/ UKC Winter conditions report Lake District 13th Feb

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paddy cave - on 13 Feb 2014
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=ts

Some 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 (we climbed a mixed route, will get some photos up later). 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.

Few folks are looking for more regular updates on here, but as with the other UKC reports, its more of a round up and periodic report that I've been asked to produce. I update my company Blog and company FB page if there is anything to report as such (ie. stuff coming in to climbing condition, but tend not to if there is nothing, and there has not been loads in the Lakes this season unfortunately) and with shots if I've been out. What I'd suggest is people just post up what they have seen/found when out and then we'll build a picture of what is going on off the back of the initial report, plenty of people on here with a good understanding of Lakes winter to help answer questions or give advice.
Big Lee - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Cheers Paddy. Nice looking route. What grade does that route go at? Gable's looking a bit warm and wet tonight according to yr.no so not sure I can be bothered to drive up from London this weekend to try any mixed stuff. Guessing it could thaw any frozen turf on steeper routes? Probably good for the unsolidated snow as you say.
paddy cave - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to Big Lee:

Thanks, conditions were great again today, a bit wild in the afternoon!

see - http://www.mountaincircles.com/lakes-conditions-helvellyn/
joe.91 - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Don't suppose you saw what v-corner was looking like?
paddy cave - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to joe.91:

Very white! couldn't see much more than that though, sorry! Viking Buttress routes all good today though..
DANNYdjb on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Just what we need Paddy ...
Website looks good too ...
Thank you, keep up the good work.

Dan
thegoatstroker - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to xplorer:
> In reply to paddy cave and UKC!
>
> Wouldn't it be a better idea to just post the actual conditions on UKC.


Didn't Paddy do that? I thought the first post was pretty informative about current conditions.
saffy - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to thegoatstroker:

I think he's referring to the second report.
martinph78 on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:


> Few folks are looking for more regular updates on here, but as with the other UKC reports, its more of a round up and periodic report that I've been asked to produce. I update my company Blog and company FB page if there is anything to report as such (ie. stuff coming in to climbing condition, but tend not to if there is nothing, and there has not been loads in the Lakes this season unfortunately) and with shots if I've been out. What I'd suggest is people just post up what they have seen/found when out and then we'll build a picture of what is going on off the back of the initial report, plenty of people on here with a good understanding of Lakes winter to help answer questions or give advice.



pass and peak - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to xplorer:

Lads! in defense of a fellow guide, just imagine you've been out on the hill all day ie 6-8hrs, actual your day started 2 hrs before you got in your car because you needed to be prepared for your client/s with all the stuff. You then come off the hill, no doubt to pop into a local boozer for 1 social drink at the request of the clients which you feel obliged to do for fear of offending them, (unless your me than its at my behest) later after the debrief you make your excuses and return home (how long is the drive?) you then have to check and dry the kit for the next outing. Later in the evening you get to have supper, But relax? no you have to get on the internet, download your pics, update your blog, Facebook, twitter etc etc! is it any wonder when he gets round to posting on UKC that he just leaves a link, after all are you lads in his prospective client base? All I'm saying is cut the bloke some slack and be glad of the info no matter how it comes
martinph78 on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to pass and peak:

Very well said.

As Paddy and Alan have both said, anyone else who has ACTUALLY BEEN OUT can also add their findings to the report.
Wesley Orvis - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Can we not just keep the conditions threads in on place then move onto another when they get to big for the mods to handle, it gets very confusing I don't know where to look there is that many, the Snowdonia one doesn't seem to have any trouble with this.
paddy cave - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Fairly wild up high today and with a little fresh snow, finished up nice though with some impressive wind transported snow happening… we had a winter skills day up at Red Tarn Cove which gave some great varied conditions with lots to talk about. The snow pack also presented some interesting weak layers quite deep down, not a threat at this stage but good examples to talk over. There was a little fresh wind slab about by the end today however.

Bit milder last night and today had things feeling a bit damper and the crags looked a bit blacker where steep, a frost tonight is forecast though so things may come good again quickly if its cold enough.

photos on here - http://www.mountaincircles.com/winter-skills-red-tarn-cove/

Cheers, Paddy
nickcj - on 15 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

I found similar weak layers deep in snow pack below brown cove crags. Lots of snow but rock was black.
Wesley Orvis - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Had a top day out today in the snow it started a little rough but turned into a fantastic day with good views of the snow covered peaks in the central, southern and western fells.

Although the snowline and quantity of snow has reduced massively in the last 24 hours their is still lots about. Went up wet side edge onto Great Carrs and then over Swirl How and down to prison Band then traversed in under the crags of Great Carrs to check out some scrambles I want to do in winter that I have done in summer, the crags and gullies high up are still pretty plastered but we do really need refreeze quick.

The snow was wet and slushy below 700m and retreating fast, above 700 it was a mixture of deep soft snow and occasional neve and ice, walking on hard snow one minute then falling through waist deep in places, the crags high up still had ice on them but the turf was not frozen at all even where exposed to the wind, rime was forming above 750m and on the summit rocks.

All in all things not looking too good but with a good refreeze things could come turn ok for once this season, had a great day out taking my rack for a walk for the 50th time this season, just shows there doesn't need to be all the arguing about conditions the mountains form some spectacular conditions during a thaw and well worth the walk out to see the massive cornices, snow bridges and avalanche debris, a good day out without any climbing conditions.

Heading up Rampsgill Head and High Street now will report back later.

Wesley Orvis - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

The gullies and ridges of Great Carrs on the photo below, it's a great place for new climbers to practice their rope skills on grade I/II with bits of III ground without the queues and stress of other climbers around.

It's a bit lower than the higher crags but the previous few years its come into condition quite regularly.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201589710321365&set=a.10201589689360841.1073741898.113...
Wesley Orvis - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Jonathan Yates:

Hi Jonathon, Really enjoyed reading your blog on the front point website cheers.
simondgee - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:
We nipped up for a bit of MR Team work on Helvellyn.
Detailed snowpack examination results here for an area left of gully 2.
Weather:
Precip: At the tarn height 700M about another 2 cm of snow but accumulating only where the wind chose.
Snow falling had a relatively short passage to the ground through cold air creating small feathery crystals...so though light was the right stuff.
Temp: 0deg C circa 650M...temp gradient was a bit confused following a light O/N temp inversion interacting with the mild air mass.
Lots of meltwater in the becks...its coming from somwhere...
Wind: Quite a bit of it! (except when sheltered on the back wall)...50-60mph with significant buffeting on the summit plateau and windchill at time -15C.
Snowpack: Backwall centre, main pack is granulated, modified by thaw and damp, consistent (in area assessed) high to moderate instability at between 15-40cm, with further low instabiity at 100cm (and in some areas 70cm) in all cases weak layers of circa 5-15cm of temp modified graupel.
No concerning propagation in the pack. Overall no concerns and ging in the right direction but the weak layers will cause a problem if we get a severe temp drop.
We had 2 small spontaneously triggered loose pack avalanches pass us...these consisted sticky 5-8cm snowbobbles(...showing the snow is sticky). These werent threatening and just wher stuff was funneled down a gully above.
Limited freezing of turf and none deep down.
Crampons not needed anywhere ...we went up Swirral to finish and could kick steps easily all the way.On the plateau where wind scoured and boiler plated crampons did make for comfy walking.
All this only applies to where we went what we saw on this day...
Video https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=593599454056773&set=vb.121229911293732&type=2&theat... @ 0.24 shows one of Rutschblock failures at 40cm and 100cm (other tests included hasty pit, single compression column,double column propagation) test, and strip testing)
martinph78 on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Wesley Orvis:

> The gullies and ridges of Great Carrs on the photo below, it's a great place for new climbers to practice their rope skills on grade I/II with bits of III ground without the queues and stress of other climbers around.

Might get to sneak up those next week, if I can get a few hours to myself :) Cheers.

martinph78 on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to simondgee:

Looks like a cracking day out with the team. A bit different to conditions over here at the moment!
redsonja - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Wesley Orvis:

have you been on great carrs just recently Wesley? what are conditions like? we are looking for somewhere on tues with some easy routes. thanks
Mountain Llama - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to redsonja:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=578719

This is what happens when there are 3 lakes winter climbing threads....
redsonja - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Mountain Llama:

thanks very much. sorry to not read this post before I asked
Mountain Llama - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to redsonja: no worries

DSM - on 16 Feb 2014
Sun/16/15:30.

Just returned from a run up Wetherlam via Hen Crag North Gully (ascent) & South Gully (descent) then back up the next big gully heading towards Coniston. Although the snow is fairly soft especially low down these grade 1 gullies are all a lot of easy fun at the moment. Enjoy!

DSM

Exile - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Managed the girdle traverse of St Sundays crag today, (didn't think mixed stuff would be in so found this on my 'that would be a laugh to do one day' list!) Conditions surprisingly good - turf not frozen but we didn't need to go near any, snow you can front point and use axes on properly, rocks have snow on ledges but no hoarding. We had finished climbing by mid day, it certainly felt warmer on the way out but there is lots of snow on the face that won't be going anywhere so will be great with a re freeze.
In reply to simondgee:

V technical stuff Si, do you mean it wasnt "in" ?
Wesley Orvis - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:
What a difference a day makes!

Had one of the best days out in the Lakes I have ever had today, went up Rampsgill Head and found some really good snow conditions, was amazed how much firmer the snow pack was today from yesterday, the approach slopes and buttress's are still loaded.

Did Original Route (II) and then come down Easy Buttress (I/II) and then roped up for Umbrella Gully (II/III) the top outs are bullet hard neve with a shiney icey topping, even the approach slopes are firm and consolidated.

Highlight of the day was coming across a monster icey overhanging undercut cornice that I had to cut out for 20 minutes, one of scariest things I have done 20m above a dodgy hex.

Al in all good frozen snow, top winter routes, blue skies and views to die for, if I missed today after traipsing about for 3 months with my rack I would have been absolutely gutted, sorry to all those who didn't manage to get out today, what a day.
Post edited at 17:46
Wesley Orvis - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to redsonja:


Yes was there yesterday lots of snow about and ice high up on the crags, but a little soft yesterday would have been much better today.
Wesley Orvis - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Still loads in the north facing gullies, even though the snow line had risen throughout the day this lot won't shift for a while.
Wesley Orvis - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Exile:

Good work, What grade does the girdle traverse go at please?
LakesWinter on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Did Jogebar Gully today, it was a mixture of great neve, crusty stuff that just supported weight and powder on top of said crusty stuff. Didn't see/touch any turf, it was totally buried. There was a really delicate bit bridging round a stream under a 4 inch layer of neve with no gear, great fun but can't really recommend it atm! Like climbing the side of a bottle. Soft cornice too.

There are meaty cornices along the Helvellyn coves - a big one had collapsed just south of Dollywagon Pike.
Wesley Orvis - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to LakesWinter:

Soft cornice too.

> There are meaty cornices along the Helvellyn coves - a big one had collapsed just south of Dollywagon Pike.

Always wanted to do Jogebar Gully. Good route?

Strange how things can be so different a short distance away, the cornice along Ramspgill is massive too, the one we encountered was made of ice with hanging chandeliers off the underneath, it was even hard getting my crampons into it, came off it once and caught myself, behind the cornice on top was dry sugary stuff so was definitely the crux of Umbrella Gully today.
LakesWinter on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Wesley Orvis:

Yeah it is a good route, good line, it was starting to accumulate slab from the NW winds as it is SE facing, hence the new soft cornice. Rampsgill HEad looked good from the motorway actually, less fresh snow than further east
simondgee - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Bob Bennett aka Last Thursday:
Ha Ha Bob...G 1 and 2 full and based on what other bits i was gelaning i reckon it would be fine...miaght need a bit of care in the bottom and top basins but easy to stay safe there anyway. You been out?
Exile - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Wesley Orvis:

It's III in the guide and 700m, but described right to left and starts up a gully. We started half way up the left side of the crag and went right wards until we ran out of crag - about a km we recon. We soloed, (although we did also do two 30m abseils,) and didn't take the easiest line and we climbed grade III, but certainly not sustained at that. I think you could duck and dive a bit more than we did and do it at exposed Grade II.
paddy cave - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Jonathan Yates:

Jonathan, I have absolutely nothing to do with the control of posting on UKC at all, nor are UKC users likely to represent my client base, so no queues yet, or genius. Simply sharing condition reports that I have been producing for years on my own site anyway...
In reply to simondgee:

Nah, reckon its not worth the effort in the current conditions especially Sundays as everywhere gets mobbed since these wretched websites appeared
!
Wesley Orvis - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to Bob Bennett aka Last Thursday:

> Nah, reckon its not worth the effort in the current conditions especially Sundays as everywhere gets mobbed since these wretched websites appeared

> !

Only us on Rampsgill Head today, no other teams to be seen.
paddy cave - on 16 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

An awesome day to be out in the Lakes today, great weather and a colder night and some wind scouring had some routes, including gullies in fairly good condition. Care required in places though, east facing slopes and gully tops cross-loaded in places, we were on Great End..

photos and more detail here - http://www.mountaincircles.com/great-end-central-gully-left-branch/
Big Lee - on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

We had a great day on Central Gully of Great Gable yesterday. Buttresses were still rimed high up but black lower down. Turf was unfrozen on the buttresses. Gully conditions were excellent though. A little inconsistent lower down (we needed to skirt immediately left of the first two short steep sections to find suitably stable snow) but really good for the upper two thirds. Some really good névé. Gear was hard work to find.
Cuillin Calling on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Was on Hen Crag Buttress on Sat. Did North gully and another grade 1 gully a little way left of the main buttress. Gullies were well filled with soft saturated snow. Didn't use crampons as easy to kick steps and firm underneath. With a freeze would come into v nice condition. Buttress routes quite bare and turf not frozen so Hen Crag Buttress definitely not in condition and left well alone. Sheltered on the routes but vv wild and windy on Weatherlam, felt like my lips were being sandblasted by the spindrift. Q large patches of windscoured icy crust on the top, feet breaking through so didn't need crampons on Sat but friends went up on Sun said it was harder.
David Cowley - on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Im guessing with the recent thaw snow will be soft, turf unfrozen and ridges bare. But was thinking of bombing over at 9am tomorrow after nighshift, arrive at 11 and pop up to red tarn or maybe sharp edge to solo something. Any ideas what the snow if any is like on sharp edge or how soft is it in redtarn cove? Freezing level above summits so thinking it will be crap. Would just save me a drive over after a night shift if people who've been out sun or today can let me know if it will be worth it

cheers

David
In reply to Wesley Orvis:

Good choice Wesley, Im a bit stuck for getting out at the mo and the forecasts are not brilliant. Maybe the snow will survive this weeks expected slight thaw and hopefully improve again soon-ever optimistic!
LakesWinter on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to David Cowley:

I wouldn't bother if it's above freezing coz all the decent climbing is on neve, which will be shite in a thaw atm. Also, all the Helvellyn Coves are menaced by large cornices and are not a good place to be in a thaw at the moment. Longer term some thaw freeze will make great nick, as long as it's not too heavy on the thaw.
LakesWinter on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to Bob Bennett aka Last Thursday:

It should do as the chockstone at the bottom of Dollywagon Gully is buried, so at least 5 m of snow there at 550m
Russell Lovett - on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to LakesWinter:

Was up there on Sunday the snow is deep but has the constisancyof demarera sugar, its not frozen at all. Wr tried Tarn crag gully 3 and got turned back by the cornice, not much cance of getting through it without bringing the whole lot down on yourself and even if you suvived that not much chance of pulling over onto the top as ground or snow is not the slitest bit frozen.
paulh.0776 - on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to Russell Lovett:

We were on Brown Cove Crags Sunday with several other groups, ground/turf not frozen, all the gullies were full with improving snow as you gained altitude with some nice neve in places near the top, small cornices at the top of Central Gully, and the Parallel Gullies and a large deposit of cornice and powder at the top of Broad Gully.

The gullies should survive a thaw if it's not too severe, the 10 day BBC forecast for Ambleside shows a fall in the temperature from Sunday, .....lets hope its enough to help us out here and we can finally get a few good days strung together.
BnB - on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to paulh.0776:

Did Right Buttress Crack today on Brown Cove Crags. Wouldn't have touched it if the sodden turf hadn't been buried under snow. Must be the easiest ascent of a grade III winter climb ever. Just plodding up sugar snow all the way...

...in the rain.
David Cowley - on 17 Feb 2014
In reply to LakesWinter:

Thought as much just wanted to hear it from someone that's been out. Lets hope the thaw doesn't strip the place

Cheers matey
Wesley Orvis - on 17 Feb 2014
Big Lee - on 17 Feb 2014
paddy cave - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Yesterday things were much milder up high with the freeze-line going above the summits. There was some well frozen snow holding in in places but generally it was getting fairly wet and soft again. The crags up at Red Tarn had stripped back and looked wet but still with plenty of snow on. The actual snow cover up high is still extensive, Custs Gully and the other gullies on Great End being very full and the ski runs at Raise requiring the tows to be dug out on Sunday. Whilst the weather is a bit better over the next couple of days its not due to be cold until Friday with the freeze-line temporarily dropping to 650m potentially. If this holds then the wet snow will refreeze very quickly and certainly gullies could come in quickly, with mixed routes its hard to say at this stage.

The snow cover is still extensive so winter walking will be great, on trodden routes or ridges, Striding Edge was still well covered yesterday.

The wetter snow combined with good cover will give good ski touring as well, winds are down also which will help.

There were a few layers in the snow pack that released reasonably easily yesterday, however there is really no wind-slab threat now as the snow pack is wet through, but this makes for heavy snow that can still shear and collapsing cornices will be something to consider until Friday at least.

Photos from last view days on here - http://www.mountaincircles.com/blog/
BnB - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Climbed Scafell today in wind and rain with the notion of climbing Deep Ghyll. The gully was very loaded with wet snow and displayed evidence of a small and very recent avalanche. Plodded on up Lords Rake instead which featured several shears in the snow pack and wobbly cornices. Was all hard work in the wet, soft snow but good training with a big pack for Scotland next week!!
In reply to BnB:

Thanks for the post. Was there a lot of snow 'on the crag' as opposed to just in the main gullies? Wondering how much snow there is on Moss Ghyll in particular...



NMM
BnB - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Northern Mountain Monkey:

Plenty of snow about but it was so misty today I never saw anything of Scafell Crag except Broad Stand when only 5m away from it. I can confirm the thaw was very extensive today. It's not looking great with the current forecast.
LakesWinter on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to LakesWinter:

Hmm. There's material around the chockstone, but I wonder how good it was. The rest of it looks a bit thin to survive this thaw... :-(

NMM
paulh.0776 - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Northern Mountain Monkey:

These pics may not be relevant if the thaw has taken its toll, but a few images from our trip to Brown Cove Crags on Sunday.
There was plenty of snow in the gullies which should survive if a good freeze follows.

http://paulhorsmanphotographer.blogspot.co.uk
A Mountain Journey - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to paulh.0776:

Brown cove crags today: Huge amounts of snow in the gullies, cornices formed along the rim, looks like left parallel has seen its cornice collapse leaving debris at the base of the gully.The snow is very wet with a lot of thawing going on. A few skiers out having fun and one or two climbing in the gullies. Rain most of the day, at about 4pm and around 750m this turned to snow.
Mark
ads.ukclimbing.com
Mountain Llama - on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:
at Great End today (21 Jan), plenty of snow and wind. Plenty of fresh snow over damp base layer. Was aiming for Central gully but constant avalanche debris rained down, so headed for Custs Gully which was fully of soft snow and a few areas of neve, no cornice.

Shame it's going to warm up over the weekend, a good freeze would bring Stella conditions.

Bumped into Alan Hinks on the way down!
Post edited at 18:21
Djhartley - on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

Went up to Bowfell & Esk Pike today, still plenty of snow about however the snow was saturated and it may just have been freezing on the tops. Unfortunately the cooler temps didn't materialise today. There was a sagging cornice near to the summit of Esk Pike with a fracture line well back from the edge! The lakes needs a good freeze!
redsonja - on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to Djhartley:

did you need crampons at all?
Djhartley - on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to redsonja:

I carried crampons & ice axe however didn't need to use them, the snow was either fresh or soft enough to kick a decent step into, temps wouldn't have needed to fall much though on the summits to have warranted wearing them. Hope this helps.
paddy cave - on 21 Feb 2014
In reply to paddy cave:

New post (21st Feb) started here - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=579376


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