Murrays Route, Dow Crag

I know, it’s a bit weak really, I’ve never been to Dow; the hill or the crag, before. In my defence it does have a bit of a reputation, the kind that makes you want the right conditions before you take the plunge.

This week conditions arrived, and then some! Blimey it’s been hot. A trip to Pavey Ark, described by one friend as “a big sponge” had to be curtailed due to heat: In March!

First visits to any crag usually overawe me, I was expecting to be, and was duly overawed by Dow. The phrases ‘amazing rock architecture’ and ‘serious territory’ could have been applied if i hadn’t been busy trying not to get too freaked. At least our early start was rewarded with sun bathed walls.

Southern Slabs (S)

Mark’s route of choice was a variation start to C’Ordinary – Southern Slabs (S) came out favourite. From the starting belay there was opportunity to admire the hard climbs above Woodhouse’s Pinnacle (Woodhouses Arete E6, Shining Path E5 and Paths to Victory) lots of wild looking overhangs and even more scary looking rusty pegs.. Southern Slabs turned out to be a pleasant meander across the slabs looking for some kind of gear placement. One does feel one ought to try and place some.

The route finished at Easy Terrace. I was a little concerned about the decent; as I usually am in new venues. Having someone who knows the way off takes off the stress that you might go wrong and plunge to your death; Just the not tripping up and plunging to your death to worry about then. As these things invariably are, the decent turned out not to be to bad.

Murray’s Route (S 4a)

Murray’s was my route choice, I figured a classic rock tick might be nice. The proviso was that I led the 1st pitch; the slab of which is regarded the crux. I found the preceding chimney harder, certainly more intimidating, It took a cheeky thread runner and the appearance of some solid holds about half way up to bring back a little confidence. Conversely the slab seemed all there in terms of feet and holds, although a little polished. I quite enjoyed the working your feet across the slab part.

Mark led through into Abraham’s Cave. We split the traverse pitch into 2 – both sling-on-flake’tastic and some pretty wild positions. The final pitch also fell to me, some lovely moves I thought, laying off the edge of the crack. The difficulties over I managed to reach easy terrace , just! on our 40m ropes.

As we topped out we saw we no longer had the crag to ourselves, and watched a couple of guys on what we guessed must be Eliminate A – which also looks like it gets into some pretty wild positions.