Reports - winter conditions and activity

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lakes Winter Conditions 28-11-12

A cold clear day today revealed snow capped tops around the Lakes.  The most snow cover was on the Helvellyn and Fairfield range whilst other areas had much less.  The conditions are currently not really there for climbing, the saturated turf needs to freeze properly and due to the lack of snow blowing about or cloud being blasted onto the crags the steeper routes are likely to remain black for the meantime.  The conditions will be great however for winter walking and running with the most 'wintery' conditions being around the Helvellyn area, the edges giving a full winter experience for sure.  

Fingers crossed this could all change and we might get some climbing conditions soon, it wasn't too far away over the last few days!

 Langdale Pikes

 Flat crags and Bowfell Buttress can be seen on the left skyline and were looking fairly black

 Brown Cove crags, Helvellyn

Blencathra, Sharp Edge on the right

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ben Nevis Conditions 11-11-12

 Had a great weekend winter mountaineering taking in Curved Ridge and the top of Crowberry Ridge on the Buachaille on Saturday and then Castle Ridge on the Ben today.

After a wet start on Saturday that put a fair bit of snow down up high the day cleared out well.  The upper part of Curved Ridge and above was under a few inches of fresh snow.  Today was a colder and clearer day, the Ben had a fair bit of fresh snow on it with the snow line at the bottom of NE Buttress.  We climbed Castle Ridge which required crampons from the base of the route and gave a good blast of winter!  As the snow is just cosmetic and unconsolidated the route was in relatively tricky condition.

Some of the harder routes on the No.3 Gully Buttress area I'd think were climbable and snowed up? This looks like it will all change tomorrow though as a rise in temperature is forecast with rain at all levels...

Thanks to the guys for another great couple of days out!

The Buachaille
Curved Ridge

 Traverse to the Crowberry Ridge

 The Crowberry Ridge

Final slopes and the Crowberry Tower behind which we took in on route.

 Clear skies on top of the Buachaille

Ben Nevis
 Snow down to the base of NE Buttress

 Castle Ridge crux chimney (III)

Liking the new Sherpa kit!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Sherpa Adventure Gear

Thanks to Sherpa Adventure Gear UK for sending some great looking kit through!

The kit will be available in the UK now for the first time, there will no doubt be a great range at the Epicentre in Ambleside, see their website here -

To see the full range of kit available check out the Sherpa website here -

The Sherpa range has already been well tested in the Himalayas and other parts of the world, the logo is now a common site on route to peaks throughout Nepal and is associated with quality so I'm sure its going to be great for what Scottish winter is about to through at it!

One of the aspects of this kit that really appeals to me is also the company ethos and what they do to support the Sherpa community in Nepal.  They donate a percentage of every sale to various non-profit schemes supporting the Sherpa families.  For example the  Paldorje Education Fund.

Mission Statement from the Paldorje Education Fund....
The Paldorje Education Fund provides much-needed headstart scholarships to less fortunate Sherpa children. We are supported by Sherpa Adventure Gear and the welcome kindness of friends. In Nepal, where many children grow up in remote mountain villages deprived of basic education, it is our mission to help those in the next generation find their way to a brighter future. By doing this, we honour the dreams of our elders to make a better world.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Ski Touring, Helvellyn 05-11-12

Great weather today in the Lakes, sunshine and blue sky!  The climbing conditions are still much the same with snow insulating unfrozen turf, there was some snowed up rock but the crags were black where steep generally.  

So climbing aside, the snow was still very light and powdery out of the sun and soft everywhere, there was some evidence of the snow consolidating but not much yet.  This meant skiing today was a great option, a bit of a carry was needed to the snow line and some selective route choice, but in places the snow was really good.  There were people skiing at Raise again and kites out as well.

Tracks up from Keppal Cove

Skinning up to Whiteside Bank

Whiteside Bank

I skinned up to Whiteside Bank and then dropped into Brown Cove, the snow here was OK but a bit thin lower down.  I then skinned across Brown Cove and traversed over to Swirl Edge, up Swirl to Helvellyn summit with skis on pack.  The Helvellyn Headwall area seemed to be holding a lot of snow, more than Brown Cove so I decided to ski that.  The snow on the headwall was actually really good, there was enough depth also to avoid cutting through to the ground (there is no base below the recent snowfall) so the descent was really good and possible to the Tarn, though the last 3rd was thinner.  After 3 runs down this it was down to the car at Greenside, this was also skiable surprisingly far down with a bit of Lakeland mixed skiing to finish.

Swirl Edge

Helvellyn headwall, drop in on the right.

Tracks down the headwall to the Tarn and exit slot bashed in cornice.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Lake District Winter Conditions 03-11-12

First report of the winter for the Lakes, great to see a white covering on the tops!  I'll try and put a report up from now on whenever I've been out or know what the winter conditions are doing.

I went out today for a run over Helvellyn and the edges to see how things were shaping up.  The good news is winter has definitely arrived!  There was snow down to about 500m and some deep drifts about.  Lots of snow was blowing around today and accumulating particularly on N-NE-E facing slopes as the wind was SW.  So full on winter up high, the ski tows were also open today...

 Striding Edge

 Helvellyn Summit Shelter

 Cornice forming

Running up Swirl Edge

The bad news is that, whilst the conditions are good for winter walking, running and the edges and ridge climbs etc.  its not there for climbing yet.  The turf up high was soggy under the snow, the lack of a really good freeze before the snow came will hold back the climbing conditions until we get a bit of a thaw and refreeze allowing the turf to freeze up.  The issue at the minute is that the layer of snow will be insulating the ground below.   More exposed routes may come, however the usual winter crags today were black and sheltered from the SW wind.  The best bet for a good winter day will be any of the classic edges and some of the easy ridge climbs, Pinnacle Ridge on St.Sunday will be worth a look, it will be snow covered all the way and doesn't rely on turf.  Its hard to say what the week will bring, it looks good until Tuesday and then it may be a fairly big thaw.  Great to have a blast of winter so early in November none the less!

St.Sunday Crag, Pinnacle Ridge looking white

 Surely this is not the best grass on offer!

Red Tarn and Striding Edge

Reports are that the Cairngorms are also in condition just now with many routes in...