Fell Top Conditions on Tuesday 28 March

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:25

Temperature plus 6.5°C Maximum wind speed 17.6mph Wind chill plus 1.2°C Average wind speed 12.9mph Wind direction SSW

The thaw continues at all levels for the fifth consecutive day, although it has been especially pronounced over the past 24 hours probably helped by warmer overnight temperatures. Little snow now remains below 650m. Even above 650m, large areas of the Lakeland Fells up to and including summit level are now free from snow; especially on aspects that have caught the most sun – predominantly south facing. That said, a significant amount of snow still remains, especially above 750m. Where the snowpack has been undisturbed by the passage of boots, it is soft, wet and still relatively deep in sheltered hollows and where it has drifted. The underfoot conditions on paths varies considerably. Below the snowline they are mainly dry. Above the snowline, they can be either dry or wet where the snow has thawed. Where the snow has been compacted, however, there are patches of harder snow and ice making conditions more treacherous, especially where the ground is steep. An example of this on Monday was near Brown Cove on the “easy” route up Helvellyn from Swirrls. An ice axe remains strongly recommended for such sections especially in descent.

There has been a significant thaw along Swirral and Striding Edges with the majority of both edges now consisting of dry rock and there are almost, but not completely, snow free routes along the length and exits of both of them.

Although there is a proliferation of shorts and tee shirts in the valleys, the summit conditions are not so conducive to such apparel as the windchill was around zero degrees. Consequentially, full waterproofs (doubling as windproofs), extra layers, mountain boots and equipment remain essential for those venturing out onto the fells. Although the majority of the snowpack was soft, wet and thawing today (and probably will be again on Wednesday with the current forecasted rain), it would only take a slight drop in temperature for the existing snow to harden and slush to re-freeze, so walkers out on the highest fells on Wednesday (especially any early risers) should be prepared and equipped to encounter hard snow and ice.