Sunday, January 08, 2012

Mid-winter Lakes 3000s Jan 2012

A windy day on the Lakes 3000s, 45 miles, 11,000 feet, 13 hours 30 mins

The forecast was not terribly inspiring but I was looking for a full day out, so plumped for the Lakes 3000s on the basis that there isn't a lot of high level ridge traversing and I could therefore manage the wind. I'd seen two forecasts - one predicting winds gusting to 60mph and the other to 100mph.  For the most part, the former was correct, but on Scafell it was closer to the latter.

The top of Deep Gill on a rather better day
I set off from Keswick just before 7am on a dark breezy morning.  It didn't take long for the first rain to arrive and it stayed like that, off and on, for the whole day.  I don't like road running but in the dark, it seemed the easiest thing to do, so I jogged along the 8 or 9 miles of road to Seathwaite.  By England's wettest settlement the wind was gusting to the extent thatI struggled to run at all when facing in to it.  If it was like this here, what was it going to be like on the top?  I was soon to find out.  After taking the Corridor route up to Lingmell col I picked up the trod under Pikes crag to Hollowstones and thence Lords Rake.  The chasm was looking particularly dank but mercifully free of snow as I'd no brought my spikes.  Encouraged by this I took the West Wall traverse in to Deep Gill.  Therer were a few patches of hard snow on the way but nothing that a bit of judicous kicking couldn't circumvent.  I could see the mist rushing into Deep Gill and could now feel the full force of the wind funnelling up the gill.  On top of that there was no avoiding the hard snow in the gill which I ascended by jamming  afoot in the crack between the rock and the snow and kicking a step with the other foot.  More alarming was thew wind which threatened to prise me off the mountain.  I held on very firmly!  All in all it was quite exhilirating as the wind rushed up, blowing my coat toward my chest and exposing me to the icy particles which were similarly being blown up the gully.  It was nothing however, compared to the wind at the col between Scafell Pinnacle and Scafell.  Here I was pinned to the ground for a while unable to move anywhere - at least voluntarily.  I crawled forward and eventually managed to stagger to the summit.

From there on things got better.  Although it was gusty and the gully was more of a stream, I was in the shelter down by Foxes Tarn.  I missed the best line traversing to Mickledore and end up on some fairly precarious ground.  Glad to be off this, I slogged up to the Pike which was surprisingly calm by comparison.  Here I met my first person and we had a chat as we rested in the lee of the cairn.  There was a bit of fresh snow on the Pike but nothing much in reality.  I ran off in the murk to Esk Hause where a band of walkers were struggling into the wind and rain.  Fortunately (or actually as I'd planned), the wind was with me and I made good progress to Stake Pass and round the back of High Raise on the Old County Tops route.  The Bog was predictably oozing water as I sloshed with cold feet down to Wythburn.

I had my sandwiches in the shelter of the woods, feeling pretty soggy but warm enough to make the ascent of Helvellyn.  I elected to take the track as I was starting to feel a bit weary.  At the top I had to face into the wind for the first time and such was its strength that I couldn't run even downhill.  My cagoule was pressed hard against my throat and my balaclava obscured my eyes somewhat, so I was glad to drop off Brown Cove Crags.  I filled up with water at a stream, having only had less than a litre and then jogged in to the wind all the way along the road into Keswick.  There was quite a lot of traffic and the 7 miles were quite unpleasant, but with ensuing dark and my fatigue I really didn't want to add in High Rigg. 

At the car I had some juice and a bite to eat, then set off up Skiddaw.  By Jenkin Hill I'd entered the mist and discovered that my torch batteries needed charging.  Too late now. I fumbled along in the dark and rising wind.  It was a hard gruelling ascent at this time of day, having to face in to the wind and exert more energy.  Somehow I managed to miss the gate before the traverse beneath Low Man, but quickly realised what was happening and dropped off back to the track.  Fearful of the wind, on the ridge, I skirted beneath the South top of Skiddaw, but soon discovered that the wind wasn't that bad after all.  With my rather puny light it was difficult to see however, and it was a very slow walk over to the main top. 

On the descent, I once more lost the huge path and was headed toward Low Man.  Someone must have wanted me to go there!  Again I dropped down to the main track and ambled down with wooden legs.  It was good to drop out of the mist and see lights on Latrigg.  In the woods I passed two parties heading off for BG attempts.  Their impressive torch beams put my own to shame but I didn't envy them their night out.  At 8:30 I arrived back at the car and all that remained was a visit to the chippie in Keswick.

2 comments:

John Fleetwood said...

Long but cool!

KrrishDev said...

John - could you contact me at: krishdev at o2.co.uk I'd be interested in getting your advice on your preferred nutrition strategies for longer solo outings. Thanks, Krish