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50 Stars at Shepherd's Crag in Borrowdale

Image for article 50 Stars at Shepherd's Crag in Borrowdale

What better way to spend a glorious Sunny day in spring than to do a non-stop climbing day at one of the Lake Districts top spots, Shepherds Crag.

I’ve never been one for doing these all-day climbing style challenges. I’m more of a wake up late, have a cup of tea, porridge, maybe a cheeky croissant, then mooch on down to the crag. When Pete and I decided to take on this little Lakes challenge of doing all the Three-Star routes at Shepherds Crag, I will admit I was a little nervous. Trad climbing takes time… how the hell am I going to get 27 routes done in a day?

27 pitches… that’s basically El Cap!

I guess they’re not HARD climbs, but some of them aren’t easy either, and they all have that “adventurous” style to them which makes them more of an experience than your standard route.

We started out on classics like “The Bludgeon” (E1 5b), which for the grade is one tough little bugger! I went the wrong way at one point and started climbing into choss hell, then managed to down-climb and back onto the better quality rock. The upper overhanging head wall (the crux) was well protected, but pretty challenging on tight hand jams before pulling over on suspect holds for an airy exposed finale!

“Wild Sheep” (E2 5b) was another that gave more than what the grade would suggest, I’ve rarely felt as exposed climbing these sorts of grades outside of mountain crags or multipitch climbs.

Robbie Phillips climbing at Shepherd's Crag in Borrowdale

But my favourite of the day had to be the ultra classic “Little Chamonix” (VDiff). For the sake of being faster we solo’d it, but I wanted to repeat it again and again! I definitely wasn’t running up it, just casually hanging out on the exposed finale admiring the beauty of the Lake District.

As we rambled through the tick list we realised we were cutting it fine to finish before sunset having had such a leisurely start to our day… maybe we shouldn’t have lounged about in Merienda's drinking tea and eating pancakes all morning?

The term “Alpine Start” comes to mind; I’ve never been very good at those…

Pete Whittaker climbing at Shepherd's Crag in Borrowdale

Our last leads of the day were on North Buttress on the spectacular line of “True North” (E2 5b). I was trying to be faster at this point and scared myself more than I should have by missing some good nut placements, which would have made the crux feel a lot less dicey!

As the sky was turning a bit more orangey, we finished up by running solo laps on the very mild wall of Brown Slabs, a perfect way to finish the day of.

What a day out! Since then I’ve had a few more outings doing all-day challenges like this one and has inspired me to take on some harder challenges in the future in this style. I’d recommend anyone to take on the Shephards Crag 3-Star challenge; even if you don’t climb the harder end of the spectrum, just take on what you feel your comfortable with.

I mean, what better way to get loads of top quality Lake District climbing done? Here's a list of all our routes:

  1. "The Black Icicle" E1 5
  2. "Wild Sheep" E2 5b
  3. "Little Chamonix" VD
  4. "The Bludgeon" E1 5b
  5. "Creeping Jesus" HVS 5a
  6. "Kransic Crack Direct" HVS 5a
  7. "Fishers Folly" VS 4c
  8. "P.S." E1 5b
  9. "True North" E2 5b
  10. "Adam" VS 5a
  11. "Eve" VS 4c
  12. "Ardus" MVS 4b
  13. "Aaros" E1 5b
  14. "Finale" HVS 5a
  15. "Brown Slabs Direct" VD
  16. "Brown Slabs Arete" D
  17. "Brown Slabs Face" MS

Robbie Phillips

Photography by Euan Ryan, Finalcrux Films

7 June 2017 by Robbie Phillips

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