Scafell Pike North Face
Slightly similar to: Matterhorn 4478m
Because: they’re both rather big
“This magnificent heap of rubble,” Rébuffat calls the Matterhorn; admitting that its 1200m of loose rock held together with glassy ice, unprotected and exposed as it is, can be a bit of a trudge – were it not for the magnificence of the mountain itself. With bits constantly dropping off it, the way up is different every time.
The lower part of Scafell Pike is alongside the chasm of Piers Gill. Here there is a path, broken by a short scrambly bit, and a 30-second side trip to the tempting Middleboot Knotts. But once across the Corridor path, Scafell Pike becomes a virgin summit – ‘virgin’ in the sense of being pathless and not mentioned in Wainwright. You could try the fantasy right-of-way inscribed by some imaginative mapmaker. You could try due south and see what happens. Or you could attempt the north face ideal: the line taken by a drop of water on its way down from the summit.
High up the way is blocked by Dropping Crag. It would spoil things to suggest either particular side of it. The stonefield above could be a Matterhorn-like trudge – were it not for the splendidness of Scafell Pike itself, and the satisfaction of arriving from an entirely eccentric direction.
First published in The Great Outdoors April 2015
Words and pictures Ronald Turnbull