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Mountaineering Feature - BUTTERMERE

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

High above the Buttermere valley is Birkness Coombe. Here you will find a series of crags offering great rock climbing across all grades and lots of scrambling too - making this place a fantastic mountaineering venue in a beautiful setting.

We walked in early to avoid the heat and headed for Grey Crag - which sits just under the summit of High Stile. We were headed for a series of three routes so we could link up a mountaineering enchainment to the top of High Stile and the Buttermere skyline.

The first route at this crag was Harrow Buttress - a two pitch rock climb graded Difficult. We set off up the initial polished holds and into a chimney. Lake District chimneys always feel awkward to me and this one certainly was, especially with the rucksack on. After belaying on a huge ledge and massive flake we climbed the second pitch which offered a series of dramatic moves past an overhang and on to the top.

Climber seconding Oxford & Cambridge Direct on Grey Crag - Buttermere
Climbing on Grey Crag

After some scrambling and moving together we reached our second route of the day - Slabs Ordinary Route. This was a three pitch Very Difficult climb. The first pitch is short and the second pitch moves around a little, first climbing left and then rightwards on a slab before belaying below a corner crack. The corner crack is then a delight to climb and is definitely the highlight of this route.

After some lunch it was on to climb on the upper section of Grey Crag - Oxford & Cambridge Buttress - this is the where our final route lies. Oxford & Cambridge Direct is one of the best pitches of Severe graded rock climbing I have climbed in the Lake District. It was fantastically exposed on the arete before making a hard move through the crux section, which is reliant on friction and taking a mega hold for sanctuary.

Climber on Oxford & Cambridge Direct on Grey Crags - Buttermere
Oxford & Cambridge Direct

Once this is done its on to the top and a belay before continuing to High Stile, onto Red Pike and descent via Bleaberry Tarn. We swam briefly before heading back into Buttermere and home.

What a fantastic day in the mountains, one we would recommend to anyone and one that can be done as a guided day and booked through the mountaineering section of the website.

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