Scafell & Wasdale (2014)
Written by: Al Phizacklea and Ron Kenyon
The Fell and Rock Cllimbing Club of the English Lake District
“There are very few places in Britain that offer the breadth of high calibre
climbing that can be enjoyed on the crags of Scafell” says Steve Scott in the
introduction to the Central Buttress Centenary Edition of the Scafell and
Wasdale guide by the FRCC. The guide has a modern feel and is light enough to
take to the top of England’s highest mountains. It has clearly been written by
people with a passion for the area.
This is hidden away at the rear of the guide but it is well worth reading
and it is illustrated with some timeless photographs too.The first records of
activities on these mountains are mere scrambles dated 1837. The popular V Diff
Slingsby Chimney was ascended way back in 1888. My old Durham Mountaineering
Club climbing partner Bob Bennett and his friends enjoyed a photo opportunity
after climbing over 50 new routes on Buckbarrow in 1973 and 1974. On a June day
in 1986 Chris Sowden took the lead from Martin Berzins to produce the much
respected Borderline creating the first in the area E6 at the time. It now gets
E7! Ross and Locky re-enter the history books in 1991 for their superb Swan
Song. Rob Matheson is still finding new route opportunities after 36 years of
The Top Fives
They offer both inspiration and insight, the contributors are a veritable
who’s who; Pete Botterill, Martin Berzins, Dave Birkett, Al Phizacklea, Rob
Matteson, James McHaffie, Colin Read, Angela Soper, Chris Bonington, Bill Young,
The whole area is littered with classic routes; Mickledore Grooves, Moss
Gill Grooves, Botterill's Slab, Great Eastern, Lord of the Rings, Saxon, Ichabod,
The Nazgul, White Wizard, Lost Horizons, Shere Khan, Ringwraith, Borderline,
Another Lonely Day, Nowt but a Fleein’ Thing. But one routes stands out above
them all and that is Central Buttress, which was first climbed on 20 April 1914.
This guidebook certainly honours the achievement of these early pioneers and all
those bold and brave ascents that have followed.
Harvey Maps and excellent photo plans coupled with clear photo diagrams will
lead you with ease to your chosen route. The descent from many of the crags
described can be difficult and dangerous so it is good to see the clear
presentation of the best ways back down. Please be sure to take care especially
descending off the East Buttress and Scafell Crags as there have been too many
I was not impressed by the choice of the cover photo but there are many
superb action photos inside. However Joe Holden obviously didn’t read the Notes
for Photographers on page 310 about clutter before taking his photo on page 186!
The photos that I did like included Andy Mitchell tackling Black Rider E5 on
page 29 and Ed Brown gasping on Entonox E7 on page 105 (I was lucky enough to be
there the day Nick Wharton made his impressive first ascent of Entonox in 1995.
I was pleased as punch to have onsighted Shere Khan then stood back in awe to
watch Nick make a brilliant and bold ascent of this superb overhanging arete).
So I was surprised to see that the next excellent shot was George Ulrich
climbing Shere Khan E5 on page 114. The classic image of Dave Birkett making the
pinky mono move on Welcome to the Cruel World E9 on page 127 is nicely balanced
by Eric Parker and Michael Kenyon writhing up Central Chimney Severe on page
248. The tightly cropped shot of Iain Small fighting with Borderline E7 on page
133 tells it’s own tale while the excellent picture of The Buckbarrow Needle VS
on page 277 would have been superb as a double page spread. What can I say about
Dave Birkett pulling on make believe hand holds on Hasty Sin Oot Ert Hoonds? E9
page 307, well I’ve added down that line and I told Dave it was unclimbable! But
for me the very best is the final action photo which is a stunning shot of Dave
Birkett on Nowt but a Fleein’ Thing up on Cam Crag taken by Alastair Lee (on
There are useful notes at the back and finally a detailed index of climbs.
This excellent updated guide describes all the climbing on Scafell, Scafell
Pike, Round How Area, Brad Crag Area, Great End Wasdale, Great End Borrowdale,
Mosedale, Overbeck, Buckbarrow and the Wasdale Screes. All that is but a few
lines here and there that have returned to the undergrowth and the historical
record of these obsolete adventures are recorded on the FRCC website for
posterity. I can recommend updating to this excellent guide book before the
summer arrives on the mountain crags.
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