Yesterday afternoon I manged to leave school at lunchtime and decided to head to Wasdale Head and have a quick blast up the Pike. Reports had suggested proper winter conditions above 800m so I took crampons, goggles and an axe.I left Brackenclose at 14:15 and climbed steadily on the way up towards Brown Tongue. It started drizzling as soon as I left the car and it was touch and go whether it was worth putting on a waterproof. Initially I was climbing at about 11 metres/min which I was surprised at, it is lower than normal. However I soon warmed up and climbed the pitched path alongside Brown tongue at about 14 m/min. About half an hour into the walk I got fed up with steaming glasses and put in contacts, this went surprisingly easy considering I was on the side of a mountain. I passed a few people on my way up, they seemed a little surprised that I was heading up so late in the day. Some were wearing goggles and gave me an idea of the conditions on top. Before reaching Lingmell Col the clouds closed in and I did not get any more views until I returned to Hollowstones. Once above the col conditions underfoot changed significantly with large drifts of slow, initially soft but as I gained height and became exposed to a stronger wind the snow was quite solid. Following the cairns and the footprints I got to the top at 15:45, 90 minutes after setting off. I was very pleased with feeling so fit and enjoyed a little solitude on the top until a group arrived having an argument about which way to go down. I had a chat and they said that they had left Seathwaite at 10am and come up via the corridor route. I checked they had torches and escorted them back down to Lingmell col where I pointed them back down the corridor route at 16:15 (probably 30 minutes of daylight left).
I jogged down the zig zags and then again down Brown Tongue, using my poles like ski sticks. Several times I looked at my watch and saw a descent rate of 36 m/min. After a quick call to Penny from the ford, it got quite dark for the last ten minutes but I was keen to avoid using my torch and so at 17:48 I got back to my car very happy with my afternoon’s exercise.
Exactly 90 minutes up, 63 minutes down including 30 minutes with a group descending to Borrowdale. The tops are definitely in winter condition, with the forecast colder weather proper winter equipment will be essential for the next few weeks at least.
So last Sunday we got up early (for a Sunday) and headed to Wasdale on the back of an excellent forecast. It was a beautiful day as we headed up to Styhead we could see the sea down Wasdale and Derwentwater to the north but the cloud was ominously low. Heading up The Band onto Great End we started to encounter snow on the ground but there was no frost or ice. I had a good look down Branch and Cust’s Gulleys ready for when winter kicks in properly.
We had lunch in the shelter on top of Great End, Penny recognised the merits of soup with pasta for lunch and re-energised we headed along the snow-covered ridge to Scafell Pike. A brief tea stop just under the summit topped up our energy levels for the descent. Just before Lingmell Col we left the cloud and again had excellent views, especially the Isle of Man appearing to float in the sky. We then headed to the Wasdale Head (getting down well before dark after 6 hours on the hill) for a quick test of their beer.