The British Mountaineering Council, Natural England and The Lake District National Park Authority have jointly launched a new system providing live winter conditions reports on the popular winter crag Great End (Sprinkling Tarn).
By monitoring live data on a dedicated webpage, climbers and walkers can use this to make safer, informed decisions before heading into the hills. Great End was chosen as the most reliable mountain to provide a rough idea of the general conditions of other crags in the area, in addition to its own popularity.
Probes measuring air and turf temperatures at the base of Great End take readings at regular intervals and feed information back to a base station in Seathwaite. Using the information gathered each hour, a potential picture of conditions on the crag can be drawn up, as well as an estimate for other crags of similar aspect and altitude.
However, climbers are advised to use caution when venturing out and to understand that extrapolating the data to other crags or areas leaves room for inaccuracies:
'We stress that this is not a definitive system – it will not give a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to whether conditions are good for climbing. Small differences from the effect of weather on different areas of the crag may mean the measurement site shows frozen turf when the turf on the crag (or part of the crag) is not, or vice versa. Likewise, weather can affect similar crags even a small distance away differently.'
It is hoped that the system will also help to protect rare Arctic-alpine plants, which thrive in frozen turf habitats high on mountain sides.
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