Finally, after a few weeks of work and family commitments I was a free man! My mate Chris in Sheffield was under strict orders to monitor conditions as soon as it started to go cold on Wednesday. We were still agonising on Friday having decided that The Downfall wouldn’t be in and I was all for going snowshoeing on the North York Moors, a 7.00am phone call had me repacking the sack for a winter climbing day. Now many of you may have climbed The Downfall, many more will have slogged up the hour or so to find it unclimbable, many may have got to Mam Tor only to find the shale thawed too much, but if you keep walking along the ridge you will be rewarded with some great easy and mid grade mixed climbing that often in condition, all it takes is a few days of North Westerlies to freeze the turf and covering of snow and you can have a good day out with just a gentle ½ hour walk in, with the added bonus of often having the crag to yourself.
The crag was sheltered from the biting wind and we started at the left hand side and the chased the shade rightwards, as the sun was stripping the smattering of snow very quickly. There are no named routes as you can climb anywhere on the whole crag with nothing harder than III 4. The routes are 50m and you can make them as easy or as hard as you like as it’s often short steep steps with easier sections. Much of the rock is loose, but sections do offer good rock protection, leave the ice screws at home. So next time you feel that you need an easy day or don’t fancy the crowds at The Downfall then Back Tor may well be your answer. Let’s hope the freeze continues.
Hardware – Black Diamond Viper axes, Grivel G14 crampons, Black Diamond wired hexes, DMM 4CU cams, Beal Joker 9.1mm single rope
Clothing – Smartwool Midweight Zip (testing), Mountain Equipment G2 Ulimate Mounatin Pants, Patagonia Dimension jacket, Black Diamond Torque gloves