Scrambling course: Tarn Crag & Pavey Ark


Today we ran a scrambling course and some guided scrambling for Tim who was up in the Lakes from Milton Keynes. Tim was keen to spend the day with us and learn some new skills to allow him to take to some scrambles on his own.

We met Tim in Langdale and after a quick chat headed up Stickle Ghyll – a Grade 1 scramble which follows the river up to Stickle Tarn. This is great way of gaining height – so much more fun than the normal slog up the path. Most of the route is simple boulder hopping, but there are a couple of rock steps and longer scrambling lines that run alongside some of the bigger waterfalls in the ghyll. On the way, we looked at some movement technique and spotting, before leaving the ghyll a few hundred meters before Stickle Tarn.

Our next destination was Tarn Crag, which lies to the right of Stickle Ghyll at an altitude of around 400m. Tarn Crag is a great place for scrambling with loads of different ways up the crag to choose from – grades vary from Grade 1 ground, up to Grade 3 and even into the easier climbing grades.

Tim wanted to learn about the different sorts of climbing gear that he might need to use when scrambling on harder ground, so we spent some time looking at how to place wires, nuts and how to use slings to protect ourselves whilst scrambling.

We chose the classic of the crag for our second route of the day – The Groove – a Grade 3 line up the left side of the crag. The initial groove gives pleasant, if slightly awkward scrambling to grassy ledges after 10 meters or so, where things get easier. The actual line looked a bit tame for us today, so we headed further right and tackled some of the steeper walls which were probably graded nearer V Diff. This gave us plenty of opportunity to look at different gear placements before climbing out of the difficulties onto some nice grassy ledges.┬áThe rest of The Groove is straight forward Grade 1/2 ground to the summit of Tarn Crag.

On summiting it was time for more learning. Tim was keen to understand how to set up anchors for belays, to safeguard his scrambling partners on more difficult ground, so we spent some time looking at various different setups and how to get these properly equalised to make a safe belay. We also looked at how to retreat safely from routes by abseil and the various options that we could consider in this scenario.

To finish the day, we headed over the summit and to Stickle Tarn, where I gave Tim the choice of a couple of classic lines up Pavey Ark. Tim liked the look of the line of Jacks Rake so we headed up in good style, enjoying the shade of the groove on our way until summiting on Pavey Ark and then wandering leisurely back down Stickle Ghyll to the cars.

A great day in some seriously warm weather! Thanks Tim.


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Scrambling on the summit of Pavey Ark

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Great views from the top of Jacks Rake

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Scrambling up the final slabs on Jacks Rake

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Half way on Jacks Rake

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Topping out on The Groove – Tarn Crag

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