Neil arrived up at my folks home -where I've been sponging for the past month, from the midlands just before 7am on Sat morning. Over a rushed brew our choices we're narrowed down to Scafell or Scrubby Crag, I wanted hard and we wanted somewhere reliable. Scrubby is at ~750m alt SE facing and there was a chance that unfrozen turf could turn us around so we opted for the longer drive round to Wasdale Head to the N facing ~790m alt Scafell. Arriving at the crag latish -11am we headed for Deep Ghyll, easy to find in the poor vis we we're faced with and from there we would be able to locate a decent mixed route. Age Concern VI** or Jones route Direct VII** on the cards.
Uncharacteristic faffage landed us above the 1st chockstone in Deep Ghyll around half 12. A quick look at the impressive looking first slab pitch of Jones Route, deal! The description in Brian Davidson's mentions that it's rarely in Condition, yep this protection-less thin slabby looking first pitch looks like it needs lot's of good snow ice, only powder and rime was on offer. -So I headed further left to something that looked climbable and Neil came over to help look about for another option. Visibility was 10-20m and we wanted to get climbing so we decided on a vague groove line with a promising looking crack higher up.
Our first Pitch
Looking down the crux of the second pitch towards Lord's rake
Neil's expression, proof that we'd had an adventure however short
Yup it was steep in places! 2nd pitch...
I was on point and started up slowly relaxing into focusing on what could be protracted effort. Some great climbing and some poor-ish pro landed be at the top of the pitch, the crack took cams but the rime was densely attached to the precious volcanic rock so dubious security offered. Neil generously gave me the lead again for the next pitch and I headed up, another great pitch followed this time with some steeper climbing and a short technical crux higher up. By now it was getting late, Neil landed in the dark around five at my belay. The next pitch looked easier but we we're only half way up this massive crag and as we we're still within reach of the base of our route we decided to head down. Disappointing not to finish but we'd had some great climbing... Commitment another time, we're hoping to get back in the new year.
We came away thinking a new hard mixed route for Scafell! Must be grade VII, 1st pitch tech 6, 2nd pitch tech 8! But sadly after looking hard at some route descriptions and topos in the summer Wasdale guide we've probably just been schooled on Hopkinson's gully (grade VI). Respect to the first winter ascensionists and a little for ourselves why not.