Updated: Apr 30, 2021
This week we headed out to Napes Needle with award winning adventure sports photographer, Nadir Khan. Nadir is currently working on his new book, Extreme Lakeland, which showcases adventure sports in the Lake District’s stunning Mountains and Lakes. Following on from Extreme Scotland, this promises to be an outstanding collection of photographs and words, set to inspire the next generation of adventure-addicts.
In Extreme Lakeland, Nadir plans to pay homage to the original adventure sports photographers, the Abraham brothers from Keswick.
The walk-in to the Napes Needle takes you through some of the finest Lakeland scenery, the high mountain crags are all around you as you walk up to Sty Head, then around onto the southern flank of Great Gable. Here we were rewarded with a view of the entire length of Wast Water and out into the Irish sea. A truly awe-inspiring sight! The weather on the day was much hotter than forecast. Both Lyndon and Antony appreciated the opportunity to stop and enjoy the view as they cooled off, walking-in dressed as a Victorian climber is hot, hot, hot work.
Continuing our traverse into Napes Needle, we had a brief stop at Kern Knotts for some preliminary shots. Lyndon cut a few shapes on the 3-star classic, Innominate Crack (VS 4b). Getting to grips with climbing in heavy tweed breaches and boots took a little doing. But as a consummate professional, he was well up for the challenge. The lack of ‘feel’ whilst wearing boots ensured a more arm focussed work-out…. It’s all good training.
On our way again, relaxing into our roles as Victorian climbers. Napes Needle soon appeared ahead of us. An improbable tower of rock standing independently of the main buttress, its mass loomed over us as we eventually toiled-up Needle gully to sit under its west face. A lattice work of wide cracks adorns this face.
Our intended route up the monolith was via Wasdale Crack(HS), the route taken by the original ascensionist Walter Parry Haskett Smit(1886). After a well-earned break to cool down, we geared-up. Harnesses and gear hidden beneath our costumes, ropes tired around our waists in the style of the day, we eyed up the task before us. This would be awkward.
The actual climbing turned out to be relatively straight forward, but as any ascensionist will affirm, the rope-work was not quite so. We endeavoured to look cool and stylish, perhaps failing to do so a little at times in our bulky attire. Nadir gave us some direction from his vantage point across the other side of the gully….. ‘Lyndon, just stand on Ant’s shoulders like the Victorians would have done’ cheers for that Nadir…. Lyndon’s a pretty big lad!
With the summit pose captured and iconic images committed to film, we returned to the foot of the climb with short, but atmospheric abseil…. Mission accomplished….. not quite. Why head all that way for a quick climb? Above us stood Needle Ridge, a 3-star classic and logical continuation to the climbing day. We set-off as a rope of three, Nadir snapping away as he spotted good angles and opportunities. Ant and Lyndon working some great poses, the finest of which in my honest opinion, was Lyndon’s uncanny ability to look like the Rock-climbing legend Don Whillians. A well-received compliment in Lyndon’s mind I reckon.
Atop the ridge, work done. We savoured the stunning scenery of the Lake District, uninterrupted views across the head of the valley toward Scafell and out toward the Irish sea. What a day to be out having fun.
We finished-off the day with a exciting scree-run down Hell Gate gully and a steady stroll back to Seathwaite. The perfect end to a great day.
We said our goodbyes to Nadir, committed to memory yet another fantastic day out in the Lake District, and smiled like complete berks all the way home still dressed in Tweed and big boots.
It is a privilege to be able to live and work in the National park. Lakes Adventure specialises in taking people out and guiding them amongst the crags and fells, showing them the absolute best that the Lakes has to offer. Today was a real adventure, also an education, it gave us all a brief insight into the lives of those that forged the way, setting the standards and laying a path that modern climbers now follow.
We hope to see you all out there this summer, cutting around the crags and having fun.
Ant and Lyndon
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