Fell Top Conditions on Thursday 17 January
Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:30
Temperature minus 4.8°C Maximum wind speed 25.2mph Wind chill minus 11.9°C Average wind speed 16.4mph Wind direction NE
A spectacular alpine day on the Lake District fells with plenty of sunshine and cold temperatures.
Terrain was widely frozen from valley level with a dusting of snow above 550m. The snows depth increased with height and it was ankle deep in sheltered locations and to the lee of the summit. Many paths were icy but most of this was avoidable with care.
Where there was direct sunlight on south facing slopes throughout the day the snow and ice has thawed almost to summit level. Conversely north facing slopes have remained fully frozen throughout.
Striding and Swirral Edges had a thin covering of soft snow but the exposed rock was dry giving easy going without crampons. As usual the exit slopes had collected more snow but this was still soft with just some small patches of soft windslab and sastrugi developing.
The summit plateau was a mixture of frozen ground, rime ice and drifts of snow. Winds throughout the day were very variable in terms of strength and direction with random gusts blowing through.
Ice axe and crampons were carried today but not used. However the temperatures are forecast to dip again overnight which will refreeze the remaining snow pack and any ice that began to thaw today. Conditions on the highest fells tomorrow could require the use of ice axe and crampons for safe travel even if if only for short sections.
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