Thursday, 15 December 2011

Lake District Round Up

Climbing on Green Gable in Dec 2010

Another stunning day to be out in the hills with plenty of new snow being blown about on strong westerlies. The National Park Fell Top assessor reported thigh deep drifts just getting to Swirral Edge and yet again failed to make the summit! Over on High Street there was significantly less snow but getting anywhere still involved plenty of post holing.

There's been a number of teams out today with the high central venues providing the best entertainment. Climbs have included almost every route on Brown Cove Crags, Rape & Pillage V and Blade Runner IV on Helvellyn, Pendulum Ridge III on Scrubby Crag, Left Hand Route IV 5 on North Buttress / Cambridge Crag and Gully of the Plods II on Green Gable.

The general consensus is that much of the turf which is buried is still unfrozen but where it is exposed to the elements then it's in good condition and with careful route choice it's possible to minimise any damage to the fragile alpine ecosystem. There's limited ice for climbing with Blea Water Gill still flowing but there's plenty on the paths above 700m.

For the weekend it looks like we have bright but cold conditions with a few snow showers. The strong northerly wind will keep the temperature down even more but all the unconsolidated snow will increase the avalanche risk on southerly through to easterly aspects and in sheltered bowels and gully exits. There's been a number of big avalanches already in the past 10 days and climbers have been reporting plenty of spooky snow around. The gullies are going to need a good freeze thaw cycle to come into condition but many west and north facing buttress should be in excellent nick. Careful route choice will be needed and don't forget the approach, exit and descent.