Pillar North Face
Slightly similar to: Grandes Jorasses 4208m
Because: The Walker Spur (Grandes Jorasses) and Walker’s Gully (Pillar) are neither of them places for walkers.
The Grandes Jorasses, below Mont Blanc, form a north wall one km wide and 1200m high. Rébuffat was blown away not just by its granite and icy avalanche couloirs – but because of its beauty. “Solid yet shapely, it has grace despite its bulk. Its crest is half way to heaven. It is a living thing.”
The Lakeland version has to be the grand north face of Pillar, rising above Ennerdale in a jumble of rocks, waterfalls and hanging birch trees. Small crags give way to bigger ones, the wide slab of the Shamrock Buttress, and the magnificence of Pillar Rock.
The finest line on the Jorasses is the Walker Spur; steep, rough granite interrupted by sheets of ice, leading like an arrow to the mountain’s true summit. Pillar has a serious ascent as well: Grade 3 scrambling by the West Waterfall and Pillar Rock’s top. For her 1993 achievement of the ‘Big Six’ in a single summer, Alison Hargreaves chose the less formidable Central Spur. Free of sponsorship or self-promotion, walkers too can take an easier, climb-free line up Pillar.
First published in The Great Outdoors April 2015