>Cautley Spout


Following another cold night in Cumbria (-15c in Shap) and sub-zero daytime temperatures, we decided to head over to the Howgills to scope out Cautley Spout. We had some information that the top two pitches had formed earlier in the week so with a little bit of luck, the rest may have come in.

Approaching Cautley Spout


For those who’ve not visited before, Cautley Spout forms a delighful grade 3 ice route, not often in condition, and only a short walk from the main A-road running north from Sedbergh. As we parked up next to the Cross Keys Inn, Al Hinkes emerged from the car in front of us, along with two other climbers.

We set off, keen not to get stuck in any queue of traffic, from a distance, things looked promising, the main pitch certainly contained ice.

Smears of ice visible

As we neared the base it was clear that whilst it has begun to form, it was far from vintage conditions. Water was still pouring down the main central section. But there was another team ahead of us, who seemed to be negotiating their way up the left hand side.

Pitch One

We finally set off, dodging the spray that was raining down on us, the ice was sticky, in places complete and utter rubbish, slushy, unstable and certainly not protectable..


Spray and crud

I took the decision to climb fast and efficiently – ice screws seemed fairly pointless. I had managed to fashion an ice thread a third of the way up, but again that wouldnt hold up much.

The best line if futher right….honest!

The second short pitch was not much better, brittle ice and streams of water, again which could be outflanked on the left. From here things improved slightly, at the least the ice seemed solid, even take the off half decent screw on the final pitch.

Better ice on the upper pitches

Another few days of freezing weather should see it improve no end, but considering the amount of people who were there this afternoon I suspect it could be busy.


About Richard Talbot

An accomplished fell-runner as well as being a keen climber and mountaineer. Since 2005 he has worked for the UK based manufacturer Mountain Equipment and is currently Director of Product. He has worked in the outdoor industry for over 15 years.
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