on the Arrowhead must be characterized as insecure, whereas
the Needle is firm throughout. The former may easily be attacked from
the notch behind it, the Needle cannot be similarly treated. The
original climb up to the shoulder on the Arrowhead was by a recess on
the east side, that up the Needle by a narrow crack on the west. (See
photograph facing page 153.)

The first ascent dates from April, 1892, when a large party attacked
the rock on the lines just indicated. The lower part of the buttress
was mounted by a steep and open recess on the western side, a good
climb leading directly to the shoulder half-way up, where the route
was joined by the upper end of a corresponding chimney on the other
side of the buttress. Thence the climbing was straight up the corner.
It was not very difficult, but at a point a few feet below the final
bit the rocks were insecure and the situation alarming. The stones
are better now than formerly, but great caution must be used. In 1893
another party repeated the ascent, and showed that it was possible by
passing round to the gap at the back to continue the climb along the
ridge. The usual route nowadays is to reach the ridge by the scree
gully between the Arrowhead and the Eagle’s Nest _arête_, climbing
up the side wall to the notch, and so avoiding the Arrowhead itself.
The wall is steep, but its ledges are conveniently disposed, and no
trouble should be experienced in the ascent. Once on the ridge the
climbing is delightful. The holds are good, and the narrowness of the
crest along which we pass gives the spice of sensationalism that at
all times offers an apology for easy climbing. The actual ascent of
the ridge need take but twenty minutes, the descent about half an hour
for a party of three, when conditions are favourable. There is one
_mauvais pas_ of moderate quality: a wall of ten feet must be mounted
to reach the crest of a tower on the ridge. Then follows a long stride
across the gap on the other side, and it is sometimes amusing to watch
the timid climber who fears that he may not be able to swing the hind
leg over when in the colossus attitude half-way across. Above this all
difficulties soon disappear; the gullies on either side rapidly rise to
our own level, and the ridge ends shortly before the crest of the Napes
is reached.

The view facing page 153 shows the Arrowhead at the left-hand top
corner, the Eagle’s Nest Ridge against the sky, the lower half of the
Needle Ridge, and the Gable Needle itself.



CHAPTER XI

_THE GABLE NEEDLE_


The best-known rock problem in the district is offered by the Gable
Needle. Its position has already been defined. As we walk towards
Styhead from Esk Hause the Needle stands out from the west face of the
Gable very plainly; but from Wastdale it is almost invisible against
the background of the indistinguishable Napes rocks, and only those
who know exactly where it should be are bold enough to say where it
is. Very few people seem to have seen it before 1886, when Mr. Haskett
Smith reached the top, though Mr. Wilson Robinson made a pencil
outline-sketch of both the Needle and the Bear rock as long ago as
1828. Many even who were acquainted with the crags of the Napes had
not noticed it. The fact is that a face of rock is very apt to look
flat and void of detail at a short distance; and it is the joy of the
rock-climber to discover its thousand beauties when he engages with it
at close quarters.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE GABLE NEEDLE

(_Face page 168_)]

The Needle is indeed a fine fellow as rocks go--just the sort of
ornament for one’s back garden in town, a gymnasium in itself. It has
now many admirers. The few footholds on the top boulder bear the
marks of many nailed boots, even its smooth face is scored by futile
scrapes of the nervous, but it retains its charm for the Wastdale
enthusiast. In his dreams he takes a hammer and chisel, and chips away
an important hold, and with the dreamer’s ease swarms up the rock
unaided. Again a hold is chipped away confidently with the faith that
removes mountains, and again he glides up and down; till at last its
small top draws him up without effort and he hastens down to Wastdale
to invite the attention of climbers to the new edition of the Needle.

Mr. Haskett Smith climbed it alone in 1886 and left a handkerchief on
the top. Those who have been once on the Needle will readily believe
that this first ascent is one of the most daring things that have been
done in the Lake District.

He pointed it out to Mr. John Robinson one day when they were
traversing the face of the Napes on to the Needle _arête_, and they
both agreed that it had a future before it, that their successors in
the field of climbing would make it their resort and perhaps even build
a diminutive shrine on its crest to the discoverer. Nearly three years
elapsed before Mr. Geoffrey Hastings made the second ascent. Then,
in June, 1889, Mr. F. Wellford climbed it, and Mr. Robinson made the
fourth ascent in August. In the following year Professor Marshall’s
party attacked the climb, spending three-quarters of an hour in
flinging a rope over the summit for the benefit of the leader. On that
occasion Miss Koecher reached the top--the first lady, at any rate in
modern times, to succeed in doing so.

Dr. S. and I travelled down to Drigg one night. We breakfasted there
early and walked the twelve miles to Wastdale, halting only for a
plunge into cold Wastwater. After the manner of our kind, we inquired
at once for the Climbing Book, to learn the latest news from the Fells.
The ‘Pall Mall Budget’ article of June 5, 1890, on the Needle, had been
inserted, and we read how it might be vanquished. In the afternoon we
worked our way up to the Napes. Being the more enthusiastic, I found
the Needle first, and was breathless on the top of the crack when Dr.
S. arrived. He threw a rope up from the small platform (seen at the
bottom of the picture facing page 168) and came after me. The crack
up the face seemed difficult that first time; most people find it so.
The first movement obliquely up to the left is easy, but the next part
is a trifle too safe for the new comer. He gets his left thigh almost
hopelessly jammed into the crack, and can move neither up nor down. The
best plan is to work more with the left foot and knee in the crack,
both hands on the edge of the leaf of rock, and the right leg getting
general support by pressure outside, until the most constricted bit
half-way up is passed. Then the leaf of rock can be swarmed up with
much greater ease, and the climber soon finds himself looking down the
other side of the crack.

From here the route for ten feet is directly up the right edge. The
holds are not numerous, but good enough when the rocks are dry, and
we find ourselves on a platform or shoulder, very conspicuous in most
aspects of the pinnacle, that serves as an excellent take-off for the
last struggle. The terrors of the crack often scare off people from the
final piece. They almost did our little party. I found my watch-chain
broken--some links still remain in the heart of the Needle--and my
watch badly dented. The ‘Pall Mall’ had promised us that the last bit
was the worst, and we thought for a moment that a little preliminary
training for a few days would be the correct thing. However, I took off
my boots, for they had no nails, and, standing on a shoulder of Dr.
S;, stepped on to the right end of the ledge on which the top block
rests. This corner is difficult to climb alone and exceedingly daring
work, for the climber drags his body on to it over a sheer drop of a
hundred feet, and feels no certainty of safety till he is up. It is
like climbing on a narrow mantelshelf five feet high, that is only just
wide enough to allow standing room. An ice-axe offers a useful take-off
in the absence of a sufficiently responsible shoulder. The disposition
of one’s centre of gravity must be carefully considered, and there is a
sense of alternate peril and safety in inspiration and expiration. Once
on the ledge the game was evidently in our hands, and traversing along
it to the left I found a rounded boss of rock eighteen inches higher
that offered good hold for both feet. Then the left was brought well
up to a little ledge nearly an inch wide, the right hand gripped the
right edge of the boulder, and on straightening out the top edge could
be grasped. An arm pull was helped by sundry roughnesses for the toes,
and I sprawled half across the top triumphantly. In a couple of minutes
Dr. S. was by my side. We had no intention of climbing higher that day,
and willingly spent half an hour in examining the routes of the Napes’
ridges, two of which are seen to advantage from this spot.

We descended without serious difficulty, Dr. S. going first. I
half decided to fix our rope round the top block and use it for my
own descent, but it would have been an awkward matter to detach it
afterwards. Moreover, others had not found a fixed rope necessary,
and we did not wish to have anything to reproach ourselves about
subsequently. Dr. S. placed himself firmly on the shoulder, drawing in
the rope as it came down. If I fell it would have been on to the rocks
a few feet below him; he would experience no great shock, and could
easily hold me in. The descent was by the exact route of the ascent. On
reaching the crack again we re-adjusted our boots and slid down easily,
the remembrance of the leg-clasping constriction preventing our jamming
in the descent.

Two or three days later we took other men up the Needle. It was like
introducing an old friend. Though I had lost no respect for him, he was
easier to manage and offered new features for inspection.

The side of the Needle facing Lingmell exhibits an obvious alternative
route to the shoulder. The climbing is twelve or fifteen feet longer,
and rather more interesting. Facing the Needle at its foot with our
backs to Lingmell, we bear to the right into a square corner. We pass
up this on the left to a little level platform, reached best by an
armpull and a foothold well away on the buttress. I have seen good men
in much trouble on this corner. From here the route is straight up
the wall, with a halting-place ten feet higher in a huge slit on the
right. Then we climb the same cleft whose other side constitutes the
first part of the old route. This side, however, is wider, and contains
sundry jammed stones for convenience of passengers. The old route is
joined without difficulty, and the shoulder reached as before.

To effect the ascent of the top boulder without help it has always
appeared to me easier to start by standing on the small shelf just
under the left-hand end of the overhanging part--the shelf, in fact,
that is occupied by the sitting figure in the view facing page 168.
Practice on ordinary strong mantelshelves enables one to mount up this
corner with a certainty of success, the right hand being thrust into a
thin horizontal cleft rough enough to offer some friction for the back
of the hand as well as the palm.

If people are at the Needle and wish to explore it, they may like to
know that Mr. W. H. Fowler has shown that the ‘outside edge’ can be
followed from bottom to top. Also, that it is not so difficult to work
from the foot of the ordinary route round to the other side of the
cleft that splits the Needle. To photograph the Needle we usually get
up the other side of the Needle Gully at the foot of the Eagle’s Nest
_arête_. Indeed, this grass ledge is so popular for the observation of
a performance that it is known as the ‘dress circle.’ One photograph
exists of the Needle in which nearly all the climbing details are
masked by a crowd of daring maidens swarming up it. Two have reached
the top, and are supporting a terror-stricken man, who, poor fellow,
had rashly undertaken to lead up. The picture suggests the old problem
of the mediæval theologians--how many angels can balance on the point
of a needle?



CHAPTER XII

_KERN KNOTTS_


KERN KNOTTS CHIMNEY.--This is one of the prettiest things in the
neighbourhood, and it photographs well. The small bunch of hard rock
that crops out of the wilderness of scree on this side of the Gable was
at one time rarely visited, though so near the actual Styhead path. Its
name was almost unknown. I confused it with the Tom Blue crags higher
up on the fell. Nowadays the good quality of the chimney attracts many
visitors, and several come to see it who do not actually climb. The
Knotts are in three parts--Raven Crag, and Upper and Lower Kern Knotts.
The middle part is the steepest and longest. A prominent nose or
buttress springs down its centre, and is visible in profile at a great
distance. The buttress is split off from the main mass by a vertical
crack extending from side to side, varying in thickness from three or
four inches to a foot.

The chimney had been inspected by earlier climbers before I had ever
heard of it. The uninitiated of Wastdale often lament the secretiveness
of those who know where new things exist but who keep the knowledge
to themselves. Nestor is very reticent, and it is to be counted unto
him for righteousness that one Christmas week, after bad weather had
deprived us of all the ordinary climbing, he announced to the engineer
and me that there was a fascinating little thing, the fancy of an ‘off’
afternoon, lying conveniently close to the hotel, that he would show us
how to climb. I was lying on the billiard table just then thinking of
the different kinds of nothing. ‘Where is it?’ I asked. ‘In Tom Blue’
was the reply, and as this was yet but a name to me I wondered whether
Tom’s blueness measured his difficulty. The engineer was enthusiastic,
and declined to allow me to remain longer on the billiard table after
hearing this news. So in the gentle rain we marched out of the inn
that afternoon, and worked our way up the Styhead path till we had
passed the little spring that crosses it near the zig-zag. There we
saw the great rocks looming up on the left and were told that Tom Blue
awaited us there. The steep slope leading up to our climb was strewn
with huge boulders in chaotic confusion. We could either keep to
these or else make for an interesting crack in the Lower Kern Knotts
that stood directly in our way. To give us a foretaste we took to
the crack, finding as usual that its aspect from a distance gave no
clue to the wealth of useful detail in the shape of handholds. Then a
few yards more of mercurial skipping from boulder to boulder and we
reached a little terrace at the foot of the fine wall of the Upper Kern
Knotts. Since that day a huge cairn has grown up on this terrace at an
astonishing rate of development, to mark the beginning of the climb.
Perhaps by the date of publication of this volume the cairn will have
grown to rival the crags in height, the climb may be _viâ_ the cairn,
and Kern Knotts Chimney blocked up for ever. But for the sake of the
afternoon strollers from Wastdale we pray that this may not be. The
ascent is apparently in two portions, the lower one being the easier.
Actually there is a third pitch, the one of perhaps greatest intrinsic
difficulty, starting at the top of the split buttress and quite
unnoticeable from below. For this reason the climb must be regarded as
deceptive; it is one thing to struggle up the middle pitch with the
impression that the worst piece is being tackled, and quite another
to find a part of exceptional severity higher up. With that portion
impossible the only alternative is to descend again, and that does
not commend itself to many men who climb more for amusement than for
instruction.

To return to our narrative, we roped up with hopefulness and took to
the lowest chimney. The rocks were streaming with water which rapidly
discovered that its line of quickest descent was along our arms and
bodies, with only a slight delay at the boots while they were filling
up. The chimney was sufficiently well provided with small ledges, first
in the middle, then on the right-hand side, to enable us to draw up
easily. Then we worked round to the foot of the second pitch on a level
platform large enough for us all to rest ourselves comfortably. The
chimney now became much narrower, just sufficiently large to receive
the right thigh. With dry rocks the slight holds on the left wall now
facing us would have been ample for the pull up to the level of a
jammed stone in the crack; but they were now doubtful, and the obvious
course was to insert the right hand beneath the jammed stone and
utilize the grip it afforded. A loose block thus handled from within is
much less liable to come out than when held by its projecting parts.
In a climb where every jammed stone has been tested scores of times,
sundry small precautions such as this may be omitted; but a new route
should always be attacked with respectful caution, otherwise it may
exact a speedy vengeance, and promptly repulse the careless climber.

Just above the level of this useful block, which was immediately proved
to be safe enough, the footholds were a short way out of the crack on
the left wall, and were not particularly good in the heavy rain. The
next ten feet appeared to be very hard, for the only hold was to be by
the grip of the right thigh in the crack, and the next jammed stone
(on which a climber is standing in the opposite illustration) seemed
insecure. It was desirable to pass this without clinging to its outer
edges, and to test it when its dislodgment could do no harm. The motion
upwards in such a case is rather slow; the leg that does the work
must not be thrust too far into the recess, or else the business of
balancing is awkward, and the lift at each ‘stroke’ is insufficient.
The unemployed foot, as the skater calls it, can often help by a
momentary purchase on a minute ledge; even the width of an eighth of an
inch will suffice to steady the lift.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

KERN KNOTTS CHIMNEY]

The jammed stone offered a fair grip underneath, but the ledges were
now on the right wall, and the turn towards them was difficult under
the circumstances. If we had known that the stone would hold we could
have pulled straight up over it; but, out of desire to play the
scientific game, I swung round by the hands so that the left leg was
in the crack and the upper handholds visible just above my head. Next
a pull-up enabled me to get the left knee well on to the stone, and
finally to ensconce myself safely in the recess above it. Then our
Nestor came up in splendid form, but with some anxious thought for the
upper part of the climb. He asked me to mount up to the bridge above
and see whether the remainder were feasible, for if not the best plan
would be to descend at once. We disagreed over this, but being grateful
for the introduction to ‘Tom Blue,’ and not knowing that it was Kern
Knotts, I clambered up to please him while he was negotiating the
engineer’s rope, and committed myself to the opinion that it was ‘all
plain sailing from there.’

From the jammed stone which Nestor was now testing, the route was out
over the right face of the chimney, and round again to the left where
the top figure is shown in the photograph. A big block forms a bridge,
beneath which meet the two chimneys from the opposite faces of the
buttress.

We all reached the top of the bridge, and examined the final ridge that
springs up for another hundred feet. The angle is not an easy one at
first, and there is a scarcity of holds. The stylist who works only
with fingers and toes would have much difficulty in getting up, even in
dry weather. We one by one surmounted it by offering as many points of
contact as possible to the rocks. They were streaming with water, and
in a much more slippery condition than we should have preferred for a
first ascent. The leader accepted a shoulder at the start, but he felt
rather insecure till he was about twelve feet up, when a fine hold was
found on the right. From that point the ground is more broken, and easy
scrambling led to the top of the crags.

I have been told since then that it is easier to work round to the left
from the bridge, and then up to the right; but a recent visit convinces
me that both ways have their difficulties when the rocks are wet. Both
are safe in dry weather. The direct route up from the bridge has lately
been simplified by an artificial step, evidently cut with a chisel. It
is a pity the timid mason did not go round another way.

To reach the main shoulder of Gable from here we may keep on towards
Raven Crag and strike up a short chimney in its centre. It is not
difficult, but its exit from the top takes time if the climber attacks
the problem incautiously. Thence to the summit of Gable is a glorious
walk.

From the ledge at the foot of the Upper Kern Knotts there rises another
buttress a little nearer the Styhead. Between the two buttresses a
short gully is found which offers a satisfactory route of descent
from the crest of these crags. The entrance to the gully is difficult
if tried from the foot of the buttress, but easy and suitable for
beginners if taken on the left. It was from this spot that our party
had the first view of the ‘crack’ that was to offer such sport a year
or two later. Nestor with his characteristic caution vetoed the whole
affair, and vowed he would never speak to me again if I attempted to
climb it. The engineer, on the other hand, thought that it could not be
much worse than the chimney which we had just climbed in safety, and
that it might be a good thing to keep in mind for settled weather.

In December, 1895, I went up the chimney with Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Hill.
The rocks were slightly damp, the weather misty and unpleasant. On
the natural bridge I halted, and looked down the smooth wall of rock
facing the Styhead. The crack was straight beneath, and Hill nerved me
to the sudden resolve to descend by the rope and prospect the middle
portion of the climb. We had only sixty feet of rope, but I was let
down carefully and at full distance found myself in a splayed-out
portion above the first pitch. The bit beneath looked very awkward,
so awkward indeed that it seemed impossible to effect a descent on
to the boulders below. There was only one course available, that of
climbing up again. This was not so hard as I had fancied it would
be, for with the sense of the perfect security in the rope that Hill
carefully manipulated, came freedom of movement and a bolder style.
This is the reason why many Alpine climbers who know not the joys of
leading are entirely ignorant of their own powers; they as often err
in underestimating as in overrating their skill; they can gauge their
strength only by practice without rope from above. Emerging from the
crack I joined up on the rope again and finished the rest of the climb,
wondering the while whether a chance would ever come of penetrating the
crack from below.

Before leaving the ordinary chimney, let it be added that the climb
may have an initial variation by pulling up the vertical rocks to the
west of the foot of the nose; the distance to the first big platform is
increased about fifteen feet, but the way is pleasanter thus.

KERN KNOTTS CRACK.--One fine morning in April I started off
for Keswick, grieved to leave Wastdale and feeling strong after a
fortnight’s scrambling. Surely if the crack could be done at all now
would be the time, with weather and physical fitness corresponding. Our
party was small; two men were coming with me to look at Kern Knotts,
and subsequently to exploit the Oblique Chimney, the where-abouts of
which had puzzled them the previous day. It was a bargain between us
that they should help me in the crack and I should lead up the Oblique
Chimney afterwards. The advantage was thus all my own, and their
brotherly kindness drew me to them. It was in the preceding winter
that Hill had let me down from the top of the crack for a distance of
fifty feet to a small loose platform of rock, and I had with extreme
effort managed to return without tugging the rope. Since that time
there had been opportunity to reflect and decide that if I could get up
to the platform from below and then help another to the same level, we
could jointly manage the ascent of the crack without further aid. If
the platform could not hold two, it would be a case of ascending the
worst part of the crack, the splayed-out portion some twelve feet high,
without assistance.

On reaching the spot things looked cheerful enough. The rocks were
dry, and I found that imagination had somewhat magnified my early
impressions of the wall. But the reality is bad enough. The wall is one
side of a buttress about one hundred feet in height, and marvellously
smooth to look at. It is out down from top to bottom by a clean-edged
slit passing right through the buttress and forming on the other side,
as I have already explained, the now familiar Kern Knotts Chimney. At
a height of thirty feet or so from the foot is the little platform,
the niche at the back of which looks as though carved out for the
reception of a piece of statuary. The portion of the crack that leads
up this first part has a slightly different outlook; it is more open,
and is provided with holds of a shaky description. Getting a companion
to hold himself in this, I mounted his shoulder and felt about with
the hands. There was nothing at all that seemed firm. So I called for
the axe, and, remembering certain tactics in an awful rock climb in
Northern Italy some years before, I rammed the axe longitudinally into
the crack and endeavoured to use it as a hold. The plan is sometimes
effective; it is not sufficiently often adopted _in extremis_; but on
this occasion it would not act; the loose stones in the cleft were
simply levered out of place, and I had to pass the axe down again.
Then ensued a few moments’ fatiguing suspension from one arm with but
poor foothold to ease the strain. It was no go this time; I had to let
myself down and rest awhile. Next we sat on a boulder opposite the
wall, and stared at it silently for a space. Surely that must be a
foothold ten feet up on the edge of the crack. If, while I mounted his
shoulder, the second man could hold the ice-pick in a minute fissure in
the face, I might manage to step on to the axe-head and reach the edge
of the platform. It would at any rate prove safer than the crack route.
The plan commended itself to all, and we placed ourselves in position.
It turned out that the axe was scarcely necessary, for with a little
delicate balancing I reached the top hold with both hands and dragged
up to the lower step in the ledge. Thence to the platform was an easy
matter, and we all began to breathe freely.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

KERN KNOTTS CRACK]

It never occurred to me that I had made no mental note, in my previous
ascent of the crack, of the method of getting up the next part. It was
certainly a stiff struggle that Christmas, but I was then out of form,
and might reasonably hope to succeed more easily now. Nevertheless,
when it came to the test I found it impossible, three times in
succession, to get my head above a certain projecting block at the top
of the niche. Each time it caught me by the back of the neck, and would
not release me till in desperate extremity I let myself down again--no
easy matter with exhausted arms. After the first try my two friends
went round to the other side of the buttress, and hastily climbed
the chimney so as to be ready to help me. I could hear their every
word through the fissure, and rather surprised them by making a quiet
remark. On a small scale we were having the Funffingerspitze incident
repeated. Neruda was climbing that famous Dolomite, the scene of his
tragic death in 1898, by a new route and heard another party ascending
by the older way on the other side of the mountain.

My pockets had been emptied out before the start. After these failures
I flung away my coat and tied on to the rope that had been let down
from above. With renewed confidence the fourth attempt was successful.
When the first twelve feet were passed I found two wedged stones a
short distance above my head. These forced my body out of the crack
altogether, but they offered respectable holds during the process.
Above these the next pitch involved a process of backing up, though the
chimney was much too narrow to brace firmly across from side to side.

I joined the other men at the top after a few more struggles,
breathless and exhausted. Resting a few moments we descended the Kern
Knotts Chimney and went down to lunch near the spring. Later on, when
I effected the ascent without a rope, a rapid passage of the worst bit
left me with enough reserve strength to climb up the rest of the way
comfortably. The eighty feet and the descent by the chimney on the
other side were then disposed of in seven minutes.

The remaining passage upwards from the cave is by the _mauvais pas_ of
the ordinary route.

The account of this crack has been given in much detail. It is the sort
of thing for a strong party to climb on their way out of Wastdale, or
some afternoon after a wet morning’s imprisonment in the hotel. The
danger of the first pitch can be minimised for the leader by holding
him with the rope from the right-hand recess of the wall. In fact there
is a pinnacle in this recess at about the level of the niche, which
could be utilized as a holding-place. A shoulder to start from and an
ice-axe support in continuation are certain to be appreciated. Messrs.
Reade and McCulloch have lately shown that the niche can be reached
by the crack. On the worst bit which immediately follows I expect a
steadying hand from below will be generally necessary.

When a man can go up this without assistance from above he may well be
regarded as fit for the Grépon crack. This latter is of the same length
and general character. It is easier, but harder to enter, and it comes
after more climbing; moreover, there may be ice in it to create trouble.

KERN KNOTTS, WEST CHIMNEY.--A note may here be added concerning
the only remaining chimney on these crags that can claim to be a
distinctive feature visible at a distance. It is about sixty feet to
the north-west (or Wastdale side) of the ordinary route, and is plainly
discernible from the lower part of the Styhead path. A diminutive cairn
now marks the foot of the chimney; another stands on a flat ledge a
couple of yards above the narrowest and hardest portion of the climb.

There are two or three ways of reaching the foot of the main difficulty
in the ascent, all converging to a point about twenty-five feet above
the lower cairn. Here a vertical crack rises abruptly, varying from
ten inches to nothing in width, and terminating ten feet higher in a
right-angled corner of the rocks that will on no account permit any
‘backing-up.’ For some distance the recess looks as difficult to tackle
as the corner of a room, and it is only when the climber gets to a
height of fifty feet that his troubles appear to moderate. One wet day
some twelve months ago our party could make nothing of the ascent, but
shortly after last Easter (1897) I made another attempt on it. To help
me on the difficult pitch a second man was persuaded to scramble up to
the foot of the crack, as I anticipated the need of a sturdy shoulder.
But the platform on which I was waiting proved to be much too small
for two, and when, by elevating myself a few feet, it was safe for him
to follow, I was too high to use his shoulder and had to manage with
his encouraging suggestions and the little excrescences on the right
wall. The first pull up the crack was by an excellent hold for both
hands on the left, using a narrow ledge with the inner side of the
left foot, and the crack itself for the right thigh. It then became
desirable to turn round so that the outer edge of the left foot should
grip it without losing its support during the process of turning. This
accomplished, the method of ascent became obvious. Small holds for
hands and feet were distributed regularly up the right wall, perhaps
three ledges for a rise of ten feet. During the latter part the left
hand sought support in the grassy corner of the chimney, which here
began to open up again. Then a long pull with the arms brought me up to
the flat ledge that marks the finish of the difficulty. There a cairn
was built with the loose stones that needed shifting, the second man
coming up like a lamplighter to help in the operation.

Thence our route was partly up the buttress, by rather exposed
ledges, and partly in the chimney. The rocks were excellent and the
open mountain side was reached in another fifty feet. The climb is
worthy of Kern Knotts. It is more risky than either the chimney or the
‘crack,’ but with a steady party and dry rocks it will go perfectly
well. Nevertheless, I am far from willing to give it an unqualified
recommendation. A slip of the leader on the awkward part would almost
certainly cause the second to be pulled away from his hold, and the two
would have an objectionable fall over twenty-five feet of steep rock.
But the striking appearance of the difficult pitch is enough to keep
away all weaklings.



CHAPTER XIII

_THE WASTWATER SCREES_


[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE SCREES AND WASTWATER]

Wastwater, the deepest lake in the district, occupies a flat-bottomed
depression in Wastdale. It is just three miles long, and its very
regular shores somewhat detract from the prettiness of its scenery. But
the wild character of the hills that inclose it gives it a grandeur
that is not possessed to an equal extent by any of the other lakes in
the country. Its direction is north-east and south-west; Upper Wastdale
is at its northern end. The road up the valley from Strands runs close
to the lake along its north-western side, and is good enough for
driving or bicycling as far as Wastdale Head. There it terminates as
a driving-road, but paths lead to the north over the Black Sail Pass
and eastwards over the Styhead. As we walk up the road, Buckbarrow
towers in steep crags a mile away to the left; then on the same side
we skirt the gentler slopes of Middle Fell, and after crossing Nether
Beck, Yewbarrow exhibits a singular change of outline, from that of
a steep and narrow pyramid to a long level-topped grassy ridge with
no architectural pretensions whatever. On the other side of the lake
is the ridge of the Screes, one of the most singular mountains in
Britain. Its highest point is by no means striking to look at, a matter
of 2,000 feet above the sea. For a length of three miles the ridge
is broken away in a line of cliff of almost uniform height, towering
1,500 feet over the lake. The character of the rock, and perhaps also
an unusually great exposure to weathering influences, has caused an
enormous wear and tear of the face of the cliff. Thus it is that huge
screes have been formed that flow straight down into the lake. The
action is still going on. If we take a walk along the edge of the
cliff, and this way of enjoying the round of Wastwater may be strongly
recommended to tourists, we cannot help noticing that at the heads of
the big gullies which indicate the regions of maximum erosion, slight
preliminary landslips have already occurred. The grassy ridge is marked
in many places by curved terraces, showing definite subsidence and
taking the general shape of the gully head. A few years ago a great
mass of rock detached itself from the top of the cliff near its highest
point, and thundered down towards the lake. It happened at night and
nobody was there to see, but the terrific noise gave serious alarm to
the inhabitants of the valley. It has been estimated that the volume
of rock that broke away was as great as the Manchester Town Hall, but
the comparison is perhaps worth little, for to many a north-countryman
there is nothing greater than the Manchester Town Hall, and the
expression may have been used merely to denote that the rock-fall was
very big. The scar may still be seen on the face, if one knows where
to look for it; the scree below it appeared fresh for many months. The
rich colouring of red and yellow in the rocks has caused the scree
itself to assume an astonishing variety of tints, and when viewed in
sunlight the effects are most remarkable.

From the climbing point of view this continual weathering is altogether
unsatisfactory. The rocks are too uncertain, and in most cases the
gullies are too much occupied by scree. But towards the lower end of
the lake we find that certain different conditions obtain. The rocks
are firmer, there is less scree at their base, and it shows plainly by
its grass covering that the fresh supply is strictly limited.

The last great bastion of the high ridge rises opposite Wastdale Hall.
It is cut off from the crags on the left by the Great Gully, which
runs up to the sky-line through a height of a thousand feet. On the
right a slighter gully practically indicates the end of the precipitous
portion of the face. Cutting deeply into the centre of the bastion
itself is a third gully that is continued straight on to the sky-line;
if anything it is a few feet shorter than the Great Gully, though much
more difficult to climb. I propose to describe these two only. From all
accounts it would appear that they represent fully the satisfactory
routes up the Screes. The sketch in Haskett Smith’s book shows them as
B and C (the reader can let B stand for ‘big’ and C for ‘central’).
That which is marked A in his sketch is no climb at all. It is just
a gully and nothing more, but it was not quite so worthy of being
labelled as the next great one to the left.

The B gully was first climbed in the winter of 1891-2 by Messrs.
Collie, Hastings, and Robinson, and an interesting account of
the ascent, contributed by Dr. Collie, appeared in the ‘Scottish
Mountaineering Journal’ for January, 1894. A year later Mr. Mummery
made the second ascent. Not so long afterwards Robinson showed me the
way up with a large party of enthusiasts, whose strength and nerve were
pretty well exhausted by the time we dragged ourselves over the last
pitch.

Concerning the early history of the attempts on the C gully I have
not been able to gather much information. Many parties have started
up it with the impression that they were undertaking the Great Gully,
but they never succeeded in finishing it. On April 19, 1895, Messrs.
Lawrence, Simpson, and Patchell, made a magnificent assault on it,
and by the merest accident they had to give in almost at the moment
of success. They climbed seven pitches, the gully getting harder at
each successive pitch. Then, when worn out with fatigue and exposure
to wet and cold, they misjudged the difficulty of the ninth pitch. It
is certainly most formidable to look at from below the eighth, but
on closer examination its difficulties vanish. That is to say, they
become insignificant for a party that can get over the seventh pitch.
They saw two more huge obstacles looming above the ninth, and were
completely disheartened. There happened to be an easy exit on the left,
and they took to it. Once or twice since that date others have tried
the gully again, but without effecting any further advance. In April,
1897, Mr. H. C. Bowen accompanied me from Wastdale in an attempt.
Circumstances favoured us throughout, and the gully yielded to our
attack. I believe it is one of the hardest climbs that either of us has
yet effected in Cumberland, but that may be because it is one of the
most recent. Before attempting it visitors to the district should see
first if they can comfortably manage the B gully.

THE GREAT GULLY OF THE SCREES (B).--The usual way of reaching
it from Wastdale Head is by the road as far as the second field beyond
Wastdale Hall. There a path across the bridge can be found, and the
course of the stream followed up to the lake side. The foot of the
gully is reached in fifteen minutes by bearing obliquely upwards
across ancient scree. Its aspect is such as to directly face the small
peninsula across the water a trifle to the left of the Hall. The right
edge of the gully extends further downwards than the left, and a small
stream of water is usually finding its way down the rough scree bed.

A few feet up we reach the first obstacle, in the shape of a broken
waterfall altogether about thirty feet high. It is usual to take to
the steep grass on the left, a route that looks easier than it actually
is. When the soil is damp the earth comes away like sand, and there is
little reliability in the holds all the way up. We step with relief
into the bed of the gully again, and look up to see what the prospect
is. An easy slope leads towards a second waterfall, considerably
higher than the first. Ordinarily there is no chance of surmounting it
directly, but a way of avoiding it discloses itself as we approach. The
gully divides into two, the main portion being to the left, and a fine
branch passing up to a height of 150 feet on the right. We start by
climbing the first pitch in the branch gully--a narrow vertical corner
in the wall down which a vigorous spout of water jets like a hydrant.
There are a few ledges on the left side which enable us to avoid some
of the water, but if there has been much rain before our expedition it
is impossible to keep dry during the ascent.

It was here that I saw a sinful act of revenge that grieved me much
at the time. My companions had been with me up the Scawfell Pinnacle
by the Deep Ghyll route on the previous day, and one had kept the
others in painful attitudes on the cliff while he leisurely proceeded
to photograph us. The partner of my woes vowed vengeance, and exacted
it here on the Screes. His turn it was to manipulate the camera, and
his wicked malice prompted him to insist on taking a photograph when
his brother was half-way up the corner. We had given him the right of
choosing his subject and could not complain, especially as he was loud
in his praise of the view and in his grief at his brother’s cramped and
drenched condition. But he was in good humour for the rest of the day,
and that was worth paying for.

The position now is that a buttress separates us from the main gully.
We have to clamber a few feet up this, next along a shallow, sloping
scoop as far as it goes, and then traverse across to the head of the
big fall. The leader is not able to derive much help from the rope
in case of a slip, but it is as well for the second man to climb
thirty feet up the right wall of the branch gully, so as to be higher
than the pioneer. The buttress looks much broken from below, but the
general slope is to our disadvantage, and the final traverse is along
a crumbling ledge of earth and grass. Frost occasionally makes the
climbing easier, by binding the earth firmly to the rock.

The view across the lake from the top of the waterfall is very
beautiful. The rich dark green of the pines that grow down to the
water’s edge on the other side form a striking contrast to the gaunt
and barren walls of black rock that close in the view. Buckbarrow fills
up the background, the severity of its seamed precipices softened by
distance.

The branch gully, it may here be mentioned, has never been climbed
throughout. It ends on the bastion at no great height above us, and is
probably not very stiff. I tried it one Christmas Day with Messrs.
Robinson and Fowler, but we rose no higher than the little notch on the
thin curtain of rock that forms its right boundary. We got soaked in
the little waterfall, and the bitter cold drove us back unsuccessful.
We had difficulties with the awkward chimney above the narrow corner.

Keeping up the main gully, an easy stretch takes us to the third pitch.
It is a water-slide, and we must hurry up quickly if dryness is still
any consideration. The best way is on the left. There are many holds
under the water, and our efforts to prevent its trickling down our arms
will be futile if we get flurried by nasty remarks from those behind.
Almost before we can gain breath again we are confronted by a similar
difficulty. The water-slide here is taken first on the right, until a
slanting crack leads across to the other side. The climbing is rather
stiff near the top, and careful search should be made for the safest
footholds.

The fifth pitch that we now approach is generally regarded as the
hardest. It is undoubtedly difficult when taken by the route first
discovered. A long wet slope of rock divides the gully into two parts.
On the right there seems little likelihood of finding a way up. The
great overhanging slabs are fifty feet high, and water is continually
pouring down them. On the left the chance of success is greater. A
slanting crack lies between the rock slope and the side wall. It leads
straight up to a hole underneath a huge overhanging boulder that
dominates the pitch. There we can see a choice of route. The way first
adopted is to wriggle up the chimney between the boulder and the left
wall; but it is preferable to crawl out of the hole to the right and
make an exit over rounded boulders to the top of the obstacle. The
chimney is extremely stiff, the main difficulty being to make a start
from the hole. If the cave had a level bottom the difficulties would
be much moderated. There are no holds on the boulder itself and very
few on the side wall, but those few make it worth while starting with
the face to the wall. Six feet higher, when the climber is in the most
exposed situation, he must turn half round and use both sides of the
chimney. If the leader cannot get into the crack unassisted, it is
a good plan for the second to hitch himself to a jammed boulder at
the back of the cave and proffer a shoulder as a take-off. The first
explorers had ice to contend against and proceeded in a still more
cautious manner, all three combining their strength at the awkward
corner. I have three times seen men swing off on the rope when half
way up the chimney, and am bound to admit that there is too much
touch-and-go for the way to suit any but very strong climbers. The
easier way out of the hole--first taken, I think, by Messrs. Whitaker
and Thorp--seems to reduce the difficulty considerably, and will
probably become a favourite exit.

Above the fifth pitch we step out into a huge amphitheatre of rock.
It is difficult to decide which is the main gully, and many men are
willing to conclude that there is no more hard work in front, and that
a speedy passage out of the hollow will conduce most to their happiness.

The real gully passes up on the left. A branch starts pleasantly
enough to the right, but after one or two fairly easy pitches we are
confronted by a blank, wet wall. The sides are steep and spiky and
rotten; it was a most miserable hour I once spent getting over forty
feet of this dreadful _cul-de-sac_, and ever since I have solemnly
warned others from any such attempt to shirk the final part of the
Great Gully. If they wish to get out, they should keep still more to
the right, over steep grass and occasional slight rock. Traversing in
a westerly or south-westerly direction, they pass across the heads of
several gullies, above the worst portion of the C gully, and then out
on the fell side, whence an easy run takes them down to the bridge.

The three or four pitches that must be overcome in mounting to the head
of the true Great Gully are short but difficult. The ghyll is narrow
and wet and it is almost impossible towards the finish to avoid a
drenching by the slender stream that monopolizes the direct route. The
last pitch is ordinarily circumvented by passing up the nasty wall of
loose earth and rocky _débris_ on the left. This diversion leads on to
an easy broken buttress from which we can walk into the gully again and
up its scree finish to the crest of the precipice.

On the occasion of my first ascent we were four and a half hours in the
gully. A second expedition to the top of the fifth pitch took three
hours; and half that time was spent at photography.

THE CENTRAL GULLY (C).--Bowen and I had been climbing together
for some days last Easter (1897), and were reserving an attempt on the
C gully for the latter end of our holiday, to give ourselves the chance
of getting into good form and the place an opportunity for drying up.

One fine morning we heard that another party were driving down the
valley on their way to the Great Gully. They offered us seats in their
wagonette. We gladly accepted, and had a pleasant drive along the
lakeside as far as Wastdale Hall. The walk round to the foot of our
climb occupied us the best part of half an hour, and we then left our
friends to continue their journey, arranging to look out for them at
the top of the Screes a few hours later.

The gully was easy at the outset, but far up above us we could see
difficulties in plenty, and we began the scramble with a sense of
future bliss that rather detracted from our present enjoyment.

We passed up on the left-hand side of the first pitch at 11-18, over
fifteen feet of steep grass and rock. The holds were fairly good beside
the waterfall. A few feet further on the gully narrowed at a second
pitch--a steep gutter down which the stream endeavoured to smooth a
way. We could use ledges on either side, and at the top a tree-stem
that has lain there for some years gave us assistance. The pitch is
about twenty-five feet high.

Then there followed two easy ten-feet bits before we found ourselves
compelled at the fifth pitch to quit the bed of the gully. This
obstacle sent us off to the left up a steep grass bank before we could
traverse back into the narrow chimney at an assailable spot. We were
obliged to use our knees for wedging safely in the V-shaped corner, and
thus had our introduction to the water-way. The ledges were few and
slippery. Ten feet up the corner a jammed stone and a slippery slab
guarded the head of the pitch. We reached the former actually behind
the water, and hastened out to the left with but slight steadying holds
for the hands.

Then we halted a little and looked about us. We had gone through the
preliminaries, and realized that our gully was now getting stiff. The
view upwards showed the great seventh pitch, but nothing higher. Far
below we could see the end of the lake. The prospect was not nearly so
fine as that from the Great Gully; the rocks were not so boldly carved
out, nor the outlook so fair.

The next obstacle was formed by a jammed boulder thirty feet high,
impossible to climb direct. It would perhaps have been best to take
it on the right, but we advanced tentatively up the other side, and
then, seeing that it would just go, kept on to the top. Our route lay
up the narrow crack between the boulder and the side wall. A shoulder
was useful for the leader at the start, but he had a bad six feet just
above. The only hold for the right hand was obtained by clenching the
fist inside the crack so as to form a wedge. A far-away notch in the
wall gave an oblique push-off for the left foot, the struggle being
mainly to keep close to the crack.

The difficulties now became almost continuous, and we were unable
to define exactly the beginning of the seventh pitch. Some twenty
feet of steep climbing up the bed of the ghyll first followed and we
reached a little platform whence a branch gully of steep grass led out
on the buttress to our left. The main gully was thirty feet across,
narrowing a little higher up. An almost vertical rib of rock some six
feet thick divided the gully into two parts. That on the right was a
wide recess roofed in by a great stone nearly a hundred feet overhead.
From our little platform we could see the water streaming over the
edge of the roof, and forming a thin veil at the entrance to the cave.
The left-hand side of the rib was a narrow crack sloping back at an
angle of about 45°, but after the first thirty feet continuing to
the top perpendicularly. The route we chose lay first up the crack,
then across the rib and into the cave. A second start being made from
there, we proposed to climb up the vertical rib, taking to the crack
on its left whenever the difficulties became extreme. At the level of
the roof of the cavern we were to traverse across on to it and make
directly up its smooth slope and round by the left of a higher jammed
block that overhung the finishing portion of the pitch. I think the
route differs a little from that of the first party, who were somewhat
assisted by a jammed stone then in the crack. In fact one member
considered the stone essential for a successful ascent, and that its
untimely removal closed the upper half for ever. But there can be no
doubt that in a dry season the obstacle can be overcome by a moderately
strong party, and that in the normal ‘streamy’ state of the gully the
climber needs but the knowledge of a route and the nerve to follow it
without hesitation and without regard to dryness.

[Illustration:


I. PLATE VI.

THE WASTWATER SCREES (p. 191).

The height of CC is about 1,000 feet.

  A An Easy Gully.
  B The Great Gully (1891).
  C The Central Gully (1897).
  D A Minor Gully, not very difficult.
  _b_ The Curtain.
  _c_ The Easy Traverse.
  _d_ Descent from Traverse.


II

THE PAVEY ARK GULLIES (p. 208).

The height of BB is about 400 feet.

  A Little Gully (1886).
  B The Great Gully (1882).
  C Easy Scree Gully.
  D Jack’s Rake.
  E Stickle Tarn.]

We found the way easy up to the cave. There Bowen braced himself firmly
amidst the bright green ferns and endeavoured to reconcile himself to
the prospect of a long wait. He could not trace out my route upwards,
for the curtain of water was between us, but now and again when
troubles were thickest he would inquire feelingly after my condition.

It was straightforward climbing out from the cave and up to the
vertical buttress. But the absence of suitable holds in the crack on
the left made the next twenty feet very severe, and I was glad to find
at last a series of ledges across to the top of the cave. The holds
were wet and my fingers benumbed. If the ledges had been anything but
satisfactory the traverse would have been highly incorrect, not to
say immoral. Then the rope had to be lengthened out and the wait was
unpleasant. But the rock slope was a much simpler matter than it had
appeared to be from below, and the rest of the pitch was scarcely more
than a walk. I drew up over the last block with much relief, and paused
to recover warmth and feeling before drawing in the rope for Bowen. He
climbed with great rapidity and practically left out the traverse; it
was rather vexatious to find that he emerged fresh and comparatively
dry. It was now 12-34 P.M., and so far we had advanced rapidly.

A few feet in front was a long thin crack, looking easy but proving
awkward at close quarters. We found it best to traverse up the smooth
slab on the left and then crawl along a rickety ledge of grass and
rock back to the gully again. Were we nevermore to find an easy
piece? Almost at once a ninth pitch faced us, looking somewhat like
the eighth. The gully suddenly narrows to a V-groove which springs
up vertically for twelve feet, then slopes away at 45° for twenty
feet, and finally is blocked by a few boulders before widening out
again. Just before the constriction occurs, the walls of the ravine
slope outwards at an easy angle, and the tangle of thickly-matted
grass disguises the treacherous character of the rock underneath.
This has been splintered and loosened by frost and sturdy vegetation.
Great masses in many steep places are ready to fall at a touch,
and scrambling is robbed of its pleasures by the sense of possible
insecurity of every available hold. I tried at first to keep up the
crack, but just at the corner where it trends obliquely upwards the
difficulties of holding on proved too great and a cautious descent
had to be effected. Then we looked to the left up a steep little gully
fifty feet high. It ended abruptly in the main wall of the ravine,
but a great splinter of rock at the highest corner gave us a chance
of belaying. Bowen clambered gingerly over the broken ground and tied
himself to the rock. Then, slipping my rope round it, he prepared to
hold me during the next move. Our plan was to clamber up the loose
face on the left of the awkward pitch and traverse into the gully
twenty-five feet higher. My rope was dragging along the wall, and would
have dislodged a good deal if suddenly called upon to break my fall.
The worst bit was the last six feet of traverse, which I very much
loosened during the passage. The gully was then bestridden and both
sides used for the finishing portion of the pitch. When Bowen came
along, the traverse broke away at his touch, and it was rather alarming
to see him start falling backwards. But the rope was tight above him
and he simply swung round into the gully; it was the most expeditious
mode of entering, but he bruised his leg a little at the final bump. We
afterwards agreed that the second man ought to take the whole obstacle
direct. Trying to repeat the ascent again in April, 1898, by exactly
the same manœuvres, the slight remnant of traverse broke away with me
and I had a bad fall. I was saved, of course, by the rope. The direct
ascent of the watercourse has been proved to be possible, and is now
much the better way.

Such was the ninth pitch, probably the one misjudged by Dr. Lawrence’s
party on April 9, 1895. They had taken four hours to climb to the
eighth, remarkably good going when one considers the bad condition
of the gully during their ascent and the amount of new ground they
managed to cover. We had mounted in a little less than an hour and
three quarters; but we were only a small party and the circumstances
very favourable. They saw a hundred-feet pitch following on a few yards
higher and endeavoured to estimate its difficulties. From below the
aspect is terrifying, and after a slight survey they decided to work
out of the ravine by an easy exit up the left wall. Thence they saw a
few more pitches higher up beyond the tenth, and were convinced that
they had done right. But they were mistaken, as our experience proved.

A little direct scrambling up the bed of the gully took us to the foot
of the great obstacle. A water-shoot splashes on to the left wall
eighty feet up, and is deflected into the cavernous depths of a black
recess formed in the gully by a long buttress that divides it into two
parts. The climb up through the splashing water appears to be almost
hopeless, and a view from above of the last twenty feet shows that the
risk would be extreme if the pitch were attacked on that side. But the
buttress will be found on inspection to close in a sort of chimney on
the right, fairly easy to reach and most comfortable to follow up to
its finish three feet above the level of the top of the waterfall.
This branch chimney is safe and dry. There are no loose stones about,
and the occasional glimpses of the furious shoot over the way are very
pleasing. They were so to us, at any rate, who had been in fear and
trembling lest we should be compelled to attack the pitch through the
waterfall. We were surprised at our good fortune, and none the less
on seeing that the difficulties above were insignificant. A short
scree and an easy twelve-feet obstacle brought us up to the well-known
traverse across the face of the mountain.

We could hear occasional shouting of our friends in the Great Gully.
It tempted us to work over to them and finish on the final chimneys
of their climb. But we felt constrained to keep straight up, lest any
further pitches should linger unclimbed. The C gully was to acknowledge
itself vanquished from beginning to end, and we set ourselves to finish
the task. Little actually remained. A steep climb of thirty feet,
using both sides of the gully, with poor holds near the top, virtually
brought us to an end of its interesting and extended series of pitches.
A scramble up the last water-slide and a muddy slope led to the long
scree finish, and we emerged at the summit shortly after two o’clock.
The walk home over Ill Fell took an hour and a half.



CHAPTER XIV

_PAVEY ARK_


The Langdale Pikes form a beautiful group of hills four miles to the
east of the Scawfell Pikes. They lie at the head of Langdale, and
the highest point, Harrison Stickle, is a prominent object in many a
favourite landscape.

Harrison Stickle is splendidly shaped, and manages to give an
impression of much greater height than it really possesses (2,401
feet). Half a mile to the west is the Pike of Stickle or the Sugarloaf.
It has a little climbing on the west face. Mr. Gwynne writes of it
thus: ‘The Sugarloaf itself is a very fine peak, that, viewed from the
valley, has very much the appearance of the Mönch. It runs down towards
the Stake Pass in a spur, which must be the starting-point of most of
the climbs on this mountain. There is a curious gully here, which is
worthy of the climber’s attention. It does not run from top to bottom,
but suddenly begins about the middle of the crag. The difficulty is
to get at this gully, and some pretty climbing can be obtained in the
attempt.’

Somewhat south of the mid-point between Harrison Stickle and the
Sugarloaf is the summit of Gimmer Crag. It overlooks the old hotel of
Dungeon Ghyll, and offers in dry weather a considerable amount of
indiscriminate scrambling.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE PAVEY ARK GULLIES FROM STICKLE TARN]

One of the finest little tarns of the district lies 900 feet below
the summit of Harrison Stickle, on its north-east side. Stickle Tarn
is almost as solitary as Easedale, and its surroundings are decidedly
finer. It is about an hour’s walk from Dungeon Ghyll, by a small
footpath keeping close to the stream that is fed by the lake waters.
The view across the tarn is a delight to climbers’ eyes. The great
cliffs of Pavey Ark, rising 700 feet above the lake, are darkly
reflected in the still waters. They are deeply cut by two gullies
that immediately arrest attention. Each marks a little notch in the
sky-line. A third notch further to the left indicates the head of a
slighter indentation in the face of the cliff, which, so far as I know,
has not yet been explored. The right-hand ‘Great’ Gully was first
climbed by Haskett Smith in the summer of 1882. The left, called the
‘Little’ Gully by way of antithesis, the same climber explored in June,
1886. A lady ascended the Great Gully in 1887, and later years have
seen a steady succession of visitors to these crags.

Well towards the north end of the cliff is a wide scree gully with a
square notch at its crest. Near the foot of this a safe natural path
may be followed obliquely across the face. This is the well-known
Jack’s Rake. It starts rather steeply, but soon assumes a gentle,
uniform gradient. It crosses the Great Gully a hundred feet below the
top; there then follows a rather awkward bit for the walker, who will
need to scramble up a corner to get on to the last portion of the
rake. It crosses the Little Gully within fifty feet of the Summit,
and ends on the buttress just beyond. Two chimneys spring from the
level of Jack’s Rake to the north of the Great Gully, which both look
interesting. Our pleasant scramble is thus described by Gwynne: ‘This
ledge [i.e. Jack’s Rake] offers a multitude of good opportunities
to the climber. It runs obliquely across the face of the precipice,
but it need not necessarily be followed throughout its length by the
mountaineer who wishes for something a little more exciting. About
half-way up there runs on to the ledge a chimney which--when it is
not a small waterfall--forms a pleasant climb to some broken rock
above, whence the summit is easily reached. If, however, the water in
the chimney makes it uncomfortable and unpleasant for the climber, he
may still arrive at the top of it by choosing a long bit of steep,
smooth rock on the left. There are two clefts which afford fairly good
hand-and-foot holds, and from there the top of the chimney is attained.’

THE LITTLE GULLY.--Some six years ago I paid my first visit to
Pavey Ark. The accounts of the Great Gully were very enticing. One
visitor spoke of it as having only one pitch, ‘but that was severe.’
Another, commenting on the first, remarked: ‘Yes! it has only one
pitch, but that one lasts all the way up!’ Then a celebrated climber
had estimated its height at double the actual amount, which was a
testimonial to its good qualities all the more acceptable because it
was given unconsciously.

There were tales of a leader pawing about for half an hour on the
second man’s head and shoulders, in search of holds. Gloves and sticks
and other impedimenta were understood to lie in profusion at the foot
of the stiffest bit, left there by those who could climb no higher,
or those who sadly expected that after their despairing attempts had
failed they would have no further need for such articles. In short,
there was a good deal of pernicious exaggeration concerning the Great
Gully, and I went for it expecting great things. It was rather a long
walk from Wastdale, over Great End and Bowfell. The descent to Dungeon
Ghyll was taken for the sake of a look-in at the waterfall, and for
the next half-hour hurrying up to Stickle Tarn, I felt to the full the
futility of having run down from Bowfell to Langdale to save time.
Arrived at the small dam that holds in the waters of the lake, I saw
the two gullies on the other side, and concluding that the left-hand
one looked harder, skirted the lake, and made for its foot. It was a
foolish mistake, thus to confuse the two routes. The Little Gully was
ascended that day, and until Haskett Smith’s book came out three years
later, describing the locality in some detail, I fondly imagined that I
knew the best thing on Pavey Ark.

The gully is narrow at first. Its walls are red in colour, and a film
of water generally covers them. The holds are not particularly good,
and the steepness of the gully renders extreme caution necessary.
Both walls are used, and our advance is after the fashion of a man
on a ladder. Then the gully widens, and the difficulties come in
successive steps till a great overhanging boulder blocks the direct
ascent. Here the right wall is sufficiently broken to offer a method
of circumventing the pitch, but in wet weather the place is bad.
Just above this I found a stick, conclusive evidence to the simple
mind that the hard bit of the Great Gully was now being approached.
It looked as though it had been there for years. The view backwards
was most impressive, the tarn appearing almost beneath my feet. The
second obstacle was now to be considered. The gully narrowed to a thin
vertical corner plastered over with wet green moss. The take-off was
earthy and disagreeably loose. The only holds were on the right wall
near the corner, and were few and far between. I hesitated below for a
long time, scarcely knowing how best to start operations. A big jammed
stone came away in my hands as I made a first attempt, and crashed down
the gully from side to side. At last I rammed the left knee tentatively
into the wet corner, and edged up a few feet with the aid of sundry
slight supports for the right foot. Ten feet higher an excellent
hold was reached with the hand, and the chief trouble was over. Huge
boulders were piled overhead confusedly, but they gave plenty of
opportunities, and no longer had the smooth, almost shiny surface that
characterized the rocks further down. The top of the gully was reached
three quarters of an hour after starting. It was half-past five, and
snow was beginning to fall; I thought it desirable to hurry, and a
steady trot westwards round the head of Langdale Combe and the further
side of Black Crags brought me in three miles to the path at the Angle
Tarn and the foot of the up-grade towards Esk Hause. Thence a steady
two hours’ walk in the dark brought me safely to Wastdale, in happy
ignorance of the fact that I had only visited the Little Gully. But to
this day I think it as hard as its neighbour.

THE GREAT GULLY.--Shortly after Easter, 1896, I begged some
friends to come over and climb the Great Gully with me. It was my
last day at Wastdale; I was due at Coniston the same evening, and the
Langdale Pikes offered a pleasanter walk to the Old Man district than
is given by the Eskdale and Cockley Beck route. My friends stipulated
that we should call a halt at Kern Knotts on the way out and attempt
the ‘crack.’ This we managed with expedition, and continued the journey
betimes over the Styhead and Esk Hause.

The three miles from Angle Tarn to Pavey Ark are rather tedious, though
the view of Bowfell and of Pike of Stickle relieves the monotony. It
is a wild open moor that we have to cross, and its gentle slope is
very deceptive. For a long time the sky-line in front of us, after
rounding Langdale Combe at the top of the Stake Pass, recedes as we
advance, and it is not till the grassy ridge of Thunacar Knott is
gained that we begin to see the upper crags of Pavey Ark. Nevertheless
it is much better to approach the crags in this way from the Wastdale
direction than to descend first towards Dungeon Ghyll. The great rocks
strewn about the crest of the cliff are most singular in character.
Their surface is as rough as that of the magnesian limestone in the
Dolomites. If only the whole face of Pavey Ark were of this formation
we should have a fine opportunity for practice with the scarpetti or
rope-soled shoes used by the Tyrolese rock-climbers.

We descended towards the tarn by an easy slope between the cliff and
the north-east ridge of Harrison Stickle. Then at the level of the base
of the crags we crossed a water-course, and traversed over the scree
to the foot of the Great Gully, passing the entrance to the other on
our way. The remarks already made, and reference to the diagram on page
203, will perhaps give sufficient indication of the place at which we
now found ourselves. In misty weather the locality can be identified by
the branch gully to the left, that starts at once and loses itself 200
feet higher up.

The lower part of the climb very much resembles the corresponding
portion in the other gully. The side walls are close together, the
rock is steep, and hand-and-foot scrambling fairly continuous for
about 150 feet. When the rocks are wet some special care is necessary
at a place thirty feet from the starting-point. Then comes the first
pitch, a remarkably fine piece of rock scenery. An enormous boulder
completely blocks the way, projecting at least fifteen feet at its
upper part. The left wall is practically hopeless, but the other side
shows a series of small ledges that enable the climber to work up to
the flat corner between the boulder and the right wall. Formerly this
bit was grassy. Only a few small tufts now remain, and the holds are
therefore more obvious. A pleasanter way lies through the cave and out
by a narrow tunnel in the roof to the same flat corner, which is just
discernible from below. That way our party followed. The dripping water
from the roof was a trifle unpleasant sometimes, but there was a great
sense of security in adopting the through route. The tunnel required
careful going until one’s eyes got accustomed to the darkness. Then the
handholds could be distinguished and the platform reached in safety.

The view outwards was most brilliant. Sunlight on the distant range
of Fairfield and Helvellyn, the serpentine Windermere appearing here
and there far away to the south; Langdale in all its loveliness,
with the watch-tower of Harrison Stickle at its head; and the gloomy
Stickle Tarn 500 feet beneath us. Our own situation was sufficiently
striking for the recollection of this pitch to remain impressed on
our memories. We stood (one at a time, by the way) on the very edge
of the overhanging eaves of the huge cave beneath. The side walls of
the gully seemed to cut us off from all communication with the world.
We could only realize the solid platform and the enduring rock to
which we hung; all the rest might have been a fantasy. Even the bold
fisherman down by the shores of the tarn, slowly manipulating his rod
as he cautiously waded knee-deep in the water, seemed to belong to
another species. It was incredible that I should be crossing London
within twenty-four hours; and the thought of it only stirred slightly
in my mind, without actually shaping itself until this present time of
writing.

The difficulty was not quite passed. To reach the top of the pitch we
had to haul ourselves up a tight little corner between the boulder
and the side wall. Formerly the headroom was so limited that it was
necessary to keep out a little, and effect a rather sensational haul
over the front of the boulder. Since the first ascent a piece of rock
has fallen away, and the corner is easier. There is no actual danger
for the leader, as his rope can be securely held in the interior of the
cave. In fact, he may, if he chooses, obtain any desired assistance
from the second man properly belayed on the platform. The corner is
only ten feet high and the rocks are very good.

Almost immediately after the first pitch the gully undergoes a great
change in appearance. It still remains narrow, but the bed has
alternately vertical and horizontal stretches of wet and slippery
rock. The hardest piece is generally regarded as the second pitch. It
consists of a long slab thirty feet high, constituting the true bed of
the ghyll and the only available way up. It is set at a steep angle,
and appears to be singularly devoid of useful holds. On the occasion of
the first ascent it was ‘lubricated by a film of fine mud,’ and our own
observations gave strength to the conviction that such was its usual
condition. Loose gravel is being continually washed down the incline,
lodging in a most annoying manner on the best holds. Small wonder that
this ‘brant and slape’ part gives pause to many climbers. Yet it has
been climbed even when ice is about, thanks no doubt to good nails and
cool judgment. We treated the pitch with the utmost respect, carefully
clearing away the grit from each little ledge and working as close to
the corner as the holds would permit. Fifteen feet up we passed the
worst spot, ugly to look at but not bad enough to turn us back. Then
the slope eased off and we could walk up grass and scree on to Jack’s
Rake, a hundred feet above the pitch. The rake really terminates the
gully. To the left is a small chimney forming a genuine little obstacle
to an advance along the rake. That was certainly no suitable finish
to our climb. A few yards to the right showed what we wanted, a gully
that should lead out to the top of Pavey Ark. We found the rocks
there presented the rough surface that characterised the boulders up
above. There were several great slabs blocking our way at first, but
it was a real delight to get over them. A short and narrow chimney
followed, with such gripping powers that our clothes clung to the sides
tenaciously. As Haskett Smith remarks, ‘it would be quite difficult to
make a slip on them.’ Then we walked out to the top, three-quarters
of an hour after entering the gully, and while leisurely coiling up
my rope we discussed the question of tea. Should the others accept
my invitation to Dungeon Ghyll and then return to Wastdale at dusk,
or should they make straight for Wastdale at once? To my sorrow they
objected to the suggested extension of their walk and strode off to
the west. My own course lay first to the foot of the crags, where my
rücksack had been left, and thence to Dungeon Ghyll and Coniston.

THE RAKE END CHIMNEY.--Besides the third chimney described by
Gwynne as running half-way up on to the ledge, there is a short but
excellent route up the crags starting near the foot of Jack’s Rake. The
following note was supplied by Mr. Claude Barton:--‘The climb is in two
pitches, the first being broken up into places where you can play up a
second man. The _mauvais pas_ is just at the top of this. A moss-grown
wall and two jammed stones must be surmounted, and the leader may need
some support. The second pitch is a fine chimney blocked by a large
stone that is passed by the interior, and then used as a take-off for
the final easy concluding portion. The climb is certainly harder than
the Great Gully.’



CHAPTER XV

_DOE CRAG, CONISTON_


This happy hunting-ground for the rock-climber is within an hour’s
walk of Coniston. It forms part of the range of hills that includes
Wetherlam and the Old Man, but unlike these great neighbours it has
hitherto been left untouched by miners and quarry-men.

From the Old Man we may look westwards across the upper end of Goat’s
Water, and see the summit of Doe Crag almost at our level, some 900
feet above the lake. We are facing its grand precipices, and are in an
excellent position to prospect the various gullies that cut deeply into
the 500-feet wall of rock.

The first of these, as we glance from left to right, causes the
greatest impression in the sky-line, but is of the least interest to
mountaineers. It is an easy scree gully, possessing a rotten pinnacle
that was first climbed by Mr. Slingsby in 1887. The second is generally
known as the Great Gully. It is much longer, and includes a fair
amount of genuine hard work in its ascent. At a distance it appears
to have a Y shape, by reason of the two branches that diverge from a
point about half-way up. The Great Gully was first climbed in July,
1888, by Messrs. Hastings, Haskett Smith, and E. Hopkinson, its first
pitch being then taken by the ‘shallow scoop’ on the left of the great
obstacle. Nearly a year later the brothers Hopkinson effected a direct
ascent of the pitch by an ingenious utilization of the rope, to which
we shall refer subsequently.

To the immediate north of the Great Gully we see a huge buttress that
springs further down the scree towards Goat’s Water than any other
part of the crag. The lower 300 feet of this buttress exhibit a nearly
vertical gully that may escape detection altogether unless viewed in a
favourable light. In the view on the opposite page it is well marked
by the deep black shadow of the rocks on its south side. Apparently it
joins a sloping gully that leads up to the sky-line; but in reality it
finishes abruptly on the face, at a small grass platform that stretches
a hundred feet across the buttress. It is now known as the Central
Chimney, and was first climbed in April, 1897, by Mr. Godfrey Ellis and
myself. In the first edition of this book, the chimney was erroneously
identified with one of Messrs. Hopkinson’s ascents of April, 1895. The
route cannot be recommended except to experts, by reason equally of the
genuine difficulties in the chimney and of the exposed nature of the
awkward situations in it.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

DOE CRAG AND GOATSWATER

(_Face page 220_)]

The next gully to the right forms the northern boundary of the great
central buttress. It is but slightly marked at the lower end and
possesses serious difficulties in the first half. We shall call it the
Intermediate Gully. It was first climbed in April, 1895, by Messrs.
Campbell, and Edward, Albert, and J. H. Hopkinson, and described by the
most experienced of their party as the severest climb he had done in
the district. Mr. W. J. Williams and I went up it at Easter, 1898, when
making a fairly complete survey of all these splendid, but practically
unknown gullies.

The Easter Gully now needs localization. It comes next to the preceding
and is easy to identify. It has a huge cave pitch near the bottom,
then from a great hollow in the crags a vertical chimney springs up
over a hundred feet in a right-angled corner; above this the gully
divides into two branches, both of which give good climbing until we
are nearly at the summit-ridge. Careful inquiry enables me to say that
this was first climbed by Messrs. Haskett Smith and Robinson in 1886;
they avoided a considerable amount of the trouble, inevitable in a
passage of the lower half of the direct ascent, by working up the great
buttress on the right, and by traversing back into the gully when the
opportunity disclosed itself. The first passage of the gully by the
extremely difficult second pitch, and thence directly onwards, was made
on Easter Day, 1895, by Messrs. Otto Koecher and Charles Hopkinson,
who, however, circumvented the comparatively simple cave pitch at the
foot. They thought they were on entirely new ground; so did I when
on Easter Day, 1898, Mr. W. J. Williams accompanied me over the first
pitch, up a zig-zag course to left and right of the long chimney, and
then along the direct finish to the summit.

The sixth and last great gully is known as the North Gully, to see
which it is necessary to go well towards Goat’s Hause. Three huge
boulders block up the middle and form the only pitch. The gully was
formerly supposed to be Messrs. Haskett Smith and Robinson’s climb of
1886; actually it is the place where Haskett Smith was let down on a
rope, and gave tribute to the grandeur of the region by remarking on
its ‘terrific aspect.’ In 1895 a party went up what they called the
North Gully, but they encountered no difficulty during their ascent,
and it seems more likely therefore that they climbed a slighter ghyll
between the real North Gully and the Easter Gully. They traversed
into the latter above its difficult chimney. It is hard to say what
exploration has been made here. Mr. Williams and I descended the gully
in 1898, and halted there sufficiently to convince ourselves of the
feasibility of its ascent. But whether the climb has ever been taken
upwards throughout its whole length is an open question.

Climbers should visit Doe Crag more frequently. The rocks give
magnificent sport, the scenery is more than ordinarily impressive
even to the hardened cragsman, and there yet remains a great amount
of exploratory work to be done. Only the gullies have hitherto been
tackled. The buttresses are almost untouched.

THE GREAT GULLY.--The satisfactory part of this climb is that
its greatest difficulty confronts us at the outset. Once the first
pitch is accomplished we are perfectly certain that the combined
skill of the party is sufficient to insure a successful ascent of the
remainder. There is no gradual increase in the technical difficulty of
the subsequent passages, to vex the soul of the conscientious climber
with doubts as to the morality of advancing, when a critical position
might be reached where descent is dangerous and further ascent beyond
his powers. The first pitch is severe, and perhaps a little risky for
the leader, but the remaining four are easy, and the method of tackling
them obvious. This species of gully is suitable for those who tire
quickly, or whose impressions of the work before them depend on the
height they have attained. On the other hand, there are climbers who
like to feel that there is always something serious looming ahead, who
want the troubles to last them all through their climb, and rejoice
in a _bonne bouche_ at the most elevated situation. Such lingering
sweetness they can find in the Central Chimney, but not here; it is
not surprising that many men are satisfied with one visit to the Great
Gully, and never make for it a second time.

It takes us ten minutes to walk up from the lake to the entrance of the
gully. Then a few yards of scree and broken rock lead into a cavern,
below a chock-stone that offers much resistance to the direct passage
up the pitch. A massive buttress encroaches on the left, and renders
the gully almost narrow enough for both sides to be employed together;
but close inspection shows that near the top of the pitch the walls
are too far apart and the handholds too few. The climber does well to
descend a few feet and prospect the buttress itself. This exhibits
a safer route (see view on page 225). Close against the side of the
vertical left wall the buttress shows a slight fissure, that starts
from an easy grass platform and runs steeply up to a level some twelve
feet higher than the top of the chock-stone. The difficulty lies in
working up the corner, following the crack as much as possible, and
taking sufficient care that the body does not swing away from the
footholds. A stout individual is likely to feel handicapped at an
awkward little ledge half-way up from the grass platform. The fissure
can be followed straight up into the gully, but it is easier to contour
round the buttress and on to the top of the true pitch. There is
excellent belaying for an ascending party, the rope lying along the
crack and gripping well at several points. It grips just too well for
the safe belaying of the last man in a descent; he had better adopt the
dangling method and work straight over the chock-stone. This latter
direct route over the obstacle was tried once or twice before 1889, but
without success. It was left to the brothers Hopkinson to show in that
year that it offered a perfectly safe variation, though probably
most climbers will agree that it needs more muscle than is wanted
for the crack route. They clambered into the cave and thrust a rope
through the small aperture in the roof. When a sufficient quantity had
been poked up in that way, it fell over the front of the cave and was
available for climbing. But it is very severe work to swarm up a thin
rope; in this case there is slight assistance from the sides of the
gully, and the transfer of hold from the rope to the rock comes when
the arms are tired.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE FIRST PITCH IN DOE CRAG GREAT GULLY

(_Face page 225_)]

After this difficulty is passed, some yards of scree lead to the
second pitch. The gully is narrow, and the block is produced by two
boulders one above the other. There is no trouble in working through
the cave and on to the lower block, whence an easy pull over the upper
stone takes us again to a long line of scree of the impulsive variety.
This part of the gully is pleasant only when snow is about, when the
ankle-twisting propensities of the scree are not permitted full play.

We are near the point where the gully opens out considerably, sending
a branch up on the right. But before that we have to mount two small
pitches, the first taken straight up, the second by either right or
left wall.

The branch exit on the right has no serious difficulties, but it
abounds in loose holds that the climber may find hard to avoid. It
leads on to the great middle buttress of Doe Crag, above all its
dangerous parts, and within easy access of the summit. The direct
ascent of the gully is interesting only at the last step, where a
narrow chimney must be passed. Its right boundary is a long smooth
slab, unusually deficient in holds. There are three or four wedged
stones and the pitch is often wet, but by keeping close into the
chimney and working up the right wall the trouble may be overcome. It
is always possible, of course, to descend a little and climb out of the
gully on the right.

DOE CRAG CENTRAL CHIMNEY.--This climb is known to very few
people. Many are aware in a vague manner that there is splendid
climbing on the great buttress of Doe Crag, but only one or two
cragsmen have learnt where to go for it. So far as my own experience
is concerned it was almost a matter of accident that brought me soon
after Easter, 1897, to the foot of the Central Chimney. The previous
day had been spent with Messrs. George and Ashley Abraham on Lliwedd,
in the Snowdon district, and a tiresome cross-country night journey
to Coniston had not tended to put the keenest edge on my hunger for
adventure. My companion, Mr. Godfrey Ellis, and I were really intent on
ascending by the ‘intermediate gully of terrific aspect,’ down which
Mr. Haskett Smith had climbed in 1888. The Central Chimney certainly
looked terrific, more so than anything else we could find about there.
It was also reasonably intermediate, and we came to the conclusion that
our gully was found. Later investigation showed that we had made a
mistake, for Haskett Smith’s chimney is at the north end of the crags.

The Central Chimney attracted the attention of Mr. Slingsby in 1887,
but apparently ours was the first ascent. Messrs. Broadrick have been
up it since, and I have been advised by one of their party that the top
of the chief difficulty is dangerously loose.

We had heavy rücksacks to carry over to Wastdale that day, and decided
to leave them at the foot of the climb, rather than suffer the
inconvenience of dragging them up with us. We had eighty feet of rope,
and needed it all near the top.

Our work started easily. Three obvious courses led in about thirty feet
to a broad, grassy platform, from which the chimney made its proper
beginning. Each of the three ways involved scrambling; they started
a few feet to the left of the lowest part of the crags, and formed
between them a very fair presentment of a gully entrance. But a glance
upwards showed that, for some distance at least, we should have very
little of the nature of a gully to guide us. From the platform sprang
up the vertical wall that gives the central buttress its appearance
of inaccessibility, almost unrelieved for several hundred feet. Our
chimney commenced as a thin crack in the wall from the platform, only
large enough for a hand to be thrust in, and so sharp-edged that
one’s fingers were badly cut in climbing the first five yards. Then
the crack seemed to widen gradually until from below it appeared
sufficiently broad for wedging. Appearances would have been comforting
but for the curious absence of retaining wall on the right-hand side
of the crack. The left was excellent; on that side the rock stood out
from the corner and formed the finest part of the great buttress. But
the right wall was out clean away, leaving smooth slabs that were sure
to give trouble when we should find the chimney too shallow for further
progress.

I started up the thin crack, and found the strain very severe on the
arms. When it became wide enough to support a knee it was possible
to halt and prospect a little. The next ten feet up the crack were
obviously most difficult, and a glance at the north side showed that it
would have been easier to work up the right wall for twenty feet from
the platform before traversing into the crack again. Ellis suggested
that he should come up to my level by means of a slight fissure in
the right wall, and steadied by the rope that I had flung over a
small projection some six feet above his head, he managed to reach a
shaky, sloping ledge of grass, and then to manœuvre the rope for my
own passage to the same resting-place. We next worked upwards into the
chimney, and kept close in it for twenty feet or so. There were good
holds on the right until some small boulders and _débris_ formed a
little platform, over the edge of which we were able to pull ourselves.

The scenery about here was particularly impressive. Our resting-place
was scarcely big enough for both, and a glance vertically downwards
showed us the spot where we had commenced operations three quarters of
an hour previously. The black depths of Goat’s Water formed a striking
foreground to the view of Coniston Old Man across the valley, and it
almost seemed as though the tarn could be reached by a stone falling
from our tiny ledge. Up above us the crags loomed fearfully. They
overhung considerably in places, and we saw that our only course was to
follow boldly the line of our chimney till it abruptly terminated in
the face. Fortunately the weather was good, the rocks dry and warm. To
have attempted the chimney with much ice or water about would have been
foolhardiness worthy of our wildest days.

From the ledge we found the climbing splendid, keeping up the slight
rib of rock on the right that formed the nearly vertical boundary of
the chimney. The holds were just sufficiently large to give ample
support, especially when the back could rest on the opposite side of
the crack. ‘Backing up’ is usually a very constricted performance,
with but limited views of the scenery around. Here on Doe Crag it
seems as though most of the mountain is cut away excepting those parts
of obvious utility to the climber. We crawled round the rib when the
crack became too thin, and worked up several feet of slabby rock until
the appearances seemed to indicate that an actual gully was now about
to manifest itself and commence a fresh run up the wall. We therefore
traversed again to the left into a large recess, and after a little
scrambling upwards found ourselves brought to a stop by a dead wall.
The bed of our recess was loose and steeply sloping. Its sides were
slightly iced, and considerable care was needed in settling securely
down to consider the situation.

The wall was about twenty feet high and too smooth to climb. On each
side of us were huge overhanging buttresses that projected considerably
beyond the latter portion of our route. It was not manifest which of
these would offer the best way of surmounting the wall, and it might
be that neither was suitable. We could see that a traverse out of the
difficulty might be made in the northern direction, but it was very
exposed and it led too far away from our chimney.

Ellis braced himself firmly at the highest corner of the recess, and
manipulated the rope with special care. I started working up between
the two buttresses in a manner that recalled to us both the well-known
picture of the Funffingerspitze chimney in Sanger-Davies’ book. When
some twelve feet above him, it seemed safe to quit the left-hand
side altogether, and a stride effected the change of style. But the
return was now almost impossible, and in the anxious five minutes that
followed I had time to repent the sudden resolve. The top of the wall
was within reach, but it was fringed with loose grass tufts that
scarcely seemed secure enough to offer purchase in the upward heave
that I wanted to give myself. However, the time spent in hesitation was
sheer waste, for at the end the pull-up was perfectly safe and easy,
and a little wriggling over rock and steep grass brought me to a long
terrace, that naturally suggested a halt for the second man’s advance.
In good time his head appeared above the grass tufts that formed the
limit of my foreground, and a few seconds later he was sitting at my
side and speculating as to the length of the difficult piece. The
whole climb so far had been veritably one single pitch; we had had no
interval of comparative ease, and were now eager to find some temporary
freedom.

That we found in perambulating our terrace. It was about a yard wide
and fifty feet long, and gave evidence that our gully as such had
practically terminated. We found it rather awkward clambering up the
wall some thirty feet to another similar terrace. This stretched
horizontally from the large ravine that now disclosed itself on our
right, and across the face of the mountain towards the Great Gully.
The former, we could see, involved some pretty climbing a hundred feet
below us. At our level it was merely a scree-walk finishing at the
highest part of Doe Crag.

Our route lay up the rocks above the terrace. Two narrow clefts offered
choice. We took the one to the right, about fifteen feet long and
sufficiently tough to make us remember the place. Then followed easy
hand-and-foot work till we could distinguish the branch exit of the
Great Gully. Down this we carefully picked our way, and then returned
to gather up our belongings and make tracks for distant Wastdale. The
round had taken three hours.

THE INTERMEDIATE GULLY.--We had a glorious afternoon for this
climb. The previous night had brought us from town to Coniston, and
we meant to give ourselves an easy day. But fearing that the weather
might change we were tempted to seize the opportunity and start earnest
business at once. Identifying the gully as the first to the right of
the longest buttress of the crags, we entered it and began scrambling
immediately. After five minutes of ‘staircase’ work, using both sides
of the gully, we came to a point where the left wall overhung a little
and the gully closed in. A flank movement was then effected on the
right, over steep rocks and unreliable grass ledges, returning by a
narrow traverse into the gully at a point forty feet higher. The second
man came straight up, finding two pitches confronting him, both of
which he thought we could have taken directly if time had allowed us
to risk an attempt. We kept in the ghyll for the next two pitches,
both of them fairly simple. A fine flat stone at the top of the second
offered a good standpoint for the inspection of the overhanging wall
that now faced us. The gully had shrunk again into the merest crack in
the wall. My friend called it the extreme pitch of refinement. On our
left a smooth right-angled corner that probably thought itself a branch
gully led up to the ridge separating us from the Central Chimney. Again
it seemed desirable to take to the right by a course that was at any
rate feasible, although it took us away from our direct line of ascent.
After fifteen feet of traverse the buttress looked accessible, but
recollecting the poor holds that we had encountered in a corresponding
situation lower down, we went further away still, descending slightly
to a level platform where the leader could be belayed during his direct
ascent of the wall. Fortunately the rocks were quite dry, as otherwise
the work that followed would have been risky. At first the handholds
were unsafe, but in ten feet our industrious cleaning away of the grass
and earth disclosed an excellent cleft in the wall, safe and sound.
Thence the way was pleasanter, swinging upwards towards the left again
by immovable rockholds. We had several yards of a narrow ledge tilted
upwards at 30° before entering our gully again, and arrived in it just
below a little pitch of the type that tries the elbow.

Great caution was now needed. Not that the climbing was difficult or
dangerous, but the gully had dwindled into little more than a slight
indentation in a vertical wall, and each man had to move with the
utmost deliberation. Holds were numerous, generally better on the left
wall, but they were all rather wet. Soon we were engaged in a violent
struggle with a small angular jammed block that barred our way. It
seemed loose at first, but we proved its stability that afternoon by
many minutes’ hauling and wrenching from below and above. The chief
difficulty was to get the shoulders firmly fixed between the sides
of the cleft above the jammed stone; with only the block to hold
and no rest for the feet this manœuvre was very awkward to perform.
Above this a few steps led to a narrow cave, which we climbed by its
right edge and found to be a trying piece of arm work. Here the gully
expanded into a large scree-bedded ravine with only two moderately easy
obstacles between us and the top of the crag. To our left we could see
the ledge that marks the end of the Central Chimney. Our own gully,
looking backwards, seemed to be a vertical plunge straight down to the
bottom, and as usual we caught ourselves wondering whether anything
else could be called difficult after this.

We reached the summit in two hours from the start, and then skirting
the lower edge of the crags from Goat’s Hause, we made note of each
gully as we passed its foot. An easy scree shoot, followed by a
buttress set back at a gentle angle, but with splendid practice on it;
the North Gully with its awe-inspiring middle pitch like the great
obstacle in Moss Ghyll; a branch gully leading into the North Gully; a
second branch, looking rather interesting but lacking definition higher
up; the Easter Gully with its double centre portion; the Intermediate
Gully; the Central Chimney; and the Great Gully.

THE EASTER GULLY.--The same party came two days later to
examine this climb. The weather was very unsettled, and we were forced
to the conclusion that the main central chimney was too wet to be
approachable. The scrambling was easy up to the cave; then we worked up
the vertical left wall by diminutive ledges till the level of the cave
stone was ours, whereupon an awkward bit of traverse brought us safely
out of the difficulty. We were in the great hollow, and were astonished
to find that in addition to the main chimneys on the right and left
centre, there were splendid branch gullies up to the ridges on either
side.

I started up the left central chimney. It was dry, but its holds were
fragile. In forty feet it divided into two parallel branches; that on
the left was overhanging, and held a bunch of long splinters of rock
forming a dangerous _chevaux-de-frise_, ready to fall at the slightest
notice. So we left it alone, and looked to the right branch. For twenty
feet it went very well, and there, where one man might safely wedge
himself, it became practically impossible to mount any higher. My
companion, therefore, came up while I worked out on the open face to
the right. Without much trouble a small platform one foot square was
reached, from which we proposed to mount the buttress that separated
us from the right central chimney. I hesitated a long while before
venturing on it; the place was assuredly difficult, we were not certain
whether the upper portion would be feasible, and the strong wind,
swirling mist, and intermittent rain sapped our courage and strength
the more we deliberated.

The stiff work began with a scramble up into a grassy corner, fifteen
feet above my platform. It was too small to enter, but from it sprang
a narrow cleft to the right, very much like the well-known ‘stomach
traverse’ on the Pillar Rock, but considerably harder to pass, and
without an easy walk out at the further end. At its highest point the
best course seemed to be up a vertical crack in the wall, and a stiff
scramble here of ten feet brought me out on the head of the buttress.
Here there was a chance of walking over to the right central chimney
and finishing by the thirty feet or so that remained of its special
difficulty. But that portion was naturally as wet as the lower part
that we had purposely avoided, and we chose to cross the chimney and
climb up its right wall.



CHAPTER XVI

_COMBE GHYLL_


Many a pedestrian walking down Borrowdale from the Styhead pass,
looking backward at the fearful descent of some 1,100 feet of
rough fellside, reaches a point in the valley where he experiences
difficulty in recalling his track. For the valley between Gable and
Seathwaite Fell is hidden, and his choice hovers between the combe
below Sprinkling Tarn, walled in by Seathwaite Fell and Glaramara, and
the upland valley that nestles between Thornythwaite and Rosthwaite
Fells. His perplexity is increased when he notices that neither
hollow satisfies the condition of background. The one is barred by
the crags of Great End, the other by the steep wall of Raven Crag, a
high dependence of Glaramara; whereas the Styhead pass as seen from
Grange ought to show distant Scawfell as a background, and be easily
recognised. One of these two hollows the climber will do well to
identify.

Combe Ghyll is the name of the course that drains the north side of
Glaramara, the stream making its way down the little valley that has
already been described as lying between Thornythwaite and Rosthwaite
Fells. At about the 1,000-feet level in the valley the land is flat and
marshy; with little provocation the stream could produce a respectable
lake, and the tourist in wet weather feels that such absence of
deception would be to his advantage. Above this level the mountain
rises abruptly, and the ghyll has to acknowledge two sources. That
which sends its supply straight down the centre of Raven Crag was the
first to be regarded as Combe Ghyll. But the other is longer and more
obvious. Looking up from the marsh the watercourse is very distinct
away to the left, though the climb is equally in evidence on the right.
When a short time since three curious cragsmen (including the curious
writer) penetrated to the recesses of this almost unknown country to
find the climb that Messrs. Robinson and Wilson had discovered and
christened as long ago as September, 1893, we were compelled by that
name to tackle the east branch, but vowed at the same time to go later
to the west. Our conscientiousness was praiseworthy, though mistaken,
but as events developed themselves our mistake had happy consequences.
We managed both ghylls, and were probably instrumental in preventing a
nasty accident to a couple of would-be mountaineers whom we discovered
in difficulties.

It was on a hot day in April. We had been disporting ourselves for
photographic purposes in the Kern Knotts crack, and had sauntered
down to Seatoller for some soda and milk to give grace to our jam
sandwiches. Then we walked down the Rosthwaite Road as far as the
bridge over the Derwent, and went across the opposite shoulder into
the combe. It was very close down in Borrowdale, and we were glad to
get out of the well of warm air and follow the water for a mile or so
to the marshy upland. Here the walking was soft and pleasant. Water
in our boots was no hardship, and we even hoped that there would be
many waterfalls in our gully. Then came the dilemma and our decision
to keep to the main stream. But the aspect of the Raven Crag gully on
our right, as we skirted the boggy ground below us, was magnificent.
Pitch rose above pitch apparently without any easy stretches, and the
whole gully seemed to form just one vertical chimney in the rocks, five
hundred feet high. Moss Ghyll itself is not grander than the Raven Crag
gully as it appeared that afternoon to our longing gaze, and even now
that the details of the latter climb are impressed vividly in my mind I
can assure myself that it was one of the finest I have ever undertaken
in Cumberland.

We followed our watercourse right up to its beginning close to a
little pass over towards Langstrath. In general appearance it somewhat
resembled Piers Ghyll, with its slight gradient and short pitches,
its rotten walls and unavoidable water. But in respect to the last
consideration we were almost exempted from a wetting, for the ghyll was
nearly dry, and only in the direct ascent of one pitch did we run any
risk of a drenching. No doubt the normal state of the gully is very
much worse than we found it.

With hazy impression of a hundred-feet pitch we came provided with two
eighty-feet lengths of rope, but managed our climb with one only. The
first pitch was about fifteen feet high; the left wall was feasible,
the direct climb involved the passage through a dripping cave and out
by a hole in the roof, and the right side of the gully was of steep
grass and insecure rock. We took to the latter, and with care managed
the ascent without dislodging much that might help later climbers.
Above this we had a view of a waterfall about fifty or sixty yards
further up, and inasmuch as the rocks showed signs of nailed boots we
were for some time prevailed upon to believe that we had really found
our quest.

The bed of the stream was rough but easy for a while. Two small pitches
about six feet high scarcely gave us pause before we reached the
foot of the waterfall that we had seen from the first pitch. It was
about twelve yards high; the walls were four or five feet apart, and
glistening with the wet. They did not appear to offer very excellent
holds, but I found it possible to face the fall and utilize as
footholds sundry diminutive ledges on either side. It was a case of
spanning the gully and walking up. About twenty feet from the bottom
the holds on the left wall were somewhat greasy, but a yard higher the
ledges on the right had so much improved that it was a safe venture
to pull over to that side and effect a traverse to the top of the
double obstacle over which the water was falling. While the others
were rapidly following, we were surprised to hear voices from above. I
advanced a little, and discovered two young men perched precariously
on the face of the steep wall to the right. Almost at the same moment
a large stone fell from their feet towards us, and, in an ecstasy of
fear lest they should bombard our last man, who was yet in difficulties
bestriding the gully below, we shouted to them to stay still a bit
and wait for us to advance to a place of safety. Then with all speed
we clambered up to them, and let them down on the rope into the gully
again. They were distinctly in peril; that side of the ghyll was as
treacherous, with its loose splinters of rock and steep unreliable
grass, as it could manage to be without falling by its own weight. The
top was slightly overhanging, and could bear no extra pulling. The men
were inexperienced; one of them had no nails in his boots; they had
walking-sticks tied tightly to their wrists with string, and when we
reached them they were tired out with the physical and mental strain.
We reflected on our wonderful good fortune in choosing this gully, and
thought with some bitterness that this was the way that the noblest of
sports acquired its notoriety for great danger. It transpired that they
had scrambled down into the gully at the side of the waterfall that we
had just climbed, and saw no means of getting out of the hole excepting
by this loose wall.

We were now at the foot of a small pitch about twenty-five feet high.
It was divided by a vertical buttress, and the water was flowing down
to the left. The right-hand side seemed rather insecure, so I climbed
some thirty feet up the wall of the gully again, and the second man
clambered up the right-hand recess, confident in the support of the
rope if his foothold gave way. He then traversed easily to the top of
the pitch, and drew in my rope as I descended to his level and followed
him. We asked the last man how were the passengers to be conveyed
up the pitch. He replied, with perhaps just a touch of malice, that
the direct passage through the water was the shortest, quickest, and
cheapest route to the top, and we at the summit were of the same mind.
Then our tourists were tied separately to the rope, and hauled up
through the fall. It was very uncomfortable for them, but we got as
wet ourselves later on. We hoped that their bedraggled condition would
prompt them to a speedy descent and a relinquishment, for that day at
least, of the joys of crag-climbing. That pitch was the last in the
gully of any magnitude, and our friends were able to walk out easily on
to the open fell and so down to Borrowdale. We ourselves gave one last
look around for the hundred-feet fall that was to finish Combe Ghyll,
and then, finding it not, we bore rapidly westwards across the mountain
in search of the genuine article. [Illustration:

  PLATE VIII.

PILLAR ROCK, EAST SIDE (p. 257).

About 200 feet of Rock are shown.

  _a_ Left Pisgah Route.
  _b_ East Pisgah Chimney.
  _c_ Right Pisgah Route.
  _d_ Start of Slab and Notch Route.
  _e_ The Slab.
  _f_ The Notch.
  _g_ The Ledge.
  _h_ Pendlebury Traverse.
  _k_ The Curtain.

  A High Man.
  B Pisgah.
  C Low Man.
  D Jordan.
  E East Jordan Gully.
  F Great Chimney.
  G Savage Gully.]

As we skirted the foot of the crags we passed two small gullies that
rose steeply above us, and that for a moment made us stop to consider
their qualifications. In twenty minutes from the top of Combe Ghyll we
came to the first deep and well marked watercourse. It was our Raven
Crag Gully, and when we peered up into its dark recesses we felt
that good sport was at last before us. We finished the remnants of our
lunch and drank a little water. It was not a tempting beverage, for
the rocks just above were covered with objectionable vegetation, and
the supply was so much below the average that the pools seemed almost
stagnant. Also, I was haunted with the recollection of a dead sheep
that we had passed in the other gully, lying on a ledge close to the
stream. Mountain water is not always free from microbes, especially in
those craggy regions where sheep come to grief.

We started on the climb close by a little pool of water at the foot
of a short and greasy pitch. It could have been taken direct, but
we worked round the buttress on the left and entered the gully a
few feet higher. Then, penetrating well into the recess, we were at
once confronted by the first big pitch. A steep buttress divided the
gully into two parts, the left-hand recess being cut deeply into
the mountain and forming a long and narrow waterfall. This was the
true bed of the gully. To the right of the buttress the recess was
comparatively shallow, but its easier inclination somewhat compensated
for its exposed position, and we found that the footholds were just
sufficient to render a rapid advance possible. About forty feet up I
craved the second man’s helping hand, but while he was advancing to
offer assistance an easy way of swarming up the buttress commended
itself; I found a resting-place at the level of the top of the pitch,
eighty or ninety feet above the foot of the fall, where the second man
could join me before I ventured on the traverse round to the bed of the
gully. The traverse reminded us of the steps over the buttress from the
Tennis Court ledge in Moss Ghyll, and was no doubt a place to respect
in wet or icy weather. Our last man came up more directly, keeping on
the inner side of the buttress for the first half of the climb and then
working straight up the pitch. Excepting for an awkward bit of some
three feet at the middle of the ascent, his route had advantages over
ours. The rocks throughout were splendid, and their warmth and dryness
made the scrambling easy.

A yard or two further, over great boulders bestrewn in the bed of
the gully, and we were brought up at the foot of the second great
obstacle. Here the two side walls approached to within a distance of
four feet of each other, and straight down the centre from a height of
seventy feet dripped the weak promise of a second waterfall. Close to
the water it was impossible to ascend, but some ten feet away from it
suitable ledges on either side discovered themselves. These enabled me
to use both walls in a directly vertical ascent for so long as they
were within four feet of each other. Then I pulled over to a crack on
the right and performed a safety wriggle to more open ground above,
whence it was easy to clamber over the big boulders at the top of the
pitch. The second man was asked to prospect the route on the other
side of the left wall, and came up with the report that the traverse
out of the main gully was easy and that the rest of the ascent, about
eighty feet of solid rock, was just comfortable hand-and-foot work
all through. While the third was adopting the same tactics which we
afterwards remembered had been employed by a previous party from
Keswick, I went on to inspect the next obstacle. It certainly was
the worst-looking pitch in the whole ascent. A large cave was formed
by two massive boulders jammed between the narrow walls seventy feet
above our heads. The first-floor of the cave was fifty feet up, and
from its roof dripped the inevitable water-supply to damp our daring
ardour. The walls of the gully were close together and covered with
wet moss. Holds were very scarce, and for a moment we considered the
advisability of working out on the right as others had done before
us, and traversing into the gully above the cave. But a tentative
backing-up in the main chimney gave some hope of success in the direct
attack; and abandoning all idea of making a final exit with dry
garments, I cautiously worked up the inner face of a leaf of rock on
the right wall, the others steadying my feet on sundry infinitesimal
ledges so long as I was within reach, and then supporting me with words
of encouragement and approval. When within six feet of the floor of
the cave it became necessary to wedge well into the chimney, with back
against the left and scanty hold opposite. Then a desperate wriggle
gave me a lift of about eighteen inches and the handholds improved
sufficiently for haulage. Leaving the left wall, I could just thrust
my knee in a corner under the fall, and lever up to the opposite side.
Next a few easy ledges brought me into the cave, and I paused to wring
the moisture from my coat and cap before inviting the others to follow
on. By regarding their manœuvres and subsequent criticism it impressed
me as likely that I might have saved myself some exertion, and perhaps
have better avoided the water, by keeping up the edge of the leaf of
rock instead of attacking its inner face. But that course would expose
the leader to a greater risk of slipping at a failing hold, and would
demand more ingenious tactics.

Our cave was large and airy; the water passed into it at the back, so
that we could easily stay at the entrance and avoid the fall. High up
above our heads were a couple of apertures in the roof, probably wide
enough for our passage, but difficult to reach. The right wall of the
gully was well broken up, and without ado we set ourselves at it and
worked round the edge of the nearer overhanging block as a step to
the other. Some thirty feet of my rope ran out before the second man
advanced from the bed of the cave: not that the climbing refused to
admit an earlier start, but that he was busy wringing out his clothes.
I awaited his advance impatiently, for a bend in the gully prevented
my seeing the next pitch above us--the last in the climb. But when he
was firmly braced against the top boulder, hauling in the rope of the
last man, I advanced to the end of my tether to steal an early glance
at the pitch that report had spoken of so respectfully. Robinson’s
account in the Wastdale book was succinct enough: ‘A return on to the
floor of the ghyll was made near the top of the third pitch, when a
little scrambling led to a very fine waterfall more than 100 feet high.
Here climb in the water as little as you can; then diverge slightly
on to the right hand of the ghyll just where the water spouts over a
small recess; next traverse across a rather difficult slab into the
cave under the final boulder, which is climbed on the left hand and
is the last difficulty.’ The only part of his prescription that I had
carried in my mind was the ‘climb in the water as little as you can,’
and we had been applying it all day with varying success. The trouble
always is to make any headway at all against a descending mass of cold
water, and we had come to regard the advice as indicative solely of
the fact that an available route was only to be found in dry weather.
To climb in the water as little as possible meant to choose a dry
season and to mount by the usual line of flow. Another account that
may prove interesting was given me by Messrs. G. and A. Abraham: ‘Some
enjoyable scrambling in the bed of the ghyll brought us quickly to
the last obstacle and certainly the finest part of the whole climb.
The climber is immediately reminded here of the great amphitheatre
in the Screes Gully, for, although on a much smaller scale, we have
the same gigantic buttresses and receding slabs, with three suggested
exits. The most obvious way out here is up the waterfall as usual.
This we attempted until the amount of water on the steep, slippery
rocks forced us out on to the difficult right-hand wall, about seventy
feet above the beginning of the pitch. Here we climbed straight
upwards, and, traversing round a very awkward corner, landed right
on the top of the pitch, the leader requiring considerable help for
the last twenty feet.’ Our own experiences were a little different, a
consequence of our fixed intention to force a route directly upwards
without any traversing away on to the right wall of the gully. Also,
we were relieved of the necessity of avoiding water, because it fell
too diffusely to be avoided, and so small an area was left to any of us
that could be affected seriously by further saturation. The first part
of the pitch was perfectly simple. We could employ holds on either side
and clamber up to a platform made by an un-jammed stone with rounded
corners that had been caught in the cleft. It was safe enough for our
purposes, and two men could lodge themselves conveniently above it.
Straight up overhead was a formidable chimney that looked feasible in
its upper portion but impossible to reach directly from below. A long
block of rock twenty feet high, possibly part of the living mountain,
prevented a passage up the pitch to the immediate right of the
chimney; but between the smooth slabs of wet rock that formed the right
wall of the gully and this long boulder a narrow crack wound its way up
to Robinson’s cave, and it occurred to all of us simultaneously that
the crack might be negotiated and the awkward slab-traverse thereby
avoided. But the crack was as nothing to begin with, and from our
rickety platform we could obtain but scanty notion of its safety higher
up. I suggested advancing a little to prospect, craving a shoulder to
start from, and a steadying hand for my completer confidence on the
doubtful little ledges that we were calling footholds. The first ten
feet went very well, but although I found the crack useful for the
left knee, it was unable to accept the responsibility of my complete
stability. I sang out for another steadying hand, and my most admirable
second clambered on to the shoulders of the last man without a moment’s
hesitation. They plastered themselves flat against the slab, and I felt
my right foot cease its uncanny trembling as the outstretched hand held
it firmly in the niche it longed to use. This was downright luxury, and
in my sense of security there stole a moment’s shame at the thought of
so much dependence on the others. But there! in climbing as in football
the combination is everything in the highest developments of the game,
and though success may now and again be due to the unaided efforts of
one man, the full satisfaction that should follow victory will only be
felt by the whole party when all have contributed something to the
manœuvring. Be it remembered that in crag-climbing two heads are better
than one, even if the second head is only used as a foothold. But
there we were, three links in a chain that reached from the platform
to the widest part of the crack that was to lead us to the cave. The
position was not to be dwelt upon, and I hastened to relieve the others
of their common burden. In the crack and at arm’s length above me was
a well-secured angular stone round which the rope could be passed.
Using it as a hold I was able to quit the precarious foothold on the
right and thrust the left knee well into the crack. The position was
one that could admit of no slip, the leg being sufficient to hold the
body well in; and before quitting that favoured spot I untied the rope
and slipped the free end through the hole at the back of the jammed
stone before tying on again. The others had descended by this time to
the platform and were taking in all the slack. Whatever the difficulty
of the few remaining moves to the cave, I was insured against a big
fall and could trust to the belaying of the little angular block that
had so neatly adjusted itself to our needs. As a matter of fact the
precaution was scarcely necessary, though eminently proper under the
circumstances. The ledges above me were good and firm, and with the
rope gently paid out from below I reached the cave without more trouble.

The floor was sloping; but a comfortable and reposeful attitude could
be indulged in, well at the back, far from the dripping eaves of the
cave. But I had committed an error of judgment with the rope, threading
the hole from above the jammed stone instead of from below, before
tying the bowline round my waist. At the time the importance of that
consideration had not occurred to me, but now in my ease, hauling up
the slack between myself and the second, I felt a sudden jerk. The
rope was wrapped completely round the jammed stone, whose angularity,
that had before commended itself to the hands, now introduced so much
friction that the rope would no longer slip freely round it. We were
perplexed for a while, till our enterprising middleman, who had many
times before offered a key to our difficulties, proposed climbing up
as a leader, with the second rope attached to his waist, and the fixed
rope above him used for steadying purposes whenever necessary. We knew
that the jammed stone that fixed the upper rope could not be dislodged
easily, and indeed I was able to hold on to my end and oppose any
dangerous leverage. He climbed up with every confidence, and reached
the crack safely. Then, repeating my movement with the left leg, he
held on while disentangling my rope, tying himself to its lower end as
soon as the complications were unravelled. A few moments more gave me a
companion in the cave, and built, as it was, for two persons only, he
mildly suggested my withdrawal for the benefit of the third man. Thence
our method of advance was practically identical with Robinson’s. We had
a little walk of six feet over towards the left wall of the gully, by
ledges that lay on the very verge of a sheer drop of eighty feet to the
foot of the pitch. Then the ascent was continued by a narrow crack that
commenced in a somewhat sensational manner, not so much by reason of
its difficulty as by the feeling of nothingness to fall back upon in
case of a slip. The second was at my heels, and he was firmly braced up
by the sole remaining tenant of the cave. Lifting the left leg as high
up the crack as possible, and accepting a push from behind, I reached
over a slab on the right and dragged up on to it. That was to be the
last big effort; the final pitch was all below, and the gully eased
away above me to its open finish. I shouted the tidings to the others.
With all eagerness they followed, the last man claiming with pride the
discovery of a grand foothold that he had unearthed or unmossed at the
lower edge of the slab.

Well! we had had a rare little fight; the gully had taken us an hour
and twenty minutes of continuous work, and we voted it a piece of solid
good business.

There remained the long walk back to Wastdale and to dinner. I proposed
getting there in an hour and a half, and started on the journey with
a pipe in my mouth. We had about three miles of rough, high-level
skirting along the 2,000-feet contour to Sprinkling Tarn, two miles of
descent to the Burnthwaite level, and a mile of valley walking at the
finish. The consequence was that very little smoking was enjoyed. We
were a quarter of an hour behind time at Burnthwaite, a laudable spurt
in the valley being abruptly terminated by the discovery of another
climbing-party on the track. We had found that if two parties were
late, dinner would await their arrival; hence our motive for haste was
removed and we composed our gait and our thoughts for a more sedate
entry into the hotel yard.

NOTE: In the first edition of this book, I followed Mr. Haskett Smith’s
nomenclature and located the climb in Eagle Crag. It seems that this
shoulder of Glaramara goes by the name of Raven Crag, and I have
changed the name of the gully accordingly. There are many Raven Crags
and many Eagle Crags in the district, but climbers need only be warned
against confusing the Raven Crag Gully on Glaramara with the Raven Crag
Chimney on Great Gable.



CHAPTER XVII

_THE PILLAR ROCK_


Mosedale is closed in by Yewbarrow, Red Pike, Pillar, Looking Stead,
and Kirkfell. These form a noble amphitheatre of dark mountains, a
cordon through which it is not easy to break. Between the last two
hills we can effect the passage of the Black Sail over into Ennerdale,
which passes down behind the Pillar to the north-west. A more direct
route to Ennerdale is by Wind Yatt (or Windy Gap), a pass 2,400 feet
high, between the Pillar and the Red Pike. On the northern or Ennerdale
side of the Pillar mountain is the famous Rock, beloved of climbers
great and small. It springs up vertically from the steep fellside, with
a north face like a cathedral-front 500 feet high. From the summit of
the fell a descent of 400 feet of steep rock and scree will bring us to
the nearest part of the crag. From the Liza River at the bottom of the
valley we have 1,100 feet of grass and scree to tackle before reaching
the lowest buttresses that support the great wall.

[Illustration:

    PLATE IX.

PILLAR ROCK, NORTH SIDE (p. 271).

The High Man is about 550 feet above the Nose.

  _a_ Shamrock Gully.
  _b_ Great Pitch in _a_.
  _c_ Great Bridge.
  _d_ Shamrock Chimney.
  _e_ Walker’s Gully.
  _f_ Savage Gully.
  _g_ The Nose.
  _h_ Easy route, North Climb.
  _k_ Cave Pitch.
  _l_ Stomach-traverse.
  _m_ Split-block.
  _n_ The Strid.
  _p_ The Hand-traverse.
  _q_ The Buttress-route.
  _r_ The Ordinary route.
  _s_ The Low Man.
  _t_ The High Man.
  _u_ The Great Chimney.
  _v_ Pisgah.]

From below, the precipice is seen to be divided into two parts by a
long, black chimney. This is Walker’s Gully, named after the young man
who fell there in 1883. Its head is the point of convergence of
sundry lines of scree from the upper fell. It suggests a funnel cut
down along its centre-line, and scree frequently slides down the sides
of the funnel and into the gully. This no doubt is the chief reason why
Walker’s Gully has never been climbed until recently, when snow and
frost diminished the risk from this cause. It would prove difficult
under any conditions, and the risk of a battery of stones from above is
too heavy a handicap for the cautious climber.

The Pillar Rock itself is on the right of the gully, in our view from
below. The crag on the left is considerably lower, and in fact scarcely
rises high enough over the head of the gully to be visible from above.
But from the east it presents an imposing appearance. Its outline
partly suppresses that of the higher crag beyond, partly combines with
it, audit is often mistaken for the actual Pillar Rock. Hence the name
Sham-rock by which it has been known since 1882. It is a mere walk to
reach the summit from the Pillar Fell. The climbing on the Shamrock
is not quite so good as that on the neighbouring crag, but it cannot
well be neglected. On the eastern side is the well-known Shamrock
Gully, a magnificent looking cleft in the rocks, finishing with a huge
V-shaped notch at the summit. A natural arch spans the gully
half-way up, and an obstacle some few feet higher makes a pitch of
unusual severity--‘one of the stiffest pitches in all Cumberland.’ It
was first climbed by Mr. Geoffrey Hastings’ party in March, 1887, when
a bank of snow below the pitch gave a little help. In December, 1890,
the climb was repeated by a party with the same leader, without the aid
of snow, and since that date various ascents have been made with and
without snow. Among others a new route over the obstacle was effected
in December, 1896, by the writer and three friends. It is probable that
the pitch turns back fifty per cent. of the people who essay to climb
it.

On the same eastern face, a few yards further away to the north, is the
Shamrock Chimney, a thin crack running somewhat irregularly upwards
to the summit ridge. The credit of the first ascent belongs to Mr.
John Robinson, whose keen eye and sound judgment made the ascent an
accomplished fact, on September 23, 1894, within a few days of his
discovery of the chimney. Shortly afterwards Robinson showed me the
route, and I was convinced at once that in difficulty and extreme
interest it was far superior to the Shamrock Gully, and equal to the
best climbing on the Pillar Rock. The third ascent was made by Dr.
Lawrence in April, 1895. Not many parties have been up it as yet, and I
am hoping that the full account of its details here supplied will tempt
others to attack it.

I have said that the Pillar Rock lies to the right of Walker’s Gully
when viewed from below. It is bounded on the other or western side by a
broad hollow in the fell, down which a slender stream flows without
any abrupt change of level till the foot of the precipice is reached.
There the ‘Great’ waterfall disturbs the even tenor of its way, and is
said to offer a formidable obstruction to our approach of the west face
from below.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE EAST FACE OF THE PILLAR ROCK]

From the Shamrock side we can get the best idea of the shape of the
Rock. We have first the Pisgah rising out of the upper fellside, a
pinnacle easily accessible and only forty or fifty feet high. Then
to the right comes the actual Pillar Rock, the ‘High Man,’ separated
from Pisgah by a narrow vertical cleft, the ‘Jordan,’ that renders the
ascent from Pisgah almost an impossibility. At the Jordan two gullies
meet; one up the east side, short and easy, the other up the west side,
longer and more difficult.

The outline of the rock is marked by a notch to the right of the
summit, where the Great Chimney finishes, and a little further
northwards it shows a sudden drop to the level of the Low Man, the
immense buttress that from below hides the true summit altogether. A
cairn has been erected on the top of this buttress, and the outline to
the right of this falls in one vertical drop of 400 feet to the foot
of the rock. This is the great north wall. It is supported at the base
by a minor buttress, the ‘Nose,’ that stretches across the full width
of the north wall, and along the top of which, immediately below the
precipice, an easy terrace takes us across to the Great Waterfall
from a point near the foot of Walker’s Gully. From the eastern end of
the traverse rises the Savage Gully, a well-marked cleft with sundry
branches, reaching to the top of the Low Man.

On the western side the rock appears much more formidable. The chimney
up to the Jordan looks black, and its crest is overhanging. The
wall of the High Man itself is built up with long slabs of smooth
rock, broken only by the smallest grass ledges, and its difficulties
appear to increase near the summit. This side of the Low Man looks as
inaccessible as the great north wall. Nevertheless a series of short
gullies starting from the foot of the High Man lead obliquely up
towards the left and offer a very easy route to the southern end of the
Low Man, whence to the summit the climbing is but moderately difficult.

The best ways of reaching the Pillar Rock are given in full detail
by Mr. Haskett Smith. It will here be sufficient to remark that from
Wastdale the usual course followed is to ascend by the path towards
Black Sail Pass until about ten minutes beyond Gatherstone Beck, then
to make for the ridge on the left leading over Looking Stead and up to
the summit of Pillar Fell. Thence a descent of 450 feet in a northerly
direction brings us to the Pillar Rock. Sometimes Mosedale is followed
straight up, and the steep slope climbed that leads to Windy Gap.
Thence the ridge to the right takes us in twenty minutes of easy
going to the summit of the Pillar Fell. Both these routes involve an
unnecessary ascent of 450 feet, and the ‘High-Level Route’ was designed
to avoid this waste of time and energy. Looking Stead is reached as
before from Gatherstone Beck, and the wire fence followed up for a few
minutes as far as the head of Green Cove. Here a cairn marks the spot
where a rough path starts down the cove. We descend only fifty feet or
so, and then turn round to the left and skirt along the north-east side
of the fell. It is unsafe to attempt the traverse for the first time in
a mist, but with clear weather the various cairns that mark successive
points on the route can be easily discerned, and a half-hour’s walk
brings us to the wide scree gully running down by the eastern side of
the Shamrock. To reach the foot of the Pillar Rock is a simple matter.
The photograph facing page 271 was taken across this scree, and it
will be seen that the route down to the Nose is only a walk round the
foot of the Shamrock. A broad, sloping corridor in the lee of a steep
rock-wall further up the fellside, enables us to steer clear of the
Shamrock cliffs and to reach their head without any hand-and-foot
scrambling. Thence across the scree descending to Walker’s Gully we see
Pisgah and the High Man, and with care we can now make the traverse to
the foot of the Jordan Gully. There we are in a position to start any
of the ordinary short climbs on the Pillar Rock. The west route can be
reached by turning Pisgah on the left and descending the west scree
for 300 feet. The long climbs up the north face are started from the
Nose.

The Pillar Rock was first climbed by an Ennerdale cooper named
Atkinson, who in 1826 ascended by the west side. The ‘slab-and-notch’
route on the east side, starting from the upper screes above Walker’s
Gully, was devised by Messrs. Conybeare and A. J. Butler in 1863,
though it would seem that the same side was successfully attacked a
year or two before. Matthew Barnes, a Keswick guide, found a route
across the eastern face to the Low Man, and thence back along the
summit ridge to the highest point. He was climbing with Mr. Graves, of
Manchester. Mr. W. P. Haskett Smith found in 1882 a direct way up to
the High Man from the Jordan, and a second route straight up the wall
a few yards to the east of the first. Two years later he reached the
summit by a particularly hazardous course still further to the east,
passing up close to the buttress whose lower end marks the start of the
‘slab-and-notch’ route. In the same year he made the first ascent by
the Great Chimney on the east side. Mr. Haskett Smith named the first
three routes the ‘West Jordan,’ the ‘Central Jordan,’ and the ‘East
Jordan’ climbs respectively; the latter route is never undertaken, and
the other two are often termed the ‘Left Pisgah’ and ‘Right Pisgah.’

For many years Mr. Haskett Smith made visits to the north face,
endeavouring to reach the summit of the Low Man from the easy ledge at
its foot. On the right his course was limited by the almost seamless
wall of rock that gives the Pillar Rock its appearance of hopeless
inaccessibility from Ennerdale. On the left the Savage Gully cut off
all chance of traversing to the eastern side of the rock. The space
between was strictly limited, and it narrowed as he climbed higher.
Within thirty feet of an easy scree gully that obviously led to the
summit of the Low Man, the only available course had dwindled down to a
slender rib of rock in a dangerously exposed situation, much too risky
to attack without guarantee of its feasibility.

In 1891 this climber, with Messrs. Hastings and Slingsby, succeeded
at last in finding a way of descending into the Savage Gully at that
point. Their leader then mounted its left wall and worked easily across
to the foot of the scree gully. The others followed, and the ‘long
climb’ up the Pillar Rock became an accomplished fact. No published
detailed description of the route is known to the writer.

SHAMROCK GULLY.--This is rather an unpleasant climb for those
who dislike loose stones. The bed of the gully is very steep and
narrow. It is followed straight up the centre, by using horizontal
shelves on either side that now and again flake off in a most
unexpected way. Extreme care is necessary on the part of the leader,
for his followers cannot avoid any fragments that he may dislodge.
The climbing is otherwise easy, and very little distance should exist
between the separate members of the party.

Half-way up the gully the bridge is passed, high above our heads when
no snow is about, but occasionally completely blocked by heavy drifts.
Next the bed of the gully runs up into a little cave, formed by the
huge jammed stone that presents the only genuine obstacle in the ascent.

The block is long and narrow. It leaves just enough room on each side,
between the walls of the gully, for a thin chimney. That on the right
is very difficult to enter but comparatively easy to follow up. The
other is designed differently; it leads the climber by a temptingly
easy beginning into a position twenty-five feet up, that will in many
cases pound him most distressingly, and his descent will be uncommonly
awkward. Hence it is that the right-hand chimney was for nine years the
only course adopted.

The process of backing-up is, as a rule, safe, though fatiguing.
In the case of the Shamrock pitch, the leader will never find his
attitudinising comfortable. If he starts from the shoulders of a
companion, he can at any rate enter the chimney; but its walls are
undercut, and he needs all his strength to brace himself firmly between
them. A little higher and there is risk of jamming too well. Twenty
feet up he has to turn towards the block and work up over a shelf on to
the scree above the pitch. It is not easy for his companions to follow
on, even with the aid of the rope.

The left-hand route was climbed in winter. Sundry weak holds were
frozen into position, but the rounded top of the great block was
glazed completely, and the finish was of great difficulty. Dr. Collier
had told me that he thought the upper portion just possible, and our
party of December, 1896, decided to try it. I started up the first
twenty feet and then found the glaze of ice too heavy for further
advance. It was not very difficult to traverse out of the chimney
into a wider gully on the left; but after rising a few feet in this,
the great smooth slabs in front completely barred the way, and I
attempted to return to the chimney. This could not be effected, and
hitching the rope over two small excrescences on the wall I climbed
down the retaining ridge and rejoined my companions. This was very
unsatisfactory, though I was glad enough to be in safety again. We had
a long discussion about the pitch, and referred to many engineering
principles. At last I suggested that the lightest member of the party,
weighing not more than nine stones, should take the lead, and that I
should follow on closely as far as the difficult spot. There I proposed
to brace firmly in the chimney and thrust him straight up to the frozen
grass above. He looked at me apologetically and said that he would go
up if I insisted on it, but would rather hear of some different plan
that deprived him of the honour of leading. Then a bold but heavy
man spoke up and volunteered to take his place. It was my turn to
decline, and we felt completely at a loss. At last I went up again to
the turning-point of the previous venture, and for the sake of safety
threaded my rope through two or three jammed stones in the chimney.
Then followed the longest member close behind me, likewise threading
his rope. I climbed on to his head--it had been tested many times
before--and then got him to steady my left foot on a frozen hold half a
yard higher. An ice-axe was then passed up from the cave, and the pick
rammed hard into the frozen grass above the boulder. The handle then
offered enough stay to enable me to pull up over the smooth icy surface
of the boulder, and the pitch was conquered. I cut steps up the snow to
a safe place for belaying the others, and they then followed singly on
a long rope. The rest of the gully was simple walking.

SHAMROCK CHIMNEY.--This is shown very clearly in the photograph
facing page 271, as a series of vertical pitches almost in a single
straight line from top to bottom of the Shamrock. We take to the first
set of easy rocks on the north side of the great gully, and for about
160 feet climb over irregularly disposed crags interspersed with grass.
These are usually wet and slippery, and they finish at the extreme
south end of the grassy terrace crossing the Shamrock face.

We keep straight up and enter the lower extremity of a narrow chimney
thirty feet high. Its two pitches are scarcely separated, and require
careful climbing up to the narrow cavern on the next grassy ledge. The
first real difficulty now lies in front. Ten feet of steep smooth rock
are to be climbed before we can enter the foot of the next chimney, and
the leader will do well to accept a shoulder-up and a lift with an axe
in tackling this wall. It is practically impossible in icy weather. The
chimney is easy enough, with plenty of jammed stones for a distance
of twenty-five feet; but it then dwindles down to nothing, and a very
exposed bit of work follows for the leader, who has to crawl up some
six or eight feet of rock without any respectable holds. This brings
him to another small cavern just sufficiently large for him to take
breath and recover his strength. He cannot see his party below, and
in manipulating the rope for the second man he will need to shout his
directions. Then follow a short traverse to the right, and an upward
scramble over more broken ground to an interesting splayed-out chimney.

Thence a steep grass slope takes us up to an open gully with a great
overhanging boulder. It may be passed straight over or by a through
route, and we are then at the end of the chimney climbing. A turn
to the right leads to a splendid ridge that runs to the top of the
Shamrock, and offers a finish as charming as that of the Scawfell
Pinnacle from the Low Man. The work is over when a perched flat-topped
stone is mounted; and then we walk to the summit of the Shamrock and
down by easy ledges to the screes above Walker’s Gully.

PILLAR ROCK, JORDAN CLIMBS.--Very easy scrambling from the
upper fell will bring the climber to the summit of Pisgah. There
is a short chimney on the east side that leads to the same spot; it
is easy to enter, but the exit at the top is very stiff. The view
of the near wall of the High Man is interesting, and there is ample
opportunity for studying the two direct climbs before descending to
the gap. They are both difficult, but the rocks are so much scratched
by nailed boots that the difficulty does not consist in finding the
way up. It is generally supposed to be impossible to descend into the
gap from Pisgah, but inspection will show that there is a series of
small ledges a little to the west, down which a safe passage can be
effected. The Left Pisgah route starts up at once from the _col_. The
holds are only moderately good for the first thirty feet, and fail to
give satisfaction when wet or icy. Next it is possible to force the
body into a narrow crack, and for a little while the climber can cease
his strugglings and rest himself. Above this the rock is more broken
and the holds are better. A thin leaf of rock is crossed and a downward
view obtained of the Right Pisgah final chimney. Then the slope is
eased off, and the cairn on the High Man is but a couple of yards away.

The Right Pisgah route is generally started low down the East Jordan
Gully. This offers pleasant hand-and-foot work, but no difficulty
whatever up to the Jordan. But before reaching the gap a square recess
on the right is entered, and then a passage is made over smooth rocks
to a clean-cut right-angled corner forty feet high on the south-east
side of the High Man. It is just possible to traverse round from the
Jordan to the top of the square recess, and so up over the slabs to the
corner, but the variation is not worth much.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

“ROUND THE NOTCH”--PILLAR ROCK. EAST SIDE

(_Face page 267_)]

The crack climb that now starts straight up the corner is one of the
neatest things on the Pillar Rock. The right wall is used for steadying
purposes when, half-way up, a jammed stone makes it necessary to emerge
from the crack. Some of the holds have splintered away during the last
few years, but there are yet enough to satisfy one’s needs. The finish
is a splendid pull up with the arms on to the leaf of rock already
referred to at the top of the Left Pisgah climb.

SLAB AND NOTCH ROUTE.--The upper part of the Great Chimney
offers no difficulty to the climber. Its southern boundary is a long
narrow buttress called the ‘Curtain,’ stretching from the top of
Walker’s Gully, to the summit of the High Man. Viewed in profile from
the Pillar Fell, the Curtain shows three distinct notches two-thirds
of the way up; they are about thirty feet above a slab set at an angle
of thirty degrees, and attainable by rough scrambling from the foot of
the East Jordan Gully. The easy route passes along this slab, directly
upwards to the middle notch and thence round the Curtain to the bed of
the Great Chimney. The walk along the slab is to some people a critical
undertaking, for a slip would have very serious consequences. A thin
crack on the line of march makes the course safer, unless ice or snow
have filled it up, but it is not an unusual sight to see men tackling
the walk on all-fours. The Curtain may be crossed at the lowest notch,
the ‘Ledge,’ by good firm rocks, and the Great Chimney entered on
the other side. Formerly it was the usual course to reach the bed of
the chimney at the lower part of the steep grass by what was called
the ‘Eight-foot Drop.’ But there is no need to drop at all; an easy
traverse from either the Notch or the Ledge brings the climber above
the steep grass, and virtually at the end of his cragwork. The chimney
finishes with scree, and lands the climber within a few feet of the
cairn on his left.

VARIATIONS ON THE EAST FACE.--It is possible to make a way
straight up the Great Chimney from its foot, joining the easy route
about a hundred feet up. Haskett Smith took this course in 1884,
commencing the climb on the stepped buttresses of the Curtain. Since
then the rock has had time to loosen a little, and climbers very rarely
enter the chimney that way.

The _Pendlebury traverse_ is an excellent variation of the ordinary
route, a popular scramble first indicated by Professor R. Pendlebury,
of Cambridge. From the slab the way lies straight up to the notch in
the Curtain, and then along a horizontal ledge in its south face as
far as the corner where it meets the High Man. Thence up the corner is
straightforward chimney-work, and on emergence at the top the cairn
will be visible close at hand on the left.

The traverse looks difficult until it is closely approached, when it
will be found that handholds abound on the wall, and that the ledge is
perfectly firm and continuous across the whole width of the Curtain.

The chimney in the corner of the south side of the Curtain can be
entered much lower down. From the slab a way lies straight up into it,
but the grass holds are not particularly pleasant if wet, and the first
thirty feet are severe.

From the head of Walker’s Gully a way may be found to the Low Man,
below the immense slabs that crown the north-east buttresses. It
is best to climb the Shamrock first and prospect the route. Sheep
occasionally manage to get across, and the _Old Wall_ was built many
years ago to prevent their passage, but it is now ruined. Sometimes,
ignoring Badminton, they still venture across without a rope, and their
weaker members are liable to get crag-bound. Climbers can tell many
tales of famished sheep found in appalling situations on the Pillar
Rock. They are too weak to resist the slipping on of a rope, and are
simply hauled or slung out of every difficulty till a safe pasturage is
reached.

THE WEST CLIMB.--This was the route first discovered. It is much
longer than any of the ways on the south or east side, and possesses
but few interesting details. It is more popular as a descent than as an
ascent.

It is seemingly impossible to climb directly up the west wall of the
High Man, but in the walk down the west screes it will be noticed
that the rocks of the Low Man are more broken, and that several short
scree gullies sloping upwards to the left mark a rough route straight
towards the Low Man cairn. The course is best examined from a distance,
across the great western gully; it lies as close to the High Man as
is possible without undertaking anything but gully scrambling. Not
infrequently climbers find themselves astray on narrow grassy ledges
too much to the right. I experienced the same thing myself when first
attempting to find the way up, and found the ascent by no means so easy
as report had credited the west climb.

From the level of the Low Man the way lies very nearly along the
sky-line to the highest point. The High Man is struck at the end of a
square corner in the rock, and there is some excellent work for the
arms during the next thirty feet of ascent.

It is easier to turn over slightly to the east side, and up by the
great jagged boulders on the crest of the ridge. The _Slingsby crack_
is a short but rather stiff variation a little on the right or western
side of this route and is particularly interesting. Formerly a loose
block at its upper end gave the climber an occasional scare, but there
is nothing unsafe now in the form of detached boulders, and the ridge
can be followed with confidence to the High Man cairn. Nail marks are
strongly in evidence all through the crag-work; the leader should not
attempt the route if snow or rain prevents their recognition, unless he
is already perfectly acquainted with the way.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE NORTH FACE OF THE PILLAR ROCK]

THE NORTH CLIMB.--For several months after the first ascent
it was difficult to learn anything of the details of the route up
the Ennerdale face of the Pillar Rock. The only way was to persuade
some one who had been up to take the lead and act as guide; for a
complicated course that had taken Haskett Smith eight or nine years to
work out was not likely to be mastered easily by any one who had not
made a special study of the north face.

My own chance came in the summer of 1893. Mr. John Robinson called for
me at Buttermere one fine afternoon, and took me off to Ennerdale with
another friend, Mr. F. W. Hill. We left the village at two o’clock,
and were back again after a successful ascent by eight in the evening;
whence it may be inferred that Buttermere is as good a starting-point
for the Pillar Rock as Wastdale or Seatoller.

Our guide led us rapidly by the shortest route over Scarth Gap, and
across Ennerdale to the foot of the Pillar Rock. Then a fifty-feet
length of rope made its first appearance; it had been hidden in a bag
during our walk, lest we should alarm the folks about Gatesgarth. We
tied ourselves up, and made for the eastern end of the terrace across
the Nose.

Robinson then started along the terrace, and in a few yards scrambled
up to a shelf on the left, five or six feet high, which gave us easy
access to the lower portion of the Savage Gully. This latter has never
been climbed along its whole length. If the gully were moderately easy,
the north climb would be far less complex. But for a great portion
of its length the side walls are at right angles to each other; the
corner is nearly vertical, and the only resting places are diminutive,
grass-grown ledges placed too far apart for any safe employment of the
rope. The right wall of the gully forms part of a conspicuous buttress
on the north face, whose western side is much more broken and less
dangerous to ascend.

The route that was being shown us lay along the Savage Gully for about
sixty feet, then across to the west side of the buttress and up a
vertical branch gully with sundry small chimneys in it. Higher up,
we were told, it would be necessary to round a cliff still further
to the right, by means of the _Stomach traverse_, to render further
ascent possible. We objected to the inelegant name, but were too far
advanced to hesitate on the score of a faulty title. Above the traverse
our climbing would be easier, until the course returned to the Savage
Gully again. That was to be our _mauvais pas_, and after settling it
the scramble to the Low Man, and thence to the highest cairn, would be
scarcely more than a walk.

So spoke our guide, and having delivered himself at some length, with
an occasional appropriate anecdote thrown in, he concentrated his
attention on the small pitch that marked our point of arrival at the
Savage Gully. It was a wall seven feet high with indifferent grassholds
at the top, and in scrambling up care was needed to avoid dislodging
loose stones near the edge. It was then easy to clamber into a small
cave somewhat to the left, and out again by a twisted tunnel at the
back. Thence Robinson worked upwards over broken ground for a few
yards, until the point was reached where we were to leave the gully.
The direct route looked feasible for some distance ahead, but there was
no questioning the fact of its severity, and we had not come out that
day for exploration.

A divergence was made along an easy traverse towards the right, to a
short and narrow chimney that already bore traces of many previous
struggles. Wherever the rocks were clean and free from scree, we could
plainly see the scratches of nailed boots along the route. It was here
that we were rounding the great buttress of Savage Gully, and after a
little rough-ledge work we arrived at a square corner with a grassy
floor. Straight up from this floor a cleft offered safe passage. It
was plentifully supplied with holds, though some discrimination was
necessary in selecting the firmest. The climbing was delightful, and
zest was given to it by the magnificent situation. The corner was not
so deeply impressed in the buttress as to prevent our recognition of
the vastness of the cliff we were slowly ascending. The view downwards
just included the little grass platform, and beyond that the wild and
steep fellside at the foot of the precipice, already some hundreds of
feet below us.

We kept up the direct route so long as we were able. Then the cleft
in the corner suddenly dwindled down into the thinnest of cracks,
and it was obvious that a change of tactics would be necessary. The
left wall was faultlessly smooth. The right for the most part looked
just as inaccessible. The grass ledge on which we were standing really
seemed to suggest finality, the end of our upward progress, and I
turned to Robinson inquiringly with the impression that some wonderful
engineering process with the rope was now to be explained to us. We
knew that such was necessary on the climb, and were prepared by the
situation to see its application immediately.

But the solution of the difficulty was of the simplest character. A few
feet from the corner the smooth right wall was split by a single crack
that passed up at an angle of perhaps thirty degrees and terminated at
a notch that broke the clean-cut outline of the rock facing us. From
the notch it certainly seemed as though nothing could be done further,
even if we got so far. Nevertheless, we were assured that when once
we were there all doubts would vanish, and we should have the easiest
hundred feet of scrambling in the whole day’s expedition. The crack was
the famous _Stomach traverse_; it was reached as long ago as 1884 by
Haskett Smith in his early exploration of the north face; and the name,
which had only recently been given to it, was intended to show how the
passage was supposed to be tackled. One of Willink’s illustrations in
the Badminton, showing an intrepid cragsman crawling along a ledge
from left to right, is sometimes criticised as an exaggeration of the
difficulties that rock-climbers have to overcome. This traverse before
us was not so easy as the one so cleverly depicted by the artist. It
sloped upwards, and the ledge was not wide enough for the whole body.
We were in no sense precariously placed, for the cleft enabled us to
wedge with security; but the right half of the body was outside the
leaf of rock on which we hung, and the right leg found no support on
the vertical wall.

Some twenty feet of wriggling brought us each in turn to the critical
corner, and there to our amazement we had merely to get up and walk
away. The wall we had passed was the last obstacle separating us from
a long stretch of steep grass chimneys and broken rocks. These extend
from the Nose at the foot of the crags up to the final difficulty,
now only a hundred feet above us, and offer the easier route up the
north face. Our own course by the Savage Gully was by far the more
entertaining one, and under most conditions decidedly safer than the
other.

From the notch we could either walk straight up to the cave-pitch in
the corner now facing us, or work easily round a rib of rock on the
right and join the other route. We chose the former, and found the
pitch decidedly stiff, the main trouble being to get satisfaction out
of the diminutive hand-holds on the upper surface of the top boulder.
However, it was time to be thankful for small mercies, and confidence
carried us up safely.

A party coming up the easy way would start from the terrace on
the Nose, close to its highest point. Their route would be quite
straightforward, though occasionally the question as to the safest
movement might introduce a slight digression. The great wall of the
Low Man on their right limits in the most definite manner all westerly
climbing, and their only trouble would be in negotiating two narrow
chimneys and some of the grass ledges, where the tufts are unpleasantly
loose and the slopes very slippery. The fact is that this way is not
much to be recommended; until it joins the other there is little merit
to justify the variation. If parties are certain they can finish the
second half of the ascent, they can assuredly climb the lower portion
_via_ the Savage Gully and the Stomach traverse.

We halted for a moment above our cave-pitch and looked around at the
crags. From a distant survey, such as that indicated in the photograph
facing page 271, it is impossible to realize that so large an open
space of easy ground can exist on the north face. But our opportunity
for advance was strictly confined to one direction. Further westwards
we could not go; the great wall was unassailable. To the east we
could have perhaps traversed away until progress was barred by the
narrow branch of the Savage Gully, which we had utilized lower down.
The northerly direction of course led down the easy route, and the
southerly pointed to an uncompromising extension of the great wall
towards the Savage Gully.

We were led straight up the small scree to the _split block_, a huge
boulder at the foot of the wall. The leader disappeared into a deep
crack, and after a few moments appeared at the top of the block, having
mounted by a secondary fissure that cut into the left portion of the
boulder. The movement was quite unexpected, and Hill and I were rather
startled at the aspect of things from the summit of the split block.
It stood at the top of the narrow branch of the Savage Gully already
referred to, and the view vertically down this branch was calculated to
make us hesitate before taking the next step.

This was the _Strid_. Close up against the wall that blocked the
head of the gully, a long stride was to be taken across to a narrow
‘mantelshelf’ on the other side. There was no difficulty in the step,
but the consequences of any slip were so obvious that we were not
surprised to learn how respectfully the Strid is usually regarded. The
mantelshelf led us along under the wall for a few yards, and an upper
ledge was mounted. We were now close to the Savage Gully again, and
Robinson prepared to be let down into it on the rope. We were adopting
the tactics of Haskett Smith’s party in the first ascent. Robinson was
to climb down the wall of the gully by means of an irregular crack
twenty-five feet long, using the rope to steady himself during the
descent. At the foot of the crack he would be able to step into the bed
of the gully, and thence, after mounting it for a few feet, effect an
easy passage up the opposite side. He was then to unrope, and Hill was
to let me down in the same way, there being plenty of friction between
the rope and the rocks to enable him to hold my weight in case of a
slip. When safely landed in the gully, I was to take the rope up to
Robinson and wait the issue of events.

These went off without a hitch. The crack was difficult, though not
impossible for one man to descend alone; but I am convinced that a
man attempting the climb single-handed would be running great risk if
he proceeded without some sort of belaying with a rope. The little
story is well known of the youth who could not understand why he as
third and last man of his party had to be left behind on the ledge;
he had examined the crack and was certain he could climb down safely
without support from above. Nay more, he insisted on demonstrating the
fact, and when three-quarters of the way to the bed of the gully his
feet slipped and his handholds failed. Luckily the others were able
to prevent a serious fall, and the young man’s ‘climbing down’ was
strictly metaphorical.

Robinson then rapidly swarmed up to the left of the gully, and, after
mounting forty feet, traversed to the right into a long scree-shoot
that ended abruptly some twenty-five feet vertically above our solitary
companion on the ledge. Upwards the scree led straight to the summit
level of the Low Man, and two of us were of course in a position to
attain this point in a couple of minutes. But there was the third, to
manipulate, and Robinson proceeded to take out a short, spare rope from
his sack and expound the method of using the ‘stirrup.’

He tied a loop on to one end of his spare rope, large enough for a foot
to be comfortably slipped therein, and flung that end down to Hill. I
operated with the other rope, sending an end down for Hill to tie round
his waist in the usual manner. The object of the process was to get the
third man up with the least expenditure of energy on our part; in fact,
to make Hill do all his own lifting. The wall was not so complicated in
design as to render it impossible to haul him straight up like a bale
of goods. But neither he nor I had till then seen an application of the
stirrup-rope, and we had come out to be educated. There are many places
where the method is well worth employing.

The operations commenced by Hill’s fixing a foot in the stirrup and
lifting it a couple of feet as Robinson hauled up his rope. Then,
with Robinson simply holding on firmly, Hill straightened himself on
the stirrup, using it as a foothold, while I pulled up the couple of
feet of slack in the waist-rope. Next it was my turn to hold hard as
Hill raised his stirrup foot, and then Robinson’s to keep the foot
firm while Hill lifted himself on to it. These two moves were repeated
again and again alternately. All through the process the ropes were
held as free from slack as possible, any upward movement of Hill’s
engaged foot or body being responded to promptly by Robinson or myself
respectively. It will be perceived, if the description is as clear
as I want it to be, that all the actual lifting of Hill’s weight he
managed himself during the straightening-out on the stirrup, and that
we others were at most called upon to hold only his weight. Even this
much stress on our hands we could avoid by partial belaying, though in
that particular spot there were no entirely suitable projecting rocks
that could be utilized as belaying-pins.

Bit by bit Hill worked up the wall, till at last his head and shoulders
appeared over the rounded coping at our feet, and he scrambled on
to the scree. Then we all sat down and Robinson told us tales about
that particular locality. Among others he gave us one to emphasize
the practical lesson we had just been having on the use of the
stirrup-rope. A famous climber, indeed he was sometime president of the
Alpine Club, and in a vague, traditional sort of way years before he
had fallen some hundreds of feet down a vertical gully hard by, without
coming to any harm except that of finding his name ever afterwards
associated with the gully; well, this famous climber was coming up that
same wall by means of the stirrup-rope, and the zealous operatives
above more than responded to his slightest movements. He lifted his
foot a few inches, they hauled up the stirrup-rope a few yards, and
anticipating that he might find the alternations a little laborious,
proceeded to pull him up by sheer strength of goodwill. Thus his
attached foot appeared first over the edge, and the remainder of his
person followed in some confusion. So, at any rate, the story went.

Sitting as we were with our faces towards Buttermere, the great wall
bore away to the left, and our scree gully marked its eastern limit. A
horizontal crack extended for several feet across the wall, starting
from the top of the pitch below us. Only its end could be seen, but by
carefully working down to the corner on the left, and looking across
the face, we could see the way it cut clean into the rock. This was the
notorious _hand-traverse_, by which it was just possible to reach our
scree gully from the ledge below without the preliminary descent into
the Savage Gully.

A few minutes’ halt and we continued our course. There was no doubt or
difficulty in reaching the Low Man, and thence following the ridge to
the junction with the West Climb. A quarter of an hour saw us at the
High Man cairn, and another five minutes at the foot of the Central
Jordan. The ropes were stowed away again in the sack, and Robinson
rapidly strode across the screes and down the corridor behind the
Shamrock. In a phenomenally short time we were crossing the Liza
stream, and, without being allowed to halt, a bee-line was drawn for us
over to Scarth Gap by our untiring leader. Luckily for his followers,
the name of this pass, which is sometimes called Scarf Gap, reminded
him of a very good story concerning another famous climber who went
to an evening party without a dress-tie. We were told the story and
recovered breath sufficiently to continue our journey to Buttermere.
I wish now that I had not been so fatigued, so that I might have
remembered the whole anecdote and given it here in all detail.

THE HAND-TRAVERSE.--Nearly two years after the ascent described
in the previous section, Dr. Collier showed me a way of avoiding the
Savage Gully in the North Climb by following a direct route to the
upper screes. The plan is to work to the extreme east corner of the
ledge that succeeds the ‘mantelshelf,’ and when a narrow overhanging
chimney is reached, to swarm up the steep buttress on its left. It
looks particularly dangerous, but there is an excellent hold for the
hands just round the corner of the buttress, and when the first three
feet of ascent are accomplished the rest feels comparatively easy.

On the same occasion we each in turn ventured on the _hand-traverse_
from above. The place has already been referred to; it was known for
some time that the crack could be reached from the terrace below, and
Mr. Solly showed in 1891 that it could be followed to its left-hand
extremity at the scree gully. It is so named because the climber hangs
by his hands, with no footholds at all for the greater part of its
length, and traverses across the face by sheer strength of his arms.
Collier and I were well satisfied concerning the security of the crack
itself. We went to the further end and back again, without coming
across any place where the holds were treacherous. They were probably
more satisfying to the grip than an ordinary horizontal bar, on account
of the acute edge of the rock. On the other hand, we had no opportunity
of trying the ascent from the terrace, which promised to be rather
fatiguing for the arms, and which might render them useless for the
traverse itself.

On Whit Monday, 1896, a chance came for tackling the pitch in this new
way. It had been successfully accomplished once, and twice had the
climber’s strength of grip failed him when half-way across. So, at any
rate, we learnt by hearsay at Wastdale. Perhaps it ought to be added
that in one case it was the leader of the party who fell off, and the
rope saved him in a manner scarcely short of miraculous; in the other
case the rope was held from the scree gully, and the climber only swung
out on it. Our Whitsuntide party were willing that I should try, and
carefully measured out just a sufficiency of rope for me to reach the
crack. Then two of them stood together at the western extremity of the
terrace, and shouldered me up the first bad bit. There was every reason
to be quick, as resting-places were absent where the strain on the arms
could be eased. In twenty-five feet I reached the crack and halted
for a moment on a scanty foothold before trusting to the ledge. Then
came the swing off and a hasty sliding of the hands along the sharp
edge. The first bit was about eight feet long; then that particular
crack terminated abruptly in the wall, and another, two feet higher,
continued across in the same easterly direction. The lift of the body
up to the second crack was trying, but beyond this critical point the
movement was horizontal. It was somewhat clumsy--the scraping of the
body along the rough surface of the rock, with the legs held clear; but
my sole thought was to reach the end of the traverse twelve feet away,
and no consideration of style was entertained. In a very short time,
though it seemed far too long, the end of the wall was attained, and it
only remained to drag myself up to the scree.

The rest of the party preferred to mount the buttress by Collier’s
route indicated in a previous paragraph. I think the hand-traverse
has not been attempted since, and it is perhaps just as well. It is
scarcely less than suicidal to try conclusions with this variation
unless the climber has full confidence in his strength of grip, and
unless he has already tested his powers of endurance of long-continued
strain in the arms. But with the leader of the party already at the
head of the pitch, no matter which way he got there, it involves no
serious risk for the others to follow by this route. The last on the
rope had better come up over the buttress.



CHAPTER XVIII

_NOTES ON REMAINING CLIMBS_


In this chapter it is proposed to deal summarily with a few remaining
rock-climbs that have not yet been described. Some are rather awkward
to reach, others are perhaps too slight to be worth the time spent in
reaching them unless they actually turn up in the day’s march. One or
two I have not visited, and am reluctant to accept the responsibility
of guiding people up them. But

    What he thought he might require,
    He went and took--the same as me!

is too general a motto among book-writers for me to hesitate long
before incorporating other people’s notes, and the attempt will be made
to acknowledge the source in each case.

PIERS GHYLL.--This is a fine-looking ravine on the north side
of Lingmell, occasionally visited by climbers. It has four or five
comparatively easy pitches before the big bend, but at the point where
the main gully is bridged by a great mass of rock the whole width of
the ravine is occupied by a waterfall fifty feet high, and any attempt
to force a passage up this pitch is peculiarly unsatisfactory unless a
rainless season has much diminished the volume of water passing down.
Such a season was that of 1893, and in April of that year Dr. Collier
led the first party up the whole length of the ghyll. Even under those
favourable circumstances the climb was very difficult, and no other
party has succeeded in repeating the ascent. Dr. Collier tells me that
the hardest bit is up the narrow pitch before reaching the great fall.
The latter offers a choice of two or three routes.

Piers Ghyll is conspicuous from a distance, and many a tourist knows
the place. Hence it has a reputation of its own even as a climb, which
it can scarcely be said to deserve. If, as Haskett Smith expresses it,
it is in nineteen seasons out of twenty wholly impossible to get over
the great obstacle, it cannot rightly be called a climb. The scrambling
up to the bend is mostly unpleasant by reason of the water and the
loose character of the rock. An exit can there be made up the wall on
the right, but the friability of this wall makes its ascent positively
dangerous except at one spot where a scree gully runs nearly to the top
of the cliff.

A most interesting account of the ghyll, giving certain of the
adventures that explorers have encountered, may be read in ‘All
the Year Round’ of November, 1884. It was contributed by Mr. C. N.
Williamson; other parts of this article dealing with Cumberland
climbing have already been referred to.

HIGH STILE.--The north side of this mountain is precipitous, and
two or three short but interesting gullies can be followed up to the
ridge. Two of them can easily be recognised from Buttermere village.
The central gully faces towards the north-west and is to the right of
the highest point on the mountain. It has two well-defined pitches, the
second being very severe. The writer climbed it in 1893 with Mr. John
Robinson, before taking the chimney described in the next paragraph,
but seemingly it has rarely been visited since.

To the left of the central gully a wide black chimney can be seen,
leading up close to the summit of High Stile. It offers a short but
very difficult scramble; in pulling up over the edge of the great pitch
care must be taken to avoid the loose stones. In the first ascent the
leader had a bad encounter with three boulders that slipped over on to
his head.

A long, easy gully in the north-east shoulder of the mountain offers a
pleasant route down from the summit to the shores of Buttermere.

BUCKBARROW.--The side of this hill facing Wastwater has sundry
attractions. Climbers who are not pressed for time, on their way
from Wastdale to the nearest stations on the Furness Railway, can be
recommended to visit the crag.

The first main gully at the northern end was climbed at Easter, 1892;
two short parallel chimneys terminate the ascent, that on the left
being supposed to be the harder. Besides this route, there are a few
ways of tackling the face further to the west; but details are not at
hand by reason of the rarity of the visits to Buckbarrow.

SERGEANT CRAG CHIMNEY.--This was first ascended by Mr. John
Robinson and the writer in September, 1893. The crag itself is reached
by walking up Langstrath from the village of Rosthwaite for about a
mile and then bearing to the left. Close to the stream, at the point
where we leave the track, is the Gash Rock, an isolated boulder that
offers considerable resistance to any one attempting to climb it. It
was climbed first by the writer in 1893. A good hold has recently been
cleared at the critical point on the boulder. The scramble is said to
be quite easy now.

The gully in the crag is in sight half-a-mile below the Gash Rock, and
is well worth the visit of a strong party. It was noticed in 1886 by
Mr. Haskett Smith, but seven years elapsed before the first ascent was
made. Curiously enough, the second ascent was effected a day or two
later by Messrs. Phillimore and Anderson, in entire ignorance that the
gully had so recently been overcome.

Information embodied in the following notes of the successive pitches
has been supplied by the brothers Abraham of Keswick, whose interesting
photograph of the great pitch in the middle of the ascent is reproduced
facing page 286.

_First Pitch._--Chock-stone about fifteen feet high, passed to the left
on the face of the rock. Good hand and foot holds.

_Second Pitch._--Small chock-stone. Both hands are reached up to the
top of the stone and a straight pull over effected with the arms. The
obstacle is about nine feet high.

_Third Pitch._--Sundry boulders forming a block, about fifteen feet
high. The right-hand side of the gully is ascended until the leader is
well wedged under the block. Then he can pass out to the left and over
at the top.

_Fourth Pitch._--This is the most severe of the whole set, and the
direct climb up the left wall is probably as stiff a problem as can
be found in the district. Two immense boulders, one over the other,
separated by a gap of four feet, form the roof of a cave. The retaining
walls of the gully form the sides of the cave, and the ascent is to be
effected on the left. From a short distance this appears to be a smooth
vertical slab; even on close inspection the holds it offers appear to
be of the most minute dimensions.

The second man on the rope should mount as high up the interior of the
cave as possible. After climbing under the first boulder the leader
takes a long step out to the left wall, on a sloping ledge. Then using
side holds on the boulder itself, with his feet or knees against the
main wall, he has to work up gradually to a little jammed boulder two
feet above the lower one. This is an extremely fatiguing operation. On
to this block he must lift his knees, and then he can cautiously drag
up so as to stand on it.

The upper boulder is then passed by throwing the left leg across to
a slight foothold, whence a thrust forward of the body is effected
through wet soil and tufted ferns. This is particularly unpleasant
after rainy weather, and is probably at all times somewhat risky. The
height of the pitch is thirty-two feet.

A variation has been found which makes the passage of this obstacle
much more feasible. It leads first downwards to a grassy ledge on the
right, and then up by succeeding shelves until the upper level of the
pitch is reached, when the return traverse back to the bed of the gully
can be easily managed. Hitherto all parties, except the first and third
in the chimney, have preferred to avoid the fourth pitch, and their
preference is most reasonable.

_Fifth Pitch._--This is an easy chimney twenty feet long, lined with
grass and ferns, and marked at the summit by a fallen tree.

_Sixth Pitch._--Two wedged stones one above the other form a pitch
about twenty feet high. The route is first into the cave between the
stones, then up a short chimney and over the upper boulder. The second
on the rope should ascend as high as possible in the cave and, with
splendid anchorage, pay out the leader’s rope carefully. Sundry loose
stones are lodged on the right, and should be left discreetly alone.

_Seventh Pitch._--This is a chimney thirty feet high containing many
loose stones. It is crowned by a chock-stone. The ascent is directly up
the first part, and then over loose and dangerous rock on the right
for another twenty feet.

Steep grass leads out to the top, 500 feet from the base of the cliff.

BLEA CRAGS AND MOUSE GHYLL.--The Blea Crag climbs in Borrowdale
can be reached from Grange in thirty-five minutes; a fine general view
is to be seen from the picturesque bridge spanning the Derwent. There
are three gullies of interest; one to the south is now known as Mouse
Ghyll, climbed and christened in the autumn of 1897, by Mr. W. Cecil
Slingsby’s party; a second less-defined gully leads up the centre of
the crags; and to the north of this a third takes us by loose and
rather unsatisfactory pitches to the summit ridge.

Mouse Ghyll starts very narrow, with smooth walls running up to a great
height on either side. An easy pitch of ten feet brings us to a little
platform, whence a steep, double staircase, with good steps for each
foot, gives safe access to a great cavern sixty feet higher. Here the
real difficulties begin. The pitch is formed by two huge, overhanging
boulders, one above the other, with a grassy ledge between them. The
leader can be well anchored by his party, and makes a start up to the
left from the top of the rib of rock that supplies the ‘staircase.’
It is sensational work up to the grassy ledge, where again the leader
requires anchoring, and perhaps also a helping shoulder for the next
little chimney of some fourteen feet, between the upper boulder and the
left wall. When the first party were here, a startled mouse sprang
from the grassy ledge over the leader’s head, and dropped safely at the
bottom of the staircase ninety feet below. May it live long enough to
learn that the ghyll has been named in its honour!

On emerging from the chimney three routes show themselves. The first is
up two easy pitches that remain in the gully. To the right a chimney
leads by an open buttress to the top of the crags, and can be ascended
without trouble. But on the left a prominent chimney, succeeded by a
narrow crack, gives seventy feet of extremely tough climbing. It was
ascended by Messrs. George and Ashley Abraham, who made the second
ascent of Mouse Ghyll.

The central gully starts with a chimney, best taken on the right, and
continues with short and easy pitches until some large boulders wedged
in a vertical crack offer better fun. There are no further obstacles.

I am indebted to Messrs. George and Ashley Abraham and to Mr. Slingsby
for the information in this section. They assure me that the climbing
in Mouse Ghyll is of a first-rate order, and the scenery of lake and
fellside almost unsurpassable in the country.



APPENDIX.



APPENDIX.


WALKER’S GULLY, PILLAR ROCK.--The Christmas of 1898 at Wastdale
was marked by heavy rain and unseasonable conditions. Several large
parties of climbers had come to the hotel, and, after a day or two of
smoking and grumbling, had departed; until, at the New Year, Mr. Jones
and myself were the only climbers left there. To keep ourselves in
training, we struggled up through the powdery snow of the Central Gully
on Gable Crag, performed many rash feats on the end of the barn and the
billiard-table, besides leaving a considerable quantity of our clothing
on the ‘Mosedale Boulder.’

Early in January we walked over to Keswick; and found, on returning,
that another party had arrived, amongst whom was my friend Mr. A. E.
Field. We greeted him as warmly as we could under such cold conditions;
and when, later in the evening, we disclosed our intention to climb
Walker’s Gully, he was quite ‘keen’ on undertaking the very necessary
duties of ‘third man.’ Our party was now complete; but the heavy
rain-clouds still rolled up from the sea, and the weather continued
persistently bad. We were forced at last to the conclusion that,
if Walker’s Gully had then to be climbed, it would have to be done
regardless of bad weather and personal discomfort.

As a result of this reasoning, the early morning of January 7th, 1899,
saw the three of us trudging patiently up the Black Sail Pass in a
tremendous downpour of rain and sleet; but, notwithstanding this, with
the climber’s cheery optimism, a ‘fair-up’ was confidently prophesied.
As an exception to the general rule, our prophecy was fulfilled; for,
just as we reached the soft snow on Looking Stead, the huge banks of
mist rolled up from both valleys, and far away in the north we saw
‘hoary-headed old Skiddaw’ bathed in sunshine, while a keen dry wind
blew up out of Ennerdale. We trudged along through the snow on the
High Level, and about mid-day were facing the ice-covered slabs and
snow-wreathed ledges on the north-east side of the Pillar Rock. Little
was said as we scrambled to the foot of Walker’s Gully; for each of us
fully recognised what was ahead, and it was better to be silent, than
to utter discouraging remarks.

The rope was put on at the foot of the crags, Field being the ‘anchor’
of the party, whilst I, as usual, was placed next to Jones, to serve
as a special buttress when hand and foot holds should become scarce. A
strong jet of ice-cold water came rushing down over the first pitch,
so that, not wishing to have our enthusiasm cooled so early in the
day, we climbed up the wet, slippery slabs on our left. About fifty
feet higher we had some difficulty in a shallow sloping chimney, down
which a mud avalanche seemed to have fallen quite recently, and here
our leader remarked ‘we ought to have been equipped with mud-guards.’
We were soon facing the main gully, with its tremendous chock-stones
rising one above the other, over which streamed large quantities of
water, suggesting a somewhat too rapid cleansing of our mud-stained
garments. We entered the chimney and found it just wide enough to
back up, with both feet on the right-hand wall; the falling ice-chips
apprising us of the fact that hard work was in progress higher up.

We climbed very rapidly for about fifty feet, close together, until
almost within touch of the uninviting stream of water falling over the
first jammed boulder, which was now just above our heads. Knowing this
to be one of the most difficult pitches in the lower part of the climb,
a short ‘council of war’ was held, for all seemed desirous of avoiding
a cold bath as long as possible. Then, screwing up his courage, Jones
made a bold dash through the waterfall to the back of the cave. Knowing
his objection to monopolising pleasures of this kind, we followed him,
and were soon all gasping and shivering below the jammed boulder. After
further consideration and experiment, the only safe course, apparently,
was for me to stand under the waterfall and give the leader a shoulder
over the _mauvais pas_. As our ablutions seemed likely now to be very
thorough, we ate our lunch and watched, for a time, the falling water,
which, in my opinion, to some extent spoilt the view. The discomfort of
our position, however, soon impressed upon us the necessity of moving.
Field therefore held me firmly from the back of the cave, whilst I
stood under the shower-bath; and Jones mounted on my shoulders, from
whence he reached a hold on the top of the boulder, over which he
pulled himself with an exclamation of delight. I then retired to the
cave with considerable alacrity. Sounds from above warned us that the
leader was scarcely yet secure, so we steadily paid out about forty
feet of his rope, until he reached safe anchorage at the top of the
three boulders forming the pitch. In following we wasted very little
time under the waterfall, and soon joined Jones on a little snow-patch,
from which we could study the situation. A hundred feet or so higher,
and apparently overhanging our present position, was the top jammed
boulder. Evidence was not wanting, however, to show us that we were not
safe from falling objects; for, stuck in a curiously upright position
in the snow in front of us, were three walking-sticks, with two pairs
of torn gloves and some much-worn socks lying by their side. We thought
at first a party of tourists had somehow reached here and forgotten
their ‘impedimenta;’ but our leader remembered that some friends,
having climbed the Pillar Rock at Christmas, had thrown their sticks
and luggage down into Jordan Gap before descending themselves. The snow
proved harder than they thought, their property making an unexpected
descent into Walker’s Gully, and here were we confronted with the
opportunity of acting as a rescue party; but, not thirsting for fame,
we decided to leave the relics undisturbed.

Jones now led us up several small, wet pitches, until we came to a
sudden stop in a great cave, where there was no apparent way out,
except through a very small hole high up in its roof; an outside route
being practically impossible on account of the accumulation of ice on
both walls. Jones remarked that he was not going ‘to emulate the camel
that failed to go through the eye of a needle;’ so, to reduce his bulk
as far as possible, he emptied his pockets and left his wet jacket for
Field to sit upon. No holds on the side of the cave were available, so
the leader climbed upon my shoulders, but he could barely reach his
arms through the hole. Field, meanwhile, was smoking and making the
most of his comfortable position. With somewhat insincere apologies, we
called on him to form an additional buttress, and, from his shoulders,
I was able to force the leader through the hole, amidst the sound of
tearing clothes and muffled remonstrances from their owner.

I shall not readily forget my own sufferings in that hole. The first
attempt, from Field’s shoulders, was a complete failure, because the
upper part of my body absolutely refused to fit the shape of the hole.
After several fruitless efforts and much wasted energy, I happened
to look up and saw Jones smiling down at me. “That is not right. Go
down and have another try,” said he. He then loosed the rope rather
suddenly, whereupon I made an unexpected descent upon Field, who was
standing below enjoying my troubles; and there was much confusion in
the cave. After extricating ourselves, Field again kindly placed his
shoulders at my service, but from a somewhat higher level than before,
and this, with the aid of his ice-axe applied from below, ultimately
landed me at the top of the hole feeling very roughly handled. Field
then sent up our jackets, and, after the hole had been slightly
enlarged by removing some loose rocks, he came up himself in good style.

We were now at the foot of the formidable top-pitch, which had never
been climbed. A sudden seriousness settled on us all as we looked up
at it, and remembered that this pitch had defied some of the finest
cragsmen of our time. The walls on both sides were perpendicular,
and the rounded appearance of the rocks suggested an unusual absence
of hand and foot holds, whilst the presence of ice in several places
caused us much uneasiness. There were three large flat chock-stones
piled irregularly right across the chasm. Towards the upper one, which
overhung considerably, the two walls converged so much that it seemed
possible to ‘back up’ the last part of the climb, if the leader could
only reach it safely. The only other alternative would be to climb up
on the right wall, close under the lower chock-stone, and traverse
outwards and upwards until suitable holds could be found. A troublesome
sleet was beginning to fall; so that we were glad to climb into the
cave directly beneath the chock-stones. A firm ‘hitch’ was discovered
in the back of the cave, by which Field could anchor us; and he settled
himself in a wet corner where his attention was occupied in dodging the
drops of falling water and directing our movements.

Our first efforts were on the left wall; and by means of an ice-axe
fixed in a narrow corner, Jones skilfully and safely wedged himself in
a crack which led almost to the top of the first boulder. However, for
the next half-hour his attempts to make further progress were in vain,
for a hand could not be spared to chip the ice off the rocks; and it
was found necessary to abandon this left wall and to try the opposite
one, which now occupied our attention for some time. Jones made several
attempts from a shoulder to effect a lodgment below the chock-stone.
Then, whilst enjoying a well-earned rest, we espied a small rock,
wedged high up in the crack between the main wall and the roof of the
cave. That small rock proved to be the key of the situation, for, after
probably the finest piece of climbing I have ever witnessed, a rope was
passed through the hole behind it, and we were in a position to attempt
the climb safely. We were all suffering acutely from cold, especially
Field, on account of his inaction, though he declared that the
excitement of our movements kept him warm. Notwithstanding this, our
leader, taking off his boots and jacket, prepared for a long struggle
on that icy wall, whilst I padded my head to gain an inch or two in
height. Jones now swung up as high as possible on the hitched rope;
then, while standing on my head, he found a very small hold for one of
his toes, and after ascending a few feet was hidden from our sight by
the intervening chock-stone. The next few minutes were anxious ones;
we shivered with cold, and held the rope firmly in case there should
be a mishap higher up. Almost immediately there was a rush of falling
snow far out over the pitch, and it scarcely needed our leader’s jödel
of success to assure us that at last Walker’s Gully had yielded to the
onslaught of the climber.

We pushed the leader’s boots into his jacket pockets and sent up all
our ‘luggage.’ Owing to the half-frozen condition of our fingers, tying
the various things on the rope took so long a time, that we called
forth an impatient exclamation from above. Eventually we, in turn,
landed safely at the top, after swinging ignominiously on the rope,
in much the same way as our ‘luggage’ had done. However, the great
hitherto unclimbed pitch of Walker’s Gully was below us, and there
followed the usual congratulations. Our progress up from the screes had
been slow, something like three hours, but much time had been spent in
reconnoitring under extremely bad conditions.

The situation was still rather serious, for we were perched on a narrow
snow-ledge on the very brink of the upper chock-stone; and the three
of us were almost in a state of collapse from cold and the saturated
state of our clothes. The forced inaction of the leader, whilst we were
finishing the climb, had made him so benumbed as to be almost helpless,
and he was sitting with his feet in the wet snow, ineffectually trying
to put on his boots. We had carefully kept some stockings and gloves
dry in the rücksack; but the opening of the sack with half-frozen
fingers proved unfortunate, for its contents escaped, and, with the
other relics which had come down through Jordan Gap, now adorned the
snow-patch far below. It was then agreed that this narrow, exposed
ledge was, under the circumstances, not a suitable dressing room;
so we gathered up our belongings, including our leader’s boots, and
carefully ascended the snow until we came to a safe resting place. Here
we resorted to the usual means of thawing ourselves, and our leader’s
boots were restored to their appointed places.

The race up the steep snow seemed to revive our spirits, and, by the
time the dry rocks below Great Doup were reached, our sufferings gave
way to the glow of success. One little excitement was still in store
for us, for Jones told us that he was threatened with frost-bite in
both feet. On removing his boots we found that his statement was true,
so we rubbed his feet with soft snow, and, before putting on his boots,
the troublesome feet were placed as far as possible in the pockets
of the warmest member of the party, until circulation was thoroughly
restored.

Night was drawing on apace; so we bade farewell to our ‘vanquished
foe,’ and were soon scampering along the High Level, bound for the
well-earned comforts of Wastdale.

IRON CRAG CHIMNEY.--Towards the head of the Shoulthwaite Valley,
which is 3-1/2 miles from Keswick, near the road to Ambleside, may be
seen high up on the right-hand side, a magnificent couloir. It runs up
the south side of one of the steepest faces of rock in the district,
and is called, after the rock, Iron Crag Chimney. We had passed in
sight of the Crag scores of times, but the chimney is so cunningly
hidden away on the far side from the road, that it was not until Mr.
J. W. Robinson told us of it, that we dreamt of there being anything
worth climbing there. He and my brother went to prospect it in March,
1896, but found it in such a very bad condition, that after climbing
the comparatively easy first pitch, they were forced to beat a retreat.
They came back, however, with a glowing account of the second pitch,
and spoke very excitedly about ‘“a thing” at least 100 feet high, wet,
mossy, and with an overhanging stone half-way up, from which the water
dropped out four yards into the bed of the gully, 40 feet below.’ They
thought, however, that a small ledge, up to which they had climbed,
would continue far enough along the left wall of the gully to enable
them to traverse well out from under the stone, and so reach the top
of it. Of the nature of the climbing above that they knew nothing, but
were both anxious to try it and confident of success.

Continued bad weather hindered another attempt until June of the same
year, when Mr. F. W. Jackson and I joined the other two and we set out
to attack this formidable ‘hundred-footer.’ The day was fine and the
rocks in perfect condition, and we succeeded in climbing the chimney
throughout. I intend to give more detail of the second ascent; but it
may be as well to mention here that the second pitch only yielded after
several attempts, by more than one member of the party, and only with
the aid of a shoulder, given from the little ledge, was the leader able
to climb to the top of the ‘chock-stone.’ After this another thirty
feet of chimney brought us to the top of the pitch, and great were the
rejoicings that we had, after a very severe struggle, mastered it. I
shall never forget how white the face of one member of the party was
when it appeared over the top of the pitch, how he yelled to us to
‘haul in the taut,’ how he ‘quoth “nevermore,”’ and how impolitely
he spoke to the leader for having climbed it at all. Altogether this
second pitch gave us a good deal of trouble, but the top part of the
chimney, though very rotten and steep, and liable to come away in small
quantities, was climbed with comparative ease.

After this, except some exploration of the Crags by Mr. H. W. Blunt, it
was not visited again by climbers until the New Year of 1899, when Mr.
O. G. Jones, with my father, my brother, and myself, found ourselves
standing at the bottom of the first pitch. We had expatiated on the
difficulty of the second pitch, and Jones was very keen on trying it,
having, in fact, come over from Wastdale with us for that purpose. _En
route_ to Iron Crag we had climbed a gully on the west side of the
_massif_, which consisted of a series of very interesting chimneys,
the pleasures of which were greatly enhanced by magnificent views of
Derwentwater. This had made us somewhat later than we anticipated,
and an animated discussion was held at the bottom as to whether,
considering the lateness of the hour and the bad condition of the
gully, which was streaming with water, it would not be advisable for
two of the party to stay below or go round and join the others at
the top. This was decided against; ‘all or none,’ said Jones, so we
roped up with him leading. He soon reached the small ledge under the
stone, and then stopped to take breath and prospect. ‘Shall I come up
to you?’ shouted my brother. ‘No thanks! I’ll have a try from here
alone, and you would get wet through in no time up here,’ returned he.
This consideration for my brother was utterly unlike him, for, amongst
other similar occasions, I well remember one on which, in a gully--or
rather waterfall--in Wales, he got wet through on the first pitch,
and insisted on our finishing with him all the eight pitches. His
look of glee when we emerged from the top of each pitch with the water
running down us was a thing to be remembered. However, to return, he
jammed his left foot against the left wall of the gully and pressed
his back against the other, and almost before we had time to see what
had happened, was smiling down on us from the top of the pitch. It was
very disgusting to see him just ‘romp’ up the place we had found so
difficult the year before, and when I had climbed up to him he smiled
sardonically and said, ‘Is that your pitch? Well, really----!’ A small
handhold had weathered away since the time of the first ascent, which
somewhat simplified the passing over the ‘chock-stone,’ but even now I
think most people would find it difficult. We could only apologise and
feel small, but, had we known it, there was a surfeit of excitement and
difficulty in store for us higher up.

The pitch we had just climbed was composed of most excellent rock, but
up above, where we now were, everything was changed, and the upper
rocks, which had been rotten enough before, were now, as a result of
the heavy rain, of the worst description imaginable. Great pieces as
large as one’s head came away at once, and every step had to be most
carefully tested before we could proceed. Now was the time for us to
appreciate our leader, for a less careful man would have ‘pounded’ us
severely before we had made any progress worth mentioning. As it was,
several big pieces had to be removed, and some came whizzing past in
much too close proximity to be pleasant.

After the second pitch the chimney continues straight up and is fairly
wide for two hundred feet or so; but there is no good anchorage until
the level skyline is reached. Towards the top it narrows down to a
thin, rotten and very steep crack. By slow and very careful progress
we reached this crack, which had been climbed straight up on the first
ascent; but after Jones had tried it a few times he evidently thought
it hopeless, for he shouted down to us, ‘It won’t go to-day. The rain
has made everything too rotten. We shall have to go back.’ It was four
o’clock, raining heavily and nearly dark, and to go back meant in all
probability sleeping on the top of the second pitch, an idea which
none of us relished. So my brother climbed up to Jones and, after
consulting for a while, they decided to climb out of the crack on the
right-hand side. To do this a shoulder would have to be given, from a
small shelving ledge, to enable the leader to reach the firmer and less
steep rock up above. This was the most obvious route of ascent, but the
ledge looked very unstable and rotten, and vibrated a little on being
tested. However, Jones thought it might hold if stepped on in the right
way; so my brother climbed up on to it and Jones followed. By utilising
the side of the crack, they were able to put very little pressure on
the ledge; Jones climbed on to his companion’s shoulders, and, when he
had cleared away a few of the loose rocks, was, after an anxious moment
or two, able to draw himself up on to the skyline and disappear from
our sight. After a few seconds he gave a cheer and called to my brother
to follow him. This he had just begun to do and had left the ledge
about five feet, when I heard a dull ominous crack, and, on looking up,
saw the whole thing coming down. There was no time to do anything but
squeeze into the chimney and warn my father. I succeeded in getting
far enough inside to escape serious damage, but the heel of my left
boot, which projected a little, was torn entirely away. My father’s
escape was more marvellous, for it seemed that nothing could save him;
but on looking down I saw the great rock strike a projecting piece of
the chimney only a few inches above his head, and spread out like a
fan into a thousand splinters which shot far out into the air, falling
again near the foot of the chimney; and thus we escaped with only a
few slight bruises. One shudders to think what would have happened
if the ledge had fallen when Jones and my brother were on it. It may
be of interest to say here that during the whole of our climbs with
Jones, this was the only approach to an accident we had, and under his
leadership the possibility of anything going wrong seemed, and always
was, very remote indeed.

After this we were not long in joining the other two at the top. By
this time it was nearly dark and still raining heavily, and on the
crest of the chimney we were faced by a bitterly cold wind. Jones,
who had been exposed to this during the time we were ascending, was
shaking with cold, and he shouted through the storm--‘Hurry up! Coil
the rope and then we’ll do a sprint.’ On looking round we found that he
had gone. We finished coiling the rope and hurried up to where he had
been, but could not see him anywhere. We shouted again and again, but
got no answer. After peering about and shouting several times we came
to a standstill. ‘Is he subject to fits?’ inquired my father in a most
doleful tone of voice. We had never heard of anything of the sort, so
set off down the side of the crags in the hope of finding him awaiting
us below. A miserable hour was spent in walking about the bottom of
the crags calling his name; but the whistling of the wind in the rocks
above, and the swishing of the rain were the only answers we got; so we
set off down the fell-side, and, after floundering about in the dark,
over the stone-walls and through the river, we found ourselves at last
on the main road to Keswick. We were very anxious to know what had
become of Jones, so hastened home, where we found him, ‘dressed up in
all his best,’ toasting his feet in front of a comfortable fire. ‘Where
have you been?’ ‘Dinner has been waiting an hour,’ and so on, were the
thanks we got for our weary hunt among the crags for him, and the query
of my father’s about his taking ‘fits’ became one of his favourite
jokes. After proposing the ‘sprint’ to us he had run round a projecting
shoulder of rock to leeward, and started off to Keswick over the moor,
by the route we had taken earlier in the day. We had expected him to go
down to the Shoulthwaite Valley, and in this way had missed him.

So finished one of the most exciting days we ever spent with Owen
Glynne Jones; and its events are indelibly stamped on my memory. But,
full of incident as the day had been, my pleasantest recollection is
of the evening that followed; when, by the fire and over our pipes,
we fought old battles over again, recalling to life happy days and
exciting moments on the fells, ending with the songs and glees Jones
loved so well to sing, and across the space of years, taking us back
into the ‘dear, dead days,’ will come into our ‘mind’s eye’ the picture
of him kneeling by the piano, singing with the keen enthusiasm which
characterized everything he did, his favourite hymn--

    Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
    ...
    O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent,
            Till the night is gone.

ENGINEERS’ CHIMNEY, GABLE CRAG.--This new and interesting climb
is situated about midway between the Oblique Chimney and the Central
Gully. The beginning of it lies at nearly the same level as that
of the Oblique Chimney, and can be reached by traversing some easy
ledges from the ‘Sheep Walk,’ or by ascending directly from the foot
of the Crags. Although the chimney was well known to many climbers,
its ascent had, curiously enough, not been seriously attempted until
July 30th, 1899, when Messrs. G. T. Glover and W. N. Ling made the
first ascent. Since then it has been ascended on two other occasions,
and it seems likely to become as popular as any of the Gable Crag
climbs. The scenery is magnificent and the climbing throughout of a
most interesting character, and in the centre of the lower part of the
chimney a loosely wedged stone adds an element of risk and difficulty,
which is absent from the other chimneys on this face. About eight feet
from its commencement the chimney divides into two branches, but the
route lies up the left-hand one. A good resting place for the second
man is to be obtained in the right-hand branch, and he ought to stay
here while the leader is negotiating the very difficult passage over
the chock-stone. In all the ascents so far it has been found advisable
to pass a rope behind and over this stone, to improvise a handhold, and
even then this ten feet or so will be found quite difficult enough for
most people. After this, another twenty-five feet of careful climbing
brings one to a broad, sloping ledge where a rest can be taken. From
here two routes are available. One is to keep to the chimney, which
continues straight upward for about forty feet, and the other is to
traverse out round the left-hand buttress for a few feet and then bear
upwards, joining the ‘Sheep Walk’ near the top of the Crags. The
former of these involves about twenty feet of fairly easy climbing,
until the small cave, roofed over with the stone which dominates the
chimney, is reached. From this cave the easiest method of ascent is to
utilise a thin crack in the left wall into which some small stones are
firmly jammed and which may be reached by wedging across the chimney
and traversing outwards, a slight projecting ledge affording some help
in the process. The ‘take-off’ into the crack is somewhat delicate
and decidedly sensational on account of the scanty foothold, but once
gained ten to twelve feet of further climbing practically finishes the
chimney. The traverse route round the buttress is much easier, but it
entirely evades the most sensational part of the climb.

WEST WALL CLIMB, DEEP GHYLL.--For climbers of Deep Ghyll who
ascend the second pitch by the right-hand exit, this new route is
probably the best way out of the Ghyll. After thus passing the second
pitch, the West Wall Climb starts from a point about twenty-six yards
below the entrance to the Great Chimney. By climbing over two small
ledges and up a conspicuous thirty-feet chimney, a broad ledge is
reached, where further direct progress is not advisable.

The best way lies around a corner to the right and up a series of
easy ledges, working gradually back again to above the commencement
of the climb. About half-way up ‘The Wall’ an undercut pinnacle is
reached and ascended on the left before a lodgment can be effected on
its outside edge, and some enjoyable work follows until a spacious
ledge on the right can be utilised. When Messrs. J. W. Robinson, J. H.
Doncaster, and H. W. Blunt first made the ascent, in the September of
1898, this portion of the climb was considered difficult, and it is
probably the only part where special care is necessary. Above this the
climbing can be varied considerably, but the direct ascent of a rock
ridge, straight ahead, is to be recommended. The course throughout is
well within the powers of most climbing parties, and the magnificent
views of Scawfell Pinnacle and Deep Ghyll add additional interest to
the ascent.

We are indebted to two friends for the notes on the following
climbs:--To Mr. G. T. Glover for those on the Ling Chimney, and to Mr.
W. R. Reade for those on the West Jordan Gully.

THE LING CHIMNEY, EAGLE’S NEST ARÊTE.--In the first edition
of his book Mr. O. G. Jones mentions that there are two chimneys on
the left-hand side of the Eagle’s Nest Arête, ‘the right of these
is shallow and open ... whether it can be climbed or not I have
never ascertained.’ On October 15th, 1899, Messrs. W. N. Ling, C.
E. Martineau and G. T. Glover made the first recorded ascent of it,
after a preliminary exploration from above. From the top of the small
grass gully which commences the _arête_ climb, one traverses about ten
feet across some rock to the left, being then in a direct line below
the final chimney. Going straight upwards, by steep rock steps, an
upright slab is swarmed up with the hands and feet on each side, until
a platform is reached, on which the second man can join the leader.
About fifteen feet above this is another platform at the foot of a
narrow chimney which needs careful climbing for about ten feet, until a
foothold can be utilised on the sharp edge of the left wall.

From here some stiff pulls on the arms land one out either on a broad
ledge above the easy gully route, or up a continuation of the chimney
to the right-hand side of the narrow pinnacle at the finish of the true
_arête_ climb. The ascent, as a whole, requires more care than the
gully route.

THE WEST JORDAN GULLY, PILLAR ROCK.--This deeply cut gully,
or, more correctly speaking, chimney, is a striking feature of the
Western face of the Pillar Rock, and, together with the East Jordan
Gully, the head of which it meets at Jordan Gap, cuts off the actual
Pillar Rock from Pisgah. Probably many climbers have examined the West
Jordan Gully, but it does not appear to have been seriously attacked
before July, 1898, when Mr. W. P. McCulloch and the writer climbed it.
Walking up the bed of the gully we passed a tempting looking crack on
the North wall which ends in a small cave; above this cave the gully
is ‘chocked’ by several overhanging stones which from below seem very
formidable obstacles. We, however, avoided the crack and, mounting a
series of jammed stones, reached the innermost recesses of the chimney.
We were now almost on a level with the top of the crack, and, the gully
being here narrow enough to brace firmly across, we backed upwards
and outwards for about fifteen feet, reaching the cave without great
exertion. So far we had done well, but still the great jammed stones,
round which we had to pass, loomed black overhead. Holds for the
traverse outward looked anything but satisfactory, so Mr. McCulloch,
after passing the rope round a conveniently placed jammed stone,
climbed on to my shoulders and, with considerable difficulty, dragged
himself into a small cave about fifteen feet above. As this cave would
only accommodate one man, I climbed to Mr. McCulloch’s level, with a
little assistance from the rope, and took the lead. Traversing outwards
for about fifteen feet, I climbed a sensational forty-feet chimney,
which we had surveyed from above several days previously, and landed
safely in the bed of the gully past all difficulties. The height of the
whole pitch is slightly under 100 feet, and, from beginning to end, the
climbing is of a most interesting character. The second ascent was made
by the brothers Broadrick, in August of the same year, but there is no
record of it having been climbed since.



APPENDIX II



CHAPTER I

_THE PILLAR ROCK AND ITS PURLIEUS UP TO DATE_


In conformity with its deserts as the grandest mass of crags in
Lakeland, the Pillar Rock has, of recent years, received most attention
from those in search of new routes and variations. So numerous and
intertwined are some of the latter that it would be difficult to say by
how many different ways the top of the famous rock can now be attained.
There are certainly a score that possess the merit of individuality.
However, though there is one important exception, that of the New West
Climb, the old routes still monopolise the bulk of the traffic. With
the development of the craft of rock-climbing the once popular, easy
routes, such as the Old West Climb or the Pendlebury Traverse, have
become less used than formerly. For a moderate party with an expert
leader the North Climb is now the favourite course, though the ‘New
West’ has become recognised as the finer climb. This recognition will,
probably, in due course make the latter outrival in popularity its
older compeer. But the ‘Slab and Notch,’ with the finish up the left
wall of the Great Chimney, still takes most Pillarites to the goal of
their ambition. In the other extreme stands the New North West Climb,
and fortunately so. It is too difficult and dangerous to attract those
climbers who truly realise that they have a life to lose. Famous
experts--one of whom made the descent alone--declare the New North West
Climb to be unjustifiable. For the descent of the Rock, especially
after reaching the top by one of the longer climbs, the Central Jordan
Crack is most generally used. Even under the worst conditions of storm,
ice, or snow a rope looped around the top retaining wall of the crack
allows downward escape to be made with comparative ease and safety.

[Illustration: THE PILLAR ROCK FROM THE WEST SIDE

  A The Low Man.
  B The High Man.
  C Pisgah.
  D The top of Easy Scree Gully.
  PP New Pisgah Routes.
  _aa_ The original old West Route.
  _bb_ The New West Climb.
  _dd_ The West Jordan Gully leading up to Jordan Gap.
  _ee_ Screes bounding the base of Pisgah.
  _ff_ Scree-slopes leading down to the Waterfall.
  _s_ The Slingsby Crack. Old West Climb Variation.]

THE NEW WEST CLIMB.--Taken chronologically in this section,
if for no other reason, this course demands first attention. Its
outstanding features are sound, clean rocks, sensational situations
with magnificent views, and secure belays at each section where they
are really required. The climbing begins about 20 yards down the screes
from the foot of the West Jordan Gully; the exact point is just below
some large boulders which abut against the base of the main rock. Large
hand- and footholds enable the steep lower rocks to be easily climbed,
though at one point, about 60 feet above the start, there is a smooth
place that gives trouble when ice is present. About 20 feet higher, a
well-marked ledge leads to the right and out of the groove up which
the climb has thus far run. Some turfy ledges then soon conduct the
climber up to an impending nose of rock. After struggling up a short,
steep pitch in the base of this, it becomes obvious that a traverse to
the left is advisable. The place is vertical, but bulky and numerous
holds enable the passage to be made in comfort. The traverse finishes
abruptly on a steep buttress, with turf ledges at its foot. On the
right a convenient crack provides means of upward progress for about
30 feet; then an all too short scramble up a steep arête gives access
to two small ledges with accommodation for one climber only on each.
The rocks directly ahead overhang threateningly, and a traverse to the
left into the base of a steep chimney--the key to the climb--becomes
advisable. This movement is sensational, but the handholds nowadays are
ample for the swing across. Yet it is advisable to take the precaution
to hitch the rope over the splendid belay at the beginning of the
traverse, especially if the conditions are adverse. Once across this
section, a large chock-stone in the foot of the chimney can be utilised
as anchorage whilst the leader moves upwards. The upper part of this
30 foot chimney is probably the most awkward part of the whole climb.
If the back be kept on the left wall throughout, numerous small, but
sufficient, excrescences can be found on the confronting side of the
chimney. It would seem advisable to keep as much as possible in the
narrow cleft.

A secure resting-place, with room for three or more climbers,
is shortly gained, and the chimney, which becomes loose and
repulsive-looking higher up, should now be deserted in favour of an
interesting traverse to the right. The passage around the vertical
corner is impressive, but careful use of the feet prevents the
awkward attitudes so often seen here. The movement across the face
to the right is still continued over capacious ledges in a slightly
upward direction to some prominent shattered rocks. Good anchorage is
available here. The final section begins above the shattered rocks, and
lies up a small, shallow crack which closes in about 15 feet higher
and necessitates a delicate step across a smooth slab on the right.
A well-marked, grassy recess is thus eventually gained. The ascent
finishes up this, and emerges within a few feet of the summit of the
Pillar Rock.

SAVAGE GULLY.--The direct ascent of this great rift, the aspect
of which is familiar to all who visit the Rock by way of the North
Climb, is too risky and dangerous to deserve serious attention from
rock-climbers. Yet from a historical and topographical point of view
the description of the first ascent by Mr. P. A. Thompson may prove of
interest. Though this indefatigable pioneer was finally safeguarded by
tying on a rope lowered from near the ‘Nose,’ the party who made the
second ascent--Messrs. Barton--conceded the honour of precedence to
Mr. Thompson, saying that the rope thus held could not be considered
any aid. On the lower 110 feet, resting-places have since been found,
and at no point is it necessary for the leader to take out more than 60
feet of rope. Under the date June 3, 1909, Mr. Thompson wrote:--

‘Savage Gully was climbed right through by me to-day after I had
examined the route, held from the top of the Nose by Mr. L. J.
Oppenheimer. The almost vertical portion immediately beyond the point
where the ordinary North Climb diverges is by far the hardest part
of the climb. The leader must run out 110 feet of rope, and there
are no hitches or convenient resting-places on the way. The gully is
divided by a narrow rib of rock, between which and the right-hand wall
the climb starts. The first 25 feet present no great difficulty, but
beyond this point the climbing becomes severe. Backing up does not
appear to be possible, and the holds lie sometimes on the right and
sometimes on the left of the rib, which was crossed in all five times.
These crossings were always sensational, and, one from right to left,
about half-way up, was greasy. At the top of the pitch a platform was
reached, and an excellent holding ground found in a small cave between
the continuation of the rib and the left-hand wall of the gully. Here I
sent my boots down, and unroping, waited while Mr. Oppenheimer climbed
by the ordinary route to the top of the crack leading down into Savage
Gully, from which point he threw down a rope. With a second man in the
cave to give a shoulder the best route would probably lie directly up
the crack on the left of the rib, but this was too difficult to try
alone. On the right the gully was comparatively easy for some distance,
and climbing up for 30 feet I reached the rope and tied on. This branch
of the gully then became too steep and narrow to follow, and another
traverse had to be made across the rib, here expanded to a considerable
buttress, on a shelving ledge, wide enough to kneel on, and with small
handholds. This traverse is the only serious difficulty in the upper
part of the climb. The moral support of the rope was inconsiderable, as
10 feet of slack had to be taken in before the traverse could be made.
On reaching the left-hand branch of the gully 30 feet more of climbing
up slabs which, in stockinged feet, proved easy led to the foot of the
crack. The final steep little chimney was wet, but otherwise not very
difficult. Mr. Oppenheimer came up over the Nose, rejoining me in two
hours after the start from the foot of the gully.’

THE NEW NORTH WEST CLIMB.--This exceptionally severe course
was first climbed on the 8th of June 1906 by Messrs. F. W. Botterill,
L. J. Oppenheimer, A. Botterill, and Dr. J. H. Taylor. It is only
suitable for experts, who, moreover, would be well advised to come to
it in perfect form after a lengthy climbing holiday. Success depends
on the skill of the leader. He can receive scanty support from his
companions at the places where such aid is really required. Absence of
a dependable belay for the long lead up the difficult upper section of
the face militates against any claim for safety the expedition may be
said to possess.

The course starts from the westerly end of the Green Ledge. This is
marked _g_ on Mr. Jones’ line drawing facing p. 254. By a curious error
he named it the Nose. The rocks are comparatively easy at the outset;
some short chimneys lead up to a sloping slab, where a traverse to the
left is made into a more obvious chimney. This gives about 45 feet of
interesting back and knee work until it is possible to work out to
the right, and then up easy rocks to the crest of the buttress, where
stands a prominent cairn. Broad, grass-covered slabs lead to the base
of the nose of the Low Man, where the real difficulties begin.

The route at first bears away to the west up some slabs, and then
returns around a corner to a good ledge several yards long, whereon
stands a prominent cairn. Anchorage is available at this point. The
ledge is traversed to its extreme easterly end, and, after rounding
a projecting rock, an ascent of about 10 feet allows a V
shaped recess to be gained. This has been called ‘Le Coin.’ Above
this important stance there are three distinct ledges to be gained.
The first of these entails about 15 feet of difficult ascent from
‘Le Coin’; probably the best way lies up the right wall. The first
ledge possesses a sound belay, and the second is recognizable by a
larger belay, which is cracked, but safe at present. A party of three
might foregather here. An ascent of quite 35 feet then leads to a
‘triangular’ ledge, possessing practically no dependable belay. The key
to further progress here is the negotiation of a sensational stride
around a corner to the left and thus into an open, exposed chimney
nearly 50 feet high. Above this there is a difficult and risky traverse
back to the right, mostly on a small, grassy ledge. A broad recess
slightly higher soon gives ample resting space. From the second ledge
above ‘Le Coin,’ whereon stands the ‘cracked belay,’ to this point
entails a lead out for the first man of about 90 feet. The difficulty
and danger of this section will undoubtedly militate against the
North-West Climb ever becoming ‘an easy day for a lady.’ The ascent to
the crest of the Low Man is made up a conspicuous cleft, Oppenheimer’s
chimney, which is reached after crossing some broken rocks to the
right. Two projecting chock-stones facilitate the ascent.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

“OVER THE NOSE”--THE PILLAR ROCK]

THE HIGH MAN FROM ABOVE THE NOSE ON THE NORTH CLIMB.--This
ascent can be made in several different ways, some of which were made
in the earlier days, but, like many variations on the Pillar Rock,
never recorded by the pioneers. Yet Stony Gully, which gives the
usual route from the Nose up to the Low Man, is best avoided should
the climbers find themselves ‘under fire’ from another party who have
thoughtlessly gone on in advance. There have been several narrow
escapes from falling stones hereabouts. At such times knowledge of the
alternative ways up the High Man may be useful. After surmounting the
Nose, Stony Gully should be crossed and left immediately. Easy grass
and rock ledges then afford rapid upward progress to be made to the
base of the steep rocks of the High Man. All the way up the sharp,
rocky, north-east arête of the peak is conspicuous overhead, and the
point to aim for is a deeply cut chimney somewhat to the left of a line
directly below the summit of the arête. This chimney was climbed some
years ago; its recesses are narrow and steep below, but higher up there
is a broad ledge on the right, whence the pull over the dominating
chock-stone can be taken. The climber emerges on the great, sloping
slabs which slant down the upper right-hand wall of the Great Chimney.
They are an unmistakable feature in the view of the east side of the
rock from the Shamrock. The slabs may be crossed more easily than
their appearance would indicate, and thus the usual upper section of
the Great Chimney entered on a level with the ledge leading around and
below the Notch.

On the other hand, these slabs can be avoided by climbing upwards to
the right to a broad ledge and then around the prominent perpendicular
nose of the High Man to join the easy, ordinary route from the Low
Man. There is yet another way to the top of the Rock, which was used
by Mr. Botterill’s party in 1909. This runs almost directly up the
nose of the High Man from the broad ledge previously mentioned. The
place is steep and sensational enough to warn off novices, but the
rock is firm and yields sufficient hand and footholds, though these
are awkwardly spaced. The same party reached this nose from below by
climbing up the outer right-hand wall of the chimney first mentioned.
This is probably the easier of the two routes, for the rock is deeply
split into convenient clefts for hands and feet. Incidentally it might
be mentioned that those ascending the Rock by the Old Wall Route, from
near the top of Walker’s Gully, pass below these more difficult climbs
and take a slanting course up to a small square-looking chimney, above
which the usual way from the Low Man is gained. This was one of the
earliest ways up the Pillar Rock, and the ascent involves less real
hand and footwork than any other route.

THE CURTAIN AND ARÊTE.--This forms the left-hand wall of the
Great Chimney, and may be climbed from bottom to top. At the beginning
there is a variation which slants up to the crest of the Curtain
from a point a few feet below the beginning of the fine pitch in the
Great Chimney. A still more interesting method of attack lies up an
unmistakable cleft behind a huge detached obelisk on the south or
left-hand side of the Curtain. Above the cleft a narrow crack affords
a very pleasing exit. Once on the crest of the Curtain the work is
straightforward, the ordinary tracks from the east side being crossed
_en route_. The final stretch of the arête, which lands the climber on
the top of the rock, involves some exhilarating arm-swings on capacious
holds.

THE WEST JORDAN CRACK and the FAR WEST JORDAN CLIMB were
discovered in 1909 by Messrs. H. B. Gibson and W. B. Brunskill. A
poised block, which stands a few feet west of the foot of the old West
Jordan Climb, marks the base of operations. From this the ‘Crack’ route
slants upwards to the left over the top of a steep slab to a diminutive
ledge at the foot of a vertical corner, up which rises a narrow crack.
The ascent of this 20 foot corner is the crux of the climb; above it
the summit cairn is only a few feet away. The Far West Jordan Climb is
somewhat the easier of the two problems. From above the poised block
previously mentioned, the route diverges at once to the left, and,
after crossing a grass-floored depression, it makes for a detached
spike, about 5 feet high, close to the left sky-line. This affords good
anchorage for the second climber whilst the leader tackles the ensuing
somewhat exposed section from the top of the detached spike. This
consists of a passage up a crack to the right of an overhanging block.
Above this a fine arête is gained which leads to the summit.

THE WEST RIDGE OF PISGAH.--The Pisgah problems have never been
considered seriously by climbers, but this longer course up the whole
length of the west side of the prominent little peak is worthy of
passing mention. The route shows to advantage on the line drawing of
the west side of the Pillar Rock. At the point of divergence, about 45
feet above the screes, the left-hand way is the easier of the two; it
regains the direct route by way of a detached rock-pinnacle.

WALKER’S GULLY.--Since it almost seems customary nowadays
to become benighted in this magnificent gorge, a few notes may be
given as to altered conditions. Those who pay their first visit to
this exceptionally severe course would be well advised to avoid the
‘watery’ first pitch on the left. If abnormally dry it may be overcome
direct, but this probably involves more severe climbing than anything
encountered in the higher main bed of the gully. The best course for
those who wish to add this initial pitch to their laurels is to start
up the buttress a few feet to the right of its foot. About 30 feet
higher a grass ledge is reached, where a short traverse can be made to
the left, and then the way lies up a narrow sloping scoop for nearly 25
feet. At the top of this the holds are rather deficient, but it is soon
possible to step across on to the upper part of the big chimney and
thence struggle up directly over the capstone.

The great cave below the mass of tumbled boulders in the upper part of
the gully has recently given serious pause to at least two parties of
experts. The hole at the back of the cave is blocked by fallen rocks,
and considerable difficulty has been encountered in making the upward
way on the exposed outside edge of the jammed boulders. It may be
mentioned that the blocking of this hole is probably only temporary; it
has occurred before, and been removed by wary experts. During the first
ascent the hole required considerable enlargement.

The fact that the final obstacle can be overcome by first climbing
up the right wall until the left wall can be reached to assume a
backing-up attitude would seem to be unknown to many parties. Even
a moderately short man can utilise this method. Failure to realize
this has resulted in more than one party spending a night in the damp
recesses of the gully. Yet they would probably find the magnificent
scenery ample reward for the discomfort involved. The great black walls
of the gorge loom gloomily on either hand. To watch the moon’s rays
casting a pervasive gleam athwart the distant peaks is indescribably
beautiful. But this is only ‘moonshine,’ especially to those who have
watched and waited.

THE SHAMROCK.--The climber who emerges safely from Walker’s
Gully may be glad to know that there is a pleasant scramble thence
to the lower peak of the Shamrock. This acts as a welcome muscular
sedative after the previously severe exercise in the gully. Just to
the left of the top of the great upper pitch a crack will be noticed
slanting to the left up the wall of the Shamrock. This yields about 30
feet of ascent, and then, turning to the right, the climber mounts,
first on clean rocks, and later over grass-crowned ledges, to the
summit. After a short descent across the head of the Shamrock Gully, it
is possible to mount the opposite wall and emerge quite close to the
cairns which mark the downward path by the Shamrock Traverse.

THE SHAMROCK BUTTRESS, by the original route, affords a pleasant
excursion in winter time, when the gully and greater climbs close
at hand are scarcely approachable. The course starts up a small but
well-defined gully a few yards to the right of the wide entrance to
the Shamrock Gully. It continues straight up the Buttress, until a
high slice of smooth rock suggests a slight descent and traverse to
the right to the foot of an obvious chimney pitch with prominent
chock-stones. Above this another short pitch gives the approach to the
foot of a steep rib of rock which is crowned by a loosely wedged stone.
The easy bed of the Shamrock Chimney is now entered and followed beyond
the short, final pitch which, except under snowy conditions, possesses
a ‘through route.’ To avoid this pitch an interesting variation can
be made up the steep crack on the right-hand wall, from the summit of
which there is a short traverse to the left to the foot of the usual
arête finish of the Shamrock Chimneys Climb. Curiously enough this
latter course is seldom visited nowadays, yet it is by far the finest
expedition on the Shamrock.

In 1909 a party led by Mr. H. B. Gibson made a variation on the
Shamrock Gully side of the buttress in its upper part. After ascending
a 25 foot slab and some easier rocks, they entered the gully above
the great pitch. From a pile of loose boulders, since swept away,
they continued up the right wall of the gully, bearing at first to
the right, and finished at the top of the original Shamrock Buttress
course. An extensive fall of rock has taken place on this final
stage of the climb; the place is now decidedly unsafe, and should
be avoided. It might be noted that the falling masses and previous
natural weathering have altered the structure of the great pitch of the
Shamrock Gully. The left-hand route may now be considered the easier of
the two ways of overcoming the obstacle.



CHAPTER II

_NEW CLIMBS ON GREAT GABLE, SCAWFELL, AND AROUND WASTDALE HEAD_


THE ABBEY RIDGE ranks as the best discovery on Great Gable since
the ascent of the Ling Chimney in 1899. In the present work (p. 158)
there is a reference to the rocks to the left of the ordinary West
Chimney route up the Eagle’s Nest Ridge. This attracted the attention
of Messrs. F. Botterill and J. Hazard with a happy result--the
annexation of a new climb. This was in the April of 1909.

The lower part of the new ridge is well defined, but above the broad
ledge, almost on a level with the exit from the ordinary West Chimney,
several routes are available. This section was climbed many years ago
on more than one occasion, notably when the deep, black chimney on the
west side of the ridge was visited. This fine cleft is well seen from
the Arrowhead Ridge, rising above the big boulder pitch in the Eagle’s
Nest Gully. The ascent is not difficult.

The latter remark scarcely applies to the new portion of the Abbey
Ridge, especially if the direct ascent of the _mauvais pas_ be made.
A long ‘run out’ for the leader at this point warrants the warning
that the lofty sanctuary of the Abbey is only for the expert who is
in perfect training. The climb begins easily, either at the very
bottom of the ridge or by joining it at a point almost on a level with
the beginning of the Eagle’s Nest Ridge. The ascent to the top of a
conspicuous detached mass begins to suggest difficulty. But the real
work starts directly above this, in gaining a narrow grassy ledge which
stretches across the face for several feet. From the extreme left
of this ledge the way lies up the arête until a steep, grassy gully
slightly more to the left affords a finish to the upper ledge on a
level with the top of the Eagle’s Nest Chimney. This is the easier of
the two exits. The direct route bears away to the right below the steep
and grassy gully until an overhanging block rises above the climber.
It is important to make sure of this position, as the rocks are now
very well scratched. The key to the situation is a good hold for both
hands right under the overhanging block. Progress beyond this crucial
point is scarcely safe unless this grip is secured, but once above this
‘step’ the rest is comparatively safe and easy. The rock throughout is
of the usual Gable quality.

Two other small variations on the Napes may be mentioned in passing.
In the autumn of 1910 Messrs. H. R. Pope and E. T. W. Addyman found an
interesting problem on the right wall of the ordinary West Chimney on
the Eagle’s Nest Ridge. From the big belay half-way up this cleft it
is possible to traverse out to the right on to a steep rock face which
forms the left-hand wall of the Ling Chimney. This wall can be climbed
to the top on ledges which lead across to the right-hand edge and then
back to the left again. The finish can be taken directly upwards.

It is scarcely advisable to say that anything new can be found on the
Needle Ridge. However, Messrs. A. G. Woodhead and J. Laycock have
accentuated the fact that this much-trodden ridge can be climbed
straight up from the lowest point. The last 15 feet before the old
route is gained require skilful treatment.

Numerous small and unimportant variations on the ever-attractive
Needle have been made. Records of personal gymnastics are best omitted
here, though the best of all may be mentioned--that of the beginner,
who ‘climbed’ the top stone by a really new method. This enthusiast
assumed a position of repose on the mantelshelf, and for half-an-hour
pored over the view over the edge and down the impressive scree slopes
of Gable. At last the patience of the lusty leader on the top became
exhausted. Though the novice hung on with his hands, he ‘had to come,’
which he did feet first.

The attractions of the Ennerdale Face of Great Gable have been
increased by the discovery of a splendid course by Dr. J. S. Sloane
and Messrs. M. Gimson, A. J. Gimson, and J. E. Henderson in the
April of 1909. They appropriately suggested that the rift might be
called the SMUGGLER’S CHIMNEY, and this name has been adopted.
The hand and footwork starts about 100 feet west of the foot of the
Central Gully, with about 20 feet of ascent of steep rock. The chimney
proper, which is vertical and about 85 feet in height, now begins. It
is in three stages, and the first part gives 35 feet of engrossing
climbing before a cave is entered. The hardest part of the climb occurs
where there is an undercut bulge of rock about 10 feet below this
resting-place. At this point it is probably best to forsake the back
and foot method and allow the arms and knees to do most of the work.
The second section of the chimney above the Cave consists of a narrow,
vertical, deeply-cut crack which bears some resemblance to the Monolith
Crack in North Wales. This stretch--though squeeze might be the better
word--is 25 feet in height. The final pitch is almost the same height,
but its extra width will prove gratifying to stout climbers despite
the somewhat constricting final wriggle afforded by the hole of the
‘through route.’ Easy, grassy ground is now encountered, which leads
past the ‘Smuggler’s Retreat,’ and thus to the crest of the crags.

In the September of 1908 Messrs. G. H. L. Mallory and G. L. Keynes
found two ‘little climbs’ on the Ennerdale Face to the left of the
Bottle-shaped Pinnacle Ridge. They can be reached from the Scree
Gully--marked B on the line drawing--by traversing upwards from the
fork towards a large overhanging crag. This is a prominent feature
of this side of Gable Crag. The new climbs are claimed to be the
nearest routes which can be found to the left and to the right of
the overhanging crag. Cairns mark the start of each course, that to
the left being the easier of the two, and giving about 150 feet of
climbing. On the right a steep crack affords for the most part the
means of ascent. The difficulty is concentrated in the first 80 feet.
Where the crack becomes easier and wider higher up, it is probably
better to end the climb by traversing on to the right buttress.

A few other minor points of interest on the Ennerdale Face may be
worth mention. For instance, Messrs. H. V. Reade and G. Arbuthnot have
shown that the vertical crack rising from near the foot of the Oblique
Chimney to the gap behind the Bottle-shaped Pinnacle may be climbed,
but not without difficulty. The disappearance of the much discussed
‘rocking-rock’ in the Engineers’ Chimney has not made the ascent any
easier; in fact, the relative difficulty of this section remains about
the same.

In misty weather the foot of the Central Gully was often difficult
to locate, even though the climber happened to be sitting at it.
Recognition is now a simple matter, for a huge boulder has fallen
and bridged the foot of the gorge most picturesquely. Other slight
alterations have also occurred in the bed of the gully. For instance,
more holds have developed on the steep crack in the middle part of
the gully, where the usual easy route slants up to the left to the
Staircase Pitch. The ascent of this crack is now frequently made.
For those who do not essay the ‘Direct Finish’ there is a steep but
not difficult crack just to the left of the great nose of rock which
so boldly divides the upper part of the Central Gully. The ordinary
route is still further to the left, but there are variations galore
hereabouts.

’Tis a far cry from Wastdale to the head of MOSEDALE to find an
outcrop of wet slabs less than 200 feet high. Yet several parties of
enthusiasts have developed the art of finding diminutive new climbs in
remote corners. There are two main rifts splitting the Mosedale Rocks.
These are known as the East and the West Cracks. The former is the more
difficult of the two; in fact, the pitch near the top would seem to
require the use of a lowered rope from some friends above if the ascent
is to be made safely. It has not yet been climbed without this aid. At
least two routes have also been found directly on the face between the
two cracks, and two smaller rifts to the right of the East Crack have
been added to the list of conquests. All are well marked and easier
to find than to climb, for the experts of the Fell and Rock-Climbing
Club, usually under the skilled leadership of Mr. H. B. Lyon, have
specialised on the Mosedale Rocks.

GREAT END. THE BROTHERS’ CRACK.--Glorious as is Great End in the
winter time, it has never appealed largely to the rock-climber pure and
simple. But these latter will be entertained excellently if they join
the brotherhood of the new crack, which owes its exploitation to those
well-known judges of a sound climb, Mr. G. F. and Rev. A. J. Woodhouse.
The crack rises about 60 feet to the north of the well-known Brigg’s
Cave Pitch on the east end of the crags. The actual crack itself is
nearly as high as that on Kern Knotts. It is situated in a corner, and
rises vertically from a large grass ledge. This take-off is reached
by ordinary scrambling, though the final landing is made by means of
a short crack. The real climbing up the main crack, which is here too
narrow to admit one’s body, begins with a slabby section in two parts,
in all about 20 feet high. The crack now widens, and is available for
wedging purposes. After a short stretch of ‘back and knee’ the most
difficult portion is reached, and for this the leader would be well
advised to thread the rope behind a jammed stone. The final obstacle
possesses an overhanging chock-stone, but good ledges on the left wall
simplify the finish. The climb is undoubtedly severe, for the leader
can nowhere receive any help from his companion.

SCAWFELL.--Of late years but little new climbing of any
magnitude has been done on Scawfell. This is no doubt entirely due
to the fact that in the early days Scawfell was the most attractive
and most exploited of all the Lakeland crags. The present decade has
produced first-rate climbers to an unlimited extent, but their best
efforts have been restricted by the rocks themselves, and, where these
have been forced to yield climbs, what they have given us are in many
cases just beyond the line of safety, even for the best parties.
Another effect of this strenuous search after new routes has been the
discovery of many variations, and some of these are worth description,
although necessarily brief, in a work like the present.

SCAWFELL PINNACLE CLIMB DIRECT FROM UPPER DEEP GHYLL.--The start
of this climb is described by Mr. Jones on p. 88. After the first 15
feet or so he traversed away to the left on to the arête of the Low Man.

Messrs. A. G. Woodhead and W. L. Collinson climbed this lower
difficulty in August 1907, after which they bore straight upward over
shelving and fairly difficult ledges for a hundred feet or so, until
impending rocks forced them away to the left. When almost in a line
with the top of the Pinnacle they struck straight upward from a broad
platform (where a cairn now stands) over a bulge of rock, necessitating
a good arm pull, until a belay was reached. Thence a grassy gully led
them without difficulty to the top of the High Man. The climb is
one of much merit, and deserves more popularity than it enjoys. The
exceedingly difficult start may have acted as a deterrent, but it may
be an encouragement to leaders to know that once they have overcome
this _mauvais pas_ the higher rocks contain climbing of a much easier
order.

SCAWFELL PINNACLE FROM DEEP GHYLL, VARIATIONS.--A somewhat
easier way of reaching the Low Man from the _firma loca_ (p. 81) than
that of the arête followed in the first ascent, was found and climbed
by Mr. A. H. Binns alone in August 1904. This is now called Gibson’s
Chimney route, after Mr. H. O. S. Gibson, who repeated the ascent in
June 1907, and left a lucid description of it in the Wastdale Climbers’
Book.

From the _firma loca_ a traverse is made in the direction of the arête
until a crack sloping up to the right is reached. This is followed for
about 15 feet, and the upper reaches of the chimney described by Mr.
Jones as ‘hopeless’ (p. 82) soon attained. Here a leaf of rock, with
good holds on its edge, affords moderately difficult and strenuous
climbing for 30 feet until the chimney becomes impossible. It is then
abandoned to the left, along a traverse which leads past a good belay
to the arête. The first step upward on this gives a pretty problem in
an exposed position. The holds are small but good until the vertical
piece is scaled. Thence the going is comparatively easy to the crest of
the Low Man. Other variations have been found from the _firma loca_,
but, while some of these many prove useful to a leader unable to follow
Mr. Jones’ route, the original climb is by far the most entertaining
for strong parties.

A good belay about 40 feet up the lower crack has dispelled many of its
terrors, and now renders the long initial run out on the part of the
leader quite unnecessary.

DEEP GHYLL, SECOND PITCH.--It is of interest--a melancholy
interest perhaps--to know that it is no longer necessary to climb up
the left or right side of this famous pitch in the historic manner, and
that an inglorious ascent can now be made through a hole at the back
of the cave. Stones drop straight down this hole from the Ghyll above,
perhaps as a hint to climbers to play the game in the old-fashioned way!

MOSS GHYLL, UPPER VARIATION.--This starts some 20 feet to the
right of the foot of the Great Chimney. A few feet up the face a
crack is reached, and this can be followed to a small cairn. Here a
choice of routes offers, one back to the top of the Great Chimney, and
the alternative one to the Pisgah Ridge. A strong party led by Mr.
F. Botterill first proved the possibilities of this variation, and
described it as slightly more difficult than the direct exit up the
chimney.

MR. BOTTERILL’S CLIMBS.--The long sloping cracks, the upper
parts of which were followed in the Collier’s and Keswick Brothers’
climbs, were ascended in their entirety at Whitsuntide 1903 by Messrs.
F. Botterill, H. Williamson, and E. Grant.

The crack nearest Mickledore Ridge is difficult throughout, and
is, moreover, somewhat earthy and friable; there is no record of a
repetition of its ascent. The companion crack was the scene of a
remarkable _tour de force_. Mr. Botterill’s account of his exploit,[2]
and the warning note sounded by a party of great skill and experience
which unsuccessfully essayed the second ascent, will probably acquaint
climbers with sufficient details to cause them to take the climb itself
‘as read.’ It is in a class apart, and, basing our judgment on a survey
made on a rope from above, we do not recommend it.

After a lapse of nearly twenty years, and repeated onslaughts by many
parties, PIERS’ GHYLL was ascended throughout for the second
time in September 1910. Mr. H. R. Pope, admirably backed up by Mr.
R. B. Sanderson, succeeded in leading a large party up the various
wet and friable pitches that go to make the climb. From a vivid
description, written by Mr. Sanderson in the current number of the Fell
and Rock Club _Journal_, we gather that, in spite of the constantly
falling rocks in the Ghyll, the narrow pitch below the Bridge Rock is
practically unaltered, and is still the greatest difficulty. It is
necessary to stand immediately below the waterfall in order to work up
a shallow, almost holdless groove. This is very steep; the rocks are,
of course, wet and slippery; added to these is the uncertain nature
and paucity of the holds--altogether a combination of difficulty,
disagreeableness, and danger that most parties will care to court but
very seldom.

During the same holiday Messrs. Pope and Madan climbed from Tennis
Court Ledge to the Fives Court on Pisgah Buttress by traversing from
the right-hand end of the Ledge for a short distance. Thence they
climbed directly up a steep rock-face for 15 feet or so to the Fives
Court, a somewhat easier but much more exposed route than that up the
crack utilised in the first ascent.

Other variations of a minor character have been made on many of the
older climbs; indeed so thoroughly has the face been scoured, that it
would be a very rash man who would nowadays come down to the Wastwater
Hotel and say that he had made a new route up Scawfell.



CHAPTER III

_THE BUTTERMERE CLIMBS, AND THOSE IN OUTLYING DISTRICTS_


For strong and experienced parties of climbers, with a penchant
for boating, fishing, and long mountain tramps on the ‘off days,’
Buttermere is well-nigh ideal. Moreover, the _blasé_ ‘Wastdale Header’
will find amongst the fine corrie-like combes of High Crag and High
Stile, and above the great hollow of Warnscale, climbs of an entirely
different nature from most of the nail-scratched, polished courses
of his former haunts. Many of the Buttermere climbs are still to
all intents and purposes virgin ascents. The rock of which they are
formed does not take nail-marks so readily, and the blatant, scratched
foothold, which positively shouts at one ‘here am I!’ is as yet an
alien in these parts. The texture of the gullies is very different; it
is always necessary to be on the alert for unsteady chock-stones; every
hold needs testing; in fine, care and experience are essential to safe
ascents.

Mr. L. J. Oppenheimer, in his book ‘The Heart of Lakeland,’ has made
out a strong case for the claims of Buttermere as a centre for the more
historic climbs, and justly says that ‘after Wastdale Head--though no
doubt a long way after--it is one of the best centres in Lakeland.’ The
Buttermere Hotel is in every way a most excellent house, and to those
whose leaning is towards a simple life the farmhouses in the valley
are second to none. So much granted, it is perhaps as well to review
the work that has been done here, chiefly, it may be stated, by Mr.
Oppenheimer and his friends and brethren of the Rücksack Club.

THE GULLIES OF WARNSCALE.--When standing in the huge, green
hollow at the edge of Buttermere, one has on the north the great
face of Fleetwith, with a long prominent gully almost in the
centre--Fleetwith Gully. A point of the compass further round is a
bulging outcrop of rock, a prominent feature in all the photographs of
the Head of Buttermere. This is Green Crag, and up its left-hand side
runs Green Crag Gully, reminiscent of the late J. W. Robinson, who,
with Mr. W. A. Wilson, made its first ascent in 1899. To the right of
this, and on the Crag itself, is an unmistakable black rift, which is
now known as Toreador Gully. Further round still, and facing Fleetwith,
is the well-known Haystacks Mountain. Well to the left of the striking
cones which have given the mountain its name is a steep rock-face
seamed by three vertical rifts, one of which forks into two branches
about a third of the way up the Crags--the Y Gully. The middle rift is
Warn Gill, an ‘exceptionally severe course,’ whilst the one to the
right is Stack Ghyll, probably the best and most useful climb in the
valley.

FLEETWITH GULLY is somewhat disappointing on close acquaintance.
There are at least six pitches, but only two have any claim to
individuality. These are generally moist, and are scarcely ever
climbed, because they can easily be avoided on either side. Vegetation,
water, and loose stones are the impressive features of the gully.

GREEN CRAG GULLY suffers from a drawback common to some others
of the Buttermere climbs--in all but the driest weather a very
considerable stream of water tumbles down it. As a climb it is somewhat
disappointing, but the first pitch, a fine vertical rise of about 70
feet, is quite entertaining. Above this the going lacks character
and is comparatively easy, although care is needed on account of the
quickly disintegrating rock. Of a very different character is its
companion climb, TOREADOR GULLY. After some exploration work,
during which a dangerous huge block was dislodged, a party of Fell and
Rock Club Members, led by Mr. H. B. Lyon, subsequently made its ascent
in August 1908.

After a somewhat difficult start, the gully eases off and seductively
leads the climber upward to an 80-foot wet chimney, which is the crux
of the climb. The walls are set at a convenient distance apart for
‘backing up,’ and for a while all goes well. However, just when the
leader, who has worked upwards with his feet on the right wall and
back on the left, is beginning to feel fatigued and in need of a rest,
the difficulties increase, and it becomes necessary to transfer the
body across and face the opposite wall. Of anchorage there is none,
but the second man can back up to below the leader, and, firmly braced
across the chimney, can at least support him by the encouragement
of his proximity; whether he could hold his companion in the event
of a slip is somewhat doubtful. By most careful balancing, and an
exceedingly anxious time for the second man, the leader can effect a
lodgment facing the left wall, whence, with great difficulty, he can
work over the crest of the pitch.

Above this are two obstacles of a comparatively mild nature. There is
no record of a second ascent, although we understand that this climb is
quite justifiable for a really strong party.

The three remaining gullies above Warnscale Bottom are those on the
Haystacks, to which we have already made reference. Of these, the
left-hand or Y Gully can be summarily dismissed as containing too
much loose and dangerous rock. The next cleft to the right, WARN
GILL, suffers somewhat from the same fault, and, moreover, is
generally wet. It was reserved by Messrs. Oppenheimer, Scott, and Shaw
as a _bonne bouche_ for Mr. F. Botterill to lead up, and, as the former
naïvely remarks, ‘it proved rather more than difficult enough.’ After
climbing six excellent pitches, one of which, a long chimney raked
by a waterfall, proved to be abnormally severe, they were forced to
abandon their project when about 40 feet below the top of the gully.
A way of escape was found about 60 feet lower down on the right-hand
side. This lay up a steep rock and heather buttress leading to a
small chimney which took them to the top of the crags. The climbing
throughout is of great difficulty, quite apart from the instability
of some of the holds, and there is no doubt that this was a failure
far surpassing in achievement many a climb which has been brought to a
successful issue. It is perhaps well to note in passing that the name
is a corruption of Warnscale Gill, and was not given with any idea of
deterring subsequent parties.

STACK GHYLL, the next rift to the right, is a very different
proposition. From below it looks most alluring. Peeping over the top
of the ‘capstone’ of the first pitch is such a succession of chimneys
as is bound to arouse the keenest feelings of pleasurable anticipation
in a climber’s breast. One can well sympathise with the tantalising
way in which this comparatively short, first pitch repelled all the
earlier efforts to overcome it. All kinds of theories were evolved, but
all were proved fallacious by the smooth, overhanging chock-stone. It
seemed to be quite impregnable until, after repeated efforts, a small
hole was found on the right of the stone. This ultimately proved to be
the key to the pitch, and, as was but a just reward for many previous
disappointments, Messrs. Oppenheimer and Craig succeeded in passing
an ice-axe through the hole, and, by using the shaft as a handhold,
emerged successful. A short time previous to this the pitch had been
turned on the right, up some grassy ledges, and the gully entered
fairly high up, whence it was followed to the top.

The going immediately above the first pitch is fairly easy, and leads
by way of a narrow chimney, liberally supplied with chock-stones, to
a small scree patch. Immediately beyond is a pretty 40-foot chimney,
amenable to back and knee methods, which gives out on broken rocks.
Above this an outcrop of rock bars the way, and after passing this on
the left, one is soon confronted by the last obstacle.

The gully is here spanned by an unbroken wall of rock except in the
right-hand corner, where is a fine cave, overhung by a huge block.
This is too high to reach, but off a sturdy shoulder a handhold can
be grasped on the right. A trying drag up, chiefly on the arms, then
enables the leader to effect a lodgment above the pitch, in readiness
for the others, who will derive much strenuous exercise unless they
pocket their pride and accept a tug from the rope--an excellent gully
and, if climbed during dry weather, but little inferior to the best in
Lakeland.

THE BIRKNESS COMBE CLIMBS.--The wild upland hollow dividing
High Stile from High Crag contains one of the many Eagle Crags of
Lakeland. This is the finest rock around Buttermere, and recalls very
strongly in shape, height, and general contour the famous Cyrn Lâs
buttress of Snowdonia. The rock of this Eagle Crag is of a much better
type, however, from the climber’s point of view, and the fine climb,
BIRKNESS CHIMNEY, made in August 1903 by Mr. L. J. Oppenheimer
and Dr. Norman Sheldon, is much superior to anything on Cyrn Lâs.

A good climb also is that up the prominent black rift which faces High
Crag. This is known as BIRKNESS GULLY, and it affords about a
couple of hundred feet of climbing, the upper part of which is fairly
difficult. The initial stages are quite simple, and the interest is not
fairly aroused until, high up, a huge cave, roofed in by huge boulders,
is reached. About 15 feet below the dominating boulder is a huge,
wedged rock which bridges the gully; the climb on to this behind sundry
smaller jammed stones is very pretty. It is well for the second man
to pass the leader when on a level with the main bridge and traverse
outwards on to it. He can then climb up to a higher cave immediately
below the great capstone and belay the rope. The leader then comes out
to the bridge and scales the vertical right wall immediately above it.
The holds are small but sufficient, and the proceeding is rendered
safe by the rope held by the second man. Above this nothing remains
save a descent to the foot of the Gully, with a view to an assault
upon BIRKNESS CHIMNEY. This is a climb of great severity, and,
but for the possibility of threading the rope to belay the leader at
the worst part, might be dismissed as unjustifiable. As things are,
however, a strong--one should perhaps say a _very_ strong--party will
find great sport and a reasonable immunity from risk. The Chimney
proper branches from the Gully described, at a point just below the
serious climbing in the latter. It is entered by way of a steep, grassy
corner, dominated by a chimney, generally moist, of about 20 feet in
height.

The next pitch, a chimney, is rather more so than that passed, both as
regards height and moisture. It can be obviated by the rocks on either
hand, however. Above it is a steep wall of rock surmounted by a crack.
The wall can be climbed direct or by way of a chimney on the left,
either of which routes is interesting, but not as stiff as the crack
above. Beyond this is the difficult pitch. High up, a huge mass of rock
protruding from the right wall breaks the continuity of the chimney
and forms a cave. Away outwards, at about the level of the cave, is a
shallow groove with no bottom; the difficulty is to get into this. And
a very serious difficulty it is. Fortunately a small stone is tightly
jammed inside the cave, and the leader’s rope can be passed behind
it. He then traverses outward, aided somewhat by his second, and
after a long stretch upward, in a most awkward position, a handhold is
reached. Then occurs a most strenuous arm pull, with the feet dangling
helplessly, or vainly seeking support on the smooth rock-wall. Elbows,
arms, and shoulders are simultaneously requisitioned ere a hold for the
feet can be found in the groove. Once this is gained, however, the work
is easier until the top chock-stone is reached. This demands another
effort, and the pitch is vanquished.

Dr. Sheldon, who led the first ascent, was much impressed by its
difficulty, and likened it to the top pitch of Walker’s Gully, which he
had climbed a short time previously. There remain two more obstacles
before the steep wall at the top is reached, neither of which call for
special comment. Near the angle of Eagle Crag there is a long straight
Gully which so far has not been climbed in its entirety. It repelled a
party of exceptional strength some years ago, after an assault upon it
lasting for seven hours.

BLEABERRY COMBE, carved out of the breast of High Stile,
contains the small tarn whence issues Sour Milk Ghyll, beloved of the
Buttermere day excursionist.

As he stands at the door of Buttermere Hotel and gazes upward at
the crags above the water slide, a fine rift is open to his view.
This, which by the way can also be seen from near Keswick, was the
first climb made on the Bleaberry Combe Crags. It is the BLACK
CHIMNEY, and was first climbed by the late O. G. Jones and J. W.
Robinson (what a lot we Lakeland climbers owe to those two!) in the
early days of their acquaintance.

In spite of its promising appearance it contains but two pitches, both
of which are fairly simple. Further along the crag to the right, and
hidden from sight of the hotel, is the CENTRAL GULLY. This lacks
continuity throughout the greater part of its length, but possesses
two pitches of considerable difficulty. Further round still is a long
narrow chimney. At present it is known as Bleaberry Chimney, but we
would suggest OPPENHEIMER’S CHIMNEY as a more appropriate
name, for Mr. Oppenheimer was in the large party that first climbed
it in 1908, and the fraternity will welcome this permanent means of
identifying him with the fine work he has done in its vicinity. To
quote his own words, ‘the chimney is the longest and most enjoyable
climb on these crags.’

Two long, easy gullies on the north-west side of Grassmoor, suitable
for beginners, and another on Dale Head facing Honister, complete the
tale of the Buttermere climbs, which, as the famous courses around
Wastdale become more familiar, are sure to attract more attention in
the future, and deservedly so, than they have done in the past.

It cannot at present be said that the outlying climbs of the Lake
District receive much attention, thus few of them are kept in
a good state of repair. Perhaps the Borrowdale courses are most
visited, notably Sergeant Crag Chimney and Mouse Ghyll. Considerable
alterations have taken place in the former course since Mr. Jones’
days. The difficult central pitch, or, rather, the upper part of it,
has partially collapsed. Though the ascent is much simplified, the
place needs respectful treatment. At least one leader has fallen here
quite recently. There is one Borrowdale climb which seems practically
deserted. This is BLACK CRAG GULLY. This fine, narrow rift
splits the face of the cliff at the easterly head of Troutdale, and
looks very striking when seen across the Borrowdale Valley from Mouse
Ghyll. Unfortunately there is a loose section almost half-way up which
would prevent the ascent from being recommended except to advanced
experts. The two pitches below this danger zone are quite good. The
ensuing pitch, about 30 feet high, is singularly smooth, and few
sound holds are available. The fall of a well-known leader not very
long ago tested the strength of an alpine rope here. Luckily it was
belayed around a tree, and, though in the hands of a beginner, it held
securely, despite a fall of over 20 feet. Even trees on a climb may
be sometimes useful. Above this dangerous portion the climb is most
enjoyable, and unique for the lake views it affords.

In the early days parties of keen campers and scramblers frequented
the beautiful dales around the head of ULLSWATER. But nowadays,
after everything has been explored thoroughly, it cannot be said that
there is much in the vicinity to attract cragsmen. On Helvellyn, St.
Sunday’s Crag, and Fairfield there is plenty of indefinite scrambling
to be found, but this is never continuously good, rather the reverse.
Despite its huge bulk Helvellyn possesses few rocks that favour the
climber. Dolly Waggon Pike, at the head of Grisedale, is the best of
all. It contains two gullies which may be reached from Patterdale in
about an hour and a half, or from the top of Dunmail Raise on the
Grasmere side in less than an hour’s time. In these days of motor
mountaineering this fact is worth remembering. The best-known course,
DOLLY WAGGON PIKE GULLY, lies rather towards the westerly end of
the crag, and rises, narrow and steep, just to the right of a series
of big scree gullies which unite and send a conspicuous talus of scree
down the mountain side. Some short introductory scrambling leads to
the real climbing, where an almost vertical crack rises on the left in
the true bed of the gully. A shallow scoop on the right gives the best
route for about 15 feet, when it may be advisable to traverse back to
the left into the crack above the steepest part. This is now followed
by a patch of scree above a series of slabs, and short boulder pitches
lead to the final chimney, which rises slightly on the left. About 300
feet east of this somewhat easy course there is a much more imposing
opening in the crags. This was noticed many years ago by the pioneers,
notably by the late Tom Westmorland, whose name all climbers remember
with respect in connection with the early days on the Pillar Rock, and
the building of the Westmorland cairn or Great Gable. The great rift
in Dolly Waggon Pike, though often attempted, was not climbed in its
entirety direct until so recently as 1910. Strange to tell, it fell to
the lot of the pioneer’s son, Mr. Horace Westmorland, to lead the first
party. His companion was Mr. John Mounsey. Their friends have named the
place the PENRITH GULLY.

There are four difficult pitches in the gully, three of them being of
the cave and jammed-boulder variety. Unfortunately a grassy terrace
divides the lower pitches from the upper portion, making it easy to
leave the gully above the second pitch. This somewhat spoils the
continuity of the climb. The first pitch is not difficult, and may be
passed directly over the chock-stone after first backing up on the
left. The second obstacle is more trying. The best plan is to ‘back
up’ as far as the recess under the capstone, and with the second man
in this secure resting-place the leader may negotiate the awkward exit
over the boulder on its right-hand side. The third or ‘Great Pitch’
starts from above the intervening ledge. Eighty feet higher a huge
boulder has become jammed across the gorge, with a smaller mass below
it. There is no cave below these, and as the place is very steep,
somewhat smooth, and always rather wet, it ranks as much the most
difficult part of the climb. A shallow scoop just to the right of the
bed of the gully enables the lower chock-stone to be reached. Some
anchorage is available here, and the rope may be threaded to secure
the further advance of the leader. The final exposed section is best
climbed to the left of the crack, which is formed between the big
boulder and the left wall. The final pitch is vegetation-covered, and
possesses a fine bridge-rock, but the whole of the gully is loose, and
the finish somewhat unpleasant.

DOVE CRAGS, PATTERDALE.--This cliff looks tempting when seen
from below the Kirkstone Pass and near the Brotherswater Hotel,
which provides the best starting-point. Climbers have more than once
essayed the ascent. ‘An impossible face’ and ‘an inaccessible gully’
seemed to be the only result until October 1910, when Messrs. H.
Westmorland, J. Mounsey, and W. A. North discovered a complicated route
up the rock-face. This was about 100 feet to the right of the really
‘inaccessible gully.’ The overhanging sections were avoided by some
skilful traversing, and the situations often proved sensational. In the
local newspapers it was stated that a doctor was present at the foot of
the crags.

Small cairns mark the route, which, once correctly started upon, can
hardly be missed, for there is scarcely another available.



CHAPTER IV

_RECENT CLIMBS AROUND LANGDALE AND DOE CRAG_


PAVEY ARK.--Despite the exploitation of Gimmer Crag and other
smaller local attractions, this fine mass still ranks as first
favourite with most climbers who stray Langdalewards. Yet, though
it becomes more and more scarred and scratched with the marks of
‘hob-nailers,’ one curious feature must impress those who visit the
crags after several years’ absence. This is the curious encroachment of
vegetation. Beautiful as are some of the plants and grasses which cling
to the face, the cragsman revels most in seeing and climbing the stern,
bare crags. The rarest botanical specimen, if it cumber a handhold,
is treated with scant respect. Fortunately the more popular routes
are practically free from dangerous vegetation, but recent adventures
on some that are less frequented would suggest that a warning note be
struck.

THE CRESCENT CLIMB, which begins around the corner a few yards
to the right of the Great Gully, is much spoilt by the exuberance of
plant life. The first 200 feet lie altogether up a grassy slope or
opening. There are steep, shelving rocks on the right, but these are
not approached until an overhanging portion supervenes. Then the main
feature of the Crescent begins. This is a traverse below the impending
portion. The place is exposed, but the hand and footholds are ample,
whilst the anchorage is all that could be desired. After crossing the
rocks for about 60 feet, the heathery slopes can be gained that lead
up to Jack’s Rake at rather more than half of its length. The deep,
narrow rift of GWYNNE’S CHIMNEY will now be noticed right ahead,
and this gives a splendid finish to the course. In fact, were it not
for this attraction the Crescent would scarcely be worth the attention
of climbers. The Chimney has walls of exceedingly rough rock, and
an oblong-shaped mass of rock may roughly be said to divide it into
two portions. The exit is made on the right, and an easy ridge leads
upwards. There is plenty of indefinite scrambling until the highest
point of Pavey Ark is reached.

THE BUTTRESS BETWEEN THE GREAT AND LITTLE GULLIES at first
sight suggests first-class climbing. Closer acquaintance, however,
reveals the presence of so much vegetation and such an indefinite
rock structure that the place is disappointing. The ascent had been
made many years ago, but no record would appear to have been made
until early in 1910, when the late J. Anton Stoop and Mr. Douglas
Yeomans discovered a route, which has the merit of individuality.
They started from the foot of the buttress about 50 yards to the left
of the Great Gully, and adhered as closely as possible to the main
ridge, gradually slanting up to the left towards the head of a small
side gully which springs out of the Little Gully. The last 80 feet
consisted of a vertical face, with a very conspicuous overhanging stone
at the corner. The face was climbed by a chimney which had been seen
from below, just to the left of the corner. The chimney consisted of
two parts, with a chock-stone at the top. Above this the climb can be
varied considerably; the upper rocks of Pavey Ark are famous for their
wonderful gripping and ripping qualities, and they are here at their
best.

A good deal of indefinite scrambling has been undertaken on the walls
of the deep opening at the easterly end of the cliff--marked C on Mr.
Jones’ line drawing facing p. 203. Two routes on the left-hand wall are
worth passing mention. GIBSON’S CHIMNEY is a well-marked cliff
in the upper part of the opening. Large cairns mark the start and the
finish. There are two definite pitches, which in all afford about 50
feet of straightforward backing up practice.

BENISON’S CHIMNEY, which rises between Gibson’s Chimney and Rake
End Chimney, is built on a different mould. It consists of a series of
ill-defined scoops somewhat resembling the Shamrock Chimneys on the
Pillar. The place is nearly 200 feet high. It reeks with danger and
rank vegetation; moreover, loose holds occur at crucial points. The
most difficult section occurs about 150 feet above the start. A steep
bit of rock about 15 feet high has to be ascended. There is practically
only one satisfactory hold on this stretch; the ulterior support is
grass; and the base of operations is a quivering, turf ledge, which
threatens to come away momentarily. Thus no help can be afforded the
leader, whose troubles are further accentuated by a lack of anchorage.
The writer trusts that few climbers will be attracted by Benison’s
Chimney.

GIMMER CRAG has of late years received much attention from rock
enthusiasts. The shapely buttress is a conspicuous feature of the
Langdale Pikes, especially when seen from the direction of Blea Tarn.
The full height of the crag, which is singularly firmly weathered, is
nearly 400 feet. It thrusts itself aggressively forth from the grassy
spur which joins Pike O’ Stickle with Harrison Stickle. Yet, until the
late Andrew Thomson, of genial memory, described its opportunities so
recently as 1901, climbers scarcely seemed to realise the existence of
Gimmer Crag. There are now three distinct climbs of exceptional merit
and two important variations, whilst on either side of the main crag
plenty of indefinite scrambling and short gully problems can be enjoyed.

THE GIMMER CHIMNEY.--This obvious cleft starts at the foot
of the Crag to the right of, and lower down than the nose of, the
buttress. The first serious difficulty occurs about 40 feet up, where
the direct ascent of the chimney becomes impossible, and a traverse is
made to the right. After an awkward upward movement has been made it
is possible to force a way back into the chimney by swinging on a good
handhold. The second obstacle is of the strid variety, followed by a
shallow groove, with the best holds on the right wall. This gives out
below a well-defined chimney, which is difficult to enter, being, as
its engineering discoverer aptly described it, ‘bell-mouthed.’ Above
this a traverse to the right is made, whence a chimney with holds on
the right wall enables some grassy higher ledges to be reached. The
final chimney is wide at the beginning, but narrows near the top, where
a rib of rock protrudes and leaves a narrow but safe passage on the
right.

The two face routes A and B, with their variations, start
from a terrace, which extends for some considerable distance across
the face. This is about 90 feet above the commencement of the Chimney
Climb, and may best be reached by way of a small, slanting gully filled
with bilberry bushes, now known as the Bilberry Shute. It may be most
convenient first to mention the most direct ascent up the nose of the
buttress; this is known as Oliverson’s variation of the A Route. This
starts just to the left of the ‘Nose,’ and after about 40 feet of steep
practice on comparatively small holds, a ‘three-step’ traverse is made
to the right on the crest of the ‘Nose,’ whence the way lies directly
upwards to the ‘belay.’ To follow the original A and B Route from the
terrace a course to the right of the ‘Nose’ is followed up a rough slab
crowned with broken rocks, beyond which a sloping rock ledge is gained.
This may be recognized by its having a shallow ‘crevasse’ separating it
from the main crag. At the further and lower end of this ledge from the
point at which it is reached a leaf of rock, abutting against the base
of a depression in the wall above, marks the start of a short pitch,
which brings the climber to the ledge where the routes divide. This has
been called Thomson’s Ledge.

A ROUTE.--From Thomson’s Ledge a traverse to the left is made in
order to continue the A Route; a recess is soon entered, out of which
the way lies almost directly upwards for quite 40 feet to the ‘belay,’
where Oliverson’s Variation joins the old route about 80 feet above the
terrace. A traverse to the left is then made to the foot of the shallow
Lichen Chimney, the ascent of which is the stiffest part of the course,
and almost 60 feet of rope is used by the leader before the second man
can be brought forward from the ‘belay.’ The last pitch consists of a
narrow chimney, with the best holds on the right wall, which finishes
abruptly at the top of the crag.

B ROUTE.--Starting from Thomson’s Ledge a traverse is made to
the right in an upward direction until a corner is turned and the foot
of Amen Corner, a 15-foot pitch of extreme severity, is reached. This
is a slanting crack on a rock wall that overhangs, as also does the
other wall, which forms the corner. The best method of surmounting
this is to grip the upper edge of the crack and walk up the other edge
with the body nearly horizontal at first, and the hands and feet close
together.

From the top of this pitch a ledge, known as the Gangway, which slopes
outwards and upwards, is followed for about 30 feet to a small grass
platform, and the Green Gully rises straight overhead. This is awkward
to enter directly, and it may be better to ascend some 15 feet on the
right, whence a stride can be taken into the bed of the gully. For
quite 70 feet the ascent is not difficult, and at that height the
leader reaches the anchorage of the Crow’s Nest. This is a small hollow
in the right wall, and it is attained by making a short traverse, where
the hands do most of the work. Very little assistance can be given to
those following, as the rope tends to pull the climber from his holds,
but anchorage can be found by threading the rope behind the handholds
which were used on the traverse.

The gully can be climbed to the summit, but being grassy and loose in
places, it is preferable to finish up the sound arête directly above
the Crow’s Nest.

A variation which finishes up with this section can be made by way of
an upward traverse to the right from the top of the 40-foot corner on
the A Route, and this would join the Green Gully about 15 feet below
the Crow’s Nest. It might also be mentioned that both above and below
Amen Corner traverses can be effected to the right to join the Gimmer
Chimney.

The deep, wide gully to the left of the main crag possesses one cave
pitch, which may be passed on the right of the chock-stone, but this
may be avoided altogether by keeping to the right throughout. The other
gullies on the west side of Gimmer Crag afford good scrambling, but
here again the difficulties are too easily obviated.

Climbers staying at Langdale could spend an enjoyable day by walking
over to Grasmere and thence visiting the crags in Easedale or Deer
Bield’s Crag in Far Easedale. After the climb is over it makes a
delightful finish to the day to return to Langdale over the fells by
Codale and Stickle Tarns.

THE TARN CRAG above Easedale Tarn is a prominent feature in
a favourite landscape. Quite recently Mr. J. Stables unearthed,
literally, a route thereon which gives about 200 feet of quite good,
sound climbing. The beginning lies in a line below the left of the
highest point, and cairns now mark the way. The passage from the first
chock-stone pitch to the recess, with the ensuing face traverse, will
be found the most difficult section of the ascent.

DEER BIELD’S CRAG in Far Easedale is quite an hour’s walk away
from Grasmere. Its height is nearly 300 feet; and a buttress runs up
the centre, with impossible-looking chimneys on either side. That on
the left is still unclimbed, but the one on the right yielded to the
attack of Messrs. Stables and Turner in 1908. They found at least
half-a-dozen difficult pitches, the fourth proving to be the stiffest
of all. The rock on Deer Bield’s Crag is firm and reliable, but
singularly free from good ledges for hands and feet. Upward progress is
made by using the numerous cracks which are a curious feature of the
structure.

For an off-day there is no more pleasant spot in Langdale than the
vicinity of the Oak How Needle, which is perched on the side of
Lingmoor, below the upper crags. Its situation is almost opposite
a point on the coach road about half a mile beyond Chapel Stile
when going towards Dungeon Ghyll. The outstanding mass makes a good
photograph. The ascent of the short side is easy, but a crack on the
front of the rock may be considered decidedly difficult.

The outline of BOWFELL as seen from near the head of Windermere
is one of the most massive and picturesque in Lakeland. The Langdale
Pikes are perhaps more arresting at first sight, but a longer study
of the mass to their left conveys a sense of grandeur and stability
lacking in the more famous ‘twin peaks of Langdale.’

THE LINKS OF BOWFELL are well worth a visit from climbers
passing from Dungeon Ghyll to Wastdale, for they offer a pleasant
contrast to the exposed buttresses of Gimmer Crag. Unlike most of our
rock-faces, they have a southerly aspect, overlooking Eskdale and Three
Tarns. The gullies, starting at the eastern end of the crags, are
numbered from one to eleven, but only Nos. 4, 5, and 6 contain good
climbing. The others are a suitable practice ground for novices.

It is well to start operations in No. 4, which has two pitches of
interest, and then descend by way of No. 3 to the foot of No. 5. The
large pitch at its foot is quite entertaining, and upon the occasion
of its first ascent, on a day of pouring rain, offered a stubborn
resistance before capitulating on the right. Above it, easy going takes
one quickly to the top of the crags, and thence around to the foot of
No. 6.

This also possesses a good pitch of the chock-stone variety near its
foot. The way up it lies straight to beneath the ‘capstone,’ which bars
direct progress. It is then feasible to work out under the stone on the
right until an upward move can be made to the top of the pitch. On the
occasion of the first ascent, in September 1897, by Messrs. C. R. B.
Storry, G. H. McKilburn, and the writers, the upper part of the pitch
was topped by loose stones; even nowadays it is well for the following
climbers to take cover under the capstone, both for their own safety
and to belay the leader as he scales the pitch.

THE BOWFELL BUTTRESS is a more serious proposition, and as
a climb the route found up it, in December 1900, by Messrs. Shaw,
Oppenheimer, Craig, Hargreaves, and West, compares in point of
difficulty and length with the North Climb on the Pillar, if the latter
ceased immediately above the Nose.

The Buttress faces N.N.E., overlooking Mickleden, and is best reached
from Langdale by following ‘the Band’--the long, grassy spur running
down towards Stool End Farm--about two-thirds of the way to the top of
Bowfell. From here it is best to contour around to the right and thence
along, bearing obliquely upward, to the foot of the Crags.

The work starts at the lowest point of the Buttress, and, to quote Mr.
Oppenheimer’s lucid account, ‘after 30 feet of broken rocks, the foot
of a long chimney is passed, and a 10-foot chimney to the right of it,
with an awkward pitch, taken. This leads, in another 10 feet, to a
small terrace running down to a gully on the right. The next 50 feet
is an upward traverse to the left, into the long chimney, soon after
entering which a good sentry-box affords a stopping-place.

‘After 40 feet straight up the long chimney the latter ends on a grass
terrace, which slopes down to the right and broadens considerably;
following this, for 20 feet, a rather difficult vertical crack is
reached. From the shelf at the top of the crack 50 feet up, bare rough
rocks lead to a grassy corner. Here there is a very convenient large
block, to which the second man should belay himself as the leader
advances to the left along a very exposed upward traverse, with little
handhold, into a small rock corner.

‘The best plan here is to climb to the right, away from the corner, and
then to the left over the top of it, on to a grassy patch sloping away
to the left, beside a fine belaying pin. To the right of this a chimney
starts: 40 feet up there is a small pitch; then another 40 feet on
sloping slabs to the right with a wall to the left, leads to the top of
the Low Man, where a cairn has been placed.

‘Twenty feet more of easy scrambling leads to the top of the buttress,
which is separated from the mass of Bowfell by a narrow neck, from
which scree gullies descend on either side.’

A few short scrambles can be found amongst the crags above Angle
Tarn on Hanging Knott, but the terrace-like formation of the rocks
hereabouts is of greater interest to the geologist than to the climber.
Flat Crags, and the wild recesses of Hell Ghyll and Crinkle Ghyll, have
been visited by the fraternity, but their reports of these localities
are quite unfavourable, except as regards their scenery.

DOE CRAG.--At the time of the writing of Jones’ chapter on this
fine cliff, most of the routes up the best rock faces in the district
were exhausted, and short variations had become the order of the day.

Doe Crag was the one great climbing ground which had many new,
unexplored courses upon it, and the almost certain knowledge Jones
had of their existence is evident to all who read his chapter in the
present book. These delightful descriptions of the gullies are in every
way accurate at the present time, except that the Intermediate Gully
is now ascended direct over every pitch; it is only necessary in this
Appendix to carry the tale through another epoch--the Buttress epoch.

This started in March 1903, when Mr. F. Philipson and the writers
made the ascent of the two most prominent buttresses. Since that time
the various remaining buttresses and their subsidiary ridges have
been ascended in such detail and thoroughness as characterize the
nail-scratched rocks of Scawfell and the Pillar. These courses are now
described, irrespective of merit or difficulty, as they occur from
left to right as one stands facing the crags at a point slightly above
Goat’s Water. The nomenclature is that adopted by Mr. G. F. Woodhouse
in his excellent monograph, and by those who later made virgin ascents
on this magnificent crag. It but remains to be said that, whereas the
gullies are almost exclusively for expert and ultra-expert parties, the
buttresses offer climbs which in many cases may be safely undertaken by
parties of moderate strength.

[Illustration: DOE CRAG, SEEN FROM ACROSS GOAT’S WATER

  A A Buttress.
  B B Buttress.
  C C Buttress.
  D D Buttress.
  E E Buttress.
  _f_ Easy Gully.
  _g_ Great Gully.
  _h_ Central Chimney.
  _j_ Intermediate Gully.
  _k_ Easter Gully.
  _l_ North Gully.
  _m_ A Buttress Climb. _Original Route._
  _n_ A Buttress Variations.
  _o_ B Buttress. _Broadrick’s Route._
  _p_ The Lion’s Crawl.
  _q_ Easy Terrace.
  _r_ B Buttress. _Original Route._
  _s_ B Buttress. _Woodhouse’s Routes._
  _t_ C Buttress Climb.
  _t_^1 C Buttress Climb Variation.
  _t_^2 Branch exit from Intermediate Gully.
  _v_ D Buttress Climb.
  _w_ Blizzard Chimney.
  _x_ Easter Gully. _Jones’ Route and continuation up E Buttress._
  _y_ Easter Gully. Broadrick’s Crack.
  _z_ E Buttress Climbs.
  3 The Real Chimney.
  4 Woodhouse’s Crack.]

A BUTTRESS is the magnificent bastion which separates the Easy
Scree Gully from the Great Gully. Unlike the other buttresses, which
afford good climbing only for about 200 feet above their bases, the
best sport is to be obtained in its higher reaches. The climbing starts
at about the centre of the buttress, where is a cairn, but a vast
overhanging precipice forces the climber away diagonally to the left
along a narrow, grass ledge, which dwindles until, at a considerable
height above the screes, an awkward corner is rounded. This can be
reached by two distinct variations starting lower down and to the left
of the route described, both of which are very stiff. Above this a thin
crack is ascended for about 30 feet until a large ledge is attained.
Here a choice of routes is available. A cave pitch straight ahead can
be ascended on the right wall and, after ascending some broken rocks, a
traverse to the right discloses an interesting chimney, above which the
serious climbing ceases. An easy gully leads to this cave pitch direct
from the Easy or Little Gully.

For very strong parties a fine variation is to traverse diagonally
upward to the right from the large ledge, treading the upper edge of
the huge overhanging crag already referred to, until a fine chimney
is entered. This is difficult, but the anchorage is good. A few feet
above it an exposed traverse is made away to the right until the foot
of a most sensational crack is reached. This can be climbed, or the
traverse continued somewhat further until upward progress can be made
by a zigzag course almost overhanging the upper confines of the Great
Gully. To Messrs. Ormiston-Chant, Craig Gordon, and Parker most of the
fine variations on this buttress have fallen.

B BUTTRESS offers several good climbs, the most recently
discovered of which--the Giant’s Crawl--starts at the foot of the
Great Gully and, after striking straight upwards for about 100 feet of
exceptional severity, follows a well-defined slab diagonally to the
right for about 250 feet. It then doubles back to the left and thence
to the top of the crags.

Some years ago Messrs. R. W. and H. C. Broadrick made a very fine climb
up the crest of the retaining wall of the Great Gully. This started
from the same point as the Giant’s Crawl, but instead of continuing
across the face to the right they struck upward over some poised and
shattered blocks and came upon the well-defined crest referred to;
thence, by continuously steep and sensational rocks, which, however,
afford good holding, they forced a way to the crest of the crags--one
of the best and longest routes up the Buttresses.

A few feet below the foot, and to the right of the Great Gully, a wide
broken terrace or rake gives easy access to the heart of the crags, and
all the other good climbs on B, C, and D Buttresses to be described,
finish on this terrace.

Some considerable distance below the start of the terrace, and at
about the lowest extremity of B Buttress, a thin crack starts up to
the right. This marks the start of the route by which the Buttress was
first climbed. The crack gives out upon a grass ledge about 30 feet
above the screes. Beyond this a somewhat awkward stretch of climbing
brings one below some overhanging rocks, which entail a flank movement
to the left until a conspicuous recess is reached. The continuation
above this is most exhilarating, a steep exposed face of rock which
takes the climber into an ideal situation, and which claims his entire
attention in the continuation of its enjoyment. Two chimneys on either
hand have both been climbed, but the ascent of the rock-face should not
be missed. It finishes on the Easy Terrace. Above this the Buttress
evidences a lack of continuous climbing, and the time will be better
spent by descending the terrace and thence round to the foot of the
Central Chimney.

After ascending the easy rocks at its foot for about a hundred feet, a
detached pinnacle is a prominent object on the left. Messrs. Woodhouse
found that by passing behind this a fine chimney could be entered and
ascended to a grassy ledge at its top. A pleasing variation is to be
had by passing below the pinnacle, whence a steep slab recommends
itself to the gymnast, and, after a strenuous pull on the arms, lands
him at the foot of the chimney mentioned above. From the grassy ledge
above it the route can be varied in many ways, but the best sport lies
across to the left for a few feet, where a chimney of real difficulty
forms the lowest of a series of pitches of great merit.

C BUTTRESS separates the Central Chimney from the Intermediate
Gully, and throughout its entire length is set at a very high angle. It
offers little temptation to stray from the line of least resistance,
and the climbing is better defined than on most of the Buttress routes.
For a hundred feet or so the holds are large and plentiful, but the
climbing is interesting withal, until further progress in the same line
is barred by impending rocks.

After traversing slightly to the right some steep slabs provide
excellent sport until a good belaying pin is reached. Again discretion
suggests a flank movement, this time slightly downwards to the left,
and thence, after rounding a corner, upward progress is made to a grass
ledge.

The scenery hereabouts is magnificent, and a few minutes can be well
spent in viewing the formidable difficulties of the Central Chimney,
the greater part of which is now visible. It appears anything but
inviting, and most people will be content with merely looking. Our
Buttress also has become difficult, and the next move up some steep
slabs, which terminate on a wide grassy ledge awkward of access, is
one necessitating considerable care and skill on the part of the leader.

A little beyond this, on the right, is a steep chimney leading
downward to the Intermediate Gully, at a point immediately below the
difficult pitch. This branch chimney was first ascended by the brothers
Woodhouse, and is stiff.

The continuation of our climb now begins to lose interest, and before
long we find ourselves at the foot of the final pitch of the Central
Chimney, whence the going is comparatively easy.

D BUTTRESS, separating the Intermediate and Easter Gullies, is,
in the writers’ opinion, the most entertaining and prettiest problem of
all. In its lower reaches it is quite easy and apt to disappoint until,
at the same height as the difficult pitch of the Intermediate Gully, it
rises almost vertically for above a hundred feet.

The way lies up a vertical arête, which recalls most strongly some
of the Coolin Ridges. The holds are sound and rough, but none too
large--just sufficient to leave a fair margin of safety in a very
exposed position. This delightful stretch gives out at an excellent
belay, beyond which the interest continues unabated for 50 feet or so,
until it ceases on a wide grass platform. Shortly beyond this the Easy
Terrace is again reached.

Before dealing with the easy climbs of the E Buttress, mention must
be made of three fine chimneys, two of which have been climbed since
Jones wrote his description of the Easter Gully. On page 235, after
he had ascended the first pitch of the Gully and attained the ‘great
hollow’ above it, he refers to ‘splendid branch gullies up to the
ridges on either side.’

Two of these branch gullies were climbed many years ago, that on the
left-hand wall, now called the South Chimney, by Mr. H. C. Broadrick,
and its counterpart on the North Wall by the brothers Woodhouse.

This latter is known as the Black Chimney. It is deeply cut, and looks
most forbidding. A closer acquaintance dispels most of its terrors, for
the holds are excellent, and the fearsome upper capstone can be rounded
on the right-hand side with comparative ease. It is, however, well
worth a visit, and the continuation up the E Buttress is not lacking in
interest.

Lower down than the South Chimney--a pretty problem in ‘backing up’--a
rectangular opening in the crags, almost immediately above the first
pitch of the Easter Gully, claimed the attention of Messrs. Woodhouse,
Westmorland, and the writers in April 1910. A heavy blizzard of snow
and hail, which fell at the time they made its first ascent, suggested
the name BLIZZARD CHIMNEY, and this was adopted. It has always
seemed rather a pity that the majority of the names on Doe Crag are so
prosy; the latter-day climbers have lacked the happy knack of giving
distinctive names to their exploits.

[Illustration:

  G. P. Abraham & Sons, Photos.      Keswick

THE BROADRICK’S AND HOPKINSON’S CRACKS DOE CRAG]

The most awkward part of the Blizzard Chimney is at its foot; to effect
an entry is not easy, but once attained and an exposed bulge climbed by
the crack on the left, the rectangular opening is reached, and the way
lies up the left-hand wall of this. After about 90 feet of moderately
difficult climbing the chimney gives out on the D Buttress.

E BUTTRESS presents a variety of fairly easy climbs. None of
these possess sufficient individuality or difficulty to demand a
detailed description; the routes of greatest interest are shown on the
outline drawing facing p. 370. These climbs supply a real want on Doe
Crag, and render the climbing upon it, from ‘easy’ to ‘exceptionally
severe,’ graded to an ideal degree.

Beyond the North Gully there is no climbing of sustained interest,
but the REAL CHIMNEY, a curious cleft enclosed on all sides,
possesses unique features. It is about 150 feet above the foot of the
crags, some distance to the right of the North Gully.

The NORTH GULLY itself was first climbed in 1901 by the Messrs.
Barton, and again by the writers two years later. Since then it has
been visited several times. After climbing to the under side of the
chaos of jammed boulders which form the great pitch, a narrow ledge
will be noticed running outward along the left wall. The feat of
traversing along this with practically no support for the hands, and
a fearsome drop below, led to the inclusion of the Gully amongst the
‘exceptionally severe’ courses, and rightly so. Just when the ledge
dwindles to nothing, a good hold can be reached with the left hand, and
then a severe struggle upwards discloses good holding above. Thence
the going is easier, and the top of the boulders can soon be attained.
Away at the opposite end of the crags, a hundred feet to the left of
Slingsby’s Pinnacle in the Great Gully, and at about the same level
is a fine crack which the brothers Woodhouse first climbed in 1905.
The lowest 35 feet are of about the same standard of difficulty as the
Doctor’s Chimney on Gable Crag; indeed the crack as a whole is about
as long and of as great merit as its more popular counterpart on Great
Gable, and is very well worth a visit.

It but remains to be said that the first pitch of the Great Gully can
be climbed direct up the left-hand side of the boulder without the aid
of a threaded rope--a most strenuous effort--and that the two pitches
of the Intermediate Gully (which Mr. Jones obviated in the manner
described in his chapter) are amongst the very finest in the whole of
the Lake District.

Other climbs in the Coniston district have been discovered recently by
enthusiastic members of the Fell and Rock-Climbing Club.

SYLVAN CHIMNEY is one of the best of these. It lies to the left
of Church Beck, and is the most conspicuous cleft in the splintered
mass of rock between Boulder Valley and Lever’s Water, being situated
300 or 400 yards below the tarn.

(Boulder Valley is the fine upland hollow running from the foot of the
falls below Low Water in the direction of Lever’s Water.) The Chimney
affords about 120 feet of fairly difficult climbing.

A few yards to the left of Sylvan Chimney is GOULDON GULLY,
which gives a rather longer but somewhat easier climb. A slab of
about 70 feet provides excellent practice in neat footwork. Above it
a 100-foot chimney proves interesting, but unfortunately is somewhat
earthy in its interior.

COLONEL CRAG, the boss of rock at the foot of Paddy End, at
about the same height as Sylvan Chimney, has also been thoroughly
explored and climbed, but is scarcely worth a visit; indeed it is to be
feared that the proximity of Doe Crag would lead to the utter desertion
of vastly more entertaining places than these latest additions to the
Coniston climbs.



INDEX.


  A

  A Gully, Pike’s Crag, 3-5

      ”    Wastwater Screes, 193

  Aaron Slack, 114, 129

  Abbey Ridge, Great Gable, 332-333

  Abraham, Messrs., quoted, 247, 248, 288, 289, 290

  Addyman, Mr. E. T. W., 333

  ‘All the Year Round’ quoted, 38, 41, 286

  ‘Alpine Journal,’ 12, 149, 164

  Ampezzo Dolomites, 29

  Angle Tarn, 33, 213

  Ark, Pavey, 208-218, 358-361

  Arrowhead Branch Gully, 149

       ”    Gully, 146, 158

       ”    Ridge, 147, 162-167


  B

  B Chimney, Pike’s Crag, 7-10

  B Gully, Wastwater Screes.
    _See_ Great Gully

  ‘Backing-up,’ 124

  Baddeley’s Guide Book, 33

  Badminton ‘Mountaineering,’ 105, 112

  Barton, Messrs., 321

  Bear Rock, 147, 165

  Beckhead, 114, 115, 121, 139

  Beckhead Tarn, 115

  Belaying Pin, Moss Ghyll, 50

  Birkness Combe Climbs, 349-352

  Black Chimney, Bleaberry Combe, 353

  Black Crag Gully, Borrowdale, 354

  Black Crags, 213

  Black Sail Pass, 109, 254, 258

  Blea Crags, 291, 292

  Bleaberry Combe Climbs, 352-353

  Blencathra, 93

  Blue, Tom, 117.
    _See_ Tom Blue

  Boot, 37

  Borrowdale, 93, 98, 114, 237, 239, 242

  Botteril, Mr. F., 322, 332, 342, 347

  Botteril’s Cracks, Scawfell, 341-342

  Bottle-shaped Pinnacle, 119, 123, 138

        ”          ”    Ridge, 131, 335

  Bowfell, 89, 211, 213

      ”    Buttress, 368-369

      ”    The Links, 367-368

  Brandreth, 114, 117, 119, 136

  Broad Stand, 27, 32-37

    ”     ”    Descent, 40

  Brown Tongue, 12, 28, 36, 91

  Brunskill, Mr. W. B., 347

  Buckbarrow, 196, 287

  Burnmoor, 27

  Burnthwaite, 252

  Buttermere, 271, 281, 282, 287

  Buttermere Climbs, 344-353


  C

  C Gully, Pike’s Crag, 5-7

      ”    Wastwater Screes, 192, 193, 200-207

  Cairn, Hopkinson’s, 76, 80, 81

     ”   Westmorland, 117, 151

  Central Chimney, Bleaberry Combe, 353

     ”       ”     Doe Crag, 226-232

  Central Gully, Gable Crag, 118, 130, 138-145, 336-337

     ”      ”    Great End, 90, 91-104

     ”      ”    Wastwater Screes.
    _See_ C Gully

  Central Jordan, 260, 318

  Christmas climbing, 15, 19, 104, 120, 130, 197, 163

  ‘Climbing in England,’ 211, 218

  Cockley Beck, 213

  Collie Step, 45

  Collier’s Climb, 8, 24, 31, 32, 55-65

      ”     Chimney, 51-52

  Collinson, Mr. W. L., 339

  Colonel Crag, 379

  Combe Ghyll, 237-242

  Coniston, 213, 218, 219, 226

  Corner, the Scawfell Chimney, 41

  Court, the Tennis, 43, 44

  Crack, Kern Knotts, 163, 182-187, 213, 238

  Crack Grépon, 187

  Craig, Mr. G. H., 349

    ”    Mr. Alan, 372

  Croda da Lago, 78

  Curtain and Crête Climb, Pillar Rock, 326-327

  Curtain, the Great End, 111

     ”  Pillar Rock, 267, 268, 269, 326

  Cust’s Gully, 39, 90, 111-113


  D

  D Gully, Pike’s Crag, 11

  Decoy Pinnacle, 27

  Deep Ghyll (Hell’s Gate), 146

  Deep Ghyll, 2, 12-28, 32, 43, 58, 69, 70, 76, 77, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85,
    86, 87, 88, 341

  Deep Ghyll Cairn, 42

  Deer Bield’s Crag, Easedale, 366

  Derwent, 238

  Derwentwater, 93

  ‘Divide,’ the, 106

  Doctor’s Chimney, 136-140

  Doe Crag, 219-236, 369-378

      ”     A Buttress, 371-372

      ”     B    ”     372-374

      ”     C    ”     374-375

      ”     E    ”     375-376

      ”     Blizzard Chimney, 376-377

      ”     Central Chimney, 220, 223, 226-232

      ”     Easter Gully, 221, 222, 235, 236

      ”     Great Gully, 219, 220, 223-226

      ”     Intermediate Gully, 232-234, 378

      ”     North Gully, 377

  Dolomites, 29, 56, 78, 185, 214

  Dress Circle, the, 174

  Drigg, 170

  Dungeon Ghyll, 208, 209, 211, 214


  E

  Eagle Crag, 253

  Eagle’s Nest, 160, 161

       ”        Gully, 146, 147

       ”        Ridge, 135, 147, 150, 155, 156-162, 163, 174, 314, 315

  Easedale, 209

  East Jordan, 260

       ”       Gully, 267

  Easter Gully, Doe Crags, 221, 222, 235, 236

  ‘Eight-foot Drop,’ 268

  End, Great.
    _See_ Great End

  Engineer’s Chimney, Gable Crag, 311-313

  Engleberg Valley, 107

  Ennerdale, 114, 254, 271

       ”     Face of Gable, 114, 115, 117-119

       ”     Pillar, 70.
    _See_ Pillar Rock

  Esk Hause, 89, 93, 100, 110, 168, 213

  Eskdale, 31, 34, 36, 42, 213


  F

  Facework, difficulty of, 16

  Fairfield, 215

  Far West Jordan Climb, 327

  Fell and Rock-Climbing Club, 337, 378

  Fives’ Court, Pisgah Buttress, 54, 343

  Fleetwith, 345

      ”      Gully, 345, 346

  Freshfield’s Italian Alps, 29

  Fünffingerspitze, 185

          ”         Chimney, 230

  Furness Railway, 287


  G

  Gable Crag, 141, 334-337

    ”     ”   Central Gully, 118, 130, 138-145, 311

    ”     ”   Oblique Chimney, 8, 118, 119-132, 136, 138, 141, 150,
                 183

    ”     ”   Sheep Walk, 118, 131-133, 312

    ”     ”   Traverse, 121

  Gable End, 91

    ”   Needle, 147, 150, 153, 156, 160, 165, 168-174

  Gap, Wind, 114, 119, 128

   ”   Windy (Wind Yatt), 254, 258

  Gash Rock, 288

  Gatesgarth, 271

  Gatherstone Beck, 258, 259

  Gavel Neese, 115, 121, 127, 138

  Gibson, Mr. H. B., 327, 331

  Gimmer Crag, 208, 361-365

     ”     ”   A Route, 363

     ”     ”   B Route, 363-364

     ”     ”   Amen Corner, 363

     ”     ”   Chimney, 361

  Gimson, Messrs., 334

  Glaramara, 237

  Goatswater, 219, 220, 229

  Gouldon Gully, 379

  Grainy Ghyll, 92

  Grasmoor, 353

  Great Chimney, Deep Ghyll, 19, 24-26

    ”      ”     Pillar Rock, 260, 267, 268, 325

  Great End, 39, 89-91, 93, 99, 211, 237

    ”    ”   Brother’s Crack, 338

    ”    ”   Central Gully, 91, 92-103

    ”    ”   South East Gully, 90, 104-111

  Great Gable, 92, 114-117, 127, 135, 168, 176, 180, 237.
    _See_ Gable Crag

  Great Gully, Doe Crag, 223-226

    ”     ”    Pavey Ark, 213-218

    ”     ”    Wastwater Screes, 194-199

  Great Napes, 116, 146, 147, 163, 167, 168

    ”   Waterfall, 257

  Green Cove, 259

    ”   Crag Gully, 345, 346

    ”   Gable, 114, 119, 128

    ”   Ledge, Pillar Rock, 323

  Grépon Crack, 187

  Grey Knotts, 114

  Guideless climbing, 135

  Gwynne quoted, 208, 210

  Gwynne’s Chimney, Pavey Ark, 358


  H

  Hand Traverse, 281, 282-284

  Harrison Stickle, 208, 209, 214, 215

  Haskett Smith, ‘Climbing in England,’ 211, 218

  Hause.
    _See_ Esk Hause

  Haystacks, 345, 347

  Hazard, Mr. J., 332

  ‘Heart of Lakeland,’ 344

  Hell Gate, 117

  Helvellyn, 215

  High Level Route, Great Gable, 119

   ”     ”     ”    Pillar, 259

  High Man, Pillar Rock, 259, 260, 268, 269, 270, 281

  High Man from the Nose, Pillar Rock, 324-326

  High Stile, 286, 287

  Hollow Stones, 2, 12, 22, 41, 48

  Honister Pass, 114

  Hopkinson’s Cairn, 76, 81

  Horse and Man Rock, 2, 11


  I

  Ice-axes, 112;
    applications of, 171, 184

  Ill Fell, 207

  Iron Crags, 304-311

  ‘Italian Alps,’ Freshfield’s, 29

  Italy, Northern, 184


  J

  Jack’s Rake, 209, 210, 217, 218

  Jammed-stone Pinnacle, 140, 141

  Jenkinson’s Guide Book, 33

  Jordan Gully, 259

    ”    Pillar Rock, 70, 257, 258, 260, 281

    ”    Scawfell Pinnacle, 19, 26, 69, 70, 72, 76

  Journal, ‘Alpine,’ 12, 149, 164

     ”     ‘Scottish Mountaineering,’ 193


  K

  Kern Knotts, 104, 117, 175-189, 213

   ”     ”     Chimney, 175-182, 186

   ”     ”     Crack, 163, 182-187, 213, 238

   ”     ”     West Chimney, 187-189

  Keswick Brothers’ Climb, 31, 66-68

  Kirkfell, 114, 117, 136, 139

  Knotts, Grey, 114

  Knotts, Thunacar, 214


  L

  Langdale, 33, 215

  Langdale Combe, 213

     ”     Pikes, 208, 213

  Langstrath, 239, 288

  Laycock, Mr. J., 334

  Le Coin, 323, 324

  ‘Ledge,’ the, Pillar Rock, 268

     ”     Tennis Court, 43

  Left Pisgah, 260, 266

  Ling Chimney, 314, 315

  Lingmell, 2, 91, 173, 285

  ‘Little Dru of the Lake District,’ 69

     ”    Gully, Pavey Ark, 210-213

     ”    Hell Gate, 146

  Liza Stream, 114, 254, 281

  Lliwedd, 226

  Looking Stead, 254, 258, 259

  Lord’s Rake, 13, 16, 22, 27, 29, 34, 36, 69, 73, 74, 79, 83, 84

  Low Man, Pillar Rock, 70, 257, 258, 260, 261, 269, 270, 272, 276,
      278, 281

  Low Man, Scawfell Pinnacle, 14, 16, 70, 73, 74, 77, 82, 83, 85, 88,
      265

  Low Man Cairn, Scawfell Pinnacle, 83

   ”   ”    ”    Pillar Rock, 270

  Lower Kern Knotts, 175, 176

  Lyon, Mr. H. B., 338, 346


  M

  Manchester Town Hall, 191

  ‘Mantleshelf,’ the, 277, 282

  Marshall, Prof. Milnes, 13

  Matterhorn, 135

  Mauritius, Pieter Botte, 69

  Mickledore, 1, 12, 13, 29, 31, 34, 35, 37, 38, 40, 65

      ”       Chimney, 32.
    _See_ Scawfell Chimney

      ”       Screes, 36

  Mönch, 208

  Mosedale, 92, 254, 258

      ”     Rocks, 337-338

  Moses’ Sledgate, 115, 121, 128

  Moss Ghyll, 15, 30, 32, 43-53, 76, 92, 239, 341

  Mouse Ghyll, 291, 292, 354


  N

  Napes, Great, 116, 136, 146-147, 150, 172

    ”    White, 115, 127, 128, 133

  Needle, Gable, 147, 150, 153, 156, 160, 165, 168-174

     ”    Gully, 146, 150-152, 154, 159, 162, 174

     ”    Ridge, 147, 153-156, 334

  Neese, Gavel, 115, 121, 127, 138

  Nether Beck, 190

  New North West Climb, Pillar Rock, 318, 322-324

  New West Climb, Pillar Rock, 317, 318-320

  North Climb (Pillar Rock), 271-282

    ”     ”   (Penrith), 31, 37, 38, 55

  ‘Nose,’ the, Pillar Rock, 257, 259, 271, 275

     ”     ”   Scawfell Pinnacle, 74

  ‘Notch,’ the, 268


  O

  Oak How Needle, 336

  Oblique Chimney, 8, 118, 119-132, 136, 138, 141, 150, 182, 183

  Old Man, Coniston, 213, 219, 229

   ”  Wall, Pillar Rock, 269, 326

  Oppenheimer, Mr. L. J., 321, 322, 344, 345, 349, 350

  Oppenheimer’s Chimney, 353

  ‘Outside Edge,’ Gable Needle, 173


  P

  ‘Pall Mall Budget’ quoted, 170

  Parson’s Gully, 42

  Pavey Ark, 208-218, 358-361

    ”    ”   Benison’s Chimney, 360

    ”    ”   Gibson’s Chimney, 360

    ”    ”   Gullies, 208, 218

    ”    ”   Great Gully, 213-218

    ”    ”   Little Gully, 210-213

  Pedestrians, Notes for, 27

  Pelmo Traverse, 29

  Pendlebury Traverse, 268

  Penrith Climb. _See_ North Climb

  Petty’s Rift, 31

  Photography and Climbing, 163

  Pier’s Ghyll, 91, 239, 285-286, 342-343

  Pieter Botte, 69

  Pike of Stickle, 208, 213

  Pike’s Crag, 1-11

  Pikes of Scawfell, 2, 33, 50, 99

  Pillar Fell, 91, 254, 255, 258, 267

    ”    Rock, 254-284, 317-331

  Pinnacle, Bottle-shaped, 119, 123, 138

     ”      Jammed-stone, 140, 141

     ”      Scawfell, 19, 27, 69-88, 265

  Pisgah Buttress, 53-55, 342

     ”   Left, 260, 266

     ”   Pillar Rock, 70, 257, 260, 328

     ”   Right, 260, 266

     ”   Scawfell, 19, 26, 32, 70, 71

  ‘Playground of Europe,’ Leslie Stephen’s, 76

  Pope, Mr. H. R., 333, 342

  Pressure on Loose Stones, 26

  Professor’s Chimney, 19, 25, 26, 27, 69, 70, 71, 76

  Progress, Rake’s, 13, 29-32, 37, 38, 43, 46, 57, 58, 60, 63, 66

  Pulpit Rock, 2, 11, 31, 33, 35


  R

  Rake End Chimney, 218

   ”   Ennerdale Face, 121

   ”   Jack’s, 209, 210, 217, 218

   ”   Lord’s, 13, 16, 22, 27, 29, 34, 36, 69, 73, 74, 79, 84

  Rake’s Progress, 13, 29-32, 37, 38, 43, 46, 57, 58, 60, 63, 66

  Raven Crag, Chimney, 253

    ”     ”   Glaramara, 237, 242

    ”     ”       ”      Gully, 242-253

    ”     ”   Great Gable, 117, 175, 180

  Reade, Mr. H. V., 336

  Robinson, Mr. J. W., quoted, 119, 120

  Robinson’s Chimney (Deep Ghyll), 14, 16, 17

      ”      Gully, Great End, 90

  Rope, How _not_ to use it, 154, 155

    ”   Length of, 83, 239

    ”   Special application of, 225, 228, 278

  Rossett Ghyll, 33

  Rosthwaite, 238, 288

      ”       Fell, 237

  Rothhorn, Zinal, 73

  Rücksack Club, 345


  S

  Sack, Carrying the, 101, 102

  Sanderson, Mr. R. B., 342

  Sanger-Davies’ Book, 78, 230

  Savage Gully, 258, 261, 272, 273, 275, 276, 277, 320-322

  Scarpetti, 214

  Scarth Gap, 117, 271, 281

  Scawfell, 13, 27, 29, 30, 35, 69, 70, 237, 339-347

     ”      Cairn, 37, 42

     ”      Chimney, 32, 34, 39-42

     ”      Crags, 1, 13

     ”      Pikes, 33, 208. _See_ Pikes of Scawfell

     ”      Pinnacle, 19, 27, 69-88, 275

     ”          ”     by Deep Ghyll, 76-84, 195

     ”          ”     by Steep Ghyll, 11, 14

     ”          ”     from Upper Deep Ghyll, 339-340

  ‘Scottish Mountaineering Journal,’ 193

  Screes, Central Gully, 193, 200-207

     ”    Great Gully, 194-199, 248

     ”    Wastwater, 58, 190-207

  Seathwaite Fell, 237

  Seatoller, 238, 271

  Seatree, Mr. George, quoted, 38

  ‘Sentry-box,’ the, 52, 53

  Sergeant Crag Gully, 288-290, 354

  Shamrock, 255, 257, 259, 281, 329-330

      ”     Buttress, 330

      ”     Chimney, 256, 264-265, 330, 331

      ”     Gully, 25, 256, 261-264

  ‘Sheep Walk,’ the, 118, 131, 133, 312

  Shoulthwaite, 304

  Skew Ghyll, 89, 92

  Skiddaw, 93, 296

  Slab and Notch Route, 260, 267-268

  Slack, Aaron, 114, 129

  Sledgate, Moses’, 115, 121, 128

  Slingsby’s Chimney, Scawfell, 73, 75, 83

      ”      Crack, Pillar Rock, 270

  Sloan, Dr. J. S., 335

  Smuggler’s Chimney, 335

      ”      Retreat, 118, 335

  Snow, Heavy, 23

  South-east Gully, Great End, 90, 104-111

  ‘Split Block,’ 277

  Spout Head, 92

  Sprinkling Tarn, 89, 93, 98, 100, 237, 252

  Stack Ghyll, 348-349

  Stake Pass, 214, 220

  Stand, Broad, 27, 32-37, 40

  Steep Ghyll, 13, 20, 30, 43, 48, 53, 57, 69, 71, 73, 74, 85, 86, 243

  Step, Collie’s, 45

  Stickle, Pike of, 208, 213

     ”     Tarn, 211, 215

  Stirrup Crag, 118

     ”    Rope, 279, 280

  ‘Stomach Traverse,’ 272, 274, 276

  Stones, Hollow, 2, 12, 22, 41, 48

  Stony Gully, 119, 141, 324, 325

  Strands, 190

  ‘Strid,’ the, 277

  Styhead Pass, 89, 91, 115, 117, 168, 181, 213, 237

     ”    Tarn, 93, 128

  Sugarloaf, 208

  Switzerland, 111

  Sylvan Chimney, 379


  T

  Tarn Crag, Easedale, 365

  Taylor, Dr. J. H., 322

  Tennis Court Ledge, 43, 44, 47, 49, 53, 55, 61, 244

  Thompson, Mr. P. A., 320, 321

  Thornythwaite Fell, 237

  ‘Thumbs Down,’ 180

  Thunacar Knott, 214

  Tin Box on Pinnacle, 72

  Tom Blue, 117, 176, 179

  Tongue, Brown, 12, 28, 36, 91

  Toreador Gully, 346

  Traverse, Gable Crag, 121

      ”     Hand, 281, 282, 284

      ”     Pelmo, 29

      ”     Pendlebury, 268, 269

  ‘True Up,’ 104


  U

  Ullswater, 345

  Upper Eskdale, 42

    ”   Kern Knotts, 175, 176, 181


  W

  Walker’s Gully, 254, 255, 256, 258, 267, 269, 295-304, 328-330

  Warn Gill, 345, 347-348

  Warnscale Gullies, 345-349

  Wastdale Church, 48

     ”     Climbing-book, 1, 77, 119, 135, 136, 140, 156, 170, 247

     ”     Head, 115, 116, 117, 191

  Wastwater, 1, 27, 36, 170, 287

      ”      Screes, 58, 190-207

  Waterfall, Great, 258

  West Chimney, Kern Knotts, 187-189

   ”   Climb, Pillar Rock, 269-271, 281

   ”   Jordan Crack, 327

   ”   Jordan Gully, 315

   ”   Wall Climb, 313-314

  Westmorland Brothers, 152

       ”      Cairn, 117, 151

       ”      Crag, 117, 138, 151, 152

       ”      Mr. Horace, 356

  Wetherlam, 219

  White Napes, 115, 127, 128, 133

  Williamson, Mr. C. N., quoted, 37, 41, 69, 70, 286

  Willink’s Illustrations, 270

  Wind Gap, 114, 119, 128

   ”   Yatt (Windy Gap), 254, 258

  Windermere, 215

  ‘Window,’ the (Moss Ghyll), 45, 49

  Woodhouse, Messrs., 338, 370, 373, 375, 376


  Y

  Yatt, Wind, 254, 258

  Yewbarrow, 118, 190, 254


  Z

  Zinal Rothhorn, 73



WASTWATER HOTEL,

WASDALE HEAD, CUMBERLAND.

This HOTEL is charmingly situated at the head of Wastwater Lake, and is
the chief centre of Cumberland Climbing--the Pillar Rock, Great Gable,
Great End, Scafell and the Pikes, all being within an easy walk.

The arrangements of the Hotel have been made specially to suit the
requirements of Climbers and Tourists.

A First-Class DAUPHINE GUIDE and CLIMBER has been engaged, who will
conduct Climbers on the various Climbs in the District at a Moderate
Charge.

SMOKE AND BILLIARD ROOMS.

Conveyances can be sent to Seascale Stations to meet Visitors, if so
desired.

  J. RITSON WHITING, Proprietor.

  TERMS ON APPLICATION.      LETTERS _via_ CARNFORTH.

_Agent for Beale’s (Buckingham’s) Celebrated Three-Strand Alpine
Rope--60, 80, 100 feet lengths always in Stock; also for Simond’s
Ice-Axes._


ALSO AT--

Rowhead Temperance Hotel,

WASDALE HEAD.

(Three Minutes’ Walk from the WASTWATER HOTEL.)

Beautifully situated at the foot of Kirkfell.

RE-FURNISHED THROUGHOUT.

CLIMBING PARTIES SPECIALLY CATERED FOR.

  Three Sitting-rooms.      Eight Large Bedrooms.

  TERMS ON APPLICATION.

  J. RITSON WHITING, Proprietor.



SUN HOTEL,

CONISTON.

(Quarters of the Fell and Rock-Climbing Club.)

TARIFF.

                        S. D.      S. D.

  Breakfast             1  6       2  0

  Luncheon              1  9       3  6

  Dinner                2  0       3  6

  Teas                  0  6       2  0

  Bedrooms (Single)     2  0       3  0

  Bedrooms (Double)     3  6       4  6

  HOT AND COLD BATHS.

  PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SITTING-ROOMS.

  SEPARATE DRAWING-ROOM FOR LADIES.

T. SATTERTHWAITE, Proprietor.


LODORE HOTEL, Borrowdale,

KESWICK.

[Illustration]

This HOTEL is close to the Lake and surrounded by Beautiful
Scenery--Quiet, and a Good Centre for Walking and Climbing.

Electric Launches on the Lake. Garage. Telephone No. 2 G.P.O.

  J. S. HARKER, Proprietor.



JAEGER

PURE WOOL

Complete Outfits in Pure Wool for Climbers.

  +----------------------+
  |   _Alpine Outfits    |
  |     a Specialty._    |
  +----------------------+
  | Shirts,              |
  |                      |
  | Spencers,            |
  |                      |
  | Sweaters,            |
  |                      |
  | Alpine Mitts,        |
  |                      |
  | Puttees,             |
  |                      |
  | Camel-hair           |
  |                      |
  | Sleeping Bags,       |
  |                      |
  | etc.                 |
  |                      |
  +----------------------+
  |Illustrated Price List|
  |Post Free.            |
  +----------------------+

JAEGER PURE WOOL WEAR is never oppressive, while always protecting from
chill. Expert Athletes, of both sexes, know from experience that it is
the most suitable covering, and the wide World knows the JAEGER Name
and Trade Mark as guarantees of Pure Wool, High Quality and Good Value.

  LONDON--126 Regent Street, W.
          456 Strand, Charing Cross, W.C.
          30 Sloane Street, S.W.
          102 Kensington High Street, W.
          115 Victoria Street, S.W. (close to A. & N. Stores).
          85 and 86 Cheapside, E.C.
  MANCHESTER--18 King Street, and 10 Princes Street.
  LIVERPOOL--58 Church Street, and 4 Castle Street.

_Address in other towns sent on application._



H. HARDEN,

PRACTICAL ALPINE BOOTMAKER.

_Boots made from an old one as pattern and nailed complete with best
small and large Alpine Nails, Swiss Pattern._

[Illustration]

Our Boots are already well known and used by most Expert Mountaineers.

Boots Ready in Stock, Nailed and Complete, for Immediate Delivery.

PRICES ON APPLICATION.

ST. JOHN STREET, KESWICK, CUMBERLAND.



BURBERRY

WEATHERPROOF CLIMBING KIT

[Illustration]

CLIMBERS REALISE the vital importance of clothing that meets the
exigencies of this strenuous pastime, and agree that BURBERRY
successfully solves the problem of the most healthful, comfortable, and
serviceable equipment.

BURBERRY MATERIALS are especially woven and scientifically
weather-proofed by Burberry processes for the set purposes of:--

    Affording natural warmth by diverting cold winds.

    Preventing penetration by rain, sleet or snow.

    Maintaining normal temperature under the most divergent conditions.

    Combining ability to withstand the rough wear and tear of climbing
    with remarkable light weight.

BROCHURE “Y” clearly sets forth how all these are accomplished. A copy
will be sent on request with patterns of cloths made especially for
climbers.

BURBERRYS The Haymarket, S.W., LONDON; 10 Boulevard Malesherbes, PARIS;
Basingstoke; and Agents in Provincial Towns.



ARTHUR BEALE,

Late JOHN BUCKINGHAM,

194 SHAFTESBURY AVENUE, LONDON, W.C.

IS THE ONLY MAKER OF THE CELEBRATED

ALPINE CLUB ROPE,

WHICH IS ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY EMPLOYED

By the =Leading Mountaineers= of the time. It is made of the Best
Manilla Hemp, and the new Rope now being made, which from tests taken
(Admiralty proof) is of a much greater breaking strain than formerly,
is marked by three red worsted threads, one in the centre of each
strand to distinguish it from others on the market, and not one thread
only in the centre of the Rope as heretofore (see the Report of the
Special Committee on Ropes, &c., in Vol. I., No. 7, of the _Alpine
Journal_). Each length is tied with Red Tape bearing my Name.

_BEWARE OF FRAUDULENT IMITATIONS._

ARTHUR BEALE (late JOHN BUCKINGHAM),

194 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W.C.

ICE AXES by English and Foreign Makers kept in Stock.

  RÜCKSACKS, BELTS, SLINGS, &c.      PRICE LISTS ON APPLICATION.

_Diploma awarded for Alpine Rope at the Bergen Sports Exhibition 1910._


JAMES S. CARTER

_The Alpine Bootmaker_,

16 South Molton Street (First Floor),

LONDON, W.

[Illustration: 45/-]

Specialist in Boots for =Climbing & Touring= For over 50 years Maker to
the

  ENGLISH,
  CONTINENTAL,
  CANADIAN and CAPE
  ALPINE and
  CLIMBING CLUBS.

_Illustrated Price List on application._



[Illustration]

[Illustration]

_Es’ablished nearly a Century._

HILL & SON,

4 Haymarket, London, S.W.

(_Opposite His Majesty’s Theatre._)

London Manufacturers of Sporting, Table, Toilet and Pocket Cutlery,
Alpine Ice Axes and Accessories, Skates and Fine Steel Work.

=H. & S.= have a very Interesting Stock of Mechanical Contrivances and
Useful Inventions for Everyday Wants.

Utilities of all Sorts for Travellers and the Household.

  Specialities for the Garden.       Jewellery, Silverware and
                                       Electroplate.

ALL LISTS FREE.

_Alpine Ice Axes--Various Patterns for Ladies and Gentlemen._

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

    Rücksacks. Several Patterns, With and Without Outside Pockets. Of
    Foreign Manufacture, from 12s. 6d.

    London Make, 17s., 18s. 6d. and 22s.

    Alpine Expedition Stick, as Illustration, with Steel Head and
    Point, and Leather Head Case, 23s. 6d.

    Ash, Hazel, and Oak Mountaineering Sticks, with Steel Points, 9s.
    6d., 10s., 11s.

[Illustration]

BOOT FURNITURE.--No. 6, Mummery Spikes, 1s. 3d. per dozen. Nos. 1, 2,
5, 6d. per dozen. Swiss Side and Centre Nails, 1s. 6d. per 100. Larger
Side Nails, 4s. 6d. per 100. _Postages extra._


_LANGDALE._

Dungeon Ghyll New Hotel

(Quarters of the Fell and Rock-Climbing Club).

  _The Hill Climbers’ Paradise._      _In the Heart of Lakeland._

_The Place for a Restful Holiday._

PERFECT BATHROOMS AND SANITARY ARRANGEMENTS.

NEWLY FURNISHED THROUGHOUT.

  _Postal Address_--AMBLESIDE.      _Telegraphic Address_--ELTERWATER.

J. COWPERTHWAITE

(_Of the Prince of Wales and Rothay Hotels, Grasmere_), PROPRIETOR.

  J. FOTHERGILL, Manager.



MOUNTAIN AND CLIMBING PHOTOGRAPHS.

Our Unique and Well-known Series now include the following Districts
and their Surrounding Peaks: Zermatt, Chamonix, Grindelwald, Arolla,
=Pontresina=, Oetzthal and Stubaithal; also the =Dauphiny Alps, the
Dolomites and the Grand Combin=.

The British Series include the English Lake District, North Wales,
Scotland, and Skye.

In Platinotype, 8-1/4 by 6-1/4 ins., at 1s. 6d. each; Set of 50, £3,
10s. Other Sizes also, up to 40 by 30 ins., in Carbon and Platinotype.


We Specialise in High-Class

LANTERN SLIDES

of any Subject in the above Series.

Price, =2s.= each; Set of =50=, =£4, 10s.=


_Lists and Full Particulars from_

Messrs. G. P. ABRAHAM & SONS,

Victoria Buildings,

KESWICK.



FOOTNOTES:


[1] Not in Jones’ List.

[2] In the Wastdale Climbers’ Book.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber’s note:

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.





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