Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Name of walk Blencathra via Sharp Edge
Date of walk 2010-05-18
Yesterday Ged, Kas and I went to Scales to climb Blencathra (2847ft) via the Sharp Edge ridge. I`ve done it twice before by the Halls Fell ridge, but as it was dry and windless we decided that today would be ideal to tackle the infamous Sharp Edge.

We parked in a layby before you get to Scales and took the path around the lower slopes of Scales Fell to the Glenderamackin Valley. The start of the route. The A66 is just in the trees


Looking at the gorse on the side of Souther Fell and down on the A66.


Souther Fell.


Foule Crag and Sharp Edge from the valley.


A closer view of the route.


Kas leads the way up


Three people on the ridge.


Scales Tarn.


We make a start up. The first bit is easy


Then it narrows! To be most stable you need to keep a low centre of gravity. I did a lot of hands and knees crawling on this bit. My shins and knees are well bruised today. Some people do stand up and walk, but one missed step and you have several hundred feet of drop both sides. Several people have fallen and died here in recent years. Just ahead you can see a guy in navy blue on the side of a rock, he was with a young woman who was so petrified she was unable to move. She remained there all the time we were climbing up and was helped off by the two experienced climbers from Leeds who we had chatted to on the way up. We had to climb down and around them. It was very exposed being on the side of the rock negotiating hand holds with nothing but a big drop below you. When I again reached the safety of bum on rock my knees were rather jelly-like! The ascent of Foule Crag also looks rather awesome and exposed!


From the safety of bum on rock I could look back and take some photos with the knowledge that the more difficult bit was still to come! There were three people just behind us which gave some perspective to the photos. This young man has just climbed over a bit of rock that I had just slithered over.


We are approaching what Wainwright calls "the awkward place, calling for a shuffle off a sloping slab on to a knife edge: countless posteriors have imparted a high polish to this spot." This is why it was important to do this route in dry weather...if wet it would be very slippery.


Looking down on Scales tarn.


His dad appears over the rock.


Looking back at the "awkward place" from the start of the climb up Foule Crag which Wainwright describes as "unpleasant"



I can only take photos when I can free my hands and turn around, which wasn`t very often! See...I said it was exposed!


Kas, on the lead, is doing very well!




Not far now!


Photo taken from the safety of the grass at the top of Foule Crag. We decided to have lunch here and chatted with the three people who were behind us, they had done Via Ferrata climbs in the Dolomites that were less scarey than this! The two experienced climbers who had helped the petrified woman joined us too, she was still making her way off very slowly


Blencathra summit looking over at Gategill Fell and Derwent water



Looking down Halls Fell ridge.


Our route down Scales Fell....we deserved something nice and easy!



It gives good views down.



Looking back up.


The path back to Scales

The walk was under six miles and had taken just over four hours. We stopped off at the White Horse in Scales for a well deserved drink.
I don`t think I`ll be repeating this route up Blencathra, I think once was enough! This is not a walk I would recommend to anyone who does not have nerves of steel. There are far easier and safer routes up for those of us who are not adrenalin junkies!