Lake District Classic Rock

When I booked onto the Avon Mountaineering Club’s winter Lake District trip I was very optimistically hoping for some winter climbing to be in condition, optimistically hoping for some winter walking and just hoping for some good weather. Unfortunately winter had other ideas and there was barely any sign of winter in Scotland, let alone the Lake District. However, what I was not expecting was a forecast which involved a light breeze and a cloudless sky.

This forecast led to George persuading Becky and me that we wanted to go rock climbing, on a mountain crag in the Lake District in January. Initially we were unconvinced, however we did eventually relent and agreed to head up to Gimmer to climb two classic rock routes.

When we woke up we were presented with a cloudless sky, beautiful sunrise and a frosty ground. We sorted our gear out in the Old Dungeon Ghyll car park, and it did feel a bit strange packing to go rock climbing in the mountains with ice on the ground.

Frosty Morning in Langdale

Beautiful walk in

We soon warmed up on the walk up to Gimmer before cooling down again when we headed into the shade at the start of Ash Tree Slabs. I headed up the first pitch which was a bit brutal in the cold morning shade, at one point I couldn’t tell if I was holding onto a good hold or not without looking at my fingers! Thankfully the first belay was in the sun, and we then mostly remained in the sun for the rest of the day which was very pleasant.

Pre-climb selfie

Me on the first pitch of Ash Tree Slabs (© George Cave)

George on Ash Tree Slabs

Becky high above Langdale on Ash Tree Slabs

After Ash Tree Slabs we headed over to climb ‘C Route’ which had a surprisingly tough start for a severe, maybe it would have felt easier in rock shoes but I don’t usually expect to be pulling hard on a severe, especially while above gear and close to the ground. The rest of the first pitch of C route was enjoyable and more appropriate for the grade. George then led up to the top and the enjoyable exposed finale.

Me on the tricky first moves of C route (© George Cave)

Me on the tricky first moves of C route (© George Cave)

George on C Route

George leading to the top on C Route

Becky on the final belay of C Route

Topping out of C Route

After a quick walk back down we enjoyed a pint at the New Dungeon Ghyll having had an excellent day out involving 2 classic rock ticks and 5 pitches of climbing on a mountain crag in the Lake District, which wouldn’t be a bad day out in the summer but was a very surprising day out in the middle of winter!

Since Scotland at new year mine and Becky’s winter climbing gear had remained in the hidden compartment in my car, which included enough gear to climb some easy rock routes. However, what it didn’t contain was a nut key and instead of carrying our ice axes to remove stuck gear, we used one of George’s inventions from a previous climbing trip, a nut knife!

The ‘Nut Knife’

2016 in 100 Photos

It’s safe to say that 2016 was a very mixed year, with the highlights being an excellent start to the year with lots of successful winter climbing trips and a winter sun rock climbing trip. The summer rock climbing never seemed to start properly for me this year, before I injured myself and had to take an enforced break. My alps trips this year was very successful and I had an excellent two weeks in the Ecrins with Becky where we climbed a few peaks and enjoyed lots of sunny bolted multi pitch climbing.

Unfortunately shortly after the Alps I received the tragic news that one of my close friends and regular climbing partners died in a climbing accident in the Avon gorge. Following this I was fairly disinterested with climbing for a while which resulted in a relaxed autumn and a chilled out weekend walking around on Lundy. As I was starting to force myself to think about climbing again I headed to south Wales for some sport climbing, and had an enjoyable day out until injured my finger & forearm which put me out of action until Christmas.

Winter

This year I headed out to Rjukan in Norway for the first time with the Avon Mountaineering Club. We had an excellent week with good ice conditions, mostly good weather and temperatures which weren’t too cold. It was great to get a significant amount of time climbing ice, I think on the first day I climbed more ice than my entire previous winter season combined. The highlights were Sabotørfossen and Trappfoss in the upper gorge which are adventurous multi pitch routes which a big mountain feel.

Shortly after we got back from Norway we headed up to Scotland for 10 days. For the first week Becky and I were up there on our own, and then we joined the Avon Mountaineering Club for our annual Scottish winter trip. For the majority of the trip we were blessed with good weather and good climbing conditions, we even got sunburnt at the start of the trip. The highlights were Liathach traverse in beautiful alpine conditions, Fingers Ridge and Glovers Chimney. Glovers Chimney was particularly memorable as it was Becky’s first time climbing on the Ben. As we had meant to climb on Becky’s birthday (but turned back due to weather) I carried a bottle of Champaign to the top which was a bit of a rare treat. As the snow was pretty dodgy on the usual quick descents, we decided to tick another munro for Becky by descending via the CMD arête.

Summer Rock

Our summer rock climbing season got off to an excellent start with a 10 day trip to the Costa Blanca over easter, which meant we only used 4 days of annual leave. It was great to be out in the sun, with a mixture of single pitch sport, multi pitch bolted, and multi pitch trad climbing. We came back to the UK inspired to start our UK trad season, but unfortunately bad weather plagued my summer trad season and it then never really got off to a start. I had a few good trips away to North Wales and the Lake District, which were at least partially plagued by bad weather. But I did get to climb on slate for the first time and enjoyed two days out on mountain rock in the Lakes. Unfortunately in June I had a bad fall while out climbing after work due to a hold snapping, due to a bad back and whiplash I had to have a bit of time off while I recovered.

Alpine

Our alps trip was a bit different this year as we headed out to the Ecrins. We had a few days in the high mountains, but due to Becky hurting her ankle we spent a while down in the valley enjoying the multi-pitch bolted climbing. We were enjoying the good weather, sunny multi-pitch climbing and the chilled out atmosphere in the valley, as the weather forecast in the big mountains wasn’t great we decided to stay in the valley.

Winter

Winter got off to an excellent start, with a weekend of sunny winter conditions in the Lake District in November! We were up in Becky’s van which was a bit chilly with the overnight temperatures dropping to -6, but the excellent conditions made it worthwhile.

We headed up to Scotland for new year hoping to get some winter walking and climbing in early in the season, but unfortunately all of the snow had vanished so we just enjoyed a few days of walking in the cloud munro bagging instead.

Photos

Descending down to Ogwen Vallay from the Carneddau

Ice Climbing at Krokan, Rjukan

Looking down Krokan

Climbing in the Lower Gorge, Rjukan

High above the lower gorge, Rjukan

Becky on Svingfoss, Rjukan

Climbing in the upper gorge, Rjukan

Cool belay at Rjukan

At the top of the steep final pitch of Sabotørfossen, Rjukan

Me at the top of Sabotørfossen

Me leading Vemorkbrufoss Vest, Rjukan

Me finishing the first pitch of Vemorkbrufoss Vest, Rjukan

Looking back at Vemorkbrufoss Vest from the bridge

Hard walking up the upper gorge

Becky leading her first ice pitch on Trappfoss

Becky above the crux of Trappfoss

Summit Selfie

Hard work on the long walk out

Becky leading Nedre Svingfoss

Becky abseiling back into the upper gorge

Beautiful views towards the Cairngorms

Start of the quick descent from Schiehallion

Stunning views towards the Cairngorms

Liathach, Beinn Alligin and Beinn Dearg

Stunning views back towards Beinn Eighe

Becky in front of the Pinnacles on the Liathach traverse

Stunning scenary on the Liathach Traverse

Approaching the final technical section on the Liathach Traverse

A rare photo of me on the Liathach Traverse

Post difficulties selfie

Nearly at the final summit of the Liathach Traverse

Stunning panorama from Mullach an Rathain

Descending in front of Loch Torridon

Views while descending after a day in the white room

Exposed arete on Fingers Ridge

Exposed position on Fingers Ridge

Summit selfie above Fingers Ridge

Great views on the descent

Approaching Glover’s Chimney

Thrutching up Glover’s Chimney

Difficult climbing in Glover’s Chimney

Champagne on Ben Nevis

White out on top of CMD

Becky on the old bridge in Mascarat Gorge

Another team on El Pajarón

Exposure above Mascarat Gorge

Becky on the final belay in the Costa Blanca

Starting the descent with stunning views towards Calpe

Excellent climbing on the Penon de Ifach

Wide bridging!

Mid route abseil on the Penon de Ifach

Summit Panorama from the Penon de Ifach

Great positions at the start of the Bernia ridge

Weird Rock Formations on the Bernia ridge

Approaching the summit of the Bernia Ridge

Summit Selfie

Atmospheric Abseil into Rowland’s Magical Mystery Tour

Exposed traverse on Rowland’s Magical Mystery Tour

Exciting climbing on Rowland’s Magical Mystery Tour

At the top of the steep second pitch of El Dorado

Slabby finish to El Dorado

Impressive cliff

Almost at the base of the route on Puig Campana

Becky on the steep first pitch of Diedros Mágicos

Summit selfie

Looking back up to Puig Campana in the evening

On the sublime second pitch of Golden Slipper, Lake District

Exposed headwall on Whit’s End Direct

Stunning finale to Gimmer String

Beautiful evening descending back to Langdale

Happy before the walk in to the Ecrin Hut

Golden Sunrise walking into Roche Faurio

Sunrise above the Glacier Blanc

Sunrise on the slopes below the Barre des Ecrins

Stunning views while climbing the NE Face of the Barre des Ecrin

Summit photo on the Dôme de Neige des Ecrins

Panorama from the Dôme de Neige des Ecrins

Descending the NE face of the Barre des Ecrins

Great exposure on the Les Gorges De La Durance Via Ferrata

Selfie on the final bridge in the Les Gorges De La Durance

Becky climbing above Ailefroide

Summit selfie

Great view down the valley

Enjoyable face climbing

Fissure d’Ailefroide in the Evening Light

Getting invovled with the chimney

Becky leading up sunkissed rock on Soleil Trompeur

Brilliant exposure on Soleil Trompeur

Views of Pelvoux and Ailefroide

Stunning view down the valley

Summit Selfie after Soleil Trompeur

Becky on Sharp Edge

Looking south from Blencathra

Blencathra summit shot

Becky descending Hall’s Fell ridge

Late afternoon sunlight descending Hall’s Fell ridge

Approaching Striding Edge with High Street in the background

Great exposure on Striding Edge

On the final slopes up to Helvelyn

Becky about to descent Swirrel Edge

Alpine Striding Edge

After a brilliant day on Sharp Edge the day before we weren’t sure that we were going to be so lucky today. Thankfully when we were woken up we were treated to another crystal clear sky, although this did have the downside that it was -5 in the valley which had made the van a bit cold…

Beautiful view along Ullswater

Beautiful view along Ullswater

After we had thawed out we started the walk in a little bit later than planned, which was unfortunate as we had planned to set off early to try and avoid meeting any unprepared people on the route. The start of the walk was very cold, but the ascent up Myers Beck soon warmed us up. As we ascended the view along Ullswater just kept getting better with the combination of the frosty valleys, sunlit heather slopes and snowy mountains.

Amazing view east over Ullswater

Amazing view east over Ullswater

After the shady ascent up Myers Beck it was a relief to climb into the sun and see the first view of Helvellyn, and it just looked outstanding with it’s winter coat and the clear blue sky. We were soon on Striding Edge and decided to put our crampons on at the start, as it was likely that we were going to need them. While it would have been possible to do them without, it wouldn’t have been the best choice, as the party of 4 in front of us with no winter kit and three season boots were finding. We caught them up before the final scramble down, which was made a tad stressful due to being behind them as they looked very uncomfortable on the icy snow.

 

Happy to be out

Happy to be out

Amazing view of the day ahead

Amazing view of the day ahead

Walking up towards Striding Edge

Walking up towards Striding Edge

Approaching Striding Edge with High Street in the background

Approaching Striding Edge with High Street in the background

Unprepared people on Striding Edge

Unprepared people on Striding Edge

Becky on Striding Edge

Becky on Striding Edge

Striding Edge at it's best

Striding Edge at it’s best

Great exposure on Striding Edge

Great exposure on Striding Edge

On the final slopes up to Helvelyn

On the final slopes up to Helvelyn

After the final steep slope we were at the top of Helvellyn and in the crowds of people enjoying the fine November day, we did have to advise a team in trainers and shorts that descending striding edge may not be a very good idea… Unfortunately it wasn’t quite as good as the previous day as there was a strong, cold wind on the summit which meant that we didn’t hang around for too long. Looking down Swirrel Edge in the shade was fairly imposing and it was surprisingly icy given the temperature inversion which had been softening most of the snow up high.

Summit Panorama

Summit Panorama

Becky and me on the summit

Becky and me on the summit

Another Panorama

Another Panorama

Looking towards Raise and Keswick

Looking towards Raise and Keswick

Becky about to descent Swirrel Edge

Becky about to descent Swirrel Edge

After a quick descent down Swirrel Edge we decided to make the most of the day and finish it off by climbing Catstye Cam. After the quick ascent we bumped into some skiers who were having a very good day out and equally enjoying the start of their season. After a quick descent directly down to the main path we started the long descent, which always seems to have one more corner.

Striding Edge looking fine

Striding Edge looking fine

Becky on Catstye Cam

Becky on Catstye Cam

A team descending from Catstye Cam

A team descending from Catstye Cam

Alpine Sharp Edge

Last weekend and the start of this week was characterised by heavy rain and cold conditions in Bristol, which meant that in the Lake District the mountains were developing their first significant winter coat of the season. As the week continued a high pressure system started to build, so Becky and I decided to take a day off work and head up to the Lake District for a long weekend.

On Friday morning we left Bristol at 6am hoping for a clear run up the M5 and M6 in order to get to the Lake District in time to climb Blencathra via Sharp Edge and descent via Hall’s Fell ridge. Thankfully we made good time, and by 11am we were in a lay by near the start of the walk into Sharp Edge with cold and and crystal clear blue skies.

Walking into an alpine Sharp Edge

Walking into an alpine Sharp Edge

The walk in was beautiful leaving the green sunlit valley and climbing up in the warm sun, we soon arrived at the first col and left the sunlight behind and the temperature plummeted, but we were treated to a fantastic view of Sharp Edge being illuminated by the sun. We were thankful for the people who had gone before us and left a good set of footprints in the path, especially while ascending to Scales Tarn.

An alpine Sharp Edge

An alpine Sharp Edge

The ridge was in brilliant condition with a nice mixture of snow which wasn’t icy and rock. Due to the sun having melted the snow a bit we didn’t need to put crampons on, and we were able to make good time up the ridge. Unfortunately this meant that the fun was over far too soon, however it did mean we were treated with the spectacular views from the top!

Becky on Sharp Edge

Becky on Sharp Edge

Becky on Sharp Edge

Becky on Sharp Edge

Exposed on Sharp Edge

Exposed on Sharp Edge

Exposed on Sharp Edge

Exposed on Sharp Edge

A ridge of two halfs

A ridge of two halfs

A dark Scales Tarn

A dark Scales Tarn

Looking up towards the summit of Blencathra

Looking up towards the summit of Blencathra

It was so enjoyable being on the summit, with no wind, sun and brilliant views we were able to enjoy eating out lunch on the summit. We had excellent views of all of the Lake District summits, the northern Pennines and southern Scottish mountains. Due to it being early in the season the views were enhanced by the lush green valleys.

Great views approaching the summit of Blencathra

Great views approaching the summit of Blencathra

Stunning panorama from the summit

Stunning panorama from the summit

Looking south from the summit

Looking south from the summit

Summit shot

Summit shot

We descended via Hall’s Fell ridge, which is normally an enjoyable scramble. Unfortunately it had a slightly annoying amount of snow on it, as there wasn’t enough snow to warrant crampons which meant that the snow just slowed progress. We descended as the sun was setting which produced a beautiful end to the day as the setting sun lit up the snow covered mountains.

Becky descending Hall's Fell ridge

Becky descending Hall’s Fell ridge

Late afternoon sunlight

Late afternoon sunlight