Sunday, 31 January 2010

My First Winter Climb !

The weather was going to be perfect, a midweek thaw and then freezing northerly winds would refreeze everything in the lakes, Saturday was going to be an opportunity too good to pass up.

 I have never done any winter mountaineering before I decided to jump in at the deep end a bit and head for Blencathra with my mate Ric. The plan was to go and see what the conditions were like, taking an easy route up Scales Fell, I really wanted winter scrambling but was well aware that I had 0 experience.

This is what greeted us when we arrived.

 Hall's Fell ridge was simply too tempting we decided that we would head up to the top of Blencathra and have a peak at sharp edge but probably avoid it.
Patchy snow and ice to start with, nothing that really worried me and to be honest I was just blown away at how amazing the whole mountain looked.

As we got higher, the ice axe and crampons had to come out and this was where the test began, Ric and I moved on with an equal share of caution and enthusiasm. It really was superb, ice and hard snow, it felt like a real adventure.

Ric puts on his game face!

Me posing! At least I have a new Facebook profile pic :P

 Moving with axe and crampons wasn't as hard or as intimidating as I thought, however in the back of my mind I really wasn't confident I could arrest a serious fall. The plan was go so and careful and don't slip!

Hall's Fell Ridge was so good I didn't want it to end! 

Coming close to the top now, I kept looking back and thinking "Did I really just come up that?" It was a bit surreal because this looked like a real snowy mountain, and I'm not a real mountaineer, well not yet anyway ;) 

The views from the top were stunning, not a cloud in the sky however the wind on the top was insanely cold, I had to take pictures qucikly, my hands couldn't take being out of my gloves for more than a minute or so.
The view down Hall's Fell Ridge.

 Looking out toward Skiddaw.

Me and Ric on the top with Skiddaw in the background.

Ric and I decided that we had so much fun coming up the ridge that we wanted more of the same and headed over to Sharp Edge for a look. Before we even got there we decided we were going to do it. Needless to say this would be a bit more testing than our first ridge.

Ric posing as we moved down Sharp Edge .

Moving along Sharp Edge was a lot harder than Hall's Fell Ridge. There was less bail out options and a much greater risk of taking a serious fall. This was not the most graceful of scrambles, scraping and inching along on hands, knees, always aware that a slip meant game over. Thinking back now I wasn't really that scared or intimidated but I was tested and had to really concentrate on what I was doing.
A quick look back up Sharp edge.

We finally made it down and again Ric and I looked back and said "Did we really just do that ?"


We had a quick stop for lunch in the sun below Sharp Edge and then we headed off to the car. The Day exceeded all my expectations. It was probably the best day I have ever had in the hills. It also proved to me if push yourself out of your comfort zone in the mountains you can learn a lot, just go carefully and be safe.


  1. Looks great, Ross. Wish I was there!

    Good choice for first winter ascent as you know the routes and lines.

  2. I've a little winter experience but want to get into good habits from the off so we're doing an advanced winter mountaineering course in the Cairngorms in February - should be very interesting indeed (and bloody cold). Yours was a great trip with some cracking photos. I take it your chum Ric was more experienced than you so gave you some pointers? If not, you're a fast learner, but then I guess you need to be in the Lakes in winter!