Fell Top Conditions on Saturday 25 February

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:35

Temperature plus 3.7°C Maximum wind speed 41.7mph Wind chill minus 4.6°C Average wind speed 31.0mph Wind direction SW

There is an extensive thaw at all levels; it was plus 3 degrees and raining heavily on the summit (as it was everywhere else!!) Apart from insignificant, isolated patches of wet, thawing snow, there is now no snow below 700m. Even above 700m large areas of the Lakeland fells up to and including summit level are now free from snow. The snow that remains lies in sheltered spots and hollows and on north and east facing aspects where there are still drifts deep enough to swallow the shaft of a 55cm ice axe although such depth is definitely the exception. The snow is soft, wet and thawing – no hard snow or ice being encountered. This could change, though, with only a slight drop in temperature so walkers out on Sunday should be prepared to encounter ice at altitude.

Striding and Swirral Edges consisted of bare, wet rock with isolated patches of soft snow and slush. Conversely there was snow on their exits and on Striding Edge some of these were deep and unavoidable. Again the snow was soft, but an ice axe was useful here and would be essential should the temperature drop and the snow harden. This is the case for anyone attempting, or traversing, steep snow slopes at altitude – mainly on east and north facing aspects.

Despite the milder weather, the summit windchill remains below freezing so full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. At present, more rain is forecast for Sunday and given the amount that has, and is, currently falling even small watercourses could be difficult to cross. Something to bear in mind should your route involve fording a stream – especially in descent – as it might be advisable crossing it higher up the fell. The positive aspect about this weather is that the Lakeland Waterfalls are spectacular and well worth a visit !!

For those interested in the weather stats, there were stronger gusts of wind encountered on the ascent compared with the summit!