Thursday, 4 December 2008

Early mornings, late evenings, tricky drives, great routes and smashed cars

Rich on Scafell Xerxes pitch 2

Andy on Xerxes pitch 1

Scafell on Wed

Rich on Winterceptor

The Last few days have given some of the best winter climbing conditions in recent years. The hard frosts combined with snow overnight on Monday gave treacherous driving conditions but brought high north facing crags into great condition, it snowed all day on Tuesday which wasn't forecast and a strong Nw wind gave things a chilly feel. Rich Cross, Andy Turner and myself completed a winter version of Mome Rath at Gable on Tuesday which gave surprisingly amenable climbing in an intimidating and improbable position. The crux of the day for me was descending Honister with a liberal coating of snow and ice. I now need a new set of lights for my car.

Yesterday was a sunshine day, an early start took us to Wasdale. Scafell was in great condition. We made the first winter ascent of Xerxes a HVS on Deep Ghyll buttress. It was a good looking line which in Rich's words was one of the most awkward and unhelpfull pieces of winter climbing. Blind seams, off balance ledges and shallow turf being the order of the day.
Today it is quite warm and at all levels , there has been a lot of snow overnight. It is wet snow and the steeper buttresses have stripped in the rain. If it freezes conditions will be good for classic gullies and mid grade buttress routes. Look out for avalanche risk on Helvellyn head wall The roads aren't bad at the moment but passes are out of the question.

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