Helvellyn Conditions 14-12-11

Went up to Helvellyn today to see how things were looking.  Today was another wild day out, lots of fresh snow blowing about and breaking trail all the way, the main track to Red Tarn was buried and the snow was about 14 inches or so with some much deeper drifts.  Skis would have been great with a descent possible all the way back down afterwards!  The old snow that had just started to freeze now has a big load of wind blown snow on top, so route choice is crucial and there was a lot of spooky snow on the headwall area and the approach.  There was numerous crown walls around the headwall and across the gullies…

 Deep drifts above Red Tarn, that poles fully extended…
 Viking Buttress and No.1 Gully, the rock was well snowed up 
Viking Buttress, looking white with ledges buried

I climbed Gully 1 Buttress and some of V-Corner, with both routes I descended the face afterwards rather than top out as the exit slopes were showing the warning signs, big cracks appeared either side of me when having probe at it!  Lots of stuff slabbing away under foot also…  The routes are very buried now as the snow has been dumping down the face, some of the ledges on Viking Buttress are turning into snow slopes, if they’d freeze it will soon be Grade 2!  The V-Corner area had some great ice formed and some perfect snow ice where it wasn’t buried.

 A bit damp with swimming about…
Great snow ice showing through at the base of V-Corner
Great ice in the V-Corner area, the central fall giving a short steep pillar 

So its another dose of full winter up there, with route choice important, on many aspects, especially NE-E-SE were there is deep snow accumulation.  Anyone who skis will find awesome conditions tomorrow I’d think.  Climbing wise, today the ice was good, the turf I could see was good and there was good snow ice in places, but all with some swimming about thrown in.  Steep routes that aren’t buried and without exposed exit slopes could be the way forward.