Sunday, 14 February 2010

More Fun in the White Stuff !

After my first successful winter scramble on Blencathra, I was hungry for more. I decided that it would have to be another classic lakes scramble, Striding Edge and Swirral Edge. The weather reports were good and both edges were in full winter condition, so I emailed Ric and off we went !  

It was a grey cold start to the morning but the distant hills showed promise, so we set off from Patterdale eager to get up into the snow.

As Ric and I headed further up we began to encounter more and more snow, things were starting to look really good. We continued up to 'Hole in the Wall', where there was significantly more snow and a whole bunch of people in process of gearing up with axes, crampons, harnesses and ropes etc.

 As we left hole in the wall the weather began to close in, the wind picked up, it began to snow and visibility dropped. I have never been in a real white out, this came close.

I couldn't see much from here and I began to wonder if we would actually see any of Striding Edge. I felt a bit sorry for Ric because it was the first time he had been on the ridge and he was going to miss the views. 

 Fortunately for us the weather began to clear up and Striding Edge began to reveal itself in all its wintry glory.

The view from the ridge to Helvellyn was amazing, it seemed like a different mountain with its winter coat on, positively alpine. 

We made good progress along the ridge and in the back of my mind I was preparing for the customary backlog when we got to what some call the "bad step". 

As predicted there was a queue,  some people were climbing down to the side of the bad step just to get past people who were moving slower.

I started to get a little concerned that the climb down might be more difficult in winter than I had thought, as there seemed to be quite a few struggling with it. In the end Ric and I decided that we didn't want to wait any longer and just went down to the side of it. When I looked back I realised that climbing down to the side of the step was probably harder than coming down the step itself. 

Me descending.

From the bottom of the "bad step it didn't look too bad, but you would be surprised how often it catches people out.

 With the only tricky scrambling done it was time for the final push up the snow slope to the top of Helvellyn.

 Me on the snow slope to the top.

 Looking back along Striding Edge, almost at the top.
Heading toward the summit.

We tagged the summit and headed straight over to Swirral Edge. We headed down the snow slope to the edge, it was steeper than I expected and the snow was softer.

 Once on the ridge it was pretty easy to navigate our way down. It was at this point that I noticed a large group of people coming up,some without crampons and axes, some in shorts !!! I found this rather disturbing and amusing at the same time. I wondered if I would be hearing about any of these people on the news.......

 Looking back up from Red Tarn. If you look closely you can just make out climbers heading up the gully routes. The gullies looked like a lot of fun but a little out of my league for now anyway.

 Back down in the valley, warm and sunny ! Another amazing day in the mountains!


  1. Superb photos and great conditions you had. Days like that are what we dream of.

  2. Great photos, love the one of Striding Edge with cloud on just the right hand side of the ridge, stunning! Adding your blog to my blog roll!