We started 2012 as we mean to go on - in the mountains.
Posted: 3 January 2012
Well, we're back and first on the list is to wish everyone a very happy and outdoorsy 2012, fingers crossed that the weather improves. Or rather than the weather gets worse in the sense of being snowy and frozen rather than wet and ridiculously windy.
I started 2012 as I mean to go on with a trip to the Lakes with some mates. The less said about the home-made music the better, but we had two entertaining days on the hill as a sort of antidote. On New Year's Eve, we snuck up Skiddaw from the Bassenthwaite side of things. It was wet, it was windy, it was also ridiculously mild, which made the axes on our packs feel just a little redundant.
Which they were. Up top it was blowing a proper hoolie and not a sign of snow. Oddly, though I've ridden mountain bikes around the flanks of Skiddaw on several occasions, I've never walked up it before, so that's a novel tick to end 2011. We descended a featureless scree slope in the semi-dark then lit up for the muddy trudge back to the car. And I might have ended up on my arse thanks to what I would describe as a 'precipitous mud face', but others would view as a slippery, wet, footpath. Hmmm...
The forecast for New Year's Day was better, but the mountains weren't listening too hard. This time the axes were needed on the steep, soft snowy exit from Swirral Edge onto Helvellyn's summit plateau. We guessed there was snow up there anyway - Weatherline confirmed that - and it's worth remembering that Helvellyn's nooks and hollows and, in particular, the exits from Striding and Swirral Edges can still hold a lot of snow and ice well into spring, even when the rest of the mountain is relatively clear, so if in doubt, take spiky feet and and an axe.
Unfortunately poor camera admin means I have just the one iPhone snap from below taken using the Peaks app, which labels nearby summits for your delectation and orientation. Obviously I needed to do some waving of phone in a figure of 8 motion to make it work properly, but hey, I know Helvellyn when I see it.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying welcome back, hope you all had a good break and here's to a cracking 2012 starting off with some proper winter conditions please.