Pinnacle Ridge October 21
A small but select group of climbers fitting the spectrum of age and ability tending towards ‘mature’ has evolved in recent years. ‘Coffin Dodgers’ was the name that stuck, shortened to ‘Dodgers’ more recently. Monthly mid week meets have been growing in popularity and aspiring dodgers, including those with their own hair and teeth, have been joining us. Depending on weather, how we feel, and if we have remembered equipment, days out have been climbing, walking or scrambling. Or a combination of all three. Lakes venues are most common, being equidistant for John Smith who is exiled to Dumfries, and members elsewhere.
And so on a glorious still and warm October Friday Janet Wadsworth, Jim Dale, Dave Thompson and I made a rendezvous with John in the Rheghed car park. A scenic drive to Patterdale with wispy cloud just hanging over Ullswater set the mood. On road parking is no longer possible and so parking at the pub is required. The footpath ascends from just behind the Patterdale Hotel and the route from there follows the valley of Grisedale Beck below St Sunday Crag.
Too much chat and too little attention to route finding meant we were soon off piste and on steep grass and ascending very steep grass etc, but the objective remained clear; the rocky outcrop on the skyline, below St Sunday.
The guidebook states ‘this face and its approach gives a pioneering feeling, for few people come this way’. Despite us all having done this route several times, the description remains apt.
The views were a real bonus; across the deep trench of Grisedaleis the eastern face of Helvellyn, with Striding Edge in profile.
Pinnacle ridge is given a 3*** grade; the highest possible, and at a level of difficulty tending to rock climbing. For anyone not confident on rock, a rope is a requirement but for the Dodgers it was a rope free day. This speeds up the process and allows everyone to ascend independently and at their own speed.
It is a route that has it all; vertical rock that takes some thinking about, an exposed ridge, and a descent which the guidebook advises ‘use socks if greasy’! Does anyone still do that?
Reaching the summit of St Sunday there were views in every direction. An exhillarating and clear path to Fairfield meant it just got better. More peaks and lakes came into view, the sun glinted across the sea and to the east the Pennines were visible. To be able to linger on a wind free summit to enjoy the vista in late October was a privilege.
The descent was to Grisedale Tarn and then along the valley past the Ruthwaite Hut and back to Patterdale.