Posts Tagged ‘icicles’

Snow Swims on Great End

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Crofty, Guido, Rob and me headed up to the lakes on a bit of a punt for Friday, not really sure how much would be in condition. We settled on Great End as one of the most reliable crags, I was specially keen on Great End as I have had Window Gully on my wish list since seeing it last year.

Arriving at Seathwaite there did not seem to be much snow although as the sun rose Crofty remarked hopefully that there was a sprinkling on the tops. By the time we arrived at the crag it was clear this was something of an understatment. The whole crag was plastered and some of the gullies appeared to be banked out, I could hardly recognise Window Gully despite thinking I had a clear picture of it in my head from last year.

Jim and Guido made a beeline for Central Gully Left Branch, mentioning they might follow us up Window Gully after, we headed straight for Window Gully. Despite reports on rotten ice elsewhere in the lakes on UKC we found the ice here very good, after a cold night it was hard and on the brittle side, both of us were sending fusillades of icy shards down the hill and I have a fine bruise on one knee from failing to dodge one of Rob's incoming missiles. We soloed the first few pitches but I was lured sideways by the upper icefall which was really fat and blue, I chickened out of soloing that as the initial bulge looked steep and it was a long way to the bottom of the hill.

Topping out we found we had made good time, it was still only 11.30 so after descending Cust's Gully (very banked out, lots of spindrift coming down) Rob suggested One Pitch Gully, which was, suprisingly, just one pitch. What a swim the approach to that turned out to be, it was three steps upwards two steps down through thick soft snow. Rob had done this route last year so I led. It was quite nice to have the variety of a mixed pitch after our earlier ice pitches. I found the moves left onto the ridge quite tricky but there was a reassuringly solid nut to protect it and some really nice axe torquing.

Topping out once more we were met by howling blasts loaded with ice crystals and I mutated into a yeti as my hairline turned into a fringe of icicles. It was clearly Pie O'clock so we headed down to consume said pies while waiting for Jim and Guido to finish. Eventually we saw two familiar looking figures which seemed, surprisingly as it was now 3pm, to be heading back up for a final route. "They're keen" we thought and shouted to them that we were heading down to the car. They waved back happily but God knows why they thought we were informing them as it was not Jim and Guido at all – they were, as we discovered, waiting back at the car.

With the climbing done the only remaining possibility for an epic was the journey back, and this was duly supplied as the A66 turned into a shaken snowglobe and Jim did his Ice Road Truckers impression all the way back to the A1 – well driven Jim.

Rob's other pix here