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Mountain Conditions in Wasdale during the Easter Holidays

Ice forming in the Red Gill Area on Scafell

Ice forming in the Red Gill Area on Scafell

The recent snow, coupled with strong winds has generated some almost unique winter conditions on the fells around Wasdale.

It is rare to have so much snow as the Easter holidays approach.

For the experienced this offers some intriguing opportunities for challenging mountaineering objectives, however, there are also hazards and it is important to consider these before venturing above the snow line.

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Many will be familiar with the need to carry an ice axe and crampons to prevent or arrest slips on ice and as a general rule it is good to take these whenever there is significant snow on the fells. Much of the snow was hard packed by Sunday, particularly higher up on Scafell Pike and will be getting icier each day this week.

Be aware that mobile phone batteries run down faster in the cold. This seems particularly true for modern ?smart?

phones, particularly if you use the GPS or take lots of photos. Make sure your phone is well charged before setting off and/or consider a backup.

Final approach to the summit ridge. In summer this is a narrow gully but the right hand side in the picture is fully banked out.

Final approach to the summit ridge. In summer this is a narrow gully but the right hand side in the picture is fully banked out.

Perhaps the most striking risk at the moment is avalanche. The combination of wind-blown snow has created ideal avalanche conditions, particularly on west facing slopes and gullies and the final approaches to the main summit ridge on Scafell Pike, eg : Mickledore are potentially at risk. The photos below show the approaches to Mickledore highlighting some of these features.

Finally, walking in deep snow is hard work! Exhaustion and tiredness are possible. Coupled with the cold energy usage is high.

We hope everyone has a cialis pills safe visit to Wasdale, Eskdale and the rest of the Lakes this coming weekend. The fells are in great condition for winter sports but please consider all the risks before setting off and go well prepared, both equipped and ready to use your head.

The snow readily fractures into blocks when walked on. A classic sign of 'windslab'

The snow readily fractures into blocks when walked on. A classic sign of ‘windslab’

Approach to Mickledore. Many of the normal rock features are buried under snow and close examination of the surface shows a lot of wind blown snow

Approach to Mickledore. Many of the normal rock features are buried under snow and close examination of the surface shows a lot of wind blown snow

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.wmrt.org.uk/2013/03/mountain-conditions-in-wasdale-during-the-easter-holidays/

9 comments

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  1. Stuart Phenna

    Hi Jon. Staying up in Wasdale on Monday and Tuesday for a couple of days walking. Had hoped to do a couple out of either Scafell Pike (easier route), Pillar or Great Gable (Sty Head). Could you update on whether the recent weather conditions have eased the snow/ice situation. Thanks in advance, Stuart

    1. Jon Lynch

      I am sure there is less snow than there was, however it is difficult to predict what the conditions will be like after this wet and windy weather.

  2. Carly

    Hi,

    We are also planning to climb Scafell Pike on Sat 20th April -are we likely to need ice picks and crampons (we are also not very experienced climbers and will choose a different walk if this is the case)?

    1. Jon Lynch

      It would be sensible to take an axe and crampons as there is still some snow and ice about. If you don’t, make sure you are prepared to turn back if the conditions are not suitable.

  3. Estelle Rose

    Myself and a group of 8 people are planning to climb Scafell Pike on Saturday 20th April we are not experienced climbers, will there be a safe route to the top or should we find an alternative? Could you suggest a safe option please?

    1. Jon Lynch

      The weather between now and then will determine if it is likely to be safe. The rain will be melting some of the snow. The easiest route is from Wasdale head, up brown tongue to and then via Lingmell Col. However there could still be some steep snow and ice. Be prepared to turn back if necessary.

      There are plenty of less demanding objectives that will be snow free. Whin Rigg and Illgill Head or Seatallen and Middle Fell are two possibilities.

      Hope this helps
      Jon

  4. maurice vallois

    I am planning to walk to Scafell Pike on Tues 16 April assuming weather conditions are suitable on the day.
    Given recent snowfall I am looking for your advice on snow/ice conditions and whether it is will be reasonable to consider going at this time. I am experienced hill walker but do not use crampons or ice axe. My route would be from Wasdale via Hollow Stones, Mickledore returning via Broad Crag and Sty Head.
    I look forward to hearing from you
    Many thanks
    Maurice Vallois

    1. Jon Lynch

      A few days ago there was over 2m of snow in places between Mickledore and Hollowstones (I skied it!). I would expect there still to be some snow and ice about in Mickledore gully in particular for at least a couple of weeks yet. At the moment it is not advisable to climb Scafell Pike without an axe and crampons and the skills to use them. Have a look at our Facebook page for some recent photos taken in Hollowstones.

      Hope this helps
      Jon

    2. Jon Watson

      We went up Scafell Pike on Wed 10th. Still lots of snow and Ice. The descent to the broad crag col was icy and very difficult, even with crampons and Ice axe. Most of the rest of the route via grains gill was snowy but passable. Unless there is a significant melt over the next few days, Crampons are still required.

      Jon Watson

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