Penny above Styhead Tarn
On Saturday the prospect of cloud free summits and gentle winds tempted us to head to Wasdale and Great Gable. Penny felt like she had more energy than recently (now 15 weeks pregnant)
and so we decided to walk to Styhead and then make a decision on whether to go for the summit, climb up to Windy Gap and then return via Beck Head or to traverse under the Napes.
After a leisurely start, cooked breakfast and making pork and apple for the slow cooker we reached Wasdale Head at 12:15. It was another beautiful day with blue skies and warm sunshine.
The walk up to Black Sail Pass was snow-free until the last few hundred metres. Where the snow was in the sun it was soft but in the shade it was frozen hard. At the pass we had a late lunch and then tried to find the path up Kirk Fell. Above the pass the path weaves its way through a steep crag before reaching more gentle angled ground above. Initially the going was fine on large steps in solid snow but as we got higher and the snow was harder the exposure also increased and we stopped to put on crampons. About 80 metres (vertical) above the pass was a splitting of the ways. To the left an inviting (J) / forbidding (P) gully appeared to head to the top of the crags. After a quick look at the gully we decided to take the terrace path to the right. This was a mixture of snow, rock and ice and followed a line that was never too steep through the crag.
Penny on the summit of Kirk Fell with Great Gable behind
The summit slopes of Kirk Fell were well covered, in places the freeze thaw cycles had created lots of ice and we kept our crampons on until almost at Beck Head. The summit was not particularly impressive, however it gave excellent views of most of Wasdale and Ennerdale.
Our descent was on the north side of the ridge down to Beck Head, there was a good streak of solid snow that allowed easy progress. From there the path to Burnthwaite was mostly dry but a little tiring.
We got back to the car at 17:00, so it was four and three-quarter hours for the round trip. Next weekend Brad and Kristen will be around, the weather is good for at least the next few days, fingers crossed.