Apologies to anyone who was listening out for my activations across in The Lake District today (30/12/2009) we had intended on doing two summits firstly Grisedale Pike and then across to Grasmoor, I normally activate with a good friend of mine Gordon who has no interest in radio but is keen and experienced fell walker.
Today I had two other friends with us who were keen to get out for a walk after the Christmas, both are relatively fit one playing squash to quite a high level and other a competent skier and also many years military service behind him, it became apparent that after the first steep pull up they were both struggling, weather had deteriorated rapidly with driving icy snow on vey strong winds and very low visibility, myself and Gordon decided to push on to the summit of Grisedale Pike with others following at the their own pace so we could hopefully make a quick activation on the handheld before deciding if we should move onto Grasmoor.
The conditions on the top were absolutely atrocious with extremely strong winds whipping up the snow and ice sandblasting your face and stinging your eyes making visibility without goggles almost impossible.
We quickly decided that the activation was a non starter and the common sense thing to do was to get back down as soon as possible meeting the rest of our party as they make their way up but due to the extreme conditions and the wind now fully in our faces.
We traversed slightly off the main path by a matter of only 200m we became disorientated for a while thankfully I had the GPS and gave Gordon a grid reference which he was then able to locate our exact position accurately and take a bearing on the compass, a 15 minute traverse brought us back onto the main path lower down but we had no idea if the others had tried to reach the summit I hoped they had taken the sensible decision of returning back down we asked several other walkers if they had passed them but know one we spoke to was quite sure, so a very anxious fast walk/run back to the car with the potential possibility of returning to the fell if they had not returned!!.
Thankfully they had taken guidance from people coming off the summit as to how bad the conditions were and had retreated for the car. Today was a lesson in not taking inexperienced walkers fell walking this time of year also being optimistic on making two summits adding extra pressure you don’t need with two novices tagging along, although this fell in the summer would be a nice steady walk for anyone who is fairly fit but in the middle of winter covered in ice and snow battered with icy winds it is something completely different.
I do enjoy winter walking and for me personally the added risk adds another dimension although I would not class myself as reckless as I try and carry the very best equipment with clothing that fully matches the conditions but if you were a zero risk taker you would never leave the house!
Enjoy SOTA but not trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs “Always Have the Greatest Respect for the Fells This Time of Year”