With: Paul Rich; Alan-R & Graham
Weather: lying snow all day (light dusting at low altitude; 15-25cm at 700m - dry powder); initially a clearing picture as forecast; later deteriorating to snow showers and whiteout - worryingly un-forecast
Where: North Western Fells, Lake District
Approx: 4.5 miles & 2,250' ascent
Regular readers will be aware of a certain amount of whining coming from me over the past few weeks regarding the coincidence of inappropriate weather with my planned choice of activity! Well, today was a day that has been in the diary for a long time - with "mountains" written next to it - Paul Richardson traveled across from Darlington to join us & it was great to be out with him again.
We arrived at Lanthwaite Green just after 10:30 and set straight off up Whiteside via Whin Ben. There was a dusting of light snow and the skies were clearing as forecast.
|Looking Good on Ascent - Graham, Alan & Paul|
We pressed on up the spur high above Gasgale Gill, initially in sunshine. Having all chosen not to "be bold and start off cold" layers were shed and as the climbing got steeper ice axes were used in anger for the first time this winter.
At around 500m the snow became distinctly deeper - it was dry and powdery, great. However, from around this point the cloud began to lower and visibility became increasingly compromised. It wasn't long before those recently shed layers were replaced and eyes began to strain into the white-grey environment.
After a steep but enjoyable climb we made the summit of Whiteside ( a new Wainwright for all of us) and stopped briefly to add even more bits and pieces of kit and to take some photographs.
|Me on Summit|
From the summit we continued along the ridge towards Hopegill Head. However, conditions continued to deteriorate in snow showers to produce full white-out, we agreed it was possibly the worst any of us had been out in for a long time. As such we re-traced our footsteps to the summit cairn and began to plot an alternative and interesting route off the mountain. From the "anchor" of the summit we were able to take a bearing and pace our way to another marked cairn on the map - a generally westerly direction. From which were able to further navigate to the handrail feature of Wyth Gill. The descent in heavy snow wasn't particularly pleasant but as we lost height the visibility slowly improved and we dropped down to a boundary wall in grey murky conditions. By this time we had dropped below the freezing level and the snow around the tops of boots and on gloves began to melt leading to soggy damp kit.
I don't know if its just me but the low level bits always seem to take ages on the way out.
Back at the car the conclusion was a good day out despite not getting anything like the ridge walk with snow underfoot and bright blue skies we had anticipated!
Hopefully thats not quite it before Christmas - still have an eye on a day next week