Wetherlam, January 2015

In a depressingly drear winter monday looked great. Lots of sun, cold, no wind, and the chance of snow and ice adventures. I didn’t decide on the walk until I was nearly at the lakes and could see the hills. Incredibly white, so I wasn’t limited to the highest. I settled on wetherlam. I knew this had quick access. I’d been stuck for forty five minutes in a motorway jam so a quick up and down was needed. Wetherlam also has a most entertaining scrambly finish to the summit, which I thought would give sport.

There was ice and a dusting of snow in the car park so conditions looked wonderful. Views were incredible right from the start. The bracken was rust red, the hills yellow-white, the trees stark and bare and as I got higher the sea and the lakes came into view.

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Navigation was easy until the wide track narrowed and the footprints ran out and I had to make my own way up the increasingly steep rocky ground but the deep snow meant I could make my own way.

As I neared the start of wetherlam edge I met two men coming back who said they’d turned round because of the icy conditions higher up, which sounded like just what I was looking for.

The steep scrambly part of wetherlam edge, before the summit. I don't know which way I went up this face, but it wasn't as steep as it looks.
The steep scrambly part of wetherlam edge, before the summit. I don’t know which way I went up this face, but it wasn’t as steep as it looks.

The summer route up the scrambly rocky part was invisible but someone had set a trail of crampon marks in the snow and whoever it was had chosen a good way. Part way up I put my own spikes on and got the axe out. The route was really nice, with a mix of ice, neve, and powder as I zig-zagged up the rocks to the summit.

Looking down wetherlam edge from just before the start of the steep icy section.
Looking down wetherlam edge from just before the start of the steep icy section.

With only one other person at the top, it was perfectly still with a blue sky and just the right amount of cloud for great photos.

Langdale pikes, bowfell, crinkle crags, pike o'blisco
Langdale pikes, bowfell, crinkle crags, pike o’blisco

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The way down should have been an easier path but with no traffic to leave footprints I had to guess the way based on compass bearings and the map. I went steeply down deep powder snow through what would have been an awful boulder field but the snow made it fairly easy, until I could hop over the beck at the bottom and find the return path.

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