Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Coming Up: Ripping yarns from our friends in the North.

" We will first describe some of the easier climbs on the Scafell group, taking afterwards the more difficult and exciting pieces of work on Scafell, Great Gable, and the Pillar. Wastdalehead, the crag-climbing metropolis, at the very foot of the Scafell range, provides the nearest resting-place. Seathwaite and Langdale are about three hours' walk from the summit of Scafell Pike. The mountain group is the highest in England, and is covered with crags of all degrees of difficulty. The most popular ascents are Broad Stand and the Mickledore Chimney, on the Scafell side of the Mickledore Chasm, from which their ascent is commenced ; Piers Ghyll, a majestic gully in the north-west shoulder of Scafell Pike and Cust's Gully, a scree shoot on Great End. One of the safest climbs on which a tyro may try himself is the Broad Stand, which opens a few yards over the crest of the Mickledore Ridge, on the Eskdale side. The route is at first a narrow slit behind a square rock, through which it is necessary to pass sideways to reach a patch of grass. Above this is a slippery eight-foot wall of rock, and this has to be negotiated
 —not a pleasant task when a considerable volume of water is trickling down—after which a broad band of grass leads to the summit of Scafell. In misty weather this climb is more difficult.

In descending the last bit, I let the others down with a rope, and then followed myself. One of the party, seeing me cautiously rounding the last and most awkward corner, promptly seized me by the coat and hauled me to a place of safety. At this, one of the others remarked that had I slipped both of us would have gone to the bottom. " No, no," said my rescuer, 'not both. If he had slipped I should have let him go"

This Friday -the surreal world of the the fin de siecle mountaineer. A gentleman drawn straight from the script of Michael Palin's Ripping Yarns series. A time when crag climbing was introduced to readers alongside chapters on Otter and Fox hunting, tarn fishing by moonlight and the wily ways of the badger.
Written by William T Palmer who went on to become an early president of the UK's Fell and Rock Club.. 'Crag Climbing' offers an entertaining and often unintentionally humorous insight into the world of the English gentleman adventurer.