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Lakes Winter Conditions

A mixed week in the Lakes this week with nice sunny days, low level snow some days, and wild winds at times…Few shots from Steve Ashworth at MovieIt on here giving an idea of current snow cover – https://www.facebook.com/MOViEiT?fref=tsSome possible climbing conditions shaping up in the Lakes now, still some issues with deep turf not being frozen and snow not being completely consolidated in places, however many steeper routes exposed to the wind were snowed up and frosted today and thin turf exposed to the wind was frozen on Gable. Whilst there was fresh accumulations of snow blown into hollows and stream beds etc there was also a lot of heavily wind scoured snow about that is hard neve up high, the walk over had a lot of hard crust that wouldn’t quite take weight which is hard work! Also super windy today, westerly by the end, more than forecast and hard to stand during some gusts with wind transported snow blasting you.In terms of the freeze-line, it felt freezing at about 700m but it was hard to gauge with the significant wind chill, the snow line around the Lakes seems to have risen today a few hundred metres above valley level.

Looking ahead, its due to start cold and then get warmer tomorrow, so maybe a route possible for early starters in the right place, then perhaps rain a bit, high up even, on Saturday and then cold into Sunday. If this sticks to forecast it could be really good for bringing a lot of the semi hard snow into better condition, hopefully its cold enough though!

Winter walking will be good, Helvellyn edges and Blencathra edges for example requiring the full winter approach, the tops today being scoured with a layer of hard ice and rocks covered in rime ice.

Skiing is meant to be great at Raise and touring will be great in places but route selection avoiding the scoured areas will be called for to find good snow, its definitely there though.

The route we climbed today was a FWA of a summer route called ‘Strike while its hot’, it is on the right hand side of Great Gables north face.  It gave some high quality technical and steep mixed climbing on a part of the crag with many possibilities for new winter routing…

Thanks to Steve at http://www.movieit.co.uk/ and Francis at http://francisbluntmountains.com/ for some great photos.   Hanging about on a rope in winter to take photos requires commitment!

Lakes Conditions, Ski Touring + Climbing 07-02-14

Over the past days the freezing level has been hovering around the summits.  With a plan to get out yesterday we opted for skis in the end which turned out to be the right decision.  The snow was really good for skiing yesterday as the freeze-line was around the summit of Helvellyn so there was a soft slightly wet layer of Lakeland powder (wet snow) to ski.  Just the very top of Swirral where we dropped in the 1st time was icy, especially under ski.  There was a MRT call out on there as well during the day.

In terms of climbing, the gullies were well filled and there is plenty of snow cover.  The warmer day had stripped the steep rock and any exposed turf seemed unfrozen, the snow was also fairly wet.  This said, it is still semi frozen up there and cool, and the forecast drop in temperatures over the weekend could very quickly freeze everything up and bring the snow to hard neve.  Monday looks a good day in particular and there may be some wind and snow to come on Tuesday.

Classic Ridges are all well snowed up and icy in places and will require winter confidence and kit.

Video Conditions Report and photos from yesterday by www.movieit.co.uk





Lakes Ski Touring 04-02-14

There is some great snow about in the Lakes at the minute for ski touring.  The newer snow is still soft and really nice to ski on.  The old snow is now frozen up on the surface giving hard neve and the tops have some very icy areas also.  Climbing conditions are also possible, signs of the turf getting a bit closer to being frozen today and climbers on Gully 2 with the left-hand ice-fall said it was all fairly good condition wise, but not neve in the gullies.  2 very different layers of snow are present and will still be worth keeping an eye on.

Touring today was great, with some tactical linking of slopes with fresh snow on and river beds holding good snow etc the skiing was brilliant.  Ski touring in the Lakes when its good is definitely one of the most satisfying  methods of travel in winter and takes you to places you’d never really go to otherwise!  Highly recommended…




Looking back at Raise


Looking West


Base of Brown Cove Crag


Looking across Keppal Cove into Brown Cove (East)


Helvellyn Winter Conditions 31-01-14

Fairly wild on Helvellyn today, full on winter conditions!

The old snow has receded a bit and is firming up, but still with a crust.  Red Tarn and the Red Tarn Cove and Viking Buttress areas are all well snow covered and well plastered up with snow.  Despite being very wintery to look at the deeper turf was unfrozen around Viking Buttress, though thin exposed turf is well on the way!  Gullies are also very full and a few freeze thaw cycles would give some great neve.  This could all be set to change a bit though as fairly heavy snow started to fall from about 11am.  There was spindrift avalanches and wind blown build up on the way by the time  I was descending.

So all in all a great blast of winter weather taking place and set to continue tomorrow,   turf dubious and limited ice build up.  Loads of snow…

Over the weekend the Helvellyn ridges and other similar routes of the area will give great winter outings, Swirral Edge was actually in easy condition as its so well snow covered.  Pinnacle Ridge on St. Sunday Crag should be good…

Gullies are a little soft and likely to have some slab building now, so caution required…

Very turfy mixed routes are likely to be unfrozen deep down, but if selective then steep routes with minimal turf could be worth a look?!

Skiing at Raise and ski touring up high could be great if the wind settles!


Greenside Mines


Red Tarn




Front steep face of Viking Buttress, normal route is left and ‘Rape and Pillage’ goes up the steep groove through the main face.



Gully 1 and Viking Buttress on the right

Kit Review – Sherpa Manaslu Hoody


I have been using the Manaslu hoody jacket from Sherpa Adventure Gear for a few months now, over this time its been used for an expedition in Nepal climbing Ama Dablam and Island Peak, and for over a month of Scottish winter climbing and mountaineering.

The Manaslu hoody is really well thought out.  It is amazingly light for the warmth it gives and the Pertex Quantum shell on the body turns a shower and repels the wind nicely.  The jacket also is really comfortable with a pack on, I trekked and climbed for 30 days in Nepal and wore it most days with no discomfort or rubbing at all.  The chest pocket is on the right and so is off set with the usual left hand chest pocket on the outer layers to avoid stacking of material on one side.  The lower pockets are set high for a harness fit and hood is helmet compatible, so this is a great technical piece of kit designed for all mountaineering activities.

From the first outing the Manaslu felt well fitted and comfortable.  The conditions in Nepal were sunny and dry on the mountain, but with cold nights and a cool high altitude breeze at times.  Some early starts also gave some hour of moving in darkness with very low temperatures.  The Manaslu hoody was really the perfect piece of kit on this trip.  In good weather on the mountain I was able to move in it alone with a base-layer beneath, and when cold it acted as a mid layer.


Cool and dry weather on the SW Ridge on Ama Dablam, wearing Manaslu Jacket and Tsepun top 1/4 zip.


Its been in Scotland (the ultimate testing ground) this winter though that I’ve been most impressed with the Manaslu Jacket.  The range of conditions and temperatures in Scotland, along with wind and high humidity levels mean any piece of clothing is going to have to work hard to cover all the bases!  I have worn the Manaslu hoody everyday on the hill this season in Scotland.  It offers a really comfortable layer of insulation to the core area with PrimaLoft fill, which stays warm even when damp, yet the Power Stretch fleece hood and arms do not restrict movement when climbing whilst offering some insulation.  The hood is really comfortable and zips up well over the chin so is really comfortable under a helmet rather than a hat, this also means the neck is covered with no gaps down the back.  The warmth offered has been perfect for Scotland, I’ve walked in in this to climb on the cooler days without over heating and enjoying the hood being up, and used it as a mid layer on the wilder snowy and wet days as an all in one option, as opposed to a light mid layer and body warmer to boost core heat.  On the cold damp ( just above freezing) blustery days the consistent heat of the PrimaLoft has been very welcome.


Cold and windy conditions in the Cairngorms, wearing the Manaslu Jacket, Tsepun top 1/4 zip and brilliant new Lakpa Rita hardshell with Event fabric, a brilliant combination.


The Manaslu is a top piece of kit from Sherpa Adventure Gear and I’d highly recommend it as a really versatile and functional mid layer, its been a key part of my layering system so far in the Himalayas and Scotland and I’m sure will continue to prove itself on future trips across the seasons.

For more information on this product see – http://www.sherpaadventuregear.co.uk/mens-c1/insulation-c11/manaslu-jacket-black-p7


Coire nan Lochan, Glencoe 28-01-14

Brilliant conditions on Central Buttress Ordinary route today in Lochan.  Good track broken all the way in and lots of stuff getting climbed with the International meet in the Coire.

This was a brilliant last day to a 4 day course with Roger introducing him to the world of winter climbing, which he took to extremely well!









Ben Nevis, Castle Ridge 27-01-14

Roger and I had a great day on Castle Ridge today, the route was wind scoured most of the way and in good condition.   Before this we had a probe at Tower Ridge, about 100m out of the Douglas Gap the snow crest that has been there for a while now had a soft cornice on one side and deep powder on the other.  After a bit of wading and seeing the lack of any gear etc and amount of snow above we decided to call it ‘training’ and abbed off into the gap and made for Castle Ridge which we had seen already and new was looking good (much less buried with snow and rock showing).

Massive amounts of snow about up there now and plenty of slab present, many areas will be worth avoiding until it settles…

IMG_0379                                                                                               CIC Hut

IMG_0381                                                                                       Tower Ridge start



IMG_0392                                                                                     Castle Ridge Crux


Coire an t-Sneachda 25-01-14

Great conditions again in the Cairngorms today… we headed into Coire an t-Sneachda for Day 1 of an Intro to Winter Climbing Course with Roger and climbed Patey’s Route IV/5 and Doctors Choice IV/4, both brilliant routes!

Better again today in the East and climbing conditions are great, some routes very buried though and gear is hard won if not cleared already, as well as what we climbed, Original Route, Invernookie and The Seam all had ascents.

Plenty of loose, and in places slabby snow about. We descended Aladdin’s Couloir without any problem though…






Coaching – Ice Factor

With a damp and windy forecast we headed for a coaching day at the Ice Factor. As always this proved to be a great day with coaching on steep ice, looking at screws and ice threads, dry tooling and lots of rescue rope-work and belay building practice. And no wind!

2014-01-24 14.16.14




Coire an t-Sneachda 23-01-14

Good day of mountaineering rope-work in Coire an t-Sneachda today, weather much better East than West. Everything well frozen with lots getting climbed on Aladdin’s Buttress. Harder mixed will be time consuming as the cracks are heavily iced up and a lot of routes look fairly buried, great winter day though!

Aladdins ButtressIMG_0296IMG_0299IMG_0322IMG_0338Windy!

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Mark Rock Climbing Course

‘Having spend three days in the mountains with Paddy I’ve got to say he’s the best guide I’ve ever worked with. Everything was pitched perfectly for my individual level - the choice of climbs, the balance between learning and mileage on the crag, all suited my level of experience. In three days I went from never having climbed trad to leading VD, seconding HVS+ and ticking off a classic mountain route, all thanks to Paddy’s professionalism and enthusiasm. Can’t wait to get out there again!’