Frustrations have been building all summer. The patchy weather has meant that climbing opportunities have been washed away before the alarm clock sounds and if it wasn’t for two weeks of alpine bliss in July I could be in a real climbing funk by now. Fortunately August brings with it the annual Pomfrett pilgrimage to the Lake District and due mainly to my incessant climbing diatribe my dad had decided he wanted to give it a go.
Friday saw the usual odd looks as I lugged my bags covered in ropes onto my back and stood waiting for the lift at work. Luckily I managed to escape before anyone plucked up the courage to make a hilarious “who are you tying up?” joke. I was breaking up the journey at my sister’s in Solihull before an early Saturday start to drive up to Borrowdale. We did a nice warm up walk from Roswaithe up over to Watenlath and back then drove to our rented cottage, finally arriving about 4pm on a lovely sunny evening. I decided to seize the day and Dad and I sped up to Church Crag just across the valley, a great place to teach him the basics of belaying and seconding in preparation for trying some classic multi-pitch routes later in the week. We climbed a couple of short routes called Confidence and Pandamania and Dad seemed pretty comfortable with everything so we headed back to the cottage for food with the rest of the family.
Mum and Dad overlooking the Borrowdale Valley
Next morning the weather looked OK so we decided to make an early start to try and beat the inevitable queues on Little Chamonix, a lakeland classic on Shepherd’s Crag. The first pitch was pretty damp but after that things dried up and we cruised up it fairly quickly to the top of pitch two. Pitch three is where the fun starts, especially with the cramped belay, so I climbed past the saddle at the top and belayed a little higher (little did I realise it was only three metres from the top) and called down to Dad to start climbing.
Dad “straddling the saddle” on Little Chamonix (I think he’s enjoying himself?)
The third pitch has a notoriously airy move in the middle and I was worried that Dad could get stuck there for a while. Fortunately he took the “go for it and see what happens” approach and sped across it first go, joining me at the belay. Realising that we were so close to the top I decided to have some fun and let Dad lead through and finish the last few metres, placing his first piece of protection in the process. I joined him at the top and we trundled back down before heading on to meet the rest of the family at Bassenthwaite.
Topped out on Little Chamonix, Dad’s first ever multi-pitch. Not sure what’s going on with the helmet!?
That evening Dad decided he wanted to take the opportunity to do another climb before I left on the Tuesday. The weather was looking decidedly sketchy but nevertheless I decided to have a proper mountain day and we headed up to Raven Crag under Glaramara to try Raven Crag Buttress. After a stupid navigational error followed by an even stupider “shortcut” to try and rectify the error we finally arrived at the foot of the climb later than planned and suitably sweaty. The guidebook suggested a three star classic but the route was very vegetated and in the end only one of the four pitches actually provided what I would normally consider three start quality climbing. To add to the adventure I had somehow lost my belay plate on Little Chamonix the previous day and so had to bring Dad up on an Italian Hitch, directly onto the belay (luckily I’d learnt how to do this or I could have ended up stranded at the top of the first pitch!). After topping out we de-geared quickly and made a rapid exit as the weather closed in.
All in all the trip was just what I needed. It was great to share something I enjoy so much with my Dad and nice to finally get a break in the weather long enough to get a few routes done. Fingers crossed there are a few more opportunities before the winter closes in.