Fell Top Conditions on Wednesday 7 December

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 11:45

Temperature plus 7.9°C Maximum wind speed 57.8mph Wind chill minus 3.6°C Average wind speed 39.5mph Wind direction SW

A wet, warm and wild day on Helvellyn today. The thaw of what little snow remains continues, and there is now hardly any snow at all below 700m. There are still some extensive patches above this height, but by and large they are easily avoidable. The ground on both Swirral and Striding Edge was mainly wet, bare rock, however on Swirral Edge in particular there are still a few patches of snow persisting. On exits from both Swirral and Striding Edges onto the summit plateau today the snow had all but gone, but not quite completely. Any lowering of the temperature over the next few days (although not currently forecast) would soon turn these remaining patches into very hard snow. Owing to this, for those attempting exposed routes above the snowline, an ice axe might still be found useful.

Throughout the morning the cloud base hung at around 350m, and heavy rain eased occasionally to a mere drizzle. Gale force SW winds made the crossing of both edges challenging, and had the wind turned more to the south Striding Edge in particular would have been out of the question. The other notable challenge today was navigation, with visibility reduced for much of the time to around 10m.

Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out into the fells, as despite the milder summit temperature, the windchill remains well below zero. A map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them are essential.