Thursday, 23 December 2010

Worth the Wait!

Have finally finished work prior to Christmas and a perusal of the usual suspect web forums showed that Cautley Spout was close to being fully formed. It looked like conditions would only get better through the week provided that the hordes didn't hack things to bits.

I'd wanted to do the Spout ever since I lived in the Lakes but it only comes in to complete condition very infrequently, though it was done last year in the big freeze, fifteen years seems to be about the periodicity. A week (well several actually!!) of sub-zero temperatures and if it wasn't in now then it would never be.

I'd arranged with Steve to head over today (Thursday) but had mentioned to Mike that we intended to do it so he'd taken another day off work as it was on his hit list as well. Another fifteen years and we'd be drawing our pensions!

By the time we got to the car park at the only pub in England that doesn't serve alcohol there were already half a dozen cars parked there. Looked like it was going to be busy so no use racing in to the route - we could take our time.

The first pitch is a 30m fall that is the last to form. Now however it was complete, wide enough for a team to take either side and avoid the thin crust over the main flow. A team of four was starting on the left so we'd go to the right. Steve and Mike had both said "Bob can lead the first pitch then we'll do some of the upper ones". Suited me. At least I didn't have to argue my case!

A team on the left and myself on the right on the first pitch.
 An easy apron lead to a steepening of slightly brittle ice so in with an ice-screw then sidestep the steep bit and up. It continued like this: steep ice avoided by side steps and moving up to a rest to the final couple of metres where it was easiest to climb the crust over the main flow and so to the belay. Mike and Steve followed together (thus managing to overtake the team of four).

A climber leading at about the same point as I am in the first shot.
Steve and Mike lead the next easy pitch together then we put the ropes away and headed up the gill. After a left turn, the upper falls are revealed. As ever ice when viewed front-on appears much steeper than it really is and so it proved, with the general angle being 45 degrees or so.

Steve on the upper falls.

The main flow was visible here so you had to choose between left or right and stick to it. Soon we were at the top having caught up some of the earlier teams.  Gear away and we headed back to the car, the whole route having taken about an hour and a half. The quarter of a century wait had been worth it.

More photos on my website


  1. Nice one Bob! I hadn't realised it came in condition so rarely. We did it yesterday - after a 5am start from my parents' house in the Midlands and a 200 mile drive for me! The first pitch is actually noticeably better formed in your pics than it was yesterday. I will puts some pictures on my blog soon.



  2. It sounded like it was a bit thinner last week when a friend did it. Surprised that it's thickened up overnight though.