Despite the threat of rain, Graham and Jeff kept the faith and travelled up to Langdale for a fix of Lake District rock. Although there was some cloud cover, it was bright and warm. After being fleeced for parking, and with boasts from AndyG that he and Mark were basking in glorious sunshine at Almscliff, they headed up the relentlessly steep fellside into the deep gash of White Ghyll.
The crag forms one bank of the ravine and is made up of an impressive array of corners, arêtes, slabs and roofs. The majority of the rock is of the finest Lakeland quality – solid, with superb friction and positive holds, but there are just enough loose blocks and flakes dotted about to keep you on your toes.
Several parties were already occupying routes, but Haste Not was vacant so, since he had enthusiastically racked up his shiny new gear, Jeff led off up the first pitch. The crux second pitch traverses for about 15 metres under a formidable barrier of roofs, and wiiiiiide bridging and a looooooong reach are required to descend a bottomless groove and swing around a rib.
This brought heckles of jealousy alluding to Graham's lanky physiology, but left Graham cursing his height while trying to wiggle a wire in with his knees round his ears. A nervous glance down to take in the view luckily revealed a small ledge that allowed a little more comfort, and from there it was onwards more easily to the stance, accompanied by dry mouth, a few spots of rain and a party on another route.
Haste Not 59m VS 3*
P1. 22m 4b (Jeff led)
P2. 15m 4c (Graham led)
P3. 22m 4b (Jeff led)
Suitably encouraged despite the threat of rain, the pair continued with The Gordian Knot, and after Graham had got too engrossed and climbed 5m too far up the first pitch, he did eventually return to the first stance to bring up Jeff. Again the second pitch provides the meat of the route, and Jeff made his way to a hanging corner, placed a solitary, not exactly bomb-proof small wire and eagerly pressed on upwards.
However, at some point during the 5m, his hexes were jettisoned when he unwittingly decided he was carrying too much ballast for such a bold and sustained lead. An impressive lead indeed, considering the amount of suspect rock and the exposure through the crux.
The Gordian Knot 56m VS 3*
P1. 20m 4b (Graham led)
P2. 14m 4c (Jeff led)
P3. 22m 4b (Graham led)
After a late lunch it was decided to round the day off with Slip Knot. Jeff, still beaming from the previous route, led up pitch 1, clearly enjoying the easy technical moves up the slab to the roof. The second pitch starts off with exciting and thought provoking moves, and Graham soon found himself in a stunning position, looking down the gill beyond the roof to the beckoning pubs in Langdale. He scrambled to the top where he could relax in safety as he watched sheep on the fellside opposite the crag trundle boulders into the bed of the ghyll.
Slip Knot 41m VS 2*
P1. 21m 4a (Jeff led)
P2. 20m 4b (Graham led)
Somehow it was 8pm, and after 3 excellent routes there was only one thing required to make the day complete. The New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel was fortunately on the way back to the car, so the obligatory beer was duly dispatched.