Climbing in the Lake District can be tricky - damp conditions, a long drive and a multitude of route choices can put many a climber off. But like all good things, a trip to the Lakes is well worth the effort. For me there are perhaps two key ingredients for success - a copy of Lake District Rock and a careful study of the MWIS Weather Forecast. If I have a free day coming up between May and October I'll often check the forecast in the days before setting off. If it's promises to be dry and warm (say 10 degrees C or more above 900m) then I'll try to find a partner. However if no one's free then it's a day of fell running and a chance to do a stage or two of the Bob Graham Round!
But if I'm able to convince someone to come along the next step is to work out where to go. Lake District Rock is a great place to start. If time is short we'll focus our attention on the eastern side of the Lakes - Langdale, Borrowdale and Dow. However if there's a chance to get away for a night we'll often try to head west and visit Gable, Wasdale and Eskdale. Over the years, the Arc'teryx lakeland Revival has also been a great source of ideas. Set up in 2014, the intention of this resource is to, "celebrate the climbing in the area and encourage everyone of all abilities to get out trad climbing...". This is done by publishing a list of routes each year and encouraging climbers to climb them. In exchange for documenting the route and posting a photo the team are awarded a prize. What could be simpler? For me, it's been a great source of information and often been the encouragement I've needed to visit crags that wouldn't normally have been on my radar.
Here are 5 climbs that I hope will inspire you to head to the Lakes this year...
Eliminate A (VS 4c) - THE VS at Dow! Often steep and exposed, these 6 pitches are not for the faint hearted! Choose a warm, dry day with a gentle breeze and climb it early with the sun on your backs. Here's Andy setting off on the short crux pitch that traverses out right and into the safety of a well protected groove.
Murray's Route (S) - A "must do" Classic Rock tick! Four pitches take you up the slab, over blocky features to the corner and a long traverse leftwards to a final left facing corner crack. Big and friendly! The team high on the crag are climbing a VS 4c variation - Murray's Direct.
Moss Ghyll Grooves (MVS 4c) - Everyone should spend at least one day on Scafell Crag! There's great routes across a wide range of grades and given the location, you're likely to have many to yourselves! Here's Andy about to lead through the 4c crux. Well protected when you need it!
Bracket and Slab Climb (S) - One of many brilliant routes on Gimmer Crag, Bracket and Slab is an excellent introduction to the area. Here's Andy on the first pitch with a enormous expanse of rock lying ahead of him. Keep to the guidebook description and enjoy some of the best climbing in the Lakes!
Bowfell Buttress (HS 4a) - A classic mountaineering route ... up to a point! Mostly no harder than Diff, the route gets its grade from a short steep crack pitch that takes a little figuring out. Fortunately it's well protected and is friendly just at the right point!
This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Eagle Front. When dry, some consider it to be the best VS in the UK!
Can you recommend any climbs in the Lakes? Please let us know!