First Ascent of ‘Fragile Mind’ VIII/9, Bowfell

Today I went up to Bowfell with Tom Hodgkin to see what was looking good.  North Buttress was by far the best option and many steep mixed routes were looking good on there, also Cambridge Crag was fairly plastered.  Fight or Flight was as white as I’ve seen it…  Bowfell Buttress had snow on the ledges but looked stripped where steep.  There was loads of mad snow formations about and the approach along the climbers traverse was a bit dodgy in places, I’d recommend a different approach for now… We walked out by Mickleden which was quick…

We climbed a link up of a couple of different routes, the main crux pitch being unclimbed in winter.  The route climbs the arete right of Soul Vacation VIII/8.  The crux pitch of the route is also the crux pitch of the summer E4 5C Mindprobe.  We started at the extreme left end of the bay/shelf from which routes such as Skint and Single start.  This avoids the first pitch of Mindprobe which didn’t look like a logical winter pitch.  The majority of the first pitch of Soul Vacation could also be climbed to gain our starting belay and add another pitch to the route…

After the main pitch of Mindprobe we finished up the top pitch of the existing winter route Fragile Existence VII/8, hence the name ‘Fragile Mind’.  The crux pitch which is E4 in summer gave an awesome winter pitch, small hooks up thin shallow cracks climb a steep groove above a short overhang, small hooks and spaced small gear gives an absorbing pitch and one which was hard to grade, as its not massively long I suggested VIII/9?  The top pitch of Mindprobe might also be possible in winter and would give another hard pitch to this route.  The route was climbed ground up and attempted on-sight but unfortunately lobbed off the tenuous hooks on the crux pitch twice.

Fragile Mind VIII/9, North Buttress, Bowfell.

P1 – (9)  From the extreme left of the bay/shelf below ‘Skint and Single’ step left around the arete, climb a short corner and climb directly up through a short overhang to gain the parallel cracks running up the steep groove.  Follow these on thin hooks with some small gear possible.  Step right when possible onto an obvious ledge and around the arete to belay, this is the same belay used by Fragile Existence.  

P2 – (7)  Follow the top pitch of Fragile Existence….

Fragile Mind VIII/9
 Snow scoop below the Buttress
 Crux pitch
 North Buttress
 Crux groove


 Bowfell Buttress
 South Gully tracked
Another view of North Buttress

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