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Wasdale Twin Giants part 2
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Sun Jun 12, 2016 11:49 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Great Gable, Kirk Fell
Hewitts included on this walk: Great Gable, Kirk Fell
Date walked: 27/01/20094 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Wainwright' criticism of the peak was "the failing of Great Gable is that it holds no mysteries, all its wares being openly displayed."
I'm a huge Wainwright fan - but I disagree with him about Great Gable. I think it's a superb mountain which does hold mysteries - the south face, especially, is ideal for a scrambly sort of exploration. And the moment you spot Napes Needle against its rocky backdrop is always a good moment.
I was staying at Burnthwaite to do some solo walking - a good but stormy day on Pillar followed by an Arctic whiteout walk up Scafell Pike.
The third day dawned bright and clear, and Gable beckoned.
IMG_4944 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
However I was distracted from even this magnificent sight by strange skeins of cloud over Wastwater and Illgill Head.
IMG_4938 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The fragments of early morning cloud also funnelled up the south face of Gable as I approached the foot of the peak. My aim was to climb the left-hand sunlit edge up to the left pointy peak (the White Napes) in this photo, and then scramble up the Westmorland Crags which are the highest point visible in the picture - just above a snow patch shaped like a little smiling mouth.
I wasn't sure if this was a recognised scrambling route - which was all part of the fun.
IMG_4948 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
More skeiny clouds below the snowy skyline of the Scafell range,
IMG_4949 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
And a spectral duvet over Wastwater
IMG_4957 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
I walked up the pleasant, grassy nose ("Gavel Neese") and then up a stony section until I got onto the firmer rocks of the lower part of the White Napes crags. And as if by magic, there was the Needle -
IMG_4966 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The dark shape of the Cat Rock can be made out to the left of Napes Needle. To the Needle's right can be seen another favourite place of mine: the deep trench of Skew Gill on Great End.
Here's a close up. If you didn't spot the Cat Rock in the last picture, you will in this one.
IMG_4964 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
From the spot where I took those photos, I then looked for the most interesting line up the broken crags of the White Napes.
I could see an attractive scrambling line up the shadowed crevice in the centre bottom of this photo, then above that, straight up to the pointy "peaklet" topping the left skyline. The line was really enjoyable - an interesting scramble with some nice moves.
IMG_4967 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
From about halfway up the scramble, there was a good view of the Cat (or Sphinx) Rock. From this angle it looks very much like a moggy, and not at all like a mystical myth.
IMG_4974 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
I scrambled a little higher, and then made a move on a ledge around a rocky corner to the left. Suddenly this view burst on me. I was looking down on Beck Head and the eastern side of Kirk Fell, and above and beyond was High Stile, High Crag and Haystacks, with Crummock Water appearing above Scarth Gap. Further away is the Fellbarrow range, looking very small, and the Grasmoor range, looking very big. On the Flickr image the Irish Sea can be made out in the background.
IMG_4975 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
A few more interesting but easy moves, and I reached the "peaklet" I mentioned earlier. Here's its highest point from close up, with the Westmorland Crags behind it on the right.
IMG_4977 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Beyond this little rocky point is a superb arete - easy scrambling with a matchless view back down to Wasdale. Note my walking poles in the foreground.
IMG_4981 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
At one point I found it easier to go below a snow patch which covered the crest of the arete. I admit this was down to laziness - up to this point I'd used only my walking poles, and couldn't be bothered to swap over to my ice axe.
I decided to try an unusual style of self-portrait.
IMG_4983 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The snowy crest of the arete. The skyline above it is Seatallan (above Yewbarrow), Red Pike, the higher (west) summit of Kirk Fell, then glimpses of the sharper peaks of Scoat Fell, Steeple and Black Crag. Pillar of course is on the right, appearing above the east summit of Kirk Fell.
IMG_4984 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
A closer view of the Westmorland Crags.
IMG_4990 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
I scrambled up the Westmorland Crags. Here's the view from the top of the rocks, looking across to the arete that goes down from the summit dome towards the Great Napes. The skyline is of course the magnificent Scafell range, seen at its very best: Great End, Ill Crag, Broad Crag, Scafell Pike (cairn easily visible) and Scafell.
IMG_4991 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Close up of Scafell Pike. I was enjoying seeing it in the sunshine, after I'd slogged up it in a total Scott-of-the-Antarctic whiteout the previous day. I recalled that I had stood on the top of the cairn for literally one second, then turned round and descended the stone steps simply because if was fractionally less cold and windy down there! Now I felt warm in the most glorious sunshine, and in fact I took my shirt off and sat down from a sunbathe (not illustrated).
IMG_5028 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Scafell. Outlined by snow on the crags are the lines of some of the routes I've enjoyed over the years - Rake's Progress, the West Wall Traverse and Lord's Rake. The great ravine of Deep Ghyll, the upper part of which (reached via the West Wall Traverse) is a wonderful way to the top of the mountain, can be seen as a dark rift below the points of Pisgah and Scafell Pinnacle (on its left) and the bigger crags of Symond's Knott (on its right). Apparently there are some who regard Symond's Knott, not Helvellyn, as the third highest peak in England.
The summit cairn of Scafell can also be seen in the sunshine, a little further to the right. Over on the left of the photo is Pulpit Rock (which partly conceals the line of Rake's Progress) and at the bottom of the picture is Lingmell.
IMG_5029 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
In complete contrast were the little fields and walls of Wasdale Head far below.
IMG_5019 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The previous photo, but zoomed out a bit
IMG_5010 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Black Combe in the distance
IMG_5034 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Westmorland Cairn in the foreground, Kirk Fell plateau beyond, Mosedale fells in the background.
The skyline (minus the dark bump of Steeple, dead centre) was pretty much my route two days earlier - in blizzards, punctuated by occasional wonderful views between the squalls.
IMG_5021 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The summit. Always an emotional moment to see this plaque.
IMG_5045 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
A skyline of the Helvellyn and Fairfield ranges, seen from from near the summit. From left to right are Raise, White Side, Helvellyn Lower Man, Helvellyn itself, Nethermost Pike, Dollywaggon Pike, St Sunday Crag (looks suspiciously flat-topped, so there might be a bitof e.g. Rampgill Head sneaking onto the scene), Fairfield above Seat Sandal (in my mind I always call it Seat Scandal), a glimpse of Hart Crag, then Caudale Moor, Dove Crag and Great Rigg all together. The lumpy bulk of Glaramara occupies much of the foreground, and behind it is the whaleback of Ullscarf.
IMG_5042 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Another summit view, this time the Langdale Pikes. I guess in glacial times they looked like this - nunataks, rising above the plateau and the deep glacier in Langdale.
IMG_5043 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
I took a stroll around the edges of the summit dome in order to make the most of the views. From the western edge there was a view of the cloud-quilt still unrolling over Wastwater.
IMG_5047 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The descent to Beck Head was a lot icier than it looks in this photo. Reluctantly I had to break out the crampons and axe; I'd hoped to complete the route without bothering.
IMG_5049 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Looking back up to Gable Crag from Beck Head. My descent slope on the right and a glimpse of Green Gable on the left.
IMG_5053 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
I had this slightly melancholy idea in my head that the best of the route was over, but in fact Kirk Fell was really enjoyable, due to a combination of light and atmospherics. Here's the view from a frozen summit pond towards Scafell Pike, Lingmell and Scafell.
IMG_5055 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Close up of Scafell from the pond.
IMG_5057 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Looking back to Gable, now starting to be wreathed in cloud.
IMG_5064 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
KIrk Fell summit, with Great End peeping through the clouds.
IMG_5076 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
A view back across Kirk Fell's moorland-ish summit plateau, with the top section of Gable looming through the clouds. This view reminded me greatly of my trip to Ecuador, where you would be trudging across some featureless bit of paramo (high grassland) and then a gap in the clouds would reveal some improbable towering giant like Cotopaxi.
IMG_5073 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
More teasing glimpses of the Scafells
IMG_5086 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Just before I plunged into the clouds and a steep, murky descent to Wasdale, I had one of the best views of the whole day - the clouds adding to the scale and drama of the Scafell range.
IMG_5082 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
our_route.gpx Open full screen NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts
by ChrisW » Mon Jun 13, 2016 5:36 am
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:57 pm
ChrisW wrote:Great tale again HMHT with some really beautiful shots of those morning clouds. Good job you didn't include the 'shirt off pic' the sight of a chiseled torso this late in the day can set Mrs W off then I'll get no rest
Yes we are indeed fortunate, in so many ways, that the photos in my report date from before the advent of the Selfie.
by Alteknacker » Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:16 pm
Great, great stuff
by simon-b » Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:55 pm
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:20 pm
Alteknacker wrote:Wow! I somehow missed this when you first posted it. Absolutely sensational pics - the hills are just so awe-inspiring when the weather is like that (they are anyway, but particularly when they're like that (I was on these hills 3 times before I got any decent weather!!)
Great, great stuff
cheers Alteknacker! - thanks very much.
Yes, Wasdale is just such a special place. The whole of the Lakes is magic, but I think around Wasdale, someone spilt the whole bottle of fairy dust over the place.
I always think we do a kind of trade-off with the weather gods - serve some time, doing the bad days - and then now and then there's the reward of an absolute stunner.
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Jun 16, 2016 12:47 pm
simon-b wrote:You're reminding me of three great days I had at Burnthwaite farm in late January 2011, Tim. As your photos show, the lighting on the fells around Wasdale Head can be beautiful at that time of year.
Sounds like we were there at similar time of year, 2 years apart. Yes everything depends on the light - especially in winter...
by johnkaysleftleg » Thu Jun 16, 2016 1:00 pm
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:38 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:Some amazing pics of what looked like a memorable day out.
There are some brilliant photos on your Fleetwith/Haystacks and Blencathra report - really enjoyed reading it!