Archive for December, 2012

Cold enough for Great End!

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Rob on the middle pitch of Central Cully Great End (Grade II/III) As conditions in the Lakes sounded awesome Rob and I headed out for a spot of winter climbing. We set our alarm clocks early and motored off to Seathwaite and a 'quick' amble up to Great End.

Arriving at the base of the crag around midday, we found a couple of other groups were on our plan A route – Central Gully (Grade II/III) – but decided to give it a go anyway. Even from the base the route looked to be in good condition so off we went soloing up to the amphitheatre. The ice on Left Hand route looked awesome, unfortunately the queue didn't! However, we joined the groups waiting to ascend and killed a little time having food, cups of tea, and chatting with the other groups (all of who seemed to have woken up at 4:00 am and trekked across from Northumberland – talk about hard core), while the ice cleared. When our turn came Rob lead the pitch in excellent style , I followed and the ice seemed solid. A quick ascent to a seat belay, followed by a further easy pitch, Paul Davies descending Custs Gully Great End Grade Isaw us to the summit of Great End.

The views from the top was fantastic and allowed us to see, just about, all of the major fells in Lakeland. A chilly wind and time ticking away necessitated a quick scamper down Cust's Gully (Grade I), an awkward chockstone in the middle of the down climb was negotiated by wriggling underneath on our bellies, thankfully Rob was waiting at the other side to capture the ignominious climbing manoeuvre.

Finally, we descend back to Seathwaite ending my first day of winter climbing on a graded route.

Snow and Sun in the Lakes

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

After 2 w/e on the trot in Wales I decide closer to home was in order; so Jules and I headed for the Lakes with for a bit of walking and scrambling.

 

We booked a B&B at Herdwick Inn between Keswick and Penrith (good food and v.reasonable) for Sat night and parked up at Scales about 10.30, with the hills looking wonderful on the trip over. Heading for J's fav hill (Blencathra) and in a ticking mood (Wainwrights, though I don't have any of the books, nor have I read any!) we took in Souther Fell, the frozen bogs made walking a lot easier than usual – not surprisng given the biting wind. We spied a ridge and path on Bannerdale crags so descended, crossed the stream and went up via an easy route (grade 0.5 /1 depending on choice). This gave me an excuse to practice my short roping skills. Really rather nice quite way up that hill. We next headed to the middle of nowhere with an excellent view (Mungrisdale Common another WW tick) before heading up Blecncathra.

Arriving on top of Foule crag we put our crampons on and got axes out. At 3.30 we had less than an hour before dark, so we eschewed the summit and headed down Sharp Edge in wonderful snowy conditions. Jules isn't super confident on snow and ice but was very keen. I had the rope still coiled around my shoulders in case we needed it but careful footwork and taking our time meant we enjoyed a deserted mountain classic without much stress. At the end of the ridge we shed our cramps and headed down to the tarn where the paths proved much more dangerous. Keeping to the grass we avoided falling over (mostly) and were back at the car for 5 (about 20 mins after proper dark!)

We ate and drank far too much, followed by more eating in the morning, and deciced (eventually) on a sunny scramble on Nab crags at the south end of Thirlmere. Balking at the 7 quid parking we drove to Dunmail Raise and walked back the mile or so.

 

Again I short roped J up the Grade 2 route, which was toasty in the sun but chilly if we stopped too long. On top we had great views of the Helvellyn range, Skiddaw and our route of yesterday and some lovely quiet valleys closer to us. Descending the same route, practising down roping with some lowers/abseils and interesting sections. We de-cluttered had a coffee and wandered back across the valley.

 

Back at the car for 3.30 meant we could squeeze a little retail therapy in Keswick before the drive back in the dark, though neither of us wanted to leave the lakes when dressed up in her winter best.

Three Peaks

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

A weekend of clear sunny weather was too good an opportunity to miss, and when Carmen suggested going for the often-planned but never-realised run round the Yorkshire Three Peaks I didn't need much convincing.

A rather more leisurely start than was wise saw us at Horton in Ribblesdale for a 10.15 start. Pen-y-Ghent first, a stiff pull got us to the summit by 11. The descent was slower than expected due to extensive sheet ice, and walking poles came in handy crossing a not-quite frozen river. But the next long boggy section was frozen solid, making it easy if sometimes slippery going. One fall each on the ice.

After Ribblehead Viaduct we opted to stick to the path rather than take the direct route up Whernside, possibly a mistake in hindsight as the path was mostly covered ion sheet ice so we spent as much time off it as on. We reached the summit a little after 2pm.

The descent to the Hill In took only half an hour, and it was tempting to call in for a pint or three, but Ingleborough (and the approach of sunset) beckoned. We reached the top shortly before 4pm. Sadly the hoped-for sunset wasn't visible due to a bank of cloud over the Lake District to the west, but at least that meant we didn't stop for an extended photo session.

The long descent to Horton was again quite slow due to ice, and slower still once night fell and the head torches came out, but we eventually reached the car just before 5.30, a hardly impressive 7 hours 9 minutes after setting off (the record is a few seconds shy of 2 1/2 hours!).

A magnificent day to be out, cold, clear, sunny, and hardly a breath of wind. Perfect conditions for my first ever time round the 3 Peaks.

Vital statistics: 24 miles, 1500m ascent.
More photos here
Route map here