Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tea and Tapestry...

Thats right. It appears that you cant have craft without coffee in the lakes in the same measure that you cant pitch a tent without a howling gale arriving...





As it was a long weekend, I somehow managed to negotiate some time away from the impending arrival/fitting of our new kitchen and other pressing DIY chores to escape with Daryl, Gemma and Rich off up to the Lakes for some camping and walking orientated fun. This was a VERY last minute trip and planning was therefor reduced to a minimal. We set off on Friday morning after cheekily leaving my car parked in someone's road (sorry, I wasn't paying £24 to park it for three days) and promptly got stuck for an hour on the M40 as there had been a major pile up. This gave us time to sort a route out and after what seemed like an age in the car, shopping and pitching our tents at Wasdale Head National Trust campsite, we were shouldering bags and heading up the bridal way towards Great Gable, with a four hour window of light! As conditions dictated, we decided to thread the Needle rather than attempt to get to the top of Great Gable, which was fine as it served as a good reccy for climbing the Needle later in the year.



After a night awake worrying if the tents would still be standing (well, for the boys - I slept like a baby!) we set off on a loop to include Pillar, Red Pike and Yewbarrow with a few other bits along the way.

The start was a slow slog in weather that was blazing hot and sunny one minute and freezing wind the next. At the approach to Pillar we took the High Level Traverse around the north face. The ground was icy and covered in snow so the initial scramble took some time (sorry guys!), and by the time we reached Robinson's Cairn it was snowing the strangest snow (I've since discovered it is called Graupel or soft hail) and visibility was poor for a few moments. We found the path and carried on round Pillar Rock until we reached a 5ft section impassable due to verglass. Upon turning back we decided our best approach to reach the top was a snow-covered scree slope. It was hard work and very, very scary at times and the story of what ensued can only be explained in person. Upon reaching the top of Pillar we abandoned the rest of the loop and took the easy route back down to the Wasdale Head where whiskey and many pints were needed!

The following morning the weather was nice enough to allow us to pack up in the dry, before the long drive back to reality. Many lessons were learned this weekend such as crampons and ice axes would be pretty useful for winter mountaineering, always carry rope, and don't pioneer your own routes in snowy weather!





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