Feb 10 06
Pavey Ark is an amazing mountain crag – it catches every ray of sunlight going, it is sheltered from the wind (not that there was even a breath of wind today), and is made of the best and roughest of Lakeland volcanic rock. Of course with masses of snow and ice still covering the mountains there’s bound to be a lot seepage lines on a crag like Pavey despite being drenched in today’s beautiful winter sunshine. However, the line of Capella (E1) is placed perfectly to miss most of the worst water streaks, certainly the crux sections are dry (ish) anyway. A brilliant route at any time of the year!
We made a late start to make sure the sun had done it’s stuff and warmed the rock by the time we arrived. It was only 4°C in the Langdale carpark at 11am, 45 minutes later at the base of the crag it wasn’t any warmer, but the sunshine was super powerful. So powerful that some of the water dripping off the overhangs at the base (The Barrier) were actually warm, almost like someone had left a hot tap running somewhere up the crag! But in the depths of damp cracks and in any shaded corner of rock the temperatures were brutal.
The crux of the route, just after the start of the second pitch, was a double whammy; it was hard (well, it’s the crux) and the crucial hand holds were sopping wet! I chalked up to try to get a grip of my rising panic, and perhaps dry the holds off a bit. It didn’t work, it made the situation worse, the rock became coated in a slimy white paste! Oh well, in went a nice Friend 0 and up I went. Phew. Gripped!
We passed several scramblers half way up Jakes Rake as we descended – they were having a fantastic day out, everyone was smiling and giggling!
Back at the bags Pavey had one more dose of adrenalin for us… Just before we legged it back home for birthday cake, we had to run for our lives as a massive sod of turf (the size of a TV) and small rocks detached from the crag and whistled down landing only a few metres from where Laetitia had been standing. Even more scarily it had bounced off the wall right at the crux of the first pitch of our route! Imagine if it had come down while we’d been climbing? I guess it simply came away under the weight of melting water… Rock climbing after (or during ) the winter is always a bit more dangerous as the ice loosens and breaks the rock up!
A top birthday present! Now, where’s that birthday cake…
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