I’d been wanting to Steeple East Buttress for some years now. A remote Lakeland mountaineering route that was first climbed in the 1950’s. Graded VDiff and comprising 6 pitches over 160m and earning 2 stars but with a long walk it has very few teams on it. So, an idea developed to justify the walk in with an extra day on nearby Pillar.
I was a bit cautious about putting a note on the club’s WhatsApp group proposing the idea, however, worry not, as within a couple of hours 6 other members had expressed interest in joining me. Unfortunately the Wednesday before the agreed weekend I rendered myself unable to walk with an recurrence of an old knee injury, so the date was rescheduled and finally three of us met at Wasdale Head in early July with an unsettled weather forecast.
By lunchtime Dave, Gareth and I were gearing up at the base of the buttress and after a bit of faffing, set off. Totally unpolished and with great friction that soon disappeared with the fast-moving showers. Eventually we topped out right at the summit cairn of Steeple towards teatime, leaving one of my favourite hexes in the final pitch.
Dave had to work the next day and after a bit of a gear sort set off back down aiming to be back at Wasdale Head by 7pm and home by 9. Gareth and I walked along the completely deserted path towards Pillar and dropped into the cove around Robinson’s Cairn to set up a bivvi for the night.
Good craic ensued whilst we boiled endless water for tea, ready meals, coffee and Gareth’s best Irish Whiskey under the tarp. Still windy with occasional shower and feeling very cold for early July, however our forecast was for a dry night and a stormy following afternoon. Modern bivvi bags proved their technology, keeping us dry in the overnight showers that joined up to give prolonged rain in the early hours. Up at 8 for more boiling water for porridge and coffee under the tarp.
Heading towards Pillar rock didn’t fill us with optimism with black rocks dripping the overnight rain so after a bit of faffing about we decided to bail and head back to Wasdale. Three hours later we arrived back to a much better forecast for the area. Damn, should have stayed up there. But thanks to Dave and Gareth for joining me on this trip sorry to the others who couldn’t make it.
Will definitely do some more of this sort of mountaineering trip, joining several high crags together with a bit of lightweight bivvying. There’s a lot more to the Lakes than the roadside crags and it’s just an hour or so down the road, Wales and Scotland a few hours more.
The club’s WhatsApp group works really well as a means to turn your ideas into reality. It would be great if more members could share their ideas and they may well be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to find others who would enjoy turning those ideas into reality with them.
Trip report by Ian Daws