>Saturday morning dawned distinctly damp. Thank-god for that I thought, the perfect excuse for a lie-in.
Rich Bailey sent me a text, he was running late. The lingering hill-fog and autumn dampness was having the same effect on him.
Somewhere quick to get to and that would be dry limited our choice to only a few crags and Castle Rock won the vote. This bastion of rock has two very contrasting sides. Its north side consisting of brooding serrated rock and overhangs and its south side with its compact steep slabs.
Autumn colours from Castle Rock, St Johns in the Vale, Lake District
Once we got to the crag, I was in no hurry to de-layer. The short walk might have warmed me up but it was certainly not warm as sunlight occasionally filtered through the grey cloud. A quick blast up Kleine Rinne (VS 4c) helped to persuade some of the morning lethargy out of the body. After some truly amateurish communication issues, the day was settling down. The rock was a little greasy but was drying slowly and it was not too busy.
Rich Bailey nearing the top of Kleine Rinne
It was then onto the classic Gazebo – a brilliant HVS that follows a logical and direct line straight up the steep slab with holds where you need them and good gear.
The afternoon ended with a blast up the not so popular line of Failed Romantic. This E1 doesnt even make it into the selective FRCC guide but its actually really good. Only in its middle third does it ever feel slightly contrived and easy to escape, the rest is solid climbing with an athletic start to pull through an initial overhang and get established on the face proper and the the final sting in the tail. A delightful right to left traverse, with reasonable gear once you have fiddled about a bit, and generally good holds, but mess your feet up and that finger crack begins to open up enough to make you double check those wires.