6 British Multi-Pitch Routes

Multi-pitch route

One of the major goals of any climber is to build up the necessary skills to attempt a major multi pitch route. The growing exposure beneath your heels, the exhilaration of a hanging belay halfway up a grand rock face and the fulfilment of topping out after a full day of adventure on just one climb are amongst the finest experiences on offer in climbing.

In the UK we are blessed with a superb selection of multi-pitch climbs from the sea cliffs of the South West to the limestone of Yorkshire and the Peak District.  But if it’s the really big routes you are after then you will have to look to the mountains of Scotland, Wales and the Lake District.  Here’s six of our favourites.

Tower Ridge Diff, 600m, Ben Nevis, Scotland

First climbed in 1892 Tower Ridge still attracts devotees each year.  As one of the longest rock routes in the UK and a dominating feature on the north face of Britain’s highest mountain its attraction is obvious.  A lot of the climbing is steady, if exposed, scrambling interspersed with more challenging chimneys, traverses and steps.  Route finding “nous” is essential and the sheer scale of the route shouldn’t be underestimated.  The competent and prepared will be rewarded with the highest finish of any UK rock route.

Grooved Arete V Diff, 120m, 5 Pitches, Pikes Crag, Scafell, Lake District

Pike’s Crag is Scafell’s friendly side with its clean rock catching all the sun going.  A prominent arete falls from its highest point and it comes as a surprise to find a relatively amenable route climbs such an impressive feature.  Grooved Arete isn’t a giveaway at the grade with some fairly steep crack climbing but holds and protection abound and the views over Wasdale are stunning.

Troutdale Pinnacle S, 105m, 6 pitches, Black Crag, Borrowdale, Lake District

It is easy to see why Troutdale Pinnacle is often many climbers first multi pitch route.  Solid reliable rock, good protection, excellent stances and six pitches of diverse and interesting climbing.  Add to that the setting of Black Crag high in Troutdale valley and you have the recipe for a perfect days climbing.

Main Wall HS 4b, 140m, 6 pitches, Cyrn Las, Llanberis Pass, N Wales

One of the great mountain classics of North Wales, Main Wall has an imposing feel to it for the grade.  Technical interest is sustained throughout, with the exposure building to a climax on the superbly positioned fifth pitch.  Moving up the edge of the slab here with the whole of the Llanberis pass at your heels is a memory that will last a lifetime.

Botterill Slab VS 4c, 87m, 3 pitches, Scafell, Lake District

Of the great walls of Scafell perhaps Central Buttress is the most impressive.  Botterill’s Slab takes a compelling line up a slanting rake on its left.  The main pitch a long golden slab just begging to be climbed.

Centurion HVS 5a, 190m, 7 pitches, Ben Nevis, Scotland

Carn Dearg is the steepest most imposing buttress on Ben Nevis dominating the view on the walk up.  Centurion takes the huge corner line up the middle with climbing of quality to match such an eye catching line.  Scottish grades are notoriously tough, and pitch two can remain damp but gird your loins and you will be rewarded with sustained, steep and sensational climbing up one of the UK’s great multi-pitch challenges.



Writer and expert