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Hell Gully, Dow Crag!

Hell Gully, Dow Crag!


Postby mountain coward » Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:03 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Dow Crag

Hewitts included on this walk: Dow Crag

Date walked: 11/09/2009

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Being a follower of Wainwright and his fantastic guides, I used to think that pretty much if he said something was fine, it was fine for me too... Now I’m much more careful and selective!

I was just watching some poor guy being helped up this route in total terror yesterday so I thought it might be a good one to write up, although I don’t have many photos and certainly none on the route! We were looking down the gully and another guy joined us and said it wouldn’t be for him either!

Wainwright had this route as ‘Dow Crag, South Rake’ and reckons it’s just a simple walk, so, one visit to the Lake District with my friend Richard, I made up my mind to do it. I have to admit to having a few worries about it, despite whatever Wainwright said as, after all, it is basically a gully up a climber’s crag so could therefore be pretty steep. I told Richard I planned to take a look at the route and he enthusiastically agreed.

We set off from Little Arrow (near Torver) along the pretty route to Torver Common and the Walna Scar Track. We then followed the track left until we met the right-turning track for Goats Water and followed this to the tarn.
When we reached the tarn I had a look for the ‘rake’ and pointed it out to Richard who looked even more enthusiastic. I wasn’t so sure though... I said we would go to the foot of it and take a look and see what I thought...

We crossed the tarn outflow and went up boulders and scree to the foot of the crags where there is an encouraging mountain rescue stretcher box! It was slightly scrambly crossing the bottom of the various buttresses to the foot of the gully where I peered upwards... Hmmmm – it didn’t look too bad... or did it? I still wasn’t sure but said to Richard;

“It looks to get easier and less steep about 2/3 of the way up doesn’t it?”

He just said; “If you say so” but looked very keen (he likes that kind of thing). I said we’d have a go...

We set off onto the scree up the gully – or at least Richard did. I set off up the climbers’ buttress at the side. Richard told me to get off the buttress and into the gully but, it being horribly loose and already steep, I didn’t feel I could just yet. I ascended further up the buttress being repeatedly badgered to get into the gully. In the end, Richard helped me off the buttress onto the loose scree – ugh! I continued up ahead (I always go ahead on the way up so I have someone behind me – not that it would help if I slipped but it makes you feel better :) ).

As I’d seen from below, about 1/2 of the way up the gully steepens considerably and becomes much more rocky. As I always do, I checked the rock handholds for firmness. First one, then another, then another piece of rock lifted out and was placed to the side. I was losing confidence at a rapid rate! I chose that moment to look down and felt sick as I saw the tarn looking small far below down the vertical-looking gully and the steep scree below. I said “Oh my God!” and Richard snapped at me not to look down and to get on with it! I had no choice really as I certainly didn’t want to go back down. I fervently wished for a climber so I could shout for a rope to be lowered but there were none around on the nearest buttresses...

I scrambled slowly and cautiously up the gully on the loose rock looking desperately for a way out – hands were needed all the way due to the steepness. I’d now reached the 2/3 point where I thought things got less steep – they didn’t – they actually got steeper!

Then it came – my chance for escape. I saw a little path go round onto the buttress on my left. Now I wouldn’t normally traverse onto a buttress at a height of probably around 100 feet or more up it but it looked firmer than where I was so I shot off round the path. There was then a loose and scrappy path zig-zagging up towards the sky and I clawed my way desperately up it at a very great speed – I call it ‘chainsawing’! :)

Suddenly it was all over and I reached flat grass. I threw myself flat onto it and lay there swearing for quite a while until Richard appeared grinning and asked if I’d enjoyed it? My answer wouldn’t be printable on a family website!!
After a while I recovered sufficiently to look down the gully and realised, to my surprise and horror, that I’d actually looked down that gully many times before and thought it was totally horrific and quite impossible for a non-climber!

Never again for me... Richard’s done it a few times since though and loves it – he has tried exiting the very loose top of the gully and also my escape route. He did admit yesterday that he wouldn’t dream of descending it though!
Hell Gully route, Dow Crag.jpg
Hell Gully Picked Out On Left By Snow.jpg
Dow Crag-Hell Gully.jpg
Goatswater.jpg
Family on Buck Pike, Dow Crag Behind.jpg
How Dow Crag SHOULD be done - my parents and brother on the route to Dow Crag...
mountain coward
 

Re: Hell Gully, Dow Crag!

Postby yokehead » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:52 pm

Hi mc

3 great reports thanks, showing some most interesting and enjoyable-looking hills and routes.

But, as Joey in Cheers said (the one where his roomie doesn't think he's hot), "I see what's happening here!" In your reports and comments you've played on the 'coward' bit but you seem to regularly get yourself into scrambling situations and the like. There's too many of these, you've been found out, you just love it!!!! I've said this to you before but I wasn't quite sure, I am now! :)

So, in the words of The Who, we "won't get fooled again". The game is up (Basil in Fawlty Towers, bit of game pie stuck to the ceiling). Nothing will now convince me otherwise. If you try I shall just put my hands over my ears and go "la, la, la, la". Now get along Crib Goch and in your report tell us how you crawled along the whole way (but of course you'll really keep to the crest whilst hopping along on one leg). 8)

Your audience awaits. :D
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Re: Hell Gully, Dow Crag!

Postby mountain coward » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:22 am

LOL :lol: No really, I am a mountain coward! Just I have more confidence in the Lakes, especially 'the Connies' as I call the Coniston Range. I've just done so much there, especially off route, that I now have quite a bit of confidence in them. I think the biggest problem I'm having with the Western Munros is that I see them as fiendish and out to get me! It's basically all in my head. I can do some astounding scrambling (even exposed) if I'm in an area I class as 'safe' but I have to know that area really well and have been going there for years. And I was absolutely terrified on that scramble and would never do it again!

Also I vary a lot... some days (most days) I'm terrified of narrow edges and the like or anything exposed. Other days I get this strange mood and do literally hop about on them! The first time I went up to look at Striding Edge I was petrified at the start of it and turned back (I'd only gone up to have a look anyway). I then went back with a group shortly afterwards. I was terrified until I got to that same spot (the flat slabs at the start) and suddenly, I just looked down both sides, decided they were perfectly safe and literally danced across the ridge on the top of the narrow rocky bits. The guy leading the walk had deliberately led the group along the side paths for my sake and was probably furious that I was suddenly calling to them all to 'come up on these bits - it's great!'. Even Richard thought I'd flipped that day! Those moods seem to be unfortunately rare though :(
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Re: Hell Gully, Dow Crag!

Postby yokehead » Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:15 pm

Nearly got me :lol: , but......

la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
la la la la.jpg
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Re: Hell Gully, Dow Crag!

Postby mountain coward » Tue Sep 15, 2009 12:18 am

You're welcome to accompany me on an attempt at a scramble and see for yourself! The more the merrier - I seem braver in a group! :D
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