/ Overhanging Bastion
You are in 2019. Post rockfall.
I just stumbled across Andy Prickett's photos of an 80 year old Harry Smith climbing OB in a pair of borrowed approach shoes, for his birthday, back in 2008. Brilliant: https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/author.php?id=18988
Ascent and discussion on mountain circles facebook page
Cheers pasbury, old bean. 700 words should be following today once I have mastered the fiendishly difficult (to this ignoramus, like yours truly) forum technicalities. Rick Graham where you?
Good to see you're joining the modern world Tony ;)
OVERHANGING BASTION REFRESHED
A great Lake District classic has risen like a phoenix from the billowing smoke-like cloud of dust that rose from the left hand end of Castle Rock’s North Crag at the end of November. It was then that that part of the rock face long suspected of being on the point of collapse broke away with a “hellish gurt big rumble”. So recounted Thirlmere shepherd Skelt Robinson who’d been hard at work in the sheep pens across the dale.
At the very edge of complete extinction, the legendary route of Overhanging Bastion survived – after a fashion .
Evergreen Keswick craggie Colin Downer - Bramcrag Quarry guru and pioneer of countless sought-after trad gems - subsequently roped-up below the battered and much neglected climb with fellow climber Cameron Fowler. Their aim? To kick start rejuvenating what remained of the route.
Not only had the topmost section of OB’s famous ramp vanished with its traverse out to the “dubious rattly flakes” and yew tree finish, but the rest of the route was in bad repair: with dead trees, loose blocks, collapsed ledges and choss spilling down the forgotten face leading up to the pinnacle that offers the cruxy stepping-off launch on to the celebrated ramp.
First climbed on April Fool's Day in 1939 by quarryman Jim Birkett with Charlie Wilson from Carlisle (whose ashes are scattered high on the hill across the way) and Len Muscroft (in his bare hands he could bend two six inch nails together until they snapped into four bits), World War II broke out five months later. Overhanging Bastion was to be then as similarly ignored during the ensuing years of conflict as it has for a complexity different reason been shunned over recent years.
Colin explains: “It's long been known that Castle Rock's North Crag was booby-trapped by an ever-widening crack splitting the rock above. It was said 1,000 tonnes of rock the size of a bungalow were poised ready to fall. Climbers put it into mothballs, preferring to scale routes on the sunny South Crag instead. OB looked so abandoned after the rockfall. Crying out to be resurrected.”
A former coal mine engineer from Mansfield, he has long been used to working in gnarly conditions. The experience helped as he and Cameron reclaimed OB back to its former glory. Now the climb looks cool even though being on the North Crag, it's only at sunset that the rays really hit the ramp. Easily spotted through a smartphone camera viewfinder from Legburthwaite car park (CA12 4TQ) some distance below in St Johns in the Vale, it's truly out there, man.
Jim Birkett’s grandson, Dave, needs no introduction to UK Climbing readers.
After OB had been restored, he phoned the Downer residence out of the blue to offer his congratulations. “I was made up,” says Dave. “Grandad Jim would have approved. So would Charlie Wilson and Len Muscroft. The line looks magnificent. I last climbed it with my wife Mary who was pregnant at the time and remember the beautiful ramp that breaches a way up the overhanging rock
I’ve since abbed down the rockfall line following the giant trundle and can see the extent of the damage that's left a sheer sweep of face over 50ft wide. But for now, it's granddad's long-lost climb that's back in the limelight . . . OB looks stunning.”
Chuffed to receive such praise, Colin says: “All I want to do is get people climbing again on this magnificent crag.”
Overhanging Bastion - Revised
Still “The classic route of the crag” - HVS 5a
1 33m From the lowest point of the crag climb a very easy slab to a tree stamp. Use this to step on to the juggy wall and gain a grass ledge. Follow the corner above.
2 32m (5a) Ascend the slab on the left to the Pinnacle (possible belay). From the top stride across and step up boldly on to the ramp/gangway and follow it more easily to its top. (NB: it was from here pre-rockfall the route then descended and traversed out to the left, before climbing the rickety flakes up to the recess with a yew. Now all gone.)
From the top of the ramp climb up into a corner and ascend the obvious arête on flake holds to a ledge. Nut belays.
3 20m From the right hand end of the ledge, climb a wall on good holds to join the top of Zig Zag.
Colin Downer. Cameron Fowler. Alt leads.
4th January 2019
Newsflash (12/4/19): From the left hand edge of the ledge, a direct finish from the belay ascends directly to the top. (5b)
Have a like. Got there in the end, Tony.
Well done lads! OB was my first ever Lakes climb circa 1971 so it's great to see it restored. Always though it was 4c in the good old days? Still a great line!
Thanks Tony. How are you, by the way? And thanks Colin too. I'd like to think I can get on it still, though I expect it to be with more accoutrements (and trepidation) than I had in 1966 when tied on direct to a No 3 hawser laid nylon rope I'd bought from a bloke in a pub for £2.00!
Great write up Tony. Thanks for that.
Bloody brilliant, I’ll have to get up there soon and do it again.
Great story. Thanks for posting Tony....
Yo. Thanks Neil - and everyone. Nice one. Latest word is OB is already receiving ascents as of Good Friday, just as it has done for years past.
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