Slightly similar to: Piz Badile 3308m
Because: they’re both minor mountains with better routes than they deserve
Rising from the woods of Bregaglia valley, Piz Badile offers a north face that’s a slab of granite 1000m high. There’s a line of climbable corners, discovered by the great Riccardo Cassin. Rébuffat “marvelled at the audacity of such a route... the climbing airy as you could wish”. Dale Head, a triangle of scree and scrappy rock blocking off the head of Newlands, has its own ‘audacious line’; one caused by copper miners rather than the great Cassin.
To undertake these Lakeland faces as two-day expeditions would be bonkers. None of them is more than a three-hour ascent. But then... walking up Scafell Pike is pointless. So why not drop one letter: and (just for the L of it) turn walking up to waking up. As Rébuffat says: “The man who bivouacs becomes one with the mountain. On his bed of stone, leaning against the great wall... facing empty space which has become his friend, he watches the stars and sleeps again.”
In the hollow below Dale Head’s upper screes there’s a ruined mine building, and a tiny stream. As night falls you watch the colours change on the face of Skiddaw, six miles away; listen to the breeze, and the tinkle of the stream. In the morning, find the faint way up into the scree, and slant up the path a footfall wide, to an exciting arrival on the high ridgeline just below the summit.
First published in The Great Outdoors April 2015
Words and pictures Ronald Turnbull