Grabbing Life By The Balls

8 08 2013

It’s been a while since the last blog post. I’ve either neglected it for editing the website, or simply haven’t got around to it, but today that changes!

Climbing the Brown Tongue Path

Today myself, Steve and Dave climbed Scafell Pike & Scafell from Wasdale, and what a good day we had.

We set off from the Wasdale Head and traversed around the hillside to join the main Brown Tongue (motorway) path that makes it’s way up to Hollow Stones. This was Steve’s third day in a row, and Dave’s second, so we took it easy as the going got steeper, but even then we still made great progress. We stopped and enjoyed the views when we got to Hollow Stones, but soon enough we were on our way again. An hour later we reached the bustling summit of Scafell Pike. Steve had climbed the Pike with me a couple of months ago but the weather was far from desirable, so at least today he got some views!

Views from Scafell Pike

We stopped on the summit and had a leisurely bite to eat and soaked up some rays! From the summit we descended to Mickeldore, the pass between Scafell Pike and Scafell. There are numerous fantastic routes up Scafell, some more extreme than others. All but one of them have a level of descent to start them, and the easiest one, Foxes Tarn, requires the most descent and subsequently re-ascent. We started to make our way towards this route and then I remembered the East Buttress Terrace route. This route is a traverse with a couple of delicate points on it, but the overriding point is the huge level of exposure as the mountain falls away below you. 2013-08-08 13.32.40After scrambling with the guys yesterday on Helvellyn & Striding Edge (and them enjoying it) I asked if they wanted a bit more ‘daring do’ to mix up this walk. I think it was the thought of having to descend even further and then make up the height again that pushed them towards saying yes, well for Dave anyway. We made good progress across the terrace as it was mostly dry. Steve did feel a little unsure a couple of times but he still managed to conquer the traverse, something I’m sure he will be pretty happy with when he’s thinking about it in the safety of his bed tonight.

Final moves on the EBTIt was this moment when I thought about how Steve had ‘grabbed life by the balls’. Not the fact that he had just been taken out of his comfort zone and come out the other end smiling (kinda!) but the fact that in the last 3 days he had climbed the four highest mountains in England. Some of you may be reading this thinking ‘and?’. But as I said previously a couple of months ago Steve came and climbed Scafell Pike with me, and being a man from the flatlands of Norwich he had no mountain experience, and he struggled, a lot. Steve has since been up and done other routes with me, plus a navigation course, and been working on his fitness at home. What Steve is achieving now compared to where he was back then is truly inspirational and great to see, he has ‘grabbed life by the balls’ and is now able to climb any mountain in the Lake District! Nice one, Steve!

From the summit of Scafell we enjoyed a nice descent down Green How. The Isle of Man looked like a floating island in the sky and Wastwater was twinkling in the afternoon sunshine, it was lovely.

Shortly after 4pm we were back at the car after yet another fine day in the hills.

The Scafell Massif

A full album of pics can be found on this link.



Scafell Pike from Seathwaite

1 06 2013

June the 1st, the first day of summer, and for once it actually felt that way!

I met John and Jackie at Seathwaite Farm and apart from a bit of a fresh wind running through the valley bottom, it was a glorious day! As we walked up towards Stockley Bridge we were by no means alone, there were hundreds of people taking advantage of the weather, and why wouldn’t they.

We made great progress to Styhead Pass where we soaked up our first views of Scafell Pike. We joined the Corridor Route and made great progress, but stopping often to admire the views. The cloud was made up of patchwork cloud which was casting some awesome shadows down onto the fell side.

As we got to Lingmell Col we joined the main ‘motorway’ path from Wasdale and the mountain suddenly seemed much busier. We plodded up the final slopes admiring the rock formations as we walked. We rounded onto the summit plateau and  got our first glimpse of the summit, it was packed! Maybe we should have reserved a rock for lunch!

We enjoyed a lengthy lunch on top. the busy summit had a great atmosphere about it. A couple of lower clouds passed over the summit blocking out our views from time to time, but it was always short-lived. We left the summit a layer up, the wind was pretty fresh and was quite cooling on bare flesh. We returned to Esk Hause via Broad Crag and Ill Crag where we once again stopped to soak up the fine views.

We took our time to descend by Grains Gill in the afternoon sun and soon enough we were back at Seathwaite. Yet another fab day on the fells in fab company! Oh, and long may this nice weather last!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Scafell Pike from Seathwaite 16.05.13

16 05 2013

I waited for the moment I was bound to wake up and realise it was all just a dream, but I didn’t suddenly find myself waking all bleary eyed in my bed, it was real! Yes! I had just had an entire day on the fells and not had to don my waterproofs!!!!! Well folks, that was summer, and here comes the monsoon season! haha

Today I was guiding a lovely couple from Singapore up Scafell Pike. We started off from Seathwaite in our sunglasses it was that good! We made fantastic progress all the way up the Corridor Route which was made extra enjoyable due to the lack of wind and forecasted rain.

We made the busy summit after just over 3 hours and had a nice leisurely lunch and took our time to enjoy the views that have been so rare recently. We did start to get a bit chilly after 20 minutes or so, so we headed off towards Broad Crag Col. This part of the walk felt like a bit of a novelty despite having done it dozens of times before. I think it was due to the fact we have had to descend back down the corridor route in recent months due to the weather, so I hadn’t walked this ground for a while now.

After conquering the boulderfields of Broad Crag and Ill Crag we strolled through Esk Hause and then to the top of Grains Gill. The sun had a final hurrah as we descended by the gill back to Seathwaite. We reached the cars and about 5 minutes of driving down the road the rain finally decided to show its face for a brief shower.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Scafell Pike from Seathwaite

9 05 2013

The MWIS forecast held big numbers and words such as ‘mobility will be tortuous’…what were we letting ourselves in for.

I was woken by the sun shining in through the window, had the forecast been wrong? We’re we actually going to have some nice weather on the fells? Or maybe I was still dreaming!

The sun continued to shine as I drove to Seathwaite, but I could also see the cloud building from the west just as the weather man had said it would on the TV this morning. As I started to get my kit on the heavens opened, the rain was here, and I certainly wasn’t dreaming anymore. Our biggest concern would be the wind, with different forecasts predicting gusts of between 55-85mph, I was hoping it would be the lesser of the two.

We set off with our sights on the summit, whatever the weather we we’re going to give it our best shot. We followed our usual route up to Styhead Pass via the Stockley Bridge and then joined the Corridor Route where we enjoyed some more sheltered walking. Up until this point the rain had been coming in bursts, and the wind had been very bearable, we we’re getting away with it!

As we turned up from Lingmell Col onto the final slopes we entered the mist and the winds started to get stronger. We made good progress and soon enough we we’re standing on the summit. The wind must have been hitting the other side of the mountain because as we reached the top we got hit by more force than experienced all the way up. The wind chill was also massive so we made a B-line for the summit shelter.

We stopped for just 5 minutes before needing to move once more. Because of how cold it was in the wind we opted to return back the same way down the Corridor Route. Our good progress continued as we made a fast descent back to Seathwaite where we finished much less wind battered than I had envisaged at the start of the day! Result!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Scafell Pike from Seathwaite

12 03 2013

After having a day of learning how to Navigate Steve wanted to put his new found skills to the test by heading up Scafell Pike. The forecast was for clear skies for the most part of the day but a bracing wind which was predicted to possibly bring the temperature down as low as -24 degrees C!

We set off from Seathwaite and the skies were pretty clear and as we reached Styhead Tarn we could see the summit of Scafell Pike which is always a great start. Steve navigated us onto the Corridor Route and it was from this point we hit the snowline. Winter had all but virtually disappeared from the Lakes but a couple of nights of snow and some freezing temperatures had brought it straight back with full force.

We climbed up the Corridor Route dodging the worst of the ice and had a short coffee break below Round How. We rounded the corner and the top of Piers Gill was banked up with loads of fresh snow. For me and Steve it would have been fine to traverse, but a little steep for Lexi. We negotiated the snow bank by getting up the side of it and then across the top of it on the easier angled terrain above. Shortly after this we joined the main track up from Wasdale and the feel of the day had changed completely.

We were suddenly off of the relatively sheltered Corridor Route and now feeling the bracing wind. With this the cloud had dropped, it had started snowing and the fresh snow on the ground was being blown around. We plodded or way up the summit ridge slowly but surely and occasionally we were in complete white-out conditions. So much so I had to put my goggles on to give my self the chance to see where I was going. There was a moment where I couldn’t see Lexi ahead of me, or Steve behind me. I shouted for Lexi in the wind hoping she would have not gone far. As it blew through I realised Lexi was just a couple of metres ahead, and Steve about the same behind, so close and yet I couldn’t see them, it was tough. We continued up through the snow from cairn to cairn, and every time we got a strong gust of wind I would put my glove over Lexi’s eyes to shield them from the snow. Once again I felt like I was taking her into weather she shouldn’t be in, but just as she always is she was as brave as ever and just battled on through.

We reached the summit, and although it didn’t feel like -24 Degrees C up there we didn’t hang around. We had originally planned to head towards Esk Hause across the tops but this would mean we would have about an hour of walking fully exposed to the weather so we opted to head back the same way we had come up.

We quickly descended to Lingmell Col where we finally stopped for a bite to eat. We found some ‘shelter’ to eat our lunch in during which Steve came out with the classic line which was ‘I have eaten my lunch in some conditions, but this is just shit!’. He wasn’t wrong…

On our descent we saw a bit more action from the Sun which was nice, especially as it lit up Great Gable. We got back to the car after about 6 and a half hours, we had well and truly earned the summit today, but at least we got an intense exfoliation while doing so!

Scafell Pike from Seathwaite

18 12 2012

While in Keswick yesterday picking up my new mountain bike, the course of my 2 days off was changed. After working a 70+ hour week last week I didn’t have any plans and was probably going to sit in editing the website.  I bumped into Naomi’s Grandad and he had picked up a lad called Victor, from Germany, who is travelling around the UK. Victor had been told by some very sensible people that he HAD to visit the Lake District when he was in England, and with that came his desire to want to head up either Helvellyn or Scafell Pike.

The forecast for today looked good, surprisingly good considering yesterday was so wet, and the rest of the week from now on is meant to also be pretty shoddy. After a little bit of deliberating we chose to head up Scafell Pike, and by doing so it would put Victor on top of the highest mountain in England!

Driving down the Borrowdale Valley the blue sky was broken up by a few clouds, and Scafell Pike could also not be seen, but we still had hope that it would disperse. We took our usual route up to Styhead Tarn and when we got there the high fells were dusted in some snow. We joined the Corridor route and as we reached the top of Piers Gill we started to hit the snow. It had obviously re-frozen leaving a hard layer on the top, but we still didn’t need Crampons on. We made our way up to the final slopes to the quiet summit, via the great viewpoint over Wastwater, and we had managed to get there and get views!

We took our photos and had a short break before descending via Broad Crag. As we reached Calf Cove the Snow was more compact so we decided to sit down and slide down the slope. This idea was far better as an idea as the snow was actually quite bumpy, and we both picked up a fair bit of speed! haha

We enjoyed a quick descend down Grains Gill and back to the car just before it got dark.


Scafell Pike from Seathwaite

24 11 2012

Between Summer 2011 and Summer 2012 I climbed Scafell Pike over 60 times, and it was due to this that I have been known to say that I would never climb Scafell Pike without a group ever again….today I suprised myself! When I first started walking I did a lot of Solo walking, and it is something that today, for the first time in a long time, I could enjoy again. I think having some time to yourself each day, week or month is very important. It gives you a chance to sort out your thoughts and just think, or not think.

Before today I had not climbed Scafell Pike since August and despite thinking I would probably choose dozens of routes over Scafell Pike for a social escapade, I wanted to get back up to that summit! I had a look at the weather forecast, and with phrases such as ‘Excellent Visibility’, ‘no Rain’, I knew it would be a fine day to head up England’s Highest!

Today was also a momentous occasion as it was Lexi’s first ascent of Scafell Pike! Wee started from Seathwaite and an impressive blanket of cloud was spilling into the valley. We made our way up to Styhead Pass where we got our first sighting of a snow capped Scafell Pike. We joined the Corridor Route and enjoyed a good climb in suprisingly mild conditions. As we crossed the top of Piers Gill we were seeing more and more snow, which is still a quite an alien thing to Lexi!

The snow got thicker and thicker as we climbed up, but soon enough we were on the busy summit! We enjoyed the views and some lunch on top, and Lexi ran around hoovering up the scraps (everyone elses lunches!) We left the summit and made our way down the steep slope to Broad Crag Col. We then enjoyed the two consecutive tops of Broad Crag and Ill Crag. As we reached Calf Cove Lexi decided to have a mad 5 mintues and run around in the snow.

We finished off our walk with a nice descent down Grains Gill back to Seathwaite Farm.

Keen to Climb Scafell Pike? Next Year Lakeland Mountain Guides has it on their Diary Loooooaddds!!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.