It's been a pretty awful winter so far, with storm after storm battering the UK. On the plus side this has left huge amounts of snow on the Highlands. Sounds good you say; yes, but the problem is that the wind has barley dropped for long enough to make moving on the tops possible and on the occasions where it has done it has left the slopes loaded with windslab. Not conditions to chance the petrol money to head north of the border.
Looking towards Skiddaw, not much sign of snow
So the middle of February had arrived and I was yet to swing an axe in anger a deeply frustrating experience. Finally yesterday the weather relented to offer the promise of a good day in the Lakes with light winds and clear tops, and the rumour enough snow was hanging around to make the trip worthwhile.
Brown Cove Crags was covered in the white stuff and the gullies were well banked out; thanks to the slightly milder conditions down south they were also reasonably consolidated with good neve most of the way. I ran up Right Parallel Gully (grade I in current conditions) before descending back town its left hand twin (also I) having broken my way through the cornice.
Looking up, Right Parallel Gully
After heading back up Central Gully (I) the clag which had accompanied the walk in cleared a bit and although bitter it was worth heading up to the summit of Helvellyn, and once there the obvious thing was to pop round the horseshoe and the frozen red tarn. The ridges (down Swirl (I) and up Striding (I)) were well covered and busy including a few people with neither axe, crampons, and I'm assuming consequently brains.
So appetite temporarily stayed and with the reported snowfall hopes high that once the weather settles a long season will be in order.
Striding Edge looking towards Helvellyn
Looking towards Great End and the Scar Fell peaks