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Pillar Rock

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

High above Ennerdale, in a remote part of the Lake District sits a high and imposing crag. Pillar Rock.

This crag sits on the flanks of Pillar itself, it's an impressive lump of volcanic rock with far reaching views across the national park.

Pillar Rock is classed one of the 2000ft summits in England and Wales . This means it qualifies as a Birkett and Nuttall.

Nuttall's are tick lists comprised by hill walkers of all peaks that are 2000ft (610m) or more in altitude and above their surroundings by at least 15ft (50m)

There is a comprehensive list of all the summits here:

This is where we come in...

People are often looking to complete their lists and we are on hand to help folk achieve their goal of standing atop Pillar Rock.

The complex nature of the terrain and the steep sides means that rock climbing techniques are needed to summit this magnificent rock.

This summer has so far been one of our busiest yet for guiding on Pillar Rock. We ascend via a route called Slab and Notch. This 'climb' is graded Moderate. It is very high end scrambling and the climb offers up lots of exposure.

Firstly, the approach to Pillar Rock is long. It's a mountain crag and as such requires some effort and hill walking skills to get there. Here at Lake District Mountaineering, our preferred approach is from Wasdale, taking in the High Level Route; which is worth the walk in itself.

This is an impressive path that takes a line from Looking Stead across the hillside, traversing through some improbable terrain as it heads under and over some steep walls and crags as far as Robinson Cairn.

Robinsons Cairn is a memorial to the pioneering rock climber and founding member of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club, John Wilson Robinson. The views of Pillar Rock from here are impressive and imposing.

Our instructors are on hand to guide you through the experience and look after you in this terrain; this can vary from steep, loose scree to down climbing across slabs of rock and climbing back up on blocky walls of Rhyolite.

For this a rope is required and our guides will safeguard you using a series of techniques from 'short-roping' to pitched rock climbing skills. Rock climbing equipment will be used and placed into the rock and you will be shown how to use it, how to remove it when necessary and the guide will be setting up belays for you to climb safely, with a rope always above you for protection.

Once on the summit you will be able to enjoy the views and savour this amazing place. Stood atop this huge rock is an amazing feeling of remoteness.

Now, time for the descent. This is an abseil. We are on hand to manage the descent and this will be in the form of a lower, where we will lower you down the rock face.

You will be lowered into Jordan Gap first of all. This lower is around 15m but there are two lowers to complete. The second is a bit shorter and not as steep, down a broken gully of shattered rock.

From here, its onwards and upwards to the summit of Pillar. Heading to the very top of the mountain and summiting the main peak is a very satisfying way to end, and the walk back is easy enough, along the high ridge with far reaching views across the Scafell massif; all of the Lake District's big peaks are laid out in front of us on this walk down. This includes; Scafell Pike & Scafell. Lingmell, Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End, Great Gable and Kirk Fell. Stunning!
Scrambling up onto Slab and Notch

Our guides are affiliated with the Association of Mountaineering Instructors, meaning they are qualified and knowledgable; not just in their technical ability, but of the venue and the climb too.

If this sounds like a day for you, or if you have made Pillar Rock your goal then get in touch. We are happy to discuss your aspirations and we are wanting to help anyone looking to complete their round of Nuttall's!

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