Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ski Tour

When an uncle died in the early 80s I was asked if I wanted a gold watch to remember him by. I opted for cross country skis. These were bought as a package from a shop in Newcastle and had a fish scale bottom. The theory was you could glide forwards but not back. I remember doing the Dodds a number of times and they worked well on relatively flat terrain. These skiis were about 7 feet long and stopping and turning were almost impossible ( for me). I decided to learn to ski properly as soon as I could afford it and to get proper touring skis.

Stybarrow Dodd and Great Dodd

So eventually I got some ordinary skis and used to go camping at Aviemore during Feb half term. This lead to Snowcoach holidays at Brides le Bain in the French Alps. The dream of ski touring was still in my mind. Two things seemed against me, the incredible cost of the boots , skis and bindings and the fact that I was never going to be a good skier. I could do a red run on a good day and that was about it. 3 years ago I bought some cheapish touring skis off ebay and some touring bindings. For 2 seasons I just used them as downhill skis. Then in January there were some second hand Scarpa touring boots on ebay and last week I got the skins . Ready to rock 25 yrs later!

Lake District Ski Club run on Raise from White Stones.

0830 Im tramping acroos the moor from Red Moss. The snow looks good high up but as can be seen above the level is quite high. Put the skins on at about 5oom and ascend Hart Side. Skins were brilliant, you can go up quite steep hills. They dont glide on the front stroke as cross x country skis do, at least mine don't. So I accended Stybarrow Dodd. Took off the skins and skied down to the tow on Raise.

No tripod so best I could manage.

Top of ski tow , Raise.

A 10 minute walk from the top of the tow takes you to the summit . The views were superb. The photo below shows someone using a kite to snowboard.

The top of the west face of Raise had superb snow and I managed some good turns. I did this run 3 times, using the lift to take me back up, before the long slog over Stybarrow Dodd.

Looking back towards Watson's Dodd.

When I got to the top of Great Dodd I finished off the tea in the flask and took off the skins for the final run down to Matterdale Common.

Shelter on Great Dodd

It was along walk back to the car with the heavy skis. It was a great day out, the only down side is that the day after I can hardly move as I'm so stiff.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

One night backpack.

I got dropped off at the Thirlmere car park. It was a lovely mild day and I did most of the walk in my smartwool base layer. There was a steep hard packed snow slope on the path to the right of Brown Cove. Everyone stopped here to don crampons. There was a young lad and his dad trying to climb this without ice axe or crampons and with trainers on their feet. They were going a few yards and then slipping back. Assuming they climbed this slope I have no idea how they could descend it later in the day. An off duty mountain rescue bod happened to be there and I left him as he went across to give them advice. Im guessing he sent them back as they never appeared on the top.

Striding Edge looked spectacular.

The view as I ate a couple of sarnies. I sat in my base layer. Unusually there was no wind.

I left the summit later than planned as 3 blokes were preparing to ski down the face. The drop off from the cornice looked vertical to me. They all got down safely.

After the excitement I headed off over Lower Man towards Whiteside Bank.

By the time I got to Watson's Dodd I was tired, it was late, and I had no water left.

The wind had picked up a little from the north east so I pitched the tent in a slight hollow to the south west of Great Dodd summit. I figured this would give some shelter. I had donned my Montane Litespeed as I put up the tent as the temperature was now dropping.

No liquid water meant using the Caldera Cone to melt snow. I had brought a spare carrier bag and filled it from a drift behind the tent. This meant I could lie in the sleeping bag and keep warm whilst making cups of tea and cooking the evening meal.

I had dehydrated a beef stew and some rice along with a portion of spicey tomato sauce. I heated these in the MSR titanium pot and then put them in a bowl in the the home made cosey. By using a bowl I was then able to continue making cups of tea whilst the meal cooked itself. These microwave bowls weigh hardly any thing and can be bought at any supermarket.

I was now wearing Paramo trousers, smartwool base, Rab fleece and Rab Photon Hoodie with my old Lowe mountain cap. I had read in TGO that a bivvy bag would upgrade a 3 season sleeping bag and keep it dry from condensation drips. As my Quantum 400 was a 3 season I tried this system. I can report that it does not work. There was no condensation on the Akto inner as it all condensed on the inside of my bivvy and gradually made the sleeping bag damp. I survived the night but if it had been a multi day journey I would have been getting into a cold damp bag the next night.

The next morning was a cold damp affair. I poured previously melted snow onto crushed Weetabix, Alpen and powdered milk for a hearty breakfast. Packed up, and walked to Keswick via Clough Head , St Johns in the Vale and Castlerigg Stone Circle.

Brown Cove, Helvellyn.


Greg, Tris and Bob went to Brown Cove. We think we climbed Left Branch gully but it may have been Central Gully. My guide book is old and does not have a diagram. The other climbers there did not seem to know either as we got two different versions from them. Any way we had a great day out . We were in the gully for 5 hours and it was -6 celsius. We were frozen by the time we got to the top. We were a rope of three so this made for slowness , as well as waiting for other parties above. Bob got a cut lip as chunks of ice kept flying down from above.

Not being a hard core ice climber I found this bit the most difficult.

Bob heads for the sun.

Tris belayed.

The top pitch.

Greg in the sun at last.

The route.