White Ghyll and Stickle Barn

May 23, 2008

The Tuesday weather forecast still looked good so we finished work early and headed for White Ghyll in Great Langdale. I’d climbed there once before when I really didn’t have much idea what I was doing, so was keen to repeat those routes.

After parking in the new Dungeon Ghyll / Stickle Barn area we set off on the 30 minute walk in, and arrived at the sycamore tree which is the traditional gearing up point.

The three star Slip Not (41m VS 4a, 4b) was our first target and I set off up the initial face, looking up at the roof above me. I’ve done harder 4a pitches, but I guess the exposure adds a little to the difficulty. The rock is very sound if a little polished, and it’s easy to get as much pro in as you want to. Arriving at the roof, I set up the anchors and brought up Lesley and Keith.

Pitch two has very entertaining beginning with an awkard move under the roof to a corner (I found it easier to use a couple of footholds on the face itself – a great position with a a long drop below), followed by a step out onto the face.  To move up the arete, I found it easier to head left a little before moving up (there’s an unremovable nut in situ). From there a tricky move over a bulge in the arete solves it and the difficulty eases. There are some great anchor points about 10m back from the top and I belayed the others up whilst taking in the great view, and watching Frank, Tony T and Sue top out on Laugh Not.

Exiting isn’t straightforward or quick but there are a couple of options.  The first is to ab off. There’s a rock with an old sling on it over to the right (as you look down to the ground). We didn’t investigate this option, but I wish we had. Not sure if it would work on 50m ropes though. Option two is to head up to the top of the hill and then over to the top of the ghyll itself before decending.  There are apparantly some arrows scratched on the rock that show the way to an easy descent, but we missed them and ended up sliding down the scree – hard work.

By the time we arrived back at the tree, Frank was leading up Slip Not, and we looked for another route. We decided on Heather Groove, a two star severe, however locating the start of the climb proved to be difficult. I can only suggest that Heather Groove hasn’t been climbed for some time, as what appeared to be the start of the first pitch was quite vegetated. Not wishing to undertake a gardening mission, we packed up and began to head down the ghyll.

A pint in the Stickle Barn rounded off another great evenings climbing.