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The Easiest Way Up Scafell Pike

The Route Up Scafell Pike

The Route Up Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head

Frequently Asked Questions about Climbing Scafell Pike

Since the popularity of this page has risen I have had to stop responding to individual requests for information. I hope that the information below will help people plan their ascent of Scafell Pike.

It is important to note that there are always risks associated with hill walking, climbing and mountaineering. Being able to evaluate the conditions and judge them for yourself is one of the key skills in mountaineering, which includes walking the hills in the Lake District. If you are unsure as to whether it is safe to set out this may well be an indication that it would be good to gain more experience first or join an organised or guided group.

How long will it take?

Whilst it is impossible to say with any accuracy how long it will take any particular group to climb Scafell Pike most reasonably fit regular hill walkers will take between two and three hours for the ascent from Wasdale Head and less for the descent.

What route should I take?

There are excellent routes to the summit of Scafell Pike from Wasdale, Borrowdale, Eskdale and Langdale. The route from Wasdale Head is the shortest – see further down this page for a map of the route, however the Corridor Route from Borrowdale via Styhead Tarn is not too much longer and has a more gentle ascent. The Eskdale and Langdale routes are significantly longer. In poor visibility or darkness all of these routes need well-practiced navigation skills.

What about dogs?

Many dogs thouroughly enjoy the walk up Scafell Pike. However it can be a struggle for dogs not used to fell-walking. Most significant to dogs is the bouldery terrain on the summit plateau (from Lingmell Col upwards). If they are not used to travelling a significant distance over rough rocks it can cause problems with their pads. Scafell Pike is a poor choice for a dog’s first fell walk. Another problem area for dogs is the Wasdale Screes due to the large boulders and we have had to rescue a number of dogs in recent years from this area.

What will the weather be like?

It is impossible to predict the weather accurately for more than a couple of days ahead. There are some excellent mountain weather forecasts available here. Obviously the weather is likely to best in the summer, however strong winds, severe windchill and even snow are possible all year round. To give yourself the best chance of an enjoyable day climbing Scafell Pike have a few days available and choose the one with the best weather forecast.

Will there be snow and ice?

Spring 2013 has been exceptional with huge quantities of snow, some of which will last into May. It is not unusual to find reasonable quantities of snow high up on the mountain any time from October through to May. During the winter months the Fell Top Assessors report for Helvellyn will give a good idea of conditions in the Lakes in general. Searching for local blogs may also give a clue to the conditions. Whenever temperatures are sub zero water ice can form and winter equipment should be carried. If you are out without crampons and axes avoid circular walks and be prepared to turn back if faced with winter conditions. The summit temperature is likely to be between 5 and 10 degrees lower than the valley temperatue.

What should I take with me?

Plenty of warm clothing, waterproofs, good quality mountain boots, food and drink, map, compass, torch, whistle and either a survival bag or bivi tent.

What about technology – mobile phones and GPS?

Technology can be very useful, however over reliance has caused problems for some of the people we have rescued. The mobile phone signal is patchy, in a real emergency, if you are high on the fells it could perhaps be better to head somewhere with a view of Sellafield or Keswick, two nearby transmitter sites. Navigation using GPS can make life significantly easier, however, batteries fail particularly in cold conditions on smartphones. Also you need an appropriate map (satnavs are not suitable!). If you are using a GPS to navigate make sure you have a paper map and compass as a backup and know where you are so that if the batteries die you don’t have to try to work out where you are.

Who should I tell where I am going?

Write down in detail where you intend to go, where your car will be parked, your vehicle registration number, and what time you expect to return, also include the mobile phone numbers of all members of the party. Give this to someone responsible with a cutoff time at which to call the police, remember to include some time for navigational mistakes and enjoying yourself!

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We hope you have a safe and enjoyable day on Scafell Pike, remember to make sure you have enough energy for your descent. There is nothing wrong with turning back before the summit and returning in the future for another attempt.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.wmrt.org.uk/the-easiest-way-up/the-easiest-way-up-scafell-pike/

45 comments

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  1. Dan

    We are looking at attempting Scafell Pike on Saturday – Is it still ice axe and crampon conditions?

    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. I would still be taking mine!

  2. Jonathan Marr

    The wife and I (35, 38) are planning the easiest route of scrfell, I have purchased a new OS but some of the routes are conflicting.
    They all start in Wasdale Head, some going round in a loop (clockwise) via Brackenclose and others going via Lingmell. There is also a short route missing Brackenclose but looks steeper.
    also we want to go this saturday 20th.
    Can anyone assist on route if there is any major differences and is the route possible without cramp-ons

    1. Jon Lynch

      The route via Lingmell is pleasent, however navigation in the Lingmell Col area can be difficult in poor visibility. The route from Brackenclose has a better defined path. It is difficult to know how much unavoidable snow and ice will be left after this wet and windy weather. As I have said to others I would be taking my axe and crampons.
      Cheers, Jon

  3. Justin Jones

    Hi, we have provisionally planned a walk up Scafell for this coming Saturday (20th April). None of us have any winter mountaineering experience, nor do we have ice axes/crampons. Is this kit still needed for reaching Scafell summit from Wasdale Head? If so, have you any recomendations for a circular route of approx 6 hours? We are staying at Eskdale YHA but have transport available to us should we need to change start or finish locations.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Jon Lynch

      A walk up to Burnmoor Tarn, Illgill Head, Whinrigg, Mitredale and then back to the YHA could take about 6 hours and would be snow free from what I saw last week. However it may be possible to do Scafell after this wet weather, it is difficult to know.

  4. stacey

    Hello

    A group of between 5 – 8 people from my work are looking to climb scaffell pike for charity this year.
    We are a mixture of fitness abilities, a few of us have done snowdon before, but I have been told Scafell is a lot trickier due to the stoney climb.

    Is there a route you could recomened us to do?
    We are looking to do this in June – also we want to set oursleves a time limit to do this.

    Do you recomend any equipment to take with us?

    Thanks for the help!!

    Stacey

    1. Jon Lynch

      I would recommend the route on this page! Have a look at our preparation page for some advice about what to take. Good luck.

  5. Helen

    Hi,

    Me and a few friends are planning to walk up scafell pike on may 4th. We are all fit and under 30, however, I am the only one who has done any sort of mountain walking/climbing. So can you advise a route that would suit at an amateur level?. We are staying at dungeons gill, and were originally going to walk from there through bowfell. However, we have had mixed reviews as to the difficulty level of this walk and wondered if anyone could advise us.
    Helen.

    1. Jon Lynch

      The easiest route is from Wasdale Head up Brown Tongue and then via Lingmell Col, however it is a very long drive from langdale to Wasdale. The Langdale approach to Scafell Pike is a long one. The physical challenge of the walk from Wasdale Head is not too great if all the group members are reasonably fit. The difficulty comes from the navigation required in poor visibility. On a pleasant day you can see the route from a distance (follow everybody else and the cairns) however in poor visibility and particularly in descent the required level of navigation can be a challenge.

      With a good forecast and not a cloud in the sky I expect you to all would have a very enjoyable day. Keep an eye on the forecast at http://www.mwis.org.uk to see what you might expect.

  6. barry

    Hi, we are a party of two who are planning to climb scafell this saturday, we have cpreviously climbed Snowdon but do not have crampons. Is it still winter conditions and is equipment needed? Thanks.

    1. Jon Lynch

      Yes it is still very wintery with plenty of unavoidable snow and ice. Crampons and axes should be taken.
      Jon

      1. barry

        what route would you suggest in these conditions without crampons or are they a must .i have used before but the other member of our party has not.

        th anks

        1. Jon Lynch

          I would suggest that axe and crampons are taken.

  7. Laura

    Hi,
    We are taking a trip to the Lakes this week and the plan was to climb Scafell Pike on Tuesday. There will be 6 of us who are for the most part inexperienced walkers who wanted a bit of a challenge for Easter….. Some have only just bought walking boots and may not even wear them despite my protests!
    With the weather and conditions I am unsure about how realistic our goal is. We do not have crampons etc. which would help us. I understand that this probably makes us reaching the summit hugely unlikely but do you have any advice on a decent walk which would provide a challenge but would be safe for us to complete given our lack of experience and equipment?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. Jon Lynch

      Scafell Pike and most of the higher fells are in full winter conditions and should only be attempted with axe and crampons. Lower south and west facing slopes have thawed. I would suggest objectives such as a round of Middlefell, Setallen and Buckbarrow.

      Have fun
      Jon

  8. Ali

    Hi, was hoping to come up this weekend to climb Scafell pike but reading your responses maybe we should postpone? two children and three adults very eager to complete it, all with walking gear but no grampons. we have a long way to come, do you think it wise to postpone? and when/if we do do it, what would be the best route for a family?
    many thanks…..

    1. Jon Lynch

      Whilst the weather for Saturday looks pretty good for climbing Scafell Pike I would not go without crampons and axes and the ability to use them, let alone take my children. The snow is now old and consolidated and very hard in places. Please read http://www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk/ for more info.
      Hope this helps,
      Jon

  9. jacqui

    Thanks Jon

  10. jacqui

    Hi Jon

    Hope it was a good holiday weekend for you.

    Can you please tell me if the weather conditions remain the same for this coming weekend (6th april?) and your advice to fit but inexperienced walkers without axes/crampons? My husband is hoping the advice is ‘dont do it’ :-) thanks very much. Jacqui

    1. Jon Lynch

      Whilst daytime temperatures are rising nighttime temperatures are well below freezing on the fells. This causes snow to thaw during the day but freeze solid overnight. Some will probably attempt to climb Scafell Pike without the appropriate equipment (and hopefully get away with it!) I would only go equipped with axe and crampons and the skills to use them.
      I hope this helps
      Jon

  11. Sharon

    Hi
    We are looking at walking scafell pike with our children youngest being 8 yrs, he has already walked snowdon and Ben Nevis but we try to find the best time to do this to limit any issues.is there any months that have a better record for weather and do you have any suggestions that could help us along the way.

    Many thanks

    1. Jon Lynch

      Hi,

      May, June, July and August tend to have the best weather but I would advise giving yourselves as much flexibility as possible with regard to the actual date and keep a close eye on the weather forecasts.

      Good luck,
      Jon

  12. joe

    hi, me and my mates are planning to climb scafell pike at the weekend (29th march). just wondering about weather conditions and snow. we was planning on doing ben nevis but due to avalanch warnings weve decided to try scafell pike instead. crampons and ice axes really needed? thanks

    1. Jon Lynch

      The mountain is in full winter conditions. The amount of snow that fell last weekend was almost unprecedented and care needs to be taken. More details are available here. Axes and crampons should definitely be taken.

      Jon

  13. Rahul

    Hi Jon,
    We are planning a trek up scafells pike on the 26th April. We are a mixed ability group & would prefer to take the borrowdale trek since more convenient from hotels. However it seems to be 2-3 miles longer (including return).

    1. How long would the hike up & down at a gentle pace take?
    2. What sort of weather should we expect?
    3. Do people generally find wasdale head musch easier. Im trying to weigh up if we should drive that 1.5 hours to make the walk easier?

    Thanks

    Rahul

    1. Jon Lynch

      The Corridor Route from Borrowdale whilst longer, climbs more gently than the Wasdale Head route and is not that much more strenuous. The time really depends on your level of fitness, I would expect anything from 2.5 to 4 hours for the ascent only. Currently the mountains are in full winter conditions. I would suggest consulting MWIS for a forecast before setting off for an up to date forecast. I will repeat what I have said to others. For maximum chance of a successful ascent be as flexible as possible about which day you intend to ascend and follow the forecast carefully.

      Cheers
      Jon

  14. Anne-Marie

    Hi there

    We are a group of 15 hikers with some experience heading to Scaffel Pike this Sunday from Ireland. Just wondering what conditions are like in the area and on the mountain at the moment.

    Kind regards

    Anne-Marie

    1. Jon Lynch

      It is currently winter conditions up there. There will be some recent fresh snow on top of some older hard and icy layers. Axes and crampons should be taken.

      Check the Conditions and weather before setting off and take care.

      Jon

  15. Adam

    Hi Jon,

    Fantastic day in the snow last Saturday. Even the sun came out for a little while. Visabillity was great.

    The final ascend up Scafell pike was a little tricky with no crampons but on the whole pretty stright forward.

    We were up and down in less that 6 hours from the ODG which apparently is good going :-)

    thanks

  16. Adam

    Hi

    Hi

    A friend and I are thinking of doing Scafell pike on 2 march from the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

    What are the conditions like on Scafell pike at the moment?

    We will not have any winter equipment e.g ice axe and crampons.

    Would you advise against us trying to walk up it?

    If not, could you recommend another more low level walk

    Many thanks

    1. Jon Lynch

      The advice on the Lake District Weatherline states that crampons and axes are necessary for Scafell Pike at the moment. After last weekend’s multiple accidents caused by slips on the very hard snow I would plan a route below around 550m that could be retraced if steep snow was encountered.

      Hope this helps
      Jon

  17. Kam

    Hi

    Firstly, great website.

    Me and my mate (early 30′s) are planning to walk up Scafell Pike on 2nd March. We were planning on taking the Eskdale route, is the valley still in full winter conditions? Alternatively what would be the best route to take as we have not yet finalised our plans.

    Thanks in advance
    Kam

    1. Jon Lynch

      At the moment there is ice and hard snow even relatively low down. Full winter kit (including an ice axe and crampons) and the knowledge of how to use it is essential. If you were planning to ascend via cam spout or little Narrowcove I would expect steep hard snow slopes towards the top.

      Whilst I have no idea of your winter mountaineering experience, the fact at a least five people today have had a trip to hospital after sliding or falling on hard snow in the Lake District suggests it is currently very hazardous.

      The forecast I have seen suggests it will remain cold this week and I doubt things will change much this week.

      I hope the above is helpful.
      Jon

  18. Thomas Morris

    Hi we are planning a walk up scafell next week with children weather permitting, we are staying in Eskdale any advice? Cheers Tom

    1. Jon Lynch

      At the moment the valley is in full winter conditions. Crampons and axes are required, the snow is deep in places and icy in others. Who knows what the weather will do during the next week, but my advice would be to be flexible with your objectives and plan around the weather forecast and conditions on the ground.

  19. chris bellhouse

    Plan to walk 10yr old dog up Scafell this year. He managed the Pyg Track up Snowdon recently – is Scafell about the same?

    1. Jon Lynch

      I would suggest Scafell Pike is more difficult, firstly there is a little more height to climb (the pass is a high starting point on Snowdon). Most significant to dogs is the bouldery terrain on the summit plateau (from Lingmell Col upwards). If they are not used to travelling a significant distance over rough rocks it can cause problems with their paws. Obviously plenty of dogs have a great day out on Scafell Pike but it is best not underestimated.
      I hope this helps,
      Jon

  20. HOWARD SAGAR

    planning a climb in early july with team of mixed ability albeit all fit but some in mid 60s – all will be suitably prepared and kitted out. Is the climb from wasdale the best bet rather than from seatoller and if so how long for the climb and back down ?

    1. Jon Lynch

      From Wasdale is shorter but steeper than from Seatoller. The corridor route from Sty Head does have a small rock step at the head of Greta Gill that is more technical than anything on the Wasdale ascent. Obviously times vary, between 1.5 and 3 hours would be an estimate for the ascent.

      1. The MacRaes

        Planning to take 76 year old granny up Scafell. Shes done Snowdon and Ben Nevis this year. Shes fit but found the steps at bottom of Ben Nevis a bit tricky. Looking for best “walking” route up Scafell so she can bag all 3 peaks. Any advice appreciated.

        1. Jon Lynch

          Hi, The route highlighted on this page is the easiest way up and down. It does have sections of steps going up Brown Tongue but the biggest challenge compared to Ben Nevis is the navigation. In poor visibility route-finding can be a challenge. Physically it is probably less demanding the Ben Nevis (but more than Snowdon) since you start nearer sea level.

          Good Luck
          Jon

          1. The MacRaes

            Jon many thanks- appreciate your help. Any recommendations for fish and chips afterwards? (positive thinking!)

      2. Aaron lawley

        Looking to climb scarfell pike with the wife we are in our early 30s and are reasonably fit , what’s the best and quickest route to do? And how long will it take us up and down Thanks Aaron

        1. Jon Lynch

          The easiest route is the one on this page, from Wasdale Head, up Brown Tongue to Hollowstones and then via Lingmell Col to Scafell Pike summit. It is difficult to say you long it will take you but anything between 3 and 5 hours is usual for the round trip from Wasdale Head. It is currently in full winter conditions.

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