The start of a new fell running year. And the first decent day in weeks and weeks. Saturated, soggy ground replaced by frozen, firm ground and on the high fells, snow.
It was a frosty start as we left Glenridding shortly after 10am. There were only a few other folk milling about, no doubt some nursing hangovers from the night before. Our run would take us up and over St. Sunday Crag before dropping down to Grisedale Tarn and then climbing once again up and around Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike before reaching Helvellyn.
Conditions today were essentially good. Some water ice between about 350 metres and 600 metres, and above this varying amounts of snow. Above 700 metres a good cover of firm and well consolidated snow was found. Some unsolidated windslab was beginning to form in places and cornices were beginning to build on the East face of Helvellyn.
Once above the aptly named Cold Cove on St. Sunday Crag it felt desperately cold, a strong wind was blowing and picking a line through the fresh but firm snow was at times hard going. Luckily the snow that has fallen, fell in relatively mild conditions and following the freeze overnight it was well consolidated, just the odd patch of windslab providing some breakable crust.
Descending down from Deepdale Hause, we dropped temporarily below the snowline as we skirted around Grisedale Tarn before climbing once again up towards Dollywagon Pike. Straightforward going along the main ridge line until Helvellyn itself where the wind really picked up, hurling graupel into our faces as we hastily made our way to the top of Swirral Edge. Firm yet soft snow made for a rapid and hugely enjoyable descent.