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Apology for non-appearance

I will remember Saturday 24th Jan. for a long time!

In nearly fifty years of visiting LD I have never seen so much snow! The snow line was about 300 metres and above that somebody had delivered several teratonnes of castor sugar…

Enquiries on Friday elicited the information that St Sunday Crag was badly iced up on the Patterdale side, and the pass would be open for the weekend but the going on the road was rough, so I decided on my fall-back plan of Place Fell, LD-027. The path from Side Farm to the col was dealt with nicely in about 20 minutes, but at the col things changed: the snow appeared…and so did the wind! The nicely engineered path had been booted into ice where it appeared from under the drifts, but the crudely stepped section was totally under snow. This was powder snow with, here and there, a hard crust which creaked underfoot - a traditional recipe for windslab avalanches so no short cuts up the open slopes! The problem was that every few steps I broke through the crust and often went in up to my thighs, a particularly exhausting mode of progress! By the time I had scrambled up the little gully (the bypass path was under snow on an unsafe looking hillside) and reached more level ground I was really feeling my age!

Eventually I made it to the summit outcrop with the trig point perched precariously on it. Unfortunately the wind was blowing along the outcrop and the only sheltered area within the AZ had metres of soft snow on it. As I clung to the trig point with the wind howling and trying to tear me loose I had a moment of revelation. I had enjoyed winning the battle to get there, and felt priviledged to see so much more snow than I had ever seen before in the Lakes, but I was chilling fast, and I suddenly realised that I was no longer enjoying myself! I asked myself how much I wanted those seven points, and the answer was “not THAT much!” So, I took a few photos (they will be on Facebook soon!), and got the heck out of there!

The rest of the gang knocked off some gullies above Red Tarn, and in the evening we had an early celebration of Burns Night, with freshly caught haggis, tatties and neaps, and then the rain arrived…

Frankly, on Sunday I was stiff and sore, so my Sunday plan of the Mells fell through, too, though the frequent sleet showers made it an uninviting prospect anyway, so we contented ourselves with a low level walk. Later the gang straggled back complaining of waist-deep powder snow, and I never was much good at swimming, so I don’t think I missed much!

The club is back up to the Lakes in a months time, so I shall hope to get my revenge!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

The snow is fairly intense not too far North of the Central Belt (Glasgow-Edinburgh). A friend was out walking on the South side of Loch Voil on Creag Mhor GM/SS-088 and Beinn Stacach GM/SS-43. He said the snow proper started at about 450m and was very powdery. He’s in the YSS build/fitness level and a round which he estimated would take him 2 3/4hours took nearly 5 1/2 due to the thigh/waist deep snow.

No doubt Robin and Barry can comment on the snow nearer to where they are based.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to G8ADD:

Bad luck Brian, but well done on making the summit under difficult conditions. I hope that the poor wx didn’t spoil your weekend too much because I know you had been looking foreward to it for some time. I am now starting to wonder what weather faces us next week in Scotland.

The thought of the Burn’s Night menu has my taste buds tngling now, you rotter:)

73
Mike GW0DSP

In reply to GW0DSP:

Snow conditions change from day to day, Mike: unconsolidated powder if deep is always exhausting but after 24 hours it gets crusty and after 48 hours the going can be a delight! Soft thawing snow is a pain, it can stick to your boots like the worst sort of building-site mud, and it can avalanche without warning on surprisingly shallow slopes. Most popular mountain areas have snow condx advice posted daily so it is worth checking before going up.

Re the menu, I forgot to say that for afters Pauline provided a couple of upside-down puddings with fruit from our garden, so everyone was too well-anchored to go to the pub, good job I had some bottles of Hobgoblin and a bottle of Glen Moray!

73

Brian G8ADD

PS My yahoo mail is playing up again, so I am best contacted now on briang8add@googlemail.com

In reply to G8ADD:

Hi Brian,

Glad to hear you made it back without mishap. The mountain weather forecast for the Patterdale area mentioned some pretty serious snow on Helvellyn over the weekend so I guessed you might have chosen an alternative. Mind you conditions on Fountains fell on Saturday were also interesting to say the least. Thomas and I were seriously debating taking a snow shovel next time we venture out! It’s surprising how difficult a foot or two of snow makes things. We were trying to follow the Pennine way but needless to say lost it after a mile or so and had pick our own path up to plateau using the SOTA pole as a snow probe. That said Fountains Fell is pretty benign place (read not as steep) compared to Place Fell and the latter is not the easiest of summits to get your four QSOs from. Given the conditions you mention it was probably a good idea to leave the points for another time.

73 Rick M0RCP

Hi Brian,

Welcome home. I look forward to seeing your Place Fell photos. I bet they look nothing like mine:

http://tomread.co.uk/place_fell_ld-027.htm

It was fairly easy to get enough contacts for the two of us using the handheld from there, so as you say, pity you didn’t have one with you.

Sounds like your group had a great outing nonetheless. Who needs SOTA when you’ve got haggis, neeps, tatties, upside down pudding, Hobgoblin and Glen Moray?

73,

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Brian,

It was fairly easy to get enough contacts for the two of us using the
handheld from there, so as you say, pity you didn’t have one with you.

73,

Tom M1EYP

I see you managed to amass 5 QSOs and Jimmy 4 QSOs. Barely enough for you to get your points. Well done.

Mike GW0DSP

Cheers Mike. “Barely enough” means enough doesn’t it? No need to hang around to play radio once the six different stations (some of them we both worked) had gone and the frequency was quiet. For we then had a long walk following the Coast 2 Coast trail over to Kidsty Pike and Haweswater to complete our 3 day - 35 mile circular route. It was a cracking day’s walking. Happy memories.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

But isn’t this contra to your claims on the other thread about the multitude of chasers available on vhf? Six chasers between the two of you, then a silent frequency! Maybe those Lancashire and Cheshire old boys you referred to had gone to the “Darby & Joan” club on this occasion.

Mike GW0DSP

Depends which of mine or Jimmy’s activations you select from our 2008/9 activator logs to prove or disprove your point I guess. There’s plenty to choose from that evidence the good health of VHF chaser activity in the North-West. Be my guest.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

I refer you to my previous post.

Mike GW0DSP

In reply to G8ADD:

Brian, I’m sorry that Tom chose to hijack yet another thread and turn it into a “LOOK AT ME” thread, complete with yet another link to his website. Although not the instigator, I suppose I am just as guilty for replying to him.

To get back on topic… Now you have really gone and done it Brian, the haggis, tatty’s and neaps mention was sneaky, but the mention of Pauline’s upside down puddings with home grown fruit, washed down with Hobgoblin is simply an unfair, below the belt punch to the taste buds of those reading about it. It sounds mouth wateringly delicious, I’m green with envy you scoundrel. I’m pleased that you still had a cracking weekend, nice one.

73
Mike GW0DSP

In reply to G8ADD; Place Fell:

Brian.

You may have not been on the air but your report is still exciting. I have not seen that particular summit looking like you describe it but surrounded as it is, I wholeheartedly agree with the comment of ‘hard to activate’ (on line-of-sight anyway.)

The conditions encountered by you certainly were a recipe for having a thoroughly rotten time; going continually through crust. If memory serves, much of Feb / March 2005 was like it in the Dales and activating was no fun at all and slow progress & I encountered it on Ben Hope. Because it’s hard on the joints as well as the heart, I think the worst of it is when it supports two steps and the third is violently let through. The only things that like this kind of surface are radio masts, humans need ‘load-spreaders.’

Good job you are ‘climber experienced’ and know how to recognize potential movement, particularly after what occurred on Buachaille Etive Mor recently.

I think one bad area for ice formation on the St Sunday route is under Birks Fell. It is a boggy area & the run-off freezes. It’s nasty.

Even Fountains Fell sounded pretty bad, especially as there are a few mine shafts which can be hidden in those conditions.

In some ways I’m glad I’ve got a sore throat and not going out just now!

Better luck the next time you try it,

73, CU on 80, John.

In reply to G4YSS:

Thanks, John, I wouldn’t have missed it for worlds, but who would have thought that such a relatively low fell could become so difficult? It just goes to show that in winter especially, you should always be on your guard!

I have heard little about that sad do on the Buachaille, I wonder if they were in Crowberry Gully, I got avalanched out of there myself once - only powder snow into every gap in my clothing and my pride hurt!

Hope the sore throat goes and you are soon “Fell-fit” again, John.

73

Brian G8ADD

Place Fell is indeed a “relatively” low hill, bit it’s nonetheless pretty lofty amongst its immediate surroundings, isn’t it? It attains near enough 2000 feet virtually immediately out of Patterdale, so I should imagine it would catch a fair bit of snow.

That must have been an amazing walk. Shame you didn’t carry that essential bit of winter kit - the 2m HH!

Please remind us on here when the photos on ready Brian.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to MM0FMF:

No doubt Robin and Barry can comment on the snow nearer to where they
are based.

Andy
MM0FMF

ES=018 was absolutely plastered in snow and it was hard going within 100m of leaving the car. Ascent was into the wind, snow was soft and drifting and the final ascent (somewhere between easy and a piece of cake usually) needed steps kicking to make it. I, of course, had 3 season boots and no ice axe or crampons! In a word - horrid! My son, on the Drumochter hills, turned back rather than struggle.

Yet, the snow in the East is actually less than usual for this time of year unlike the West and especially Glencoe.

Barry GM4TOE

In reply to MM0FMF:

No doubt Robin and Barry can comment on the snow nearer to where they
are based.

Andy
MM0FMF

I haven’t been on the hill for a couple of weeks so I can’t give a first hand account of conditions.

In recent years the weather pattern on the west coast at this time of year has been a few days of relatively cold weather depositing some snow on the hills immediatly followed by milder, wet and wind weather which has removed most of the snow. However, this month the temperature has stayed a bit lower and there have been fresh deposits of snow above 600m most days. The avalanche forecast has been category 3 or 4 in Lochaber and Glencoe for over a week. Due to the prevaling wind, most of the snow seems to be deposited in north and east facing slopes. Looking from here at the works location it is obvious that you could climb to the summit of GM/WS-003, Carn Mor Dearg (1200+m) from the west and not encounter any more than a dusting of snow.

Route planning is more important than ever in the current conditions.

In reply to G8ADD:

The rest of the gang knocked off some gullies above Red Tarn, and in
the evening we had an early celebration of Burns Night, with freshly
caught haggis, tatties and neaps, and then the rain arrived…

That’s bad form Brian.
The best Haggis should be hung for at least a month or at least until the maggots leave of their own volition.

Roger G4OWG

In reply to G4OWG:

Ah, but we were all Sassenachs, Roger!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

Just added a few of my photos to the Flickr Group, more when I get time!

73

Brian G8ADD