Thursday, 16 December 2010

Bowfell Buttress

Before last week’s thaw set in I was starting to quite enjoy my day hits to the Lakes (well the whole two I managed to get in) for some winter climbing, wake up at six, jump in the car, a full day on the hill, good pub grub and back home by nine. None of those long caffeine fuelled drives north on a Friday evening and arriving back home in the wee hours of Monday morning a few hours before work.

A couple of weekends ago Leanne and I decided to head for the classic mixed route of the Lakes, Bowfell Buttress. Once again the weather was amazing and we walked up Bowfell looking across an alpine Lake District. Looking across at a very white looking Gimmer Crag we had a slight niggling feeling that maybe we should be over there. Given Kevin Avery’s report from that day and had we know how rare it is for the crag to be in winter condition maybe we should have... But we couldn’t complain, four pitches of classic mixed climbing with a bit of everything thrown in showed us why this is one the classic buttress routes of the Lakes.

Looking back at Gimmer Crag and down Langdale

2nd pitch

3rd pitch (going a bit wrong and coming up this grove instead of stepping on to the slab to the right... i think?)

4th pitch

The last couple of weekends in the Lakes, as i said above, have been amazing crisp alpine days, meaning the Gore Tex hasn't been out once. So clothing vise I've been using the following:

Atlus LS Zip T

Couloir Hooded Jacket

Shield Jacket

Fitzroy Jacket

G2 Ultimate Mountain Pants
(with thin thermal bottoms underneath)

Randonee Gloves
(I've used these in Alaska, Nepal, the Alps and Scotland, they just seem to work every where!)
Couloir Gloves

Powerstretch beanie

I've be taking my new Scarpa Phantom Guides out for the first time the last couple of weeks and so far I've been very impressed with them. Not as rigid as the previous model this makes the walk in/out a lot more comfy, which lets face it is a big part of winter climbing in the UK, but put a decent crampon on and they give ample support for technical climbing as well as being very light for their warmth.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Winter sun in the Lakes

Cat and I got out last Sunday for our first experience of Lakes winter climbing and were treated to a beautiful crisp alpine day on Helvellyn (is it like this all the time??). After a slightly later than planned start we drove over from Yorkshire and eventually wandered into Red Tarn a bit after midday. With teams everywhere we decided just to head up the central gully to the very busy summit and take in the amazing snow covered panorama of the Lake District.

Quite content just savouring the views out of the wind in the sun we eventually decided after a few cups of tea that we should probably head back down and do something else. After a few false starts trying to find a route with no one on it we eventually end up on Blade Runner which gave a great pitch up a turf filled grove before finishing the day off coming down Striding edge in just stunning evening sun.

The snow started again just as we got to the top of Kirkstone pass and after an ‘interesting’ drive down to Windermere and a failed attempt to get back across the A65 I made it into work only a little late on Monday morning. Needless to say the snow tyres are now on the car rather than sat useless at the back of workshop! Big thanks to
Ewen and Clare for putting us up at the last minute in Kendal.