Tuesday 28th August 2007
I was up from my bunk just after 6am on Day 2, and straight into the members’ kitchen to make up today’s soup - Heinz Beef Broth - and fill the bladders. While waiting for Jimmy to surface, I compared plans with the other early-rising hostellers. Everyone seemed to be heading for Great Gable, and I must admit it was nagging at me that it wasn’t in my original list, given that we were staying at Honister. We were originally going to do Scafell Pike G/LD-001 from Seathwaite today, but looking over the maps and checking with other hostellers, I considered walking from Honister, over Great Gable to Scafell Pike.
Summit 4: Great Gable G/LD-005 - 8 points
Most it seems, take the direct climb from behind the slate mine to approach Great Gable. I didn’t fancy such a punishing start to the day, so walked up the disused tramway from the mine up to the top section where the slate mine tour bus ferries the customers. Here, we branched left along a well established mountain path that took us into the heart of the Lake District fells. This was great stuff. Immediately before us were Kirk Fell G/LD-014 and Pillar G/LD-006. Kirk Fell looked a fairly doable proposition, whereas Pillar just looked enormous! “Why don’t we scrap Scafell Pike for today, and do Great Gable with Kirk Fell?” suggested Jimmy. Still not convinced that my idea of following Great Gable with Scafell Pike was altogether sensible, “Splendid idea son” was my reply.
Curling around to the left opened up the view of Great Gable with Green Gable to its left, separate by the steep looking route up to Windy Gap. This was my original intended approach, but I decided we would continue around the path to the western flank of Great Gable and ascent from there.
From all angles, Great Gable looked steep, rocky, dangerous and a bit impossible. However, walkers were all going at it, and progressing upwards. Jimmy set off, and soon left me well behind. I mislaid the ascent path several times and repeatedly found myself scrambling over boulders, which was tiring work. If I had only took a little more time to follow the cairns, the path would have been tracked easily, but then again the scrambling was something different and quite a lot of fun, if hard work.
The steep ascent just seemed to keep going up and up, but eventually the gradient eased and I could see a clutch of people on the summit - including Jimmy. Simon M3IWN/P was heard calling from Skiddaw G/LD-004, so he was our first contact for the summit-to-summit. We then had a break to enjoy the Beef Broth soup, and more importantly, the views. I had heard it said that Great Gable afforded the best view in the Lake District, but I had to disagree. For me, this was the best view so far from any UK mountain. It was simply stunning, with contrasting panoramic vistas in all directions. Turning one’s head a few derees revealed yet another stunning view. Breathtaking.
Several others from Honister YHA were on summit, so we said hello to them again, before returning to the radio and making a further seven QSOs, including GW0DSP, now with 4 out of 4 and expressing his personal target to work us on every LD activation of our trip.
Descending from the rocky summit was time-consuming, but care was needed. Even following the cairned path, some minor scrambling was necessary on occasions. I advertised the summit view enthusiastically to those ascending as I passed them. Once on horizontal ground, it was a very short walk across to where the ascent begins for Kirk Fell G/LD-014. It still looked pretty steep, but not in the same league as Great Gable. I kind of liked the idea of another 8 pointer for little more than 150m of ascent! Before commencing the main ascent, we sat down and enjoyed the fabulous view out to Wasdale.