Snow & Ice Climbing: The beginning of the ‘big freeze’

>Last weekend was spent immersed in the snow and ice of the Lake District.

Newlands Hause (III), Newlands

“….If its ‘in’ be prepared to queue..”

Not last Saturday! Following heavy overnight snow the it was impossible to drive to the high Col, only 1o minutes from its base and so it was a 2.5 Km walk along the minor road to reach this frozen fall – but we had the place to ourselves. It was possible to climb on both the Left and Right hand lines, and an hours worth of pleasant soloing saw us climb every possible option going.

Seren was far more interested in snow than ice
Newlands Hause


Soloing on Newlands Hause

Shoulthwaite Gill (V,4), Thirlmere Valley

Situated just 30 minutes from the main A-road, this route rarely forms – requiring a sustained period of sub-zero conditions for it to come in, situated as it is, only a couple of hundred metres or so above sea-level. Normally its described as thin and a serious lead – and whilst there remained some thin sections overlying the slabby rock beneath it is currently taking plenty of seemingly reliable ice screws. An awesome pitch of ice.

Gearing up at the base of Shoulthwaite Gill
Dan making headway up the steep Gill

On the Sunday we headed around to Patterdale to take a look at some of the routes around Dove Crag – our main objective was hopefully to have been Inaccessible Gully. Unfortunately after an exhausting hour or so breaking trail, we discovered it was a little too inaccessible, the first pitch appearing very thin and brittle and not really in condition. And so we soloed up South Gully which was in great nick, albeit with vast quantities of powdery snow in its upper reaches. From there we skirted around to Hart Crag, a team spotted on Scubby Crag which appeared to be in great nick and a quick ascent of what we think was Short Chute – albeit feeling much more mixed and much harder than its III grading would suggest.

Whorneyside Falls (III) & Hell Ghyll (III/IV)

After an exhausting walk-in to scope out Shelter Crag on Crinkle Crags, we bailed, having got thoroughly shagged wading through knee deep snow and wandering around in near zero visibility – surely there were easier things to be doing we thought.

The latter wasnt really in condition and best avoided – the final pitch so very nearly in, but not quite, a shame. Whorneyside however was in great nick, easily done as one long pitch or two short singles, the final third pitch wasnt worth it and the plunge pool looked a little too watery for our liking!


About Richard Talbot

An accomplished fell-runner as well as being a keen climber and mountaineer. Since 2005 he has worked for the UK based manufacturer Mountain Equipment and is currently Director of Product. He has worked in the outdoor industry for over 15 years.
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