Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Coming up: The first ascent of Bowfell Buttress

The Climbers Traverse approach to Bowfell Buttress.

" Above the terrace the cliff rose steeply, and though the excellent quality of the rock made very small ledges and knobs sufficient for foot and hand hold. The situation was exposed, and Shaw worked back to the left as soon as possible to get into the long chimney, which we had found unfeasible at the bottom. He passed out of sight now, and the next time I saw him he was with Craig, looking down from another grass terrace ,ninety feet above me. The chimney offered no special difficul­ties; we admired, in passing, the design of a little sentry-box in the middle of it, and were soon all together again on the second terrace.
The chimney ended here, but we had noticed from our lunching place that by traversing to the right a little we might find our way upwards by an ill-defined gully. Our leader looked at the entrance to it, and did not like it. It seemed preferable to come back a yard or two and take to a vertical crack which led into the gully higher up. This seemed a good test of power of grip and firmness of climbing nails and the valley dropped lower and lower until an arch was formed which rose from the gloom of Mickleden and swept across the Band into Oxendale—a vast cathedral portal, flanked by solemn walls of cold grey stone, and beyond, outside it, as one so often sees from a cathedral doorway, a blaze of light—the enamelled fields of Langdale glistening, emerald-like, and the Blea Tarn road, dusty in the sunshine, fluttering like a pale ribbon from the tip of the cloud arch down the hillside.
Most of the party were now out of sight, but I could hear words of warning or advice alternating with scratchings of the rock high up and uneasy enquiries as to progress lower down. At last I caught a glimpse of Shaw traversing round a perilous corner far above; after which the cloud dropped a little and I saw no more of him until we met on the summit.'

This Friday, an account by Lehmann J Oppenheimer of the first ascent of the great Lakeland mountaineering classic...Bowfell Buttress.