Classic RC Journal article: HM Kelly [1927] on the first ascent of Moss Ghyll Grooves

A new venture for the Website entitled: Classic RC Journal articles

The first chosen is ‘The History of Moss Ghyll Grooves’ by HM Kelly [please click on link], which appeared in the 1927 RCJ, the year after his first ascent. His list of first ascents also includes such classics as Rib and Slab [Pillar]  and Tophet Wall [Gable] and he was President of the Club for 1930/31. This article also appears in “From Kinder Scout to Kathmandu; A Rucksack Club Anthology 1907-1986” published by The Rucksack Club in 1987.

It is a classic article about one of the great climbs of the Lake District. I first became aware of it when Classic Rock was first published in 1978 and, in the arrogance of youth, determined it would be a climb to do when I got older…sure enough I finally climbed it in 2018! 

Andy Tomlinson on 2nd pitch Moss Ghyll Grooves, just before moving out left to the ‘Pedestal’ as described by Kelly.  Photo: Jeremy Windsor.


  1. Great post Andy, I turned back on it in 1962 no faith in a jammed not runner. Two years later turned back on another great route when I lost my “Shibboleth” My mate Stan said we have turned back on the best climbs in Britain. Still not done them!!

  2. I did SHIBBOLETH with Mike Ryan and the late Dave Booth around 2012 what a route, we did the TRUE FINISH which puts it up a grade, sharing leads it is the hardest trad route i have ever done in Scotland. Amazing lead by Robin Smith with the gear he would have had or not!!,even with a modern rack its still no pushover.

  3. When I first climbed it in my 20’s it was the height of my ambitions, at Mild VS it was a step up. I had Greenop’s Up to Hard Severe Guide (anyone remember that?) which wonderfully described the moves left to the pedestal as made possible by ‘a small foothold, prominent in its utter singularity’. We trudged up from Borrowdale loaded up for an overnight bivvy, and first did Hopkinson’s Cairn Direct from Lords Rake. Moss Ghyll Grooves did not disappoint, in the golden sunshine of a summer evening with Scafell Crag to ourselves. Just perfect. Next morning we did Woodhead’s on the Pinnacle in swirling mist before heading back to Borrowdale, no doubt for a beer or three.

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