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!