Monday, 19 October 2009

Kern Knotts and the Napes

Now we know why the Americans call this time of the year The Fall.

A report from RichC on more of his recent adventures with Jonah:

Saturday morning saw a clear forecast so myself and Jonah decided to head up to the lakes to get a last mountain day in before the winter. A cold and dark start saw us up in Keswick for a hearty breakfast before heading down to Borrowdale. Arriving at Seathwaite the parking was unexpectedly rammed full - we ended up roughly half a mile from the farm at the end of the road.

A brisk walk in lead us up past Styhead Tarn and round the climber's traverse to Kern Knotts crag. By this stage the sun was well up and with a cloudless sky and little wind it was pleasantly warm for October - we were comfortable in t-shirts.

Jonah kicked off the day's business by climbing the classic Innominate Crack (VS 4b **). A fine line, showing a lot of polish from countless ascents, but still pleasant and not desperate.

I then decided to tackle the other classic crack of the crag, Kern Knotts Crack (VS 4c **). This features a polished off-width "sentry box" feature as its crux. Upon reaching it I decided to see if my off-width technique was up to scratch. It wasn't. I fell about 5 metres out of the crack and came to rest just above the floor. In the process Jonah's hand was dashed against the rocks at the base of the climb resulting in some gashed fingers - lots of blood but not too serious thankfully. I had nothing much injured except my pride. Not to be discouraged, after Jonah had applied some first aid to his fingers (and a passer by had commented, "nice whipper mate"), I got back on to it. Avoiding the crack this time by the alternative route using the wall to the side I reached the top without further incident.

Noon was long since passed by this stage, so without further ado we packed up and walked round to Nape's Needle. With no one else in sight we got straight on it, Jonah leading the first pitch of The Arete (HS 4b **). At the shoulder we switched over and I lead up the top block to set up possibly the most complex belay for a climb of this grade I've ever done. Ropes were lashed all over the block with me anchored in a spider's web at the centre. Jonah followed and after a moment to bask in the lowering sun on the top it was time to move on.

With evening soon drawing in we had time for just one more route, the classic but glossy Needle Ridge (VD **), lead in two long pitches (and a scrambly pitch at the top). A fine end to a day on the mountains.

[Editor's Note: It's good to hear that Jonah was not seriously injured saving Rich's neck yet again! It is also heartening to see that despite a damp summer it is still possible to get stuff done up on the high crags. The photo below is myself and "Pope" Paul on a previous occasion.]