Summary: Jack's Rake is classed as a grade 1 scramble and it does involve regular use of your arms to pull you up to some of the steeper parts of the ascent. There are also some places that are extremely exposed so a head for heights is certainly required. Having said that the scramble is not at all difficult for experienced fell walkers. It is the initial nerves that need to be conquered as it was for me on my first climb of the rake. Follow me on this climb and you should gain a good idea of what to expect when you do the climb yourself.
The first part of the climb up to a distinct Rowan tree is made in the relative safely of a channelled groove which protects the climber from exposure to the hill face. It also provides a barrier against winds that may be buffeting the rest of Pavey Ark. The groove gave me a feeling of total security as I knew I could not fall off Pavey Ark sideways. All I could do on this section was slip down to a previous foothold. It is not a worrying start at all.
After the Rowan tree the reassuring groove peters away and you are certainly more exposed now. It is essential you study the next move carefully and makes sure that you stay as far right as possible. If this is done then you should not experience any real feeling of exposure. It is important from now on to stay focused on the job ahead of you and not look to your left when climbing.
Keeping your eyes focused on the task in hand is especially the case if you are a novice scrambler or if you do not have a head for heights. The scramble begins to tax your arms more from now on as you will need to drag yourself up areas such as the one Deke is pointing out in the photograph above. This is the narrowest part of Jack's Rake to negotiate.
Shortly after the Rowan tree there is one flat grassy area that I am seen on in the photograph above. This is extremely exposed and would not be a place to linger in cloud or rain as the drop to my left is severe. There is no protection at all, it is a sheer drop down. I look relaxed in the photograph and I was relaxed because in the conditions we climbed in it was no problem at all to stay on the grassed area. There was not one whiff of wind and visibility was perfect. Take away the visibility and imagine buffeting winds, then think what it would be like here.
The final section requires more use of the arms as there are some larger boulders that you must lift yourself over. It is not technically difficult but you must make sure you get good hand grips and also make sure your feet are firmly fixed into the rock. This is evident in the final two photographs that were taken near the top of the climb. In the first one Spud has to reach up then lift himself over the boulders on the final gap of the rake. In the final one I simply have to make a small leap and grab the top of the boulder with my hand before hauling myself up. After this we were up and Jack's Rake was done.