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Readings 2016-17

Historical readings and fell top reports:

Date of report Location Temp Windchill Max wind Ave wind Wind direction Report
17th Apr 2017 Ullswater Not taken Not taken Not taken Not taken Not taken The forecast for last night was for some snow on the fells, and people yesterday (16th April) were reporting snow on Esk Pike and Bowfell, on Helvellyn, and on The Dodds, so the assessor decided to have a look at Helvellyn today to see if an ascent and re-awakening of the Lake District Weatherline service would be necessary for what remains of the winter. From a low-level vantage point this morning he could clearly see that Helvellyn had not gathered any more snow overnight, and that what fell yesterday had melted, although there was some frosty ground on the headwall below the OS trig pillar. Walkers should remember that despite the warmth in the valleys, lambs in the fields, and spring flowers blooming everywhere, it can still be very wintry on the tops. Wind chill is also a factor to bear in mind, and temperatures on the fells right now certainly feel well below zero - the assessor recorded -7C with wind chill on St Sunday Crag a couple of days ago. Full waterproofs are always necessary, regardless of the season, and warmth layers are also essential. Throughout this winter season the Assessor team have had to remind people over and over again that a map and compass are absolutely essential for hillwalking. A GPS can certainly be useful, but it can also be very inaccurate, and actually dangerous if used incorrectly. The Fell Top Assessor team of Graham and Jon would like to wish you all a fabulous and safe hillwalking season, until they return at the beginning of December for the next winter season.
17th Apr 2017 Ullswater Not taken Not taken Not taken Not taken Not taken The forecast for last night was for some snow on the fells, and people yesterday (16th April) were reporting snow on Esk Pike and Bowfell, on Helvellyn, and on The Dodds, so the assessor decided to have a look at Helvellyn today to see if an ascent and re-awakening of the Lake District Weatherline service would be necessary for what remains of the winter. From a low-level vantage point this morning he could clearly see that Helvellyn had not gathered any more snow overnight, and that what fell yesterday had melted, although there was some frosty ground on the headwall below the OS trig pillar. Walkers should remember that despite the warmth in the valleys, lambs in the fields, and spring flowers blooming everywhere, it can still be very wintry on the tops. Wind chill is also a factor to bear in mind, and temperatures on the fells right now certainly feel well below zero - the assessor recorded -7C with wind chill on St Sunday Crag a couple of days ago. Full waterproofs are always necessary, regardless of the season, and warmth layers are also essential. Throughout this winter season the Assessor team have had to remind people over and over again that a map and compass are absolutely essential for hillwalking. A GPS can certainly be useful, but it can also be very inaccurate, and actually dangerous if used incorrectly. The Fell Top Assessor team of Graham and Jon would like to wish you all a fabulous and safe hillwalking season, until they return at the beginning of December for the next winter season.
17th Apr 2017 Ullswater The forecast for last night was for some snow on the fells, and people yesterday (16th April) were reporting snow on Esk Pike and Bowfell, on Helvellyn, and on The Dodds, so the assessor decided to have a look at Helvellyn today to see if an ascent and re-awakening of the Lake District Weatherline service would be necessary for what remains of the winter. From a low-level vantage point this morning he could clearly see that Helvellyn had not gathered any more snow overnight, and that what fell yesterday had melted, although there was some frosty ground on the headwall below the OS trig pillar. Walkers should remember that despite the warmth in the valleys, lambs in the fields, and spring flowers blooming everywhere, it can still be very wintry on the tops. Wind chill is also a factor to bear in mind, and temperatures on the fells right now certainly feel well below zero - the assessor recorded -7C with wind chill on St Sunday Crag a couple of days ago. Full waterproofs are always necessary, regardless of the season, and warmth layers are also essential. Throughout this winter season the Assessor team have had to remind people over and over again that a map and compass are absolutely essential for hillwalking. A GPS can certainly be useful, but it can also be very inaccurate, and actually dangerous if used incorrectly. The Fell Top Assessor team of Graham and Jon would like to wish you all a fabulous and safe hillwalking season, until they return at the beginning of December for the next winter season.
17th Apr 2017 Ullswater Not taken Not taken Not taken The forecast for last night was for some snow on the fells, and people yesterday (16th April) were reporting snow on Esk Pike and Bowfell, on Helvellyn, and on The Dodds, so the assessor decided to have a look at Helvellyn today to see if an ascent and re-awakening of the Lake District Weatherline service would be necessary for what remains of the winter. From a low-level vantage point this morning he could clearly see that Helvellyn had not gathered any more snow overnight, and that what fell yesterday had melted, although there was some frosty ground on the headwall below the OS trig pillar. Walkers should remember that despite the warmth in the valleys, lambs in the fields, and spring flowers blooming everywhere, it can still be very wintry on the tops. Wind chill is also a factor to bear in mind, and temperatures on the fells right now certainly feel well below zero - the assessor recorded -7C with wind chill on St Sunday Crag a couple of days ago. Full waterproofs are always necessary, regardless of the season, and warmth layers are also essential. Throughout this winter season the Assessor team have had to remind people over and over again that a map and compass are absolutely essential for hillwalking. A GPS can certainly be useful, but it can also be very inaccurate, and actually dangerous if used incorrectly. The Fell Top Assessor team of Graham and Jon would like to wish you all a fabulous and safe hillwalking season, until they return at the beginning of December for the next winter season.
17th Apr 2017 Ullswater Not taken Not taken Not taken Not taken Not taken The forecast for last night was for some snow on the fells, and people yesterday (16th April) were reporting snow on Esk Pike and Bowfell, on Helvellyn, and on The Dodds, so the assessor decided to have a look at Helvellyn today to see if an ascent and re-awakening of the Lake District Weatherline service would be necessary for what remains of the winter. From a low-level vantage point this morning he could clearly see that Helvellyn had not gathered any more snow overnight, and that what fell yesterday had melted, although there was some frosty ground on the headwall below the OS trig pillar. Walkers should remember that despite the warmth in the valleys, lambs in the fields, and spring flowers blooming everywhere, it can still be very wintry on the tops. Wind chill is also a factor to bear in mind, and temperatures on the fells right now certainly feel well below zero - the assessor recorded -7C with wind chill on St Sunday Crag a couple of days ago. Full waterproofs are always necessary, regardless of the season, and warmth layers are also essential. Throughout this winter season the Assessor team have had to remind people over and over again that a map and compass are absolutely essential for hillwalking. A GPS can certainly be useful, but it can also be very inaccurate, and actually dangerous if used incorrectly. The Fell Top Assessor team of Graham and Jon would like to wish you all a fabulous and safe hillwalking season, until they return at the beginning of December for the next winter season.
11th Apr 2017 Helvellyn summit 1.2 -7.8 33.2 26.7 WSW Although the Fell Top Assessing season has now finished for the winter of 2016/17, we were out today with Paramo, one of our major sponsors, so thought that a report on the current ground conditions might be useful to any of you contemplating an Easter trip up the fells – and why wouldn’t you?! The reason why we have finished the Fell Top Assessing season earlier than originally planned is due to the fact that there is no snow to report on as the Lake District Fells are now free from both snow and ice. Despite this, though, the summit windchill was well below freezing today at minus 8 degrees, so those walkers who had elected to ascend in shorts did not linger long! Therefore full waterproofs (which also double as windproofs) and extra layers remain essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells as are a map and compass together with the ability to use them in low cloud – which enveloped the high fells at times today. The Fell Top Assessing team of Jon and Graham would like to thank all of our regular followers for staying with us yet again this winter, and also welcome our new followers who have made use of our #summitsafely campaign. We wish you all a safe and thoroughly enjoyable spring and summer season's hillwalking in Lakeland and look forward to meeting some of you whilst out exploring our wonderful fells. We also look forward to welcoming you all back to our ground conditions reports at the start of the next winter season, scheduled for early December.
31st Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.7 -3.9 37.3 24.3 WSW The thaw of the remaining snow on Helvellyn is now pretty much complete. All walking routes to the summit can be done without crossing snow, and the continuing thaw overnight coupled with heavy rain over the last few days has removed most of the snow from the mountain. On Swirral Edge and Striding Edge the banks of snow that have been present (but dwindling) on the exits have now gone, and the only snow the assessor saw on these ridges today was very small, easily avoidable, patches on the north side of each ridge. Even the snow at the head of Brown Cove, which is usually the last remaining snow in England each year, is just a tiny patch at present, no more than 5 feet wide by 2 feet high, and less than 20cm in depth! The only hazards today for anyone out fellwalking was the wet rock, and the poor visibility. As the Fell Top Assessor service is scheduled to continue until Easter each year, it would have been a very late end to the season for the two assessors this year. As we now have snow-free routes to all summits in Lakeland we have taken the decision as a team to end our assessing today (March 31st) with immediate effect for this winter. Should we see any return to wintry conditions this season, we will of course resume our reports, but otherwise this will be the final Fell Top Assessor ground conditions report of the 2016/17 winter. It has been an odd winter, not just in the Lakes, but also in Wales and Scotland, with snow coming only sporadically, each time followed by massive thaws that has pretty much striped the hills of snow. This winter has also been a mild one, with very few days of frost, so winter climbing has been very poor too. The Fell Top Assessor team of Jon and Graham would like to thank all of our regular followers for staying with us yet again this winter, and also all of our new followers who have made use of our #summitsafely campaign. We wish you all a great spring and summer season's hillwalking in Lakeland, and look forward to seeing you all out there exploring the fells during the rest of the year. We also look forward to welcoming you all back to our ground conditions reports at the start of the next winter season, in early December.
30th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 6.2 -4.9 45.6 31.1 WSW The thaw continues at all levels, leaving very little snow now below 700m, and even above that height it is diminishing to just patches here and there. That said, the snow that does remain above 700m is still fairly deep in places, up to 40cm where the assessor was able to take a measurement. As the day was characterised by very thick hillfog reducing visibility to around 10m at times, it was impossible to make a proper assessment of all the remaining snow however. On the Helvellyn edges, both Striding Edge and Swirral Edge have some patches of snow, and the exits of both onto the summit plateau are still snow-bound, albeit to a much lesser degree than of late. The snow that does still block the exits from these ridges was today wet in places but with a harder, icier layer beneath, so care is needed. Should the thaw continue, these banks of snow will probably disappear very soon though. As mentioned above, the main issue today was a navigational challenge. In the very poor visibility it was alarming to come across two groups of people who didn't know where they were and didn't have a map or compass. One couple were relying on Google Maps, which lacks any details of the mountains, and the other small group were armed only with a Wainwright guidebook and weren't sure which page they were on! Relying on finding another walker to ask directions worked for these people today, but they got away with it through pure luck. A map and compass is essential for anyone heading out walking. Full waterproofs and warmth layers are also needed if you want to enjoy your mountain experience at present, as heavy rain featured quite a lot in the day. An ice axe will make crossing any banks of snow a safer option too.
29th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 4.2 -5.9 34.2 19.8 SW A very wet day in Lakeland with rain falling at all levels on Helvellyn. There is hardly any snow below 650m, and the thawing conditions today didn't help this situation. Even above 650m, large areas of the fells up to and including summit level are now free from snow. That said, there are significant patches of snow remaining above 750m, and it varies enormously in terms of consolidation and depth. Where the snowpack has been undisturbed by the passage of boots, today it was soft, very wet and still relatively deep in sheltered hollows and where it has drifted. On Paths, 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. Today on the Brown Cove Crags route, on the “easy” way up Helvellyn from Swirls, there was still an area of unavoidable hard snow on a convex slope that is difficult to cross safely without an ice axe. Today Swirral and Striding Edges were almost free of snow on their exits, but on both ridges the snow that does remain was hard and icy in places. An ice axe is essential on both ridges for this reason. The main challenge today was navigation in the very poor visibility. With a cloud base varying between 200m and 500m, and with very heavy rain at times, visibility was often reduced to around 20m. Good map and compass skills are essential for finding the way in such conditions. Given the windchill was well below zero today, combined with the heavy rain, full waterproofs and lots of warmth layers were needed in order to remain cheerful. A hat and gloves are essential, and plenty of food and a hot drink should also be taken. An ice axe will be found useful by anyone crossing banks of steep, icy snow.
28th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 6.5 1.2 17.6 12.9 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.
27th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 4.5 -1.0 17.4 13.0 NE The fourth consecutive day of blue skies, magnificent views and summit temperatures above zero, so the thaw continues at all levels. Aside from small, wet patches in isolated, sheltered spots and hollows, there is no snow below 500m. Even above 500m, large areas of the Lakeland Fells up to and including summit level are free from snow; this is especially the case below 700m and on aspects catching the most sun – predominantly south facing. That said, a significant amount of snow remains with some drifts deep enough to swallow the shaft of a 55cm ice axe; although such depth is definitely the exception. Where the snowpack has been undisturbed by the passage of boots, it is soft. The underfoot conditions on paths varies considerably. Below the snowline they are largely 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 is near Brown Cove on the “easy” route up Helvellyn from Swirrls. An ice axe is strongly recommended for such sections especially if the soft, deep snow to the side of the compacted snow also hardens – crampons should also be carried for such an eventuality. Conditions along Swirral and Striding Edges were mixed. Although a large part of Striding, and the majority of Swirral, is now dry rock, there are sections of deep unavoidable snow along Striding which the passage of numerous boots over the weekend have now compacted into hard snow and ice. The crest of the ridge is not a place to slip, but should you do so, an ice axe will help prevent a significant fall – hence the reason for carrying one. The remaining snow along the edge was soft and this, in places, was unstable with evidence of some snow having slid down the sides (see Saturday’s picture). Anyone contemplating exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, should carry an ice axe and possess the ability to assess the stability, or otherwise, of the snowpack. There is now a marked contrast between the summer-like valleys and the snowy conditions that still exist mainly above 700m. Although the majority of the snowpack was soft, wet and thawing today (and probably will be again on Tuesday), it would only take a slight drop in temperature for the existing snow to harden and slush to re-freeze, so walkers out above the snowline on Tuesday (especially any early risers) must be prepared and equipped to encounter hard snow and ice; therefore for those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes, an ice axe remains strongly recommended and crampons should be carried. With a summit windchill of just below freezing today, full winter clothing, mountain boots and equipment remain essential for those venturing out onto the fells and also enable you to linger and enjoy the spectacular scenery since those not carrying extra layers were soon cold on the summit!
26th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 6.9 4.3 7.7 5.0 NNE The thaw that has been occurring at all levels for the past few days continues – it was a ridiculously warn plus 7 degrees on the summit in the sun around midday. Given the past 3 days of sunshine, the thaw is most pronounced on south facing slopes. Aside from small, wet patches in isolated sheltered spots and hollows, there is no snow below 500m. Above 500m, the snow depth rises with altitude although the actual depth varies enormously from nothing at all on some south facing aspects and windswept areas, such as large parts of the summit plateau, to drifts deep enough to swallow the shaft of a 55cm ice axe; although such depth is definitely the exception. Underfoot conditions on paths varies considerably. Below the snowline they are largely dry. Above the snowline, they can also be either dry or wet where the snow has thawed. Conversely, there are also patches of compacted harder snow and ice making conditions more demanding. Walking poles are useful here. Conditions along Swirral and Striding Edges were mixed. Although a large part of Striding is now dry rock, there are sections of deep snow which the passage of numerous boots over the weekend have now compacted into hard snow and ice. The crest of the ridge is not a place to slip, but should you do so, an ice axe will help prevent a significant fall – hence the reason for carrying one. The remaining snow along the edge was soft and this, in places, was unstable with evidence of some snow having slid down the sides (see Saturday’s picture). Anyone contemplating exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, should carry an ice axe and possess the ability to assess the stability, or otherwise, of the snowpack. There is now a significant contrast between the summer-like valleys and the snowy conditions that still exist especially above 700m. Although the majority of the snowpack was soft, wet and thawing today (and probably will be again tomorrow), it would only take a small drop in temperature for the existing snow to harden and slush to re-freeze, so walkers out above the snowline on Monday (especially any early risers) must be prepared and equipped to encounter hard snow and ice; therefore for those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes, an ice axe remains strongly recommended and crampons should be carried. With a third day of blue skies, snow on the fells and an extremely light breeze, it is a fantastic time to explore our wonderful fells, so come properly equipped with full winter clothing, mountain boots and equipment – which (I’m delighted to state) includes sunglasses and sun tan lotion - and enjoy these wonderful conditions.
25th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 6.7 3.9 6.6 6.0 NNE The thaw at all levels continues – it was almost plus 7 degrees in the sun on the summit. Given the recent long hours of sunshine, the thaw was most pronounced on south facing slopes; conversely, especially due to the hard overnight frost, the thaw was less noticeable on north through to east facing aspects. There is now little snow below 500m and what remains is wet and thawing rapidly. Above 500m, the snow depth rises with altitude although the actual depth varies enormously from nothing at all on windswept areas, such as large parts of the summit plateau, to drifts deep enough to swallow the shaft of a 55cm ice axe; although such depth is the exception, drifts over 20cm are relatively common above 700m. The majority of the snowpack is soft and wet although on popular routes the snow has been compacted into harder snow and some ice making conditions more demanding. Similarly, walkers out early on Sunday should expect to encounter harder snow owing to the forecasted overnight frost. Conversely, walkers contemplating remote walks above the snowline on Sunday could encounter energy sapping plods through soft deep snow and should allow extra time for this. Conditions along Swirral and Striding Edges were mixed. Striding had everything from bare, dry rock, wet rock, patches of compacted hard snow and soft snow which, in places, was unstable. There was evidence of some snow having slid down the sides (see today’s picture). Very unusually, the deepest drifts along the Edge itself were significantly deeper than the snow guarding the exit. Anyone contemplating exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, should carry an ice axe and possess the ability to assess the stability, or otherwise, of the snowpack. Roughly half the walkers out on the edges today were not carrying an ice axe and it was noticeable which half felt far more secure on the edges and especially at the top of Swirral Edge where there are patches of hard, unavoidable snow. There is now a significant contrast between the warm, green valleys and the snowy conditions that exist especially above 700m. Although the majority of the snowpack was soft, wet and thawing today (and probably will be tomorrow), it would only take a small drop in temperature for the snow to harden and an overnight frost is currently forecast, so walkers out above the snowline on Sunday must be prepared and equipped to encounter hard snow and ice; for this reason for those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes, an ice axe remains strongly recommended and crampons should be carried. With another day of blue skies, snow on the fells and an extremely light breeze, it was an absolute joy to be out, so come properly equipped with full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment and enjoy these wonderful conditions. Hopefully sunglasses will once again be essential on Sunday as will sun tan lotion!
24th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 4.5 2.2 5.1 3.9 S - what there was of it! There is a thaw at all levels – it was plus 4 degrees on the summit; however given the hard overnight frost, the thaw was not so pronounced at altitude. Conversely, below 600m there was a noticeable thaw. There is now little snow below 450m. Above 450m, the snow depth rises with altitude although the actual depth varies enormously from nothing at all on windswept areas, such as parts of the summit plateau, to drifts deep enough to swallow the shaft of a 55cm ice axe with drifts of 30cm being fairly common above 700m. With milder temperatures, the snowpack is generally very soft. Consequently, walkers contemplating remote walks above the snowline on Saturday should allow extra time for the energy sapping plod through soft deep snow and pack extra Mars Bars (other calorific snacks are available!). Conversely, should the temperature drop, or you are an early riser and the snowpack remains hard after the overnight frost, you might walk on top of the snow without falling through (unless you’ve had too much chocolate!!) Conditions along Swirral and Striding Edges were mixed. Striding had everything from bare, dry rock, wet rock, ice and patches of compacted hard snow whilst the majority of its length was covered in soft snow which, in places, was unstable. Very unusually, the deepest drifts along the Edge itself were significantly deeper than the snow covering the exit. For anyone contemplating exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, an ice axe is essential, together with the ability to assess the stability, or otherwise, of the snowpack. Crampons must also be carried in case hard snow or ice is encountered; indeed it is likely that there will be more hard snow along the edges on Saturday owing to the volume of walkers compacting the snow. There is now a significant contrast between the warm, green valleys and the virtual alpine conditions that exist especially above 700m. Although the snowpack was predominantly soft today, walkers out above the snowline on Saturday must be prepared and equipped to encounter hard snow and ice as it would only take a small drop in temperature for the snow to harden and on popular routes the snow has already been compacted into hard snow and ice. With blue skies, snow on the fells and an extremely light breeze, it was an absolute joy to be out today, so come properly equipped with full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment and enjoy the wonderful conditions. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes, an ice axe is essential and crampons must be carried. Given the forecast, sunglasses will also be essential and sun tan lotion recommended as the assessor is now feeling the effects of today's sun!
23rd Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit -1.9 -11.5 31.4 23.6 NE A classic example of how reading the weather forecast can enhance your day on the high fells. The Assessor today waited until morning rain and snow showers had passed, and the cloud base had lifted, to make his ascent of Helvellyn. There is still snow down to around 200m, although only in small patches here and there at that level. Above 500m the snow gets deeper and is more evenly spread, although it has slumped and consolidated somewhat since yesterday. This has left a depth of snow at around 3cm above 500m, and up to 40cm above that height, although there are a few drifts that will be deeper than this. With the consolidation the snow has become safer, although there are still banks of unstable snow on all aspects, but chiefly on those facing NW through to E. The exits from Striding and Swirral Edges are steep banks of snow requiring care, skill, and an ice axe and crampons. With a freezing level at around 800m today paths were icy down to about 650m where the snow has become compressed, but not until you got to 800m did the ground generally turn to ice, even off the paths. On the Brown Cove Crags route there is a steep bank of snow at around 800m that can't be avoided. In ascent it is pretty obvious, but as it is a convex slope it is hard to judge from above when descending, and an ice axe and crampons are needed here. The assessor didn't traverse the Wythburn path around Nethermost Pike today, but suspects that the slopes there will be very similar. Full winter clothing and equipment, including an ice axe and crampons, are essential for going high in the mountains right now, and if you come properly equipped it looks like you could be in for a magnificent weekend.
22nd Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit -3.4 -10.1 23.4 12.9 E Many parts of Cumbria woke to a very white world this morning. Around Ullswater the snow was right down to valley level, and was up to 10cm deep in places at that height. On Helvellyn the depth of snow rose with height to a maximum (that the Assessor could find in the very poor visibility) of 100cm in sheltered places where it has drifted. The snow continued to fall at all levels while the assessor was on the hill, but had turned to heavy rain in the valleys by the time he had descended to Glenridding. Paths were icy from 300m upwards. There are large cornices forming on N through to SE faces, and unstable snow on slopes facing these directions. The fresh snow is overlying graupel, which lies on top of icy ground, so a careful approach is needed, especially if temperatures rise slightly. The headwalls of both Striding Edge and Swirral Edge were deep banks of snow requiring extreme caution. Rocks on the ridges were ice-coated, as was the summit plateau in places were it had been scoured by the wind. However, as the winds were light during the morning, much of the plateau was becoming snow covered. Due to very low cloud and falling snow visibility was very poor throughout, with blizzard conditions for extended periods of time. Occasional whiteout made for challenging walking and navigation, and required very careful route-finding and sensible decision-making to avoid cornices, cliffs, and unstable snow slopes. Anyone heading into the fells at present should prepare carefully with good winter clothing, boots, map and compass, and emergency survival equipment, as well as making informed route-planning choices.
21st Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit -4.9 -17.8 50.7 18.4 W A proper wintry day on the high fells. Snow has fallen overnight on Monday down to a height ASL of 250m. This has settled above 300m, although at a depth of less than 1cm at that height. Above 550m on Helvellyn the paths were frozen, and the snow had begun to gather in sheltered places to a depth of 15cm. Very rapid thawing and re-freezing, caused by rapid temperature fluctuations ranging from +4C to -5C according to whether the sun was shining or not, has caused the snow to melt on the path then re-freeze. Over the top of this frozen surface hail has landed and continued to fall, causing slippery conditions requiring crampons. On the Edges the conditions were similar, only icier. Striding Edge and Swirral Edge were in full winter condition today, with loose snow overlying ice, and with verglas on any exposed rocks not covered in snow. The exits from both ridges onto the summit plateau were today steep banks of ice with a surface of hail - very unstable. There are also small cornices forming over N through to SE facing slopes. The Assessor made an early start on Helvellyn today due to their being a mention of possible lightning in the weather forecast. The cloud base was largely above the summits and broken, giving generally good visibility, but very poor in falling snow, and occasional blizzard conditions. The summit plateau on Helvellyn was solid ice. Full winter clothing is essential for anyone going onto the high fells at present, as the windchill on the summit of Helvellyn today was extreme. An ice axe and crampons were also essential today, and should not be seen as a mere luxury. Snow goggles were used by the Assessor today for the first time this winter, and a map and compass were also needed in the occasional very poor visibility. With another snowy day forecast tomorrow, come with the right equipment and you'll have a superb time enjoying some late winter mountain walking.
20th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 1.9 -5.9 38.4 19.2 SW A day of contrasts. Very heavy rain in the morning which sadly didn't bring the forecasted snow to the high fells. The rain gave way to bright spells, then blue skies, which made a nice change. There is currently very little snow on the fells now, with just a few tiny patches lingering on headwalls facing N through to E. Striding Edge today was free of snow, and the only snow on Swirral Edge of any note is to be found on the exit on the final few metres. Today this didn't pose any problems at all. However, the forecast is for fresh snow and colder conditions so this could change before the Assessor gets back up onto Helvellyn tomorrow. Waterproofs and warmth layers are essential for hillwalking in the Lakes, and a map and compass should also be carried. Come well equipped for the hills and you'll have a fine time exploring your national park.
19th Mar 2017 Whiteside summit 5.2 1.0 28.2 17.0 SW Another very soggy day on the fells of Lakeland. The becks were very, very full today, making crossing them at any point without a bridge a real hazard. The rain throughout the morning didn't cease, and was heavy at all levels. During the late afternoon it eased up a bit, and some areas saw brighter weather coming in at dusk. As the Assessor was running a navigation course for the Lake District Weatherline service on Whiteside today it was impossible to assess the snow conditions on Helvellyn, and he didn't get a view of the higher fell at all during the day. Given the extremely mild temperatures on the hills today it seems unlikely that the short banks of snow on Striding Edge or Swirral Edge that have been there during the last few days will still be remaining, but walkers should assess this themselves if making an ascent of these ridges. Full winter clothing is needed to stay comfortable and cheerful on the fells at present. A map and compass should be carried - they should not be seen as 'nice to have' but rather as absolute essentials.
18th Mar 2017 Raise summit 4.3 -2.1 26.9 19.4 WNW Another very wet day on the hills, with rain falling at all levels right up to the summits. Yesterday's wet snow has thawed, and the remaining snow on the hills can only be found above 850m in small patches on N through to E facing slopes. The Assessor today took his readings from the summit of Raise, but in the occasional clearing of the cloud base he was able to see that on Swirral Edge the bank of snow that has persisted on the final few metres below the top is still in place. Today it would have been wet and soft. The cloud base varied throughout the day between 300m and 900m, as waves of heavier rain came through at intervals. This gave good visibility at times, but at others the visibility was reduced to around 50m. This gives a navigation challenge for anyone heading onto the fells, which can be a great excuse for practicing those skills if you're a little rusty! Today the Assessor was joined by David and Ruth for a navigation course, and the conditions were perfect for that! The becks and ghylls are currently high with all the rain and snow melt, so take special care when crossing any where bridges don't exist. Anyone heading into the fells will currently need good waterproofs - jacket and trousers, and lots of warmth layers. A map and compass and the skill to use them are also essential. For anyone traversing the Helvellyn Edges an ice axe will make the last few metres onto the summit plateau a much safer and more enjoyable experience.
17th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.4 -7.2 38.8 22.3 W A very wet day to be on the high fells. Rain fell below 600m, but was falling as sleet above that height, and snow above 800m. There is snow on the ground above 600m, but it is very much just a smattering of very wet snow right up to summit level. On the Edges of Helvellyn there was wet snow to a depth of just 1cm on rocks above 800m, but at the exit of Swirral Edge, on the final 5 or 6 metres below the summit plateau, the snow had gathered to a depth of around 70cm, with 25cm of fresh snow overlying the old, harder snow beneath. On the Helvellyn summit plateau ice was forming, but today it was wet - however, a tiny drop in temperature would have turned this to hard water ice requiring crampons. With a cloud base around 600m for much of the morning, navigation was a challenge above that height. Strong winds were also a feature of the day, and it was noticeable that the wind speeds on the Edges and at the cairn on the top of Swirral Edge were much greater (around 60mph) than those recorded on the actual summit. During the descent of Swirral Edge today small rocks were being blown around on the wind coming out of Brown Cove - those gusts must have been in excess of 80mph. Full winter clothing, including good waterproofs and warmth layers are essential. Today the assessor (and Lindsay - one of our #summitsafely prize winners, who won a day out with a Fell Top Assessor) needed an ice axe to make a safe ascent and descent along Swirral Edge. Given the ice and thin layer of snow on the fells at present, an ice axe and crampons should be carried by anyone heading high. A map and compass are also essential.
16th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 1.6 -9.9 53.7 30.7 WSW A morning of sunshine in the valleys, but bitter winds, rain and sleet on the high fells. On Helvellyn the cloud base was between 400m and 600m generally, but much lower in driving rain. There was barely any snow left on Helvellyn as of this morning, with just tiny patches above 850m. The exit from Striding Edge was pretty much snow free, but there was still a bank of snow on the exit from Swirral Edge. This morning that bank of snow was thawing and soft. There are very small cornices still present on N through to E facing slopes, so please keep clear of these. During the descent the rain turned to sleet and a little snow at times above 500m. This was not settling during the morning, but as the afternoon at valley level was wetter than in the morning this could all have changed by the time the assessor gets back up there again tomorrow. Today full winter clothing including good waterproofs were essential to be comfortable on the fells, and these kept the wind out too. Warmth layers are also needed, including spares. Another feature of today's ascent was the poor visibility above 550m - here only a map and compass and navigation skills were up to the job. Should the snow settle at all we may have ice/snow to deal with tomorrow, so an ice axe and crampons should be carried by anyone heading high.
15th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 4.0 -4.9 36.1 29.0 SW Another lovely day on the high fells of the Lake District. Although most of the snow has now disappeared from the fells, there are still patches lingering above 800m. In general, these patches do not effect any of the walking routes on the fells, but on Helvellyn there is still a small area of snow on the exit from Striding Edge onto the summit plateau, and a bigger, deeper bank of steep, hard snow on the exit from Swirral Edge. Although the bank of snow on Swirral Edge is only on the last few metres, a slip here would have very serious consequences, and as such we recommend that you take an ice axe to help you cut steps, as well as to halt a slide should one occur. There are still unstable cornices on N through to E facing slopes, and although these are not very large, it is wise not to walk on them, or indeed find yourself beneath them, as a collapse sooner or later is inevitable. Although it feels very spring-like in the valleys at present, on the tops it was cold today, with a wind chill of nearly minus 5C. Warmth layers, hats and gloves, and waterproofs (which make superb windproofs too!) will enable fell walkers to linger on the summits, and thereby enjoy the superb views. With a suggestion in the forecast of colder weather (and possibly snow again) arriving by the weekend, these items of clothing, as well as an ice axe and crampons, could well be absolutely essential yet again this winter.
14th Mar 2017 Scafell Pike summit (977m) 2.6 -6.7 41.6 31.4 W To check the extent of the thaw across Lakeland, the Assessor climbed Scafell Pike today and assessed that the Lakeland fells are now virtually free from snow. Little snow now remains and what does lies in sheltered spots and hollows and especially above 900m on N and E facing aspects. Almost no snow was encountered on the paths to Scafell Pike from the Esk Hause and Lingmell directions and the little that was is insignificant wet and thawing. The summit plateau itself was totally void of snow. As is frequently the case, more snow remains on the east facing slopes of Helvellyn. On Monday, there was almost a snow free route to Striding Edge’s exit. Conversely, there remained a steep bank of unavoidable snow on the exit to Swirral Edge and as this patch of remaining snow lies at such an altitude (virtually at the summit), is so deep (over 55cm) and E facing it will not thaw quickly. Although this bank of snow does have deep steps cut into it, it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for this unavoidable snow to harden and ice to form. Sufficient snow remains for a slip here, without the means to stop yourself, to have potentially serious consequences. For this reason, although only a very small section, an ice axe is strongly recommended for anyone tackling Swirral Edge – especially in descent. It is far better to carry such equipment and not use it than the reverse scenario. There are unstable cornices – many with cracks in - on N through to E facing headwalls. Although now extremely small, they consist of soft, wet snow over a significant drop so please keep totally off the snow along such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. There is now a significant contrast between the warm, spring-like valleys with their wonderful display of daffodils and conditions on the high fells where the summit windchill remains well below freezing (minus 7 degrees today). Consequently, full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. When the cloud cleared today, the views were magnificent, so come properly equipped and enjoy them!
13th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 2.7 -6.4 38.4 33.9 WSW The thaw continues albeit at a slower pace owing to the altitude and sheltered positioning of the remaining snowpack. That said, apart from the highest peaks, the Lakeland fells are now virtually free from snow as little snow now remains below 900m and what does is insignificant, wet and thawing. Even above 900m the majority of ground up to and including summit level is now free from snow, indeed the popular footpath up Helvellyn from Swirrls on the W side of the mountain is now totally free of snow. On the E side, there is now almost a snow free route to Striding Edge’s exit. Conversely, there remains a steep bank of unavoidable snow on the exit to Swirral Edge. Owing to the overnight frost, this snow was harder than on Sunday, but does have deep steps cut into it. It would, though, only take a marginal drop in temperature for this unavoidable snow to harden further and sufficient snow remains for a slip here, without the means to stop yourself, to have serious consequences. For this reason, although only a very small section, an ice axe is strongly recommended for anyone tackling Swirral Edge – especially in descent. It is far better to carry such equipment and not use it than the reverse scenario. Since this unavoidable patch of remaining snow is so high, deep (up to 60cm) and E facing it will not thaw quickly. Similarly other patches of remaining snow lie in sheltered spots and hollows and especially on north and east facing aspects. Indeed, there are unstable cornices – many with cracks in - on N through to E facing headwalls. Although now extremely small, they consist of soft, wet snow over a significant drop so please keep off the snow along such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. There is now a significant contrast between the warm, spring-like valleys with their wonderful display of daffodils and conditions on the high fells where the summit windchill remains below well freezing (minus 6 degrees today). Consequently, full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment remain essential for those venturing out onto the fells.
12th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.5 -1.8 14.9 12.0 WSW The thaw at all levels continues; again it was above freezing - plus 3 degrees - on the summit. Apart from the highest peaks, the Lakeland fells are now virtually free from snow. Little snow now remains below 875m and what does is insignificant, wet and thawing. Even above 875m the majority of ground up to and including summit level is now free from snow. The remaining snow lies in sheltered spots and hollows and especially on north and east facing aspects where drifts deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe still exist – although such depth is the exception. The snowpack is mainly soft, wet and thawing although there are isolated patches of harder snow on popular routes where the snow has been compacted. Given the height of the snow, it would only take a slight drop in temperature for the snowpack to harden (which is currently forecast for Sunday night) so walkers out on the highest fells on Monday should be prepared to encounter some snow and ice. There are unstable cornices – some with cracks in - on N through to SE facing headwalls. Although now extremely small, they consist of soft snow over a significant drop so please keep off the snow along such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. There is now almost a snow free route to Striding Edge’s exit, with the edge itself being surprisingly mainly dry rock. (Well, given the recent drizzle and low cloud today it surprised me!!) Conversely, there remains a steep bank of unavoidable snow on the exit to Swirral Edge. This was mainly soft snow today with deep steps cut into it. Again, it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for this unavoidable snow to harden and sufficient snow remains for a slip here without the means to stop yourself to have serious consequences. For this reason, although only a very small section, an ice axe is strongly recommended for anyone tackling Swirral Edge – especially in descent. It is far better to carry such equipment and not use it than the reverse scenario. There is now a significant contrast between the spring-like valleys with their wonderful daffodils and conditions on the high fells where the summit windchill remains below freezing. Consequently, full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells.
11th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.8 -2.0 16.0 13.4 SW The thaw that commenced on Thursday continues; once again it was above freezing (plus 4 degrees) and drizzling on the summit. Aside from insignificant, isolated patches there is now no snow below 800m. Even above 800m the majority of ground up to and including summit level is now free from snow. The remaining snow lies in sheltered spots and hollows and especially above 850m on north and east facing aspects where drifts deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe remain – although such depth is the exception. The snowpack is mainly soft, wet and thawing. There are, however, isolated patches of harder snow and ice especially on popular routes where the snow has been compacted. Owing to the height of the snow, it would only take a slight drop in temperature for more snow to harden and, given the wet ground, ice to form so walkers out on the highest fells on Sunday should be prepared to encounter snow and ice. There are unstable cornices – some with cracks in - on N through to SE facing headwalls. Although very small, they consist of soft snow so please keep off the snow along such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Both Swirral, and especially Striding, Edges are now mainly bare, wet rock. There are, however, steep banks of unavoidable snow on both exits. This was mainly soft snow today with steps cut into them. Again, it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for this unavoidable snow to harden and sufficient snow remains for a slip here without the means to stop yourself to have serious consequences. For this reason, although only small sections, an ice axe is essential for anyone tackling the edges and crampons should be carried in case ice is encountered. The majority of people on the edges today did not have such equipment and, hopefully, everyone has “got away with it”. It is far better to carry such equipment and not use it than the reverse scenario. There is now a contrast between the green, spring-like valleys and conditions on the high fells where the summit windchill remains below freezing. Consequently, full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells as are good navigational skills in the current poor visibility. For those going above 850m on N and E facing slopes, an ice axe is strongly recommended.
10th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.2 -3.7 22.4 19.7 SW The daytime thaw continues at all levels – it was plus 3 degrees and drizzling on the summit. Apart from small isolated patches, there is now no snow below 750m. Even above 750m large areas of the Lakeland fells up to and including summit level are now free from snow. Owing to Thursday’s sunny weather, this is especially true on south facing slopes. Conversely, the deepest drifts (over 60cm – although such depth is the exception) and greatest coverage are situated above 850m on north and east facing aspects. The snowpack is mainly soft, wet and thawing. There are, however, patches of harder snow and ice especially above 850m and also on popular routes where the snow has been compacted. It would, though, only take a slight drop in temperature for more snow to harden and, given the wet ground, ice to form so walkers out on the high fells on Saturday should be prepared to encounter snow and ice at altitude. There are unstable cornices on N through to SE facing headwalls. Although small, they consist of soft snow so please keep back from such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Both Swirral, and especially Striding, Edges consist of mainly bare, wet rock with patches of soft snow and some compacted harder snow and ice. There are, however, steep banks of unavoidable snow on both exits. On Striding Edge this snow was soft, conversely it was hard on Swirral. Although small sections, the drops given a slip on this snow are not, so consequentially an ice axe is essential for anyone tackling such routes and crampons should be carried in case ice is encountered – indeed the Assessor used them on Swirral Edge today. There is now a marked contrast between the green, spring-like valleys and the snow and ice at altitude which, given the low cloud, is also invisible from the valleys. The summit windchill today was minus 4 degrees, so full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe is essential and crampons should be carried in case the snow hardens or ice is encountered.
9th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.4 -8.9 38.0 26.3 NW Further consolidation of the snowpack on Helvellyn has again reduced the overall coverage, albeit on a very small scale during the last 24 hours. There is now very little snow below 750m, and what there is below that height is just the odd tiny patch here and there. Even above 750m there are areas of bare ground without any snow or ice right up to summit level. On the Edges on Helvellyn both ridges have some snow and icy ground where it has been compressed by walker's boots, and this is more marked on Swirral Edge than on Striding Edge, but both ridges do require care. The exits from both ridges onto the summit plateau are steep banks of snow, which again was quite wet and soft today, but it wouldn't take much of a drop in temperature for these banks to firm up and give very hard snow. There are cornices on headwalls facing N through to SE, and these were unstable today. Please keep well back from these waves of snow, as they have nothing beneath them other than a very long drop! Please advise others who may not be aware of the dangers to keep off the cornices too. Despite the very spring-like feel to the dales of Lakeland, the windchill on the fells was considerable today. Full winter clothing and equipment are essential, and an ice axe and crampons should be carried by anyone heading above 750m.
8th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 1.2 -7.6 34.1 26.3 W What a difference a day makes. Heavy rain overnight on Tuesday coupled with warmer temperatures has stripped much of the snow below 750m. Below that height it was very wet today, and patchy. Above 750m the snow is now around 100cm in depth in sheltered places, but there is now some bare ground even at summit level on Helvellyn. Striding Edge today had soft, wet snow on its north side, and hardly any snow at all on its south side. On the crest of the ridge, where the snow has been compressed by walkers boots, the snow is icy in places, but was generally OK to walk on without crampons. The exit from Striding Edge was a bank of soft wet snow, into which steps could easily be kicked to aid an ascent or descent. On Swirral Edge the snow was harder, and very icy in places. Although the Assessor didn't use crampons today, he had to cut a number of steps with his ice axe, and crampons would certainly have made this work easier! There are cornices on slopes facing N through to SE, and these have begun to collapse in a few places. With warmer temperatures it is very likely that more will collapse, possibly triggering avalanches. Much of the unstable windslab that the Assessor found yesterday has been reduced by the rain and warmer temperatures, and apart from the risk of cornice collapse, the snow was much safer today on all aspects than it was just 24 hours ago. With a cloud base broken above the summits today it was a joy to be on the high fells. The windchill was well below zero though, so full winter clothing was essential. An ice axe and crampons should be taken by anyone heading above the snowline.
7th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit -2.8 -13.9 27.4 18.9 NW Further snow showers above 650m on the Helvellyn range overnight. The snow is up to 120cm deep in places, and has formed windslab (unstable layering in the snowpack) on leeward slopes facing N through to SE. During the morning the weather was largely bright and clear, but clouds rolled in late morning, bringing more snow flurries. The exits to Striding Edge and Swirral Edge are both currently steep banks of unstable snow, with cornices very close to the exits on both ridges. Extreme care is needed here, especially in reduced visibility as the 'safe' route down either ridge is a very narrow passage between dangerously corniced ground, and in poor visibility you simply can't see where the dangerous ground lies. On the ridges themselves there is a good depth of fresh snow, and both ridges are very much in full winter condition. Other walking routes on Helvellyn are also under a lot of snow. There is a steep bank of snow on the Brown Cove Crags route from Swirls which can't be avoided, and it is not easy to judge this slope sensibly when approaching from above. On the Wythburn Chapel route there is a very steep slope of snow across which the path cuts as it takes you around the flanks of Nethermost Pike. Again, this can't easily be avoided. Some of the older snow is now starting to consolidate, but further layering of fresh snow on top is making for unstable snow on most aspects. Anyone heading for the heights now should have full winter clothing, including spare warmth layers and full waterproofs. The ability to judge the safety or otherwise of the snowpack is essential right now, as is the ability to choose a good route in the current conditions, and navigate around it accurately with a map and compass. An ice axe and crampons are essential - there were a lot of walkers sliding out of control whilst wearing microspikes today. These are no substitute for crampons. For those who come well equipped and prepared, this is a superb time to be out on the high fells.
6th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.1 -6.2 17.4 9.2 WNW Yet another gorgeous day to be on the high fells of Lakeland. More fresh snow above 700m overnight on the Helvellyn range is giving promise of a good, late winter. The snow depth is generally around 20cm above 700m, but there are areas of scoured plateau, as well as deeper snow drifts in sheltered spots. These drifts are up to 120cm deep in places. The main paths on Helvellyn are icy where the snow has been compressed. There are cornices on headwalls facing N through to SE, and these are unstable at present. Keep well back from the edges. On Striding Edge and Swirral Edge an ice axe was essential today for a safe ascent. The exits from both ridges onto the summit plateau are currently composed of steep banks of snow. These exits are slightly unstable windslab, so care is needed when ascending or descending either ridge. There are also cornices very close to both ridge tops, so careful navigation will be needed in anything other than good visibility. Today the visibility was excellent, with the clouds above the summits and large patches of blue sky. Despite lambs and daffodils in the valleys, and the warmth of the spring sun, on the summits the windchill is well below zero. It is very much a winter world up there, so full winter clothing and boots are essential for anyone venturing onto the tops. An ice axe and crampons should be carried to aid safe walking above the snow line.
5th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.3 -3.4 8.5 4.4 SE Further fresh snow overnight on the fells has made them feel even more wintry. This fresh snow has only settled above 650m asl and is up to 15cm deep in places. These fresh accumulations have now made the snowpack generally around 20cm in depth above 700m, but there are some drifts deeper than 100cm. Paths above 700m are icy in places, and an ice axe was essential today for making ascents of Helvellyn's ridges. There are large cornices forming on slopes facing NE through to SE, so please keep well back from these - today there were far too many people going to the edge to have a look! Some of these cornices are unstable, and given the thawing conditions today, they could well collapse at any time. On many slopes today, with a wide range of aspects, snowballing and sloughing was very obvious, a sure sign of unstable snow conditions. Visibility was good today, with the cloud base being above the summits, but was reduced to poor in the occasional fresh snow showers. Full winter clothing and equipment, including an ice axe, are essential for anyone venturing above the snow line right now. Crampons are also very useful at present, and will become essential should the temperature drop slightly.
4th Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.6 -5.7 15.6 7.2 SE - E A superb day to be on the high fells today. The snow level remains at about 650m, although it is thawing slowly. On the edges the snow on the path is icy where it has been compressed, but elsewhere the snow is currently soft and wet. There are cornices on headwalls facing NW through N to SE and some of these are now quite substantial - especially those over the top of Water Crag and Brown Cove today. The snow depth is now on average around 10cm, but there are some drifts up to 100cm in sheltered places. With the cloud base beginning at around 850m early in the day, then rising to clear the highest tops later, it was a good day to enjoy views of other peaks, both near and far. The views today stretched from Criffel over the Solway in Dumfries and Galloway, to Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales. Full winter clothing is essential for anyone venturing onto the fells, and an ice axe and crampons are strongly recommended by anyone attempting the Helvellyn edges.
3rd Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit -1.1 -10.5 28.0 16.3 SE The wintry weather continues on the high fells. There has been a little more fresh snow above 700m, coupled with some minor thawing, redistribution, and part-consolidation of the existing snowpack. This has left some deep drifts on leeward slopes and in sheltered spots, and also some scouring of the Helvellyn plateau on windward slopes. There are cornices in evidence on NW through N to SE facing slopes, so please keep well back from these edges. Both Striding Edge and Swirral Edge are in winter condition, requiring winter mountaineering skills and equipment. The 'tourist route' from Swirls on Thirlmere, that leads above Brown Cove Crags, has a steep bank of snow which can't be avoided. This is obvious in ascent, but being a convex slope it is not so easy to judge in descent. For climbers, some of the gullies are filling nicely, but are not yet in climbable condition, and there is currently very little ice to be found, other than rime on rocks. The freezing level today was around 850m. Full winter clothing and equipment are essential for safe walking on the high fells at present. An ice axe and crampons should be carried.
2nd Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit -3.7 -12.8 39.1 19.4 W A fabulous morning to be out on the high fells of Lakeland. Further fresh snowfall overnight has settled above 400m, but is only a very light dusting below 600m. As the morning progressed the hill fog moved in and gave a cloud base at 600m - 700m. This brought more falling snow, and a slight redistribution of the loose snow that hasn't yet started to consolidate, causing near whiteout for short periods of time. The depth of snow below 700m is not much more than 2-3cm, but as height is gained there are drifts up to 100cm in sheltered places. The headwalls of Striding Edge and Swirral Edge have around 10-15cm of snow generally, but there are some drifts much greater than that. Some marginally unstable windslab is also forming on headwalls facing NW through N to SE. Cornices have continued to form on headwalls facing N through to SE, so please stay well back from these edges. In one or two places there are obvious crack lines appearing where cornices have started to slump slightly. The freezing level was at around 700m this morning, but rose slightly as the day progressed. This gave a little ice on paths, especially where the snow has been compacted. These slightly milder temperatures during the day, and much colder conditions overnight, are ideal for aiding proper snow consolidation - should the snow linger long enough for that to happen! Walkers heading for the heights over the next few days should keep a careful weather eye, and go prepared for very cold temperatures, more fresh snowfall, and poor visibility. Full waterproofs, warmth layers, winter boots, snow goggles, and an ice axe and crampons should be carried, along with a map and compass and the ability to use them.
1st Mar 2017 Helvellyn summit -1.0 -8.2 16.6 11.2 WNW Further accumulations of snow were falling throughout the morning on Helvellyn above a height of 550m. Below this height there was some ice on paths, but this was rapidly thawing. Above 600m the snow depth rises with height to reach a very rough average of between 5 and 10 cm at 900m. The actual depth, however, varies considerably from little on windswept areas to drifts up to 50cm deep, although such depth is the exception. The snowpack is mainly soft although above 900m there were isolated patches of harder snow and there was also ice on the summit plateau. Exposed routes above the snowline – such as Striding and Swirral Edges – are in winter condition, and should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for winter mountaineering together with the ability to assess the stability, or otherwise, of the snowpack as there is some steep windslab on the exits from both ridges. Cornices have formed on N through to SE facing aspects; although very small, they consist of soft, unstable snow so please keep back from such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe is essential and crampons should be carried in case the snow hardens or ice is encountered. A map and compass, and the ability to use them in very poor visibility, are essential - a GPS is a very poor substitute for the real thing!
28th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -2.5 -10.7 19.2 16.5 SW Snow has fallen over the past 24 hours adding to existing accumulations. In the morning, there was a skittering of snow down to 400m. Below 550m this was rapidly thawing, so the main snow line is now around 550m – 600m. Above 600m the snow depth rises with height to reach a very rough average of between 3 and 4 cm at 900m. The actual depth, however, varies considerably from little on windswept areas to drifts deep enough to swallow the shaft of a 55cm ice axe, although such depth is the exception. Since the snow has been deposited on predominantly S - SW winds, the deepest drifts are found on N and E facing aspects where, above 850m, soft snow and spindrift can lie on top of older snow. The snowpack is mainly soft although above 900m there were isolated patches of harder snow and there was also ice on the summit plateau. Exposed routes above the snowline – such as Striding and Swirral Edges – are back in winter condition, albeit currently with just soft snow, and should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering together with the ability to assess the stability, or otherwise, of the snowpack as there is some windslab on the exit to Striding Edge. Cornices have formed on N and E facing aspects; although very small, they consist of soft, unstable snow so please keep back from such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. There is currently quite a contrast between the green, spring-like valleys and the snow and ice at altitude. Consequentially, full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe is essential and crampons should be carried in case the snow hardens or ice is encountered. Beneath the cloud, the fells in their winter coats looked magnificent, so come properly equipped and enjoy! It was interesting today that people were on the summit, in cloud, in the snow with limited visibility (although better than forecast) navigating solely by GPS – they did not have map and compass. Personally I would strongly recommend always carrying a map and compass (and knowing how to use them) as the batteries never wear out or give false readings!
27th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -2.1 -11.7 28.1 17.9 S Overnight, fresh snow and hail has settled above 450m, although this was rapidly thawing below 600m with the main snow line around this height. Above 600m the snow depth rises with height, although as it was deposited on strong, predominantly SW winds, the actual depth varies from little on windswept areas to drifts deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe, although such depth is the exception with a very rough average of 3cm at 900m. The deepest drifts are found on N and E facing aspects where the fresh, soft, snow and hail can lie on top of older snow. Above 850m and especially on the summit plateau there were patches of verglas (thin ice) and rime ice on rocks. Exposed routes above the snowline – such as Striding and Swirral Edges – are back in winter condition, albeit currently with just soft snow, and should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering. There is quite a contrast at the moment between the green, spring-like valleys and the snow and ice at altitude. Consequentially, full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe is essential and crampons should be carried in case the snow hardens or ice is encountered. At the time of writing, temperatures are forecast to lower, so walkers out on Tuesday should be prepared to encounter more ice than that experienced and described above. Quite surprisingly, the cloud very briefly cleared from the summit today revealing the edges and Red Tarn, so come properly equipped and enjoy!
26th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 2.2 -8.1 54.8 40.5 SSW The thaw at all levels continues; once again it was above freezing (plus 2 degrees) and raining on the summit. Occasionally, above 800m, the precipitation fell as hail which certainly made its presence painfully felt in the 50mph gusts! Any hail was not settling on the ground since most of the time it was just raining; however at the time of writing temperatures are forecast to fall, thus further precipitation Sunday evening and overnight could fall as snow so walkers out on Monday should be prepared to encounter more snow at altitude than experienced and described today. Apart from insignificant, isolated patches of wet, thawing snow, there is now no snow below 700m. Even above 700m the majority 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 especially above 850m on north and east facing aspects. Apart from isolated patches where the snow has been compacted by walkers’ boots, the snow is soft, wet and thawing – no ice was encountered. With the ground being so wet, though, this could change with only a slight drop in temperature so walkers out on Monday should be prepared to encounter ice at altitude. Striding and Swirral Edges consisted of bare, wet rock. There is almost a snow free route on the exit to Swirral, whereas there are still some larger, unavoidable patches of snow on the exit to Striding. Again the snow was soft, but it is strongly recommended to carry an ice axe here in order to safely negotiate this section if the temperature drops and the snow hardens. Despite the milder weather, the summit windchill remains well below freezing so full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those attempting, or traversing, exposed routes at altitude an ice axe is recommended in case fresh snow falls this evening and overnight. The positive aspect about 2 days of, what feels like, constant rain is that the Lakeland Waterfalls are spectacular and well worth a visit – so come and enjoy!
25th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.7 -4.6 41.7 31.0 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!
24th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -1.8 -10.1 21.4 17.9 WSW Fresh snow has fallen and settled above 400m. Between 400m and 600m there is just a skittering of snow, which was thawing during the afternoon. Above 600m the snow depth rises with height although, as the snow was deposited on predominantly gale force westerly winds, the actual depth varies considerably from virtually nothing on windswept areas – such as parts of the summit plateau - to deep drifts of 70cm mainly on east facing aspects – however such depth is definitely the exception with an extremely rough average of 3cm at 900m. The snowpack is soft and, especially below 700m, wet and thawing. Above 900m, and especially on the summit plateau where the ground has been scoured of snow, were patches of ice. This could be especially treacherous on Saturday given the forecasted strength of the wind. Earlier in the day, there were isolated icy patches on paths down to 400m. Currently the forecast is for milder (and wilder!) conditions on Saturday. It would, however, only take a slight drop in temperature for the predicted rain to fall as snow and for the snowpack to harden so walkers out on Saturday should be prepared to encounter ice at altitude – along with gale/storm force winds. Striding and Swirral Edges consisted of a mixture of bare rock, wet rock and soft snow covered rock. Conversely their exits, especially on Striding, had patches of deep unavoidable snow. Again, this snow was soft but an ice axe is essential to prevent a fall and crampons should be carried in case the snowpack hardens. This advice also applies to anyone attempting, or traversing, steep slopes at altitude – especially on east facing aspects. There is quite a contrast at the moment between the Spring-like valleys and the snow and ice at altitude where the summit temperature was below freezing and the windchill minus 10 degrees. Consequently, full winter clothing – including spare layers - footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. Given the forecast for Saturday it will probably be difficult to forget your waterproofs !!!
23rd Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -3.7 -15.9 51.9 38.0 W - NW Given the warnings about Storm Doris, the Assessor made an earlier ascent of Helvellyn than usual, and managed to avoid most of the bad weather. Overnight rain has filled the becks, and brought a light dusting of snow to the higher ground in the Central and Eastern Fells. This fresh snow was laying above 700m, and was nowhere deeper than 1cm - just a smattering during the morning. There was also a little frozen ground in places above 800m, on rocks on both Striding and Swirral Edges, but this was not sufficient to hinder safe ascents or descents. During the late morning further heavy rain brought more snow above 600m, as the storm force winds picked up. This is likely to continue throughout the rest of the day, so it will be interesting to see the extent of the fresh snow when the Assessor goes up tomorrow. With wind speeds picking up through the morning, it was with some relief that the Assessor today reached his car before lunch. Certainly the speeds recorded on the descent were far greater (in excess of 65mph) than were recorded on the summit just an hour earlier. Anyone heading into the fells should bear in mind that we are now in the grips of mid-winter, despite the changeable conditions we've had so far this season. Full waterproofs, clothing and equipment are essential for anyone going walking, and an ice axe and crampons should be carried by anyone heading above the snowline.
22nd Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.4 -10.3 55.4 30.7 W A better day for making a proper assessment of the amount of snow still present on our hills, as this was the first day for some time where the cloud base was above summits, thereby giving good visibility throughout. There are only a few very small patches of old snow remaining on the highest fells now, above 900m, and these are on the east and north facing headwalls, well away from any of the paths on Helvellyn. Striding Edge and Swirral Edge can both currently be ascended without recourse to crossing snow. The forecasted snow above 600m hadn't arrived by the time the Assessor was on Helvellyn. However, as Storm Doris comes through during the night and into tomorrow, the current forecast is for snow above 200m, and summit temperatures around minus 3. This coupled with the storm force winds we are expecting will make any walking in the high fells very arduous tomorrow, and will give an exceptionally low windchill, probably somewhere in the region of minus 15C Anyone venturing onto the high fells tomorrow should first consider if this is a good idea. Anyone determined to go high will need full waterproofs, good warmth layers including lots of spares, hats and gloves, winter boots, plenty of food, a headtorch with spare batteries, and a map and compass. The ability to navigate in appalling conditions may well be necessary. There is also a good chance that ground will be frozen, so crampons should be carried as a precaution, and an ice axe will help to keep you safe if ascending, descending or traversing snowy slopes.
21st Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.0 -4.6 31.8 24.1 WSW After a lovely start to the day, the rain clouds soon arrived on the Lakeland Fells, giving very wet conditions at all levels, and poor visibility above the cloud base at between 250m and 500m. There was a slight frost above 600m to start the day, but temperatures soon soared as the rain came in. On Striding Edge and Swirral Edge the main hazard was the wet, and consequently very slippery rock. There are still a few lingering tiny patches of snow, but these do not effect any of the walking routes on the mountain at present. However, at the time of writing the forecast for the next couple of days is for colder conditions and snow at altitude, so walkers should expect some snow and possibly ice on paths above 600m. Today good waterproofs were essential, both to keep the rain out as well as the wind. Walkers should carry spare warmth layers, plenty of food, and a headtorch (see our #summitsafely campaign on the website this week!), as well as a map and compass and the ability to use them in very poor visibility.
20th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 5.8 -5.6 69.9 45.8 W A very wild morning to be on the high fells. Heavy rain and gale to storm force winds were the very obvious weather features, with cloud on Helvellyn down to around 200m at times in rain. This gave very poor visibility for the morning, although later in the day the cloud did break. There is still no snow to speak of on Helvellyn or any of the fells of Lakeland. On the east-facing headwall of Helvellyn's summit ridge there are a few patches of old, wet snow, but these do not interfere with any of the walking routes. Striding Edge and Swirral Edge are pretty much free of snow, although in the poor visibility it is possible that there are one or two small patches here and there that the Assessor could not see today. Given the strong winds and poor visibility good map reading skills were essential today. Anyone heading onto the fells should carry a map and compass, along with good waterproofs (jacket AND trousers), and plenty of warmth layers including spares in a rucksack.
19th Feb 2017 Blencathra summit 4.1 -1.1 18.4 11.2 SW As we have so little snow on Helvellyn at present, and none on any of the walking routes, the Fell Top Assessor today went up Blencathra to assess conditions there. On Blencathra there was no snow at all on Hall's Fell Ridge, the summit plateau, the exit from Sharp Edge, or on Doddick Fell Ridge. The cloud base was at 600m, and above that height visibility was reduced to around 50m. While the Assessor felt that there is a possibility that there may be some small pockets of old, wet snow clinging on on the headwall above Scales Tarn, he didn't see any snow at all today. The main challenge on Blencathra's ridges today was the very slippery rock. The rock here is slate, and it is unpleasant in wet conditions. Although there was no rainfall during the day, the rocks were wet in the cloud. Despite warmer temperatures again today, the windchill was still below zero. Waterproofs and warmth layers are essential for anyone going onto the higher fells, as are sturdy walking boots, and a map and compass.
18th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.6 -3.8 32.0 23.5 WSW A mild and very wet day on the high fells. Most of the snow has now gone, with just a few thin streaks above 700m. Striding and Swirral Edges are largely free of snow, apart from in a few places where it is avoidable with care. The main challenge of the Edges today was the wet rock which is very slippery in that state. The cloud base today remained at around 600m for the whole day, and brought drizzle to all areas. This also gave severe navigational problems in the poor visibility. At times the visibility was reduced to around 10m. Anyone heading onto the fells should still carry full waterproofs and lots of warmth layers, despite the mild temperatures. A map and compass and the ability to use them in very poor visibility are essential. Come well prepared and equipped though and you'll still have a great time exploring the fells.
17th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.8 -2.8 24.1 10.6 WSW Another mild day on the fells, but with a windchill below zero it still feels cold when exposed to the wind. The remaining snow is now largely above 700m, and even here right up to the summits it is very patchy. There are a few old, wet drifts up to 40cm in depth, but for the most part the ground is now free of snow. Striding and Swirral Edges are both mostly free of snow and ice, with just the odd area here and there where compaction from walkers boots has created icy steps. The exits of both ridges do have some old snow too, but with care these areas can be avoided. With a cloud base between 300m and 600m for most of the morning, and occasional rain at low levels giving sleet above 800m for short periods of time, it was a wet day to be on the fells. Low cloud means low visibility too, so a map and compass and good navigation skills were essential today. Despite the snowdrops in the valleys, and relatively mild temperatures, with windchill it was cold on the summits today, so walkers should make sure they have full waterproofs and warmth layers, as well as map and compass, and a headtorch too!
16th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 1.8 -5.5 25.0 21.3 W The thaw continues at all levels, with much of the snow now being stripped from the high fells. There are still some large patches of snow above 700m, but very little below that height. On the Edges the remaining snow consists of icy ground in places where it has become compacted - today these small patches were icier than yesterday. The bulk of both Striding Edge and Swirral Edge today were free of snow, with the main hazard being wet, slippery rock. The exits from both ridges onto the summit plateau do both have some snow, but this can be avoided with care. With a cloud base at around 700m for much of the day, visibility was reduced to around 50m above that height, requiring the skilled use of map and compass both to navigate safely and to ensure a descent into the correct valley at the end of the day. Climbers: There are currently no routes climbable as winter ascents, and any attempt to climb these routes at present will only result in damage to the extremely rare alpine flora that lives on corrie headwalls. Please do not head into the gullies looking for ice or frozen turf - there isn't any at present! For further clarification on this point please see the BMC's White Guide. Full winter clothing is essential at present, given the wind chill. People in shorts heading up Swirral Edge today looked incredibly cold. Yes we know your legs are waterproof, but minus 6 degrees and driving hail really hurts exposed skin. An ice axe and crampons, though not needed today, are still a good idea to carry as these could easily become essential should the temperatures drop just a little further.
15th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 2.9 -4.0 38.2 29.1 S The thaw continues at all levels – it was plus 4 degrees on the summit this morning. There is now little snow below 700m. Above this height the snow depth rises with height - the actual depth varies from nothing on windswept areas and some south and western facing slopes to drifts over 40cm above 900m. The deepest snow lies on east and north facing aspects and in sheltered spots and hollows. The snowpack today was wet and thawing rapidly. There was very little ice today, other than in one or two places on the paths leading up to Red Tarn and the Edges, and even these patches were turning to slush. Above 550m there was dense hillfog and drizzle, on and off, for much of the morning. This made navigation a bit of a challenge, so a map and compass were essential, coupled with the skills to use them accurately in poor visibility. There is a marked difference between the Spring-like valleys and the snow and ice at altitude. Consequently, full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the high fells. For those going above 700m an ice axe is essential and crampons should be carried.
14th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 4.8 -3.2 39.7 29 S There is a thaw at all levels – it was plus 4 degrees on the summit this afternoon. Aside from isolated, insignificant patches, there is now little snow below 650m. Above 650m the snow depth rises with height although, as ever, the actual depth varies from nothing on windswept areas and some south and western facing slopes to drifts over 40cm above 900m – however such depth is definitely the exception. The deepest snow lies on east and north facing aspects and in sheltered spots and hollows. The majority of the snowpack is now wet and thawing; however there are still patches of ice and hard snow – especially on popular routes where it has been compacted. At altitude, where the snow was thawing the ground was wet and slushy although sometimes with ice beneath making for treacherous conditions. Walkers out on the high fells on Wednesday should be prepared to encounter more ice should all this water and slush refreeze – which would only take a slight drop in temperature. There is quite a contrast at the moment between the Spring-like valleys and the snow and ice at altitude. Consequently, full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells as the summit windchill remains below freezing. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes – such as Striding and Swirral Edges - an ice axe is essential and crampons should be carried as it would only take a slight drop in temperature for the soft snow to harden and there are already patches of harder snow and a slip on the exits without the means to stop yourself would ruin a lovely day out. Indeed, it was a glorious day to be out in the fells today, so come properly equipped and enjoy!
13th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -0.3 -11.4 46.1 37.3 ESE - ENE With milder temperatures, there is a marked contrast in conditions between the green, spring-like valleys and the alpine-like hills and this could also be the case for Tuesday. Despite this, there was a thaw at almost all levels – it was only just below freezing on the summit. Apart from isolated, insignificant patches, there is now no snow below 600m. Above 600m the snow depth rises with height although, as ever, the actual depth varies from little, or nothing, on windswept areas – such as parts of the summit plateau - to drifts just deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe – however such depth is definitely the exception - although drifts of between 5 and 10cm are fairly common at 900m. With milder temperatures, the majority of the snowpack is now soft although there are also patches of harder snow. Above 700m, popular routes are often covered with compacted snow and ice; conversely on others there were raised footprints (some up to 10cm high) illustrating how much snow has been blown about and redistributed. Above 700m and especially above 850m many rocks were covered in rime ice which was stunningly beautiful! Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are in winter condition – albeit with only a thin layer of snow along most of the edges themselves - and should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering as a slip on the snowy exits without such equipment could ruin your Valentine’s! Aside from the ground conditions, the main hazard at altitude – as for the past few days - was the strength of the wind sometimes blowing stinging spindrift and, as occurred on the summit of Lower Man, rather painful pieces of rime ice! Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe and crampons are also essential as are snow goggles. This advice remains despite the softening of the snowpack as it would only take a slight drop in temperature for the snow to harden and harder patches of snow already exist. With snow covered ground obscuring landmarks excellent navigational skills are essential especially when entering low cloud. However, hopefully sunglasses will also be required for Tuesday! Apart from the wind, it was a glorious day to be out in the fells today, so come properly equipped and enjoy! For those interested in the weather stats, the wind was noticeably stronger (gusting around 60mph) on the ascent and descent compared with the summit!
12th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -4.3 -18.3 57.4 41.7 NNE A light covering of fresh snow has fallen Saturday evening and overnight deposited on gale force NNE to NE winds only significantly adding to existing accumulations in sheltered spots. There is little snow below 550m. Above 550m the snow depth rises with height although, as ever, the actual depth varies from little on windswept areas – such as parts of the summit plateau - to drifts just deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe – however such depth is definitely the exception - although drifts of between 5 and 10cm are fairly commonplace at 900m. The consistency of the snowpack varies considerably from soft, loose powder and windslab to hard neve sometimes overlaid with fresh soft snow and spindrift. Above 700m and especially above 800m many rocks were covered in verglas (thin ice) and rime ice – with the latter looking spectacular! Below 550m there was little ice on paths apart from where standing water had frozen overnight. Above 550m and particularly above 700m, many paths – especially popular routes - are covered with compacted snow and ice, again sometimes hidden beneath fresh snow and spindrift creating treacherous conditions; walking poles are useful to aid stability here. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are now in winter condition – albeit with only a thin layer of snow along most of the edges themselves - and should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering as a slip on the exits without such equipment could ruin your Valentine’s! Aside from the ground conditions, the main hazard today at altitude – as on Saturday and probably also for Monday - was the strength of the wind sometimes blowing fresh snow and often stinging spindrift. When this is combined with low cloud and snow covered ground obscuring landmarks, navigation is extremely challenging necessitating competent navigational skills. Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe and crampons are also essential as are snow goggles. As on Saturday, several people today were intending to go above the snowline without such equipment, but were sensibly amending their routes or turning back. There is currently a huge difference in conditions between the green valleys and alpine-like hills and this looks likely to be the case for the next few days.
11th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -2.5 -14.7 52.7 38.9 NNE There is a health warning with this report in that snow was falling as the Assessor left the hill and further snow showers are forecast Saturday evening and overnight, so walkers heading out into the fells on Sunday should expect to encounter more snow than experienced and described below. On Saturday morning, there was snow down to 450m; however below 600m this was already thawing so, although there is a skittering of snow below 600m, the main snow line is around 600m. Above 600m the snow depth rises with height although, as ever, the actual depth varies from little on windswept areas – such as parts of the summit plateau - to reported drifts of 50cm – although such depth is definitely the exception and, indeed, the assessor did not personally encounter any such drifts today - although depths of between 5 and 10cm were fairly common at 900m. The consistency of the snowpack varies from soft to hard neve sometimes overlaid with fresh soft snow and spindrift. Popular paths above 600m are often covered with compacted snow and ice, again sometimes hidden beneath fresh soft snow creating demanding conditions. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are now in winter condition and should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering. There was more compacted snow and ice along both ridges compared to Friday, again overlaid with fresh snow. Aside from the ground conditions, the main hazard today at altitude (and also forecast for Sunday) was the strength of the wind blowing fresh snow and stinging spindrift. This combined with the low cloud made navigation challenging with visibility often reduced to 10m (and less when snow goggles either steamed up or became covered in snow!!) Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe and crampons are also essential as are snow goggles. Several people were intending to go above the snowline without such equipment today, but were sensibly amending their routes or turning back. There is currently a huge difference in conditions between the green valleys and alpine-like hills and this looks likely to be the case for the next few days.
10th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -5.3 -16.4 27.8 22.8 NNE There is little snow below 650m and, indeed, below this height many paths were dry. However, where they were wet, ice had formed especially above 400m. Above 650m the snow depth rises with height although, as ever, the actual depth varies from little on windswept areas to reported drifts of 50cm – although such depth is definitely the exception and, indeed, the assessor did not personally encounter any such drifts today - although a depth of between 5 and 10cm was fairly common at 900m. The consistency of the snow varies from soft to hard neve. Popular routes are also covered with compacted snow and ice. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are now in winter condition and should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering. Much of Striding Edge consisted of soft snow and could lull people into believing that no equipment is required to negotiate it; however, there was harder snow and verglas (ice) on rocks on the steep exit necessitating the use of ice axe and crampons. There is the possibility of fresh snow falling overnight, so walkers out on Saturday should be prepared to encounter different conditions from those experienced and described above; this is especially relevant if fresh snow falls on top of older, harder snow with the different layers not bonding. Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe and crampons are also essential. The summit views today were magnificent, so come properly equipped and enjoy them – including spare layers to cope with the minus 16 degrees windchill experienced today. Once again some folk were out walking wearing everything that they had and so quickly became cold once they stopped, thus were unable to linger to appreciate the superb vista.
9th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -5.8 -14.0 26.4 17.3 E A superb day to be on the high fells. A cold start to the day gave frozen ground at all levels. Paths on Helvellyn were icy in places from the valleys upwards, and were coated with more ice above 550m. There has been a little further snow on the high fells, and this has gathered in leeward hollows and in leeward gullies (NW through to E faces), occasionally to a depth of 60cm, but more generally between 5cm - 10cm in depth. Where this fresh snow is overlying older, harder snow, the fresh snow is very unstable, cracking and peeling away from the snow beneath. Further accumulations on these slopes could be very dangerous, so walkers and climbers should make their own judgements about how safe, or otherwise, snow slopes are, according to just how much more snow falls throughout the afternoon and overnight. The morning on Helvellyn was dry, and with the cloud base above the summits the views were spectacular. However, it was a very cold day, and lots of warmth layers were essential. Climbers: Ribbons of older snow have now formed into superb neve, giving bullet hard climbing in these areas. However, most of these runnels of neve are very narrow, and some snow in many gullies is broken. Ice is forming on the buttresses, but winter climbing is not yet 'on'! Anyone heading for the tops will need full winter clothing and spare warmth layers. Winter boots with properly fitting crampons, and an ice axe are also essential for all but the very gentlest of walking routes.
8th Feb 2017 Helvellyn Lower Man summit -4.8 -11.6 22.2 17.6 ESE Further redistribution and consolidation in the snowpack has seen snow gathering in large areas on all aspects. The snow, which is largely above 600m now, is up to 50cm deep in a few sheltered places, but is generally around 10cm in depth. There are noticeable layers within the snowpack, and these currently aren't well bonded, but as there isn't a huge amount of snow cover, this shouldn't pose a problem. However, it is wise to treat all fresh snow accumulations with caution, especially as the current forecast is for further snowfall over the next few days. This fresh snow overlying the semi-consolidated stuff could be very unstable. All paths to Helvellyn summit now have snow - the Assessor today found a large, unavoidable bank of steep snow on the 'tourist route' up from Swirls via the top of Brown Cove Crags. This, though not 'technical' required an ice axe and crampons to make a safe ascent and descent. The exits to Striding Edge and Swirral Edge are both steep banks of hardening snow. Climbers: The gullies are gathering some snow, and this can be seen in thin ribbons on a few routes now. The snow is improving, but today the turf beneath was not frozen. Please avoid climbing these gullies a little while longer, to protect the rare flora that is found in these places on Helvellyn. Walkers heading for the higher fells should have full winter clothing and proper B1 or higher winter boots. An ice axe and crampons are essential kit right now, even on the non-technical walking routes such as Brown Cove Crags, the Wythburn Chapel route, and the Keppel Cove zigzags.
7th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -0.4 -7.9 21.3 16.2 SW A partial thaw has hit the fells of Lakeland, although there is still still snow above 550m. The bulk of the snow is now in sheltered places on North East facing slopes, where it lies to a depth of around 50cm. This is the exception however, as elsewhere the slopes are largely scoured of snow, but were icy today above 750m. The snow on NE slopes is beginning to consolidate, and currently has a firm crust of around 5cm depth, with softer snow beneath. Above 700m there is rime ice on rocks, making ascents of Striding and Swirral Edges technical today. The exits from both ridges are banking out with snow, although at present this is not to a great depth on either ridge. Climbers: Some gullies are now producing thin ribbons of snow. Gully No. 2 on the Red Tarn headwall is almost one complete snow slope (albeit a very narrow one!), while other such as Catstycam Gully only have snow of any depth in their top third in height. The snow in these gullies is not enough yet to make them viable ascents, and the turf beneath was not frozen today. A little more freeze/thaw would help, along with another bigger dump of snow! Anyone heading for the high fells right now should have the full array of winter clothing and equipment, including ice axe and crampons and the knowledge of how to use them.
6th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -2.8 -14.7 53.2 38.1 SE Further snowfall overnight down to 600m has made the high fells feel very wintry now. Paths were icy from the valleys upwards from dawn, although the freezing level soon rose to around 400m. Above that height the ground was hard on paths were walkers have compacted the snow yesterday. The snowpack has been redistributed by the wind, and there is now some unstable windslab on NW through to NE slopes, to a depth of around 50cm in places. However, most of the ground above 600m only has a light dusting of snow still. There is rime ice on rocks, making ascents of Striding and Swirral Edges full winter mountaineering expeditions today. The exit to Swirral Edge is starting to bank out, while the Striding Edge exit has less snow, but still requires care and a sensible approach. With the forecast currently being for overnight blizzard conditions, there could be further accumulations of unstable snow by tomorrow. A further hazard today was poor visibility. With a cloud base on Helvellyn at between 500m and 700m, and spindrift being blasted across the plateau by the gale force winds, it was very difficult to see further than a few metres at times. Anyone heading onto the fells tomorrow will need full winter clothing and equipment, coupled with the experience to look after themselves in extremely harsh winter weather. A map and compass and exceptional navigation ability are essential, and an ice axe and crampons will help to make walking safer in the current conditions.
5th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -1.0 -8.4 18.3 13.4 SSW A much more wintry feel to the fells today, with dry powder snow down to around 450m. This has gathered on leeward slopes (North to East-facing) to a depth of around 20cm on average, but there are some drifts in sheltered hollows up to 40cm deep. The freezing level was around 650m. Paths above 500m were icy where walkers boots have consolidated the snow. This includes the narrow ridges of Striding Edge and Swirral Edge where the main route that walkers have created up each ridge is a combination of hard snow and iced-over rocks. While crampons were not absolutely essential today, they certainly made the Assessor and his winter skills clients feel a lot safer than other people who were sliding around out of control without them. An ice axe was essential for a safe ascent. While the exits from the ridges do contain quite a bit of snow, currently this is not banking out, and there is a lot of exposed rock on both edges. There are small cornices starting to appear on headwalls facing North through to East. Climbers: none of the gullies are in climbable condition yet. Please avoid attempting these lines until the turf freezes more and the gullies have filled out. Anyone venturing above the snowline should have full winter clothing and equipment, including an ice axe and crampons.
4th Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit -1.7 -10.2 24.3 17.9 SSW A return to winter conditions on the high fells, with fresh snow down to around 500m, and ice above 700m. The snow is generally just a smattering at all levels above 500m, but has gathered into sheltered hollows as well as on north through to east-facing headwalls to a depth of 30cm. On the Edges on Helvellyn the exits onto the summit plateau are snow-bound, and this is already becoming quite hard and slippery due to compression from walkers boots. Rocks above 700m have a thin film of rime ice. Both Striding Edge and Swirral Edge require extreme caution at the moment, as rocks are very slippery, but there isn't sufficient snow or ice to make ascents with crampons necessarily any easier or safer at present. On the summit plateau and on west facing slopes the snow has been blown off, leaving scouring and there is ice underfoot in many places. Given the colder temperatures we've had today, and the forecast for tomorrow being for a freezing level at 600m and more snow falling, these slopes will be treacherous without crampons tomorrow. Anyone traversing Striding or Swirral Edges should also take an ice axe for the exits onto the plateau. The visibility was generally good today, although there was some spindrift flying around sporadically, as well as the occasional hail shower. Climbers: Today the gullies certainly did not appear to be holding any snow for climbing, and should be avoided at present to avoid damage to rare flora. With a windchill of minus 10C today, and another cold wintry day forecast for tomorrow, full winter clothing, including spare warmth layers, winter boots with properly fitting crampons, an ice axe, snow goggles, head torch with spare batteries, and a map and compass are essential for safe and comfortable walking in the hills.
3rd Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.4 -7.6 48.9 38.6 SSW A brighter day for parts of the Lake District, but with persistent cloud still shrouding some of the higher peaks. On Helvellyn the cloud base was around 600m, and giving poor visibility for much of the day above that height. The light snow that was forecast overnight either didn't arrive, or had melted by lunchtime when the Assessor was on the summit taking his readings. Currently though, the forecast for Saturday is for wintry showers above 500m. It was raining hard on the summit today. Following the thaw of the last snow, and the rain over the previous few days, many of the becks of Lakeland are quite high at present, so care should be taken when crossing where there are no bridges. If the temperatures should fall overnight the currently wet ground will turn icy, so carrying an ice axe and crampons would be a good idea. Full winter clothing and equipment are required for walking the high fells at present, and good navigational ability coupled with a map and compass are essential for anyone heading out walking.
2nd Feb 2017 Birkhouse Moor summit 6.1 -1.4 71.4 40.6 SE A windy day to be on the fells, with gusts of just over 70mph making for arduous walking at times. The cloud base was at around 550m, and above that the visibility was very poor, often reduced to less than 10m for periods of time. This combined with the winds made for a challenging day, and the Fell Top Assessor today turned back at Birkhouse Moor due to being reduced to crawling from time to time. It was largely dry below 550m, but a heavy drizzle persisted above that height. With the thaw continuing there is currently very little snow on the fells at present, with what snow that does remain being confined to small patches above 800m. Currently the forecast for tomorrow looks like we could get some snow on the higher fells, with more to follow on Saturday. Full winter clothing and equipment are essential for anyone heading onto the fells right now, and this should include a map and compass and the ability to navigate in very poor visibility.
1st Feb 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.7 -5.1 36.9 26.2 SE The thaw continued today at all levels. It was again plus 3 degrees and raining above 600m, and right up to summit level. There are now only insignificant patches of snow above 800m and this is wet and thawing rapidly. Most of the snow that does remain lies in sheltered hollows, mainly on N and E facing aspects, where there were drifts of up to 30cm. There are some patches of slushy ice above 800m, mainly on paths where the old snow has been compacted by walkers boots. The cloud base today was between 400m and 600m, and the freezing level was well above the summits. Both Swirral and Striding Edge are predominantly free of snow and ice, although there are patches of wet snow on both exits. The forecast for Thursday is for the thaw to continue, with the possibility of snow falling again on Friday. Should this snow come through earlier, it would be prudent to carry an ice axe and crampons tomorrow if tackling these ridges. Despite the return to milder conditions, the summit windchill remained below freezing today, so full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells.
31st Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 2.9 -5.4 35.1 27.9 SSW There is a substantial thaw at all levels. It was plus 3 degrees and raining hard on the summit. There is now little snow left below 800m and what does remain is wet and thawing rapidly. Even above 800m the majority of the Lakeland fells, up to and including summit level, are now free from snow. The recent snow was deposited on predominantly SW to S winds and today’s rain was being driven on a predominantly S wind. This means that the snow that does remain lies in sheltered hollows and mainly on N and E facing aspects, where there were drifts of over 30cm above 900m - although such depth was the definitely the exception. This snow is also very wet and thawing. Above 750m, and especially above 850m, on some popular routes where the snow had been compacted there were isolated patches of ice interspersed amongst predominantly wet snow and slush so care in foot placement was required. Both Swirral and particularly Striding Edge consisted of predominantly wet rock with patches of wet snow and, again, some isolated patches of ice. There were patches of wet snow on both exits. Given the extent of the thaw, these could have disappeared by Wednesday; however it would only take a very slight drop in temperature at altitude for these, albeit small patches of snow, to harden. Consequently, an ice axe is recommended for anyone intending to negotiate such exposed routes at altitude. Better to carry one and not use it than the reverse scenario! Despite the return of milder conditions, 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.
30th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.5 -6.7 17.6 6.4 SE Owing to the hard overnight frost, there was ice on paths at all levels, although unusual meteorological conditions resulted in similar temperatures in the valley (minus 2.5 degrees when I set off) and summit level (zero 2 hours later). There is a skittering of snow at 450m. The coverage and depth of snow rises with height to reach a very rough average of 5cm at 900m. As ever, the actual depth varies from a lesser amount on windswept areas (the snow has been deposited on predominantly S to SW winds) to drifts deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe; although such depth was the exception, drifts of 10cm were more common. The snow is soft, apart from where it has been compacted on popular routes into hard snow and ice making conditions demanding. Cornices have formed along east and north facing slopes. Although they are small, they consist of soft, unstable snow so stay back from such edges. There were footprints too close to the edge by the Trig Point on Helvellyn. Exposed routes, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are in winter condition. Although the snow along Striding Edge was predominantly soft, there were patches of harder snow along Swirral Edge. Given an overnight frost at altitude, this snow could harden further and, therefore, such routes should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering. Climbers. Unfortunately the snow remains too soft for climbing and damage will be done to fragile alpine plants should any routes be attempted. Full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those intending to go above the snowline, an ice axe is strongly recommended and essential for those attempting, or traversing, exposed routes. Although the snow is currently soft, it could harden overnight and, therefore, crampons should also be carried. The snow obscuring landmarks combined with low cloud necessitate excellent navigational skills, although the assessor was lucky today and had a glorious view from the summit including a magnificent cloud inversion to the S and W. So, come properly equipped and enjoy!
29th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -1.8 -9.3 17.0 14.7 SSW Fresh snow has fallen overnight which, above 700m, has added to existing accumulations. There is a skittering of snow at 450m with a reasonable covering above 550m. The depth of which rises with height to reach a rough average of 5cm at 900m. As ever, the actual depth varies from a lesser depth on windswept areas (the snow has been deposited on predominantly S - SW winds) to drifts deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe (although such depth was the exception). The snow is soft and was there was a slow thaw below 700m. Conversely, on popular routes the snow was being compacted making conditions demanding. The snow obscuring paths and landmarks combined with the low cloud made for challenging navigation. Exposed routes, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are in winter condition – albeit currently with soft snow. Given an overnight frost, this snow could harden and, therefore, such routes should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering. Climbers. Although poor visibility meant that the gullies could not be observed, the snow was far too soft for climbing. Full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those intending to go above the snowline, an ice axe is strongly recommended and essential for those attempting, or traversing, exposed routes. Although the snow is currently soft, it could harden overnight and, therefore, crampons should also be carried.
28th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -1.6 -10.7 27.6 22.4 SW Fresh snow has fallen and settled on ground above 700m. At 700m it was just a skittering but the depth rose with height to reach a rough average of 1cm at 900m. As ever, the actual depth varies from little on windswept areas (the snow was being deposited on SW winds) to drifts of 10cm. The snow is currently soft but was already being compacted on popular routes making conditions slippery. Similarly, very occasionally the fresh snow covered old patches of ice on paths. The fresh snow combined with the low cloud made for challenging navigation highlighting the need for carrying a map and compass and having the ability to use them. Full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. As snow was still falling and settling as the Assessor left the summit, walkers out on Sunday on the high fells should be prepared to encounter more snow than experienced and described above. In addition, it could harden given an overnight frost. For these reasons, for those intending to go above the snowline, an ice axe is strongly recommended and crampons should be carried – especially if attempting, or traversing, exposed routes.
27th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -0.1 -10.7 44.2 35.3 S The vast majority of the Lake District Fells up to and including summit level are currently free from snow. The only snow remaining lies above 650m in extremely isolated patches in sheltered spots and hollows. Only small, insignificant patches of easily avoidable snow were encountered on paths. Conversely, owing to the hard frost, there were patches of ice on paths at all levels demanding care. The majority of paths, though, were dry. Both Swirral and Striding Edges consisted of bare, dry rock with progress only being hampered by the strong cross-wind that was gusting up to 40mph. Walkers out on Saturday on the high fells should be prepared for the possibility of encountering different conditions to those experienced and described above depending upon whether tonight’s forecasted precipitation falls as rain or snow at altitude. Despite the current lack of winter conditions, it remains cold on the fells with the summit temperature around zero and the windchill at minus 10 degrees and so full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. Today was a glorious day to be out with a magnificent cloud inversion to the south, so come properly equipped and enjoy!
26th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.3 -9.5 38.8 18.6 ESE A cold start to the day with paths and ground frozen at all levels in the morning. The early temperature inversion soon cleared to give a glorious day of blue skies and hazy sunshine on the Helvellyn range. The day stayed dry and clear, but with temperatures only just above freezing it felt cold on the tops. The ridges on Helvellyn, Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, had some verglas early in the day, but this soon melted in the sunshine to give dry rock. There is currently no snow to hinder progress on either of these two ridges. All other walking routes on Helvellyn are currently free of snow too, although there are still a few patches of old, hard snow lingering on the summit plateau if you go look for them. Walkers heading for the tops today needed good warmth layers, hats and gloves, and spares too so that they could linger in the cold wind to enjoy the spectacular views. A map and compass, head torch and spare batteries, and good winter walking boots are also needed at present.
25th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -0.2 -11.5 58.1 39.6 SE A colder day, with low cloud initially, breaking later to give some views of surrounding fells. On Helvellyn the higher peaks of the range remained shrouded by hill fog down to around 600m, this lifting slightly during the early afternoon. On the main ridge to the north of Lower Man towards Sticks Pass and The Dodds, the cloud cleared the summits completely, giving blue skies and distant views northwards. The main weather feature of the day was the strong winds, gusting generally to around 50mph from the S and SE. The temperatures were hovering around zero, so taking the wind chill into account it felt like a very cold day indeed on the high tops. Most of the ice we've experienced on Helvellyn over the last few days has now gone, but patches were still present on paths above 650m. Any snow is confined to small patches above 700m, and although these are around 30cm in depth and hard snow, they do not effect walkers using any of the paths on the mountain. Given the very cold wind chill today, anyone heading up high in the fells will need full winter clothing, including spare warmth layers. At present an ice axe and crampons are not needed, as there is little snow about, but if the temperatures stay below zero walkers will experience icy paths and open ground again, and then these tools will make for safer walking.
24th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 1.9 -9.9 60.1 34.7 SSW A day of low cloud, occasional drizzle, and blustery conditions on the high fells. With slightly warmer temperatures today most of the ice that covered paths and rocks on the fells yesterday has disappeared. On Helvellyn ice was still present in places above 650m, but was thawing. The small patches of old snow above 700m however remain hard, but these do not hinder progress on any of the walking routes on the mountain, and can be easily avoided. The warmer conditions produced some drizzle, even at altitude, although sleet fell for a short time on the Helvellyn summit plateau. The cloud base today varied between 400m and 750m, giving dense hill fog above those heights. This made for challenging walking and difficult navigation, even on the paths. The main difficulty for walkers today was the gale force winds, which ranged from between 30mph and 45mph generally, but gave the occasional gust of over 55mph. The strong winds look set to continue over the next few days, so a careful look at the wind direction in the forecast will help you decide whether to tackle any narrow ridges (avoiding strong crosswinds). Anyone heading onto the fells right now should have full waterproofs, lots of warmth layers including spare hats and gloves, winter mountain boots, map and compass (and good navigation skills!), a headtorch with spare batteries, and possibly an ice axe and crampons in case the temperature should drop just a little bit more.
23rd Jan 2017 Top of Swirral Edge -2.3 -9.3 19.7 12.4 SW A dry morning with the cloud base above the summits, and some blue sky. By early afternoon the cloud base had dropped to around 800m and light drizzle began below that level, with some sleet and light snow above. The freezing level was around 200m in the morning, with paths frozen at that level, and some sheet ice above 550m. Bogs and turf were also semi frozen above 550m. Rocks on Striding Edge and Swirral Edge were coated with rime ice, making progress slow. The only snow is to be found in patches above 700m, and these patches can easily be avoided and do not effect any of the walking routes on Helvellyn. These snow patches were of hard neve today, and are about 30cm in depth. With temperatures below freezing, and the windchill making it feel a lot colder, full winter clothing is essential, including spare warmth layers and hats and gloves. It is sensible to carry and ice axe and crampons at the moment, with there being ice on paths and the potential for there to be more snow falling on the tops in the coming days.
22nd Jan 2017 Raise summit at 880m -2.8 -9.3 15.2 11.6 W A frost at all levels started the day, with icy paths and frozen ground down to 350m. There was a fresh dusting of snow today above 550m, and the small patches of old snow that remain were frozen hard throughout the day. These old patches are easily avoided at present, or can be great fun for winter skills practice for those with the correct tools - ice axe and crampons. Rime ice was found on rocks above 700m. All rocky ground, including Striding and Swirral Edges, as well as paths, outcrops, and cairns were iced over today, everywhere above 700m, making for difficult walking and scrambling at times. With a cloudbase at around 800m visibility was generally good below that level, but limited in the cloud. A little snow fell on and off throughout the day, but didn't amount to very much. Full winter clothing is essential for walking the fells at present. This should include waterproof jacket and trousers, warmth layers, hat and gloves, spare warmth layers, winter boots, and snow goggles. A map and compass and good navigational ability are essential, and crampons make walking on ice and rime-covered rocks safer, while an ice axe will check a slide should we get more snow overnight.
21st Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.9 -3.6 15.5 9.1 SSE A glorious day to be on the Lakeland fells. A sharp frost right down to valley level in the early morning soon cleared to give a very bright day, warm in the sunshine, but cool in the shade. Paths at all levels were icy in the morning, but this soon melted anywhere were the sun was catching it. On the Edges of Helvellyn there was one or two icy patches, but generally the rock was dry and made for easy ascents. Visibility was superb, giving views from Helvellyn as far as The Merrick in Dumfries and Galloway. However, during the early afternoon a thick bank of cloud had started to build from the south-west. Today the Assessor was able to check the plateau area on Helvellyn for snow patches. These are in sheltered hollows, and are small, but deep in places. At Brownrigg Well the patch was measured at 1.2m in depth, but for the most part what remains of the snow is no more than 30cm, and very scattered. None of the paths on Helvellyn are affected by this snow. With colder conditions and the possibility of a few snow flurries forecast for Sunday, full winter clothing and equipment are needed for any high level walking.
20th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.2 -7.1 17.3 10.8 SW A very slightly colder day on the high fells today, but no sign of the fresh snow that was forecast. Only inconsequential areas of old snow now remain, and this is only to be found above 750m in small patches. Today however, what little snow there is was hard due to the colder temperatures following the recent thaw. No ice was encountered on paths today although the ground was very wet. In a few places on the Edges and other rocky parts of the mountain above 800m verglas (thin, black ice) was present, making walking on these rocks hazardous. The day was largely dry, with just the odd drizzle being felt in the cloud. The main challenge again today was poor visibility, with the cloud base being firm at around 450m for the most part of the day. Above this height visibility was reduced to around 20m. At the time of writing the forecast over the weekend is for the freezing level to be at around 800m, so full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells, as are map and compass and good navigational skills in the low cloud. An ice axe and crampons may be useful if we do get the forecasted colder temperatures.
19th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 2.2 -4.0 20.0 12.9 W Another very similar day on the fells as over the last few days. Only inconsequential patches of snow remain below 600m and even above this height up to and including summit level, the vast majority of ground is now free from snow. The remaining snow lies in isolated patches in sheltered spots and hollows on S through to E facing slopes, and today the remaining snow was beginning to consolidate into firmer neve. No ice was encountered on paths today although the ground was very wet. On Striding Edge a few tiny patches of snow can be found at the point where the ridge abuts onto the summit plateau. This snow could be avoided with care. There is currently no snow on Swirral Edge. The main challenge again today was poor visibility, with the cloud base being firm at around 600m for the most part of the day. Above this height visibility was reduced to around 30m. The Assessor today walked the Helvellyn main ridge from the summit of Helvellyn northwards to Stybarrow Dodd, to check out the slopes around Raise for the Lake District Ski Club. Apart from the odd tiny patch of snow, as mentioned above, there is currently nothing ski-able. As temperatures are set to drop over the weekend, full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells as are map and compass and good navigational skills in the low cloud. An ice axe and crampons may be needed if we do get the forecasted snow and colder temperatures.
18th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 1.4 -6.9 26.5 20.7 SW Another mild day, although a little colder than the last few days, thawing what little snow remains on the high fells. Only inconsequential patches of snow remain below 600m and even above this height up to and including summit level, the vast majority of ground is now free from snow. The remaining snow lies in isolated patches, is very wet, thawing and situated in sheltered spots and hollows on S through to E facing slopes. No ice was encountered on paths today although the ground was very wet. The forecast for later in the week is for the freezing level to drop to 600m, and then verglas may be encountered on rocks, and snow may fall on the higher peaks. Today, on Striding Edge a few tiny patches of snow were found at the point where the ridge abuts onto the summit plateau. This snow could be avoided though with care. There is currently no snow on Swirral Edge. The main challenge today was poor visibility, with the cloud base being firm at around 600m for the most part of the day. Above this height visibility was reduced to around 30m. With the temperature just above freezing today, and the wind chill making it feel a lot colder on the summits, full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells as are map and compass and good navigational skills in the low cloud.
17th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.5 -2.4 17.3 15.7 W The fell conditions today were similar to Monday – albeit with a lighter, more constant wind (ie it was not gusting) and even less snow as the thaw continues. Once again it was plus 3 degrees on the summit so the thaw is at all levels. Only inconsequential patches of snow remain below 600m and even above this height up to and including summit level, the vast majority of ground is now free from snow. The remaining snow lies in isolated patches, is very wet, thawing and situated in sheltered spots and hollows and on S through to E facing ground. No ice was encountered on paths today although the ground was very wet, especially above 700m, which was in the cloud. Although this is not currently forecast, it would only take a slight drop in temperature for this wet ground to freeze at altitude and so walkers out on Wednesday on the high fells should be prepared to encounter ice. Both Swirral and Striding Edges consisted of bare, wet rock. The deepest snow drifts, of 30cm, were found on the exit to Striding Edge – just a few meters below the summit plateau. Although now only a very short section, this snow is currently unavoidable so for anyone undertaking this route an ice axe is helpful and would be strongly recommended if the snow stops thawing and re-freezes. Conversely, the exit to Swirral Edge is now virtually snow free and probably will be by Wednesday. Despite the mild weather, the summit windchill remains below freezing and so full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells as are good navigational skills in the low cloud.
16th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 3.0 -3.3 18.7 11.7 NW - NNW The thaw continues – it was plus 3 degrees on the summit – although there is now little snow left to melt! Only inconsequential patches of snow remain below 600m and even above this height the majority of ground is free from snow. The remaining snow is patchy in nature, very wet, thawing and lies in sheltered spots and hollows and on S through to E facing ground. No ice was encountered on paths today although the ground was very wet above 700m. It would only take a slight drop in temperature for this to freeze at altitude and so, although not currently forecast, walkers out on Tuesday on the high fells should be prepared to encounter ice. Both Swirral and Striding Edges consisted of bare, wet rock. The deepest snow drifts, of 30cm, were found on the exit to Striding Edge – just a few meters below the summit plateau. Although only a small section, it is unavoidable so for anyone undertaking this route an ice axe is recommended and would be essential if the snow stops thawing and re-freezes. Conversely, the exit to Swirral Edge was almost snow free. Despite the mild weather, the summit windchill remains below freezing and so full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells
15th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 4.0 -3.9 31.6 10.8 N - NNW There is a substantial thaw at all levels – it was raining and plus 4 degrees on the summit. Little snow remains below 500m and even above this height large areas of fellside up to and including summit level are free from snow. The remaining snow is very wet, thawing and mainly lies in sheltered spots and hollows and on S through to E facing ground. An example of this is on the exit to Striding Edge where there are unavoidable drifts of 30cm – although such depth is definitely the exception. Apart from compacted snow on popular paths, little ice was encountered today although there was plenty of slush. It would only take a slight drop in temperature for this to freeze at altitude and so, although not currently forecast, walkers out on Monday on the high fells should be prepared to encounter ice. Full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those attempting steep or exposed routes above the snowline – especially Striding Edge - an ice axe is strongly recommended to negotiate the unavoidable snow on its exit. Conversely, Striding Edge itself was just wet rock with a gusty cross wind creating demanding conditions.
14th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -2.9 -13 28.6 10 NNW Similar ground conditions to Friday, albeit with more ice on paths where there has been a thaw / freeze. In addition the snow has been compacted on popular routes also making for slippery conditions. There is a skittering of soft snow and hail on ground above 250m. Although the depth of this generally rises with height, actual coverage varies considerably from virtually nothing on windswept areas – such as large parts of the summit plateau – to the deepest drifts on S and E facing slopes such as on the exit to Striding Edge where there were drifts of 30cm – mostly loose windslab. Such depth, though, is the exception with a very rough average of only 3 to 4cm at 900m. However, this is academic since walkers on Sunday should be prepared to encounter different conditions to those described above depending upon whether the precipitation forecasted tonight and tomorrow falls as rain or snow or, more likely, as both depending upon altitude. Climbers – unfortunately the recent snow is both too thin and far too soft at present and damage will be done to fragile alpine plants should routes be attempted. Full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. It was good to see so many folk out today enjoying the conditions with the majority adequately equipped; conversely, there were cold people on the summit with jeans, trainers and no wind / waterproofs who would have been dangerously cold had it rained / snowed. Please have a friendly word with such people early on their ascents. For those attempting steep or exposed routes above the snowline, an ice axe is strongly recommended (essential should it snow tonight) and crampons should be carried in case ice is encountered. Depending upon conditions tomorrow, goggles could also be useful.
13th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -4.0 -15.1 39.4 21.3 NNW Soft snow and hail has settled on ground above 250m, although there was a slow daytime thaw below 400m. The strong, mainly NW, winds meant that coverage varies from virtually nothing on windswept areas – such as large parts of the summit plateau – to the deepest drifts on S and E facing slopes with depths of up to 30cm. This, though, is the exception with a very rough average of only 3cm at 900m. Apart from frost on rocks, little ice was encountered at altitude whereas some pavements at valley level in the morning were very slippery! This illustrates the effect of thaw / freeze. Fell walkers should expect to encounter ice on Saturday and compacted snow on popular routes will also create demanding conditions. Climbers – unfortunately the recent snow is both too thin and far too soft at present and damage will be done to fragile alpine plants should routes be attempted. Full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. For those attempting steep or exposed routes above the snowline, an ice axe is strongly recommended and crampons should be carried in case ice is encountered. Owing to the amount of hail being blown about, goggles could also be useful. For those interested in the weather stats, once again there were stronger gusts on both the ascent and descent compared with the summit.
12th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -5.9 -19.1 46.3 27.5 NW Another day of blizzards and occasional whiteout conditions in Cumbria. Snow has now settled down to valley level in places, and ice is forming on paths and rocks above 400m. On Helvellyn the snow is generally 10cm deep where it has gathered in sheltered spots behind boulders, and is 30cm deep on North through to South-East facing headwalls. This includes the exits from both Swirral Edge and Striding Edge. Here you'll find unstable windslab (wind-driven snow), and there is a cornice beginning to form on these aspects of slope (a cornice is a wave of snow, formed by the wind, with nothing beneath it). As this cornice continues to build please keep well back from these edges. On the Helvellyn summit plateau, the wind has scoured much of the western-facing slopes bare of snow. Here the ground is frozen, and icy in places. Throughout the day the cloud base was generally above the summits, but visibility was reduced to zero in driving snow, causing white-out conditions for short periods of time. A close look at the gullies on Brown Cove Crags revealed some ice beginning to form, but the turf at surface level is not yet fully frozen. There is currently insufficient snow filling these gullies either, so nothing is yet climbable - but hopefully it won't take long now! Plumes of wind-blasted snow on the east side of Raise means some snow is starting to build up there for skiers, although it will be a bit thin at present. It was still snowing hard as the Assessor descended though, so good news for both skiers and winter climbers. It goes without saying that full winter clothing and equipment are essential on the fells now, including map and compass, head torch and spare batteries, and an ice axe and crampons.
11th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -3.4 -16.5 69.3 48.0 NNW A stormy day on the high fells. A light dusting of snow had fallen overnight down to around 550m, and throughout the morning this was topped up by frequent stormy snow showers, occasionally as low at 300m. This has settled on lee slopes above 450m. The snow gave blizzard conditions at times, and with the spindrift there was occasional whiteout conditions above 600m. On paths there is currently ice above 600m, although a dropping freezing level will bring that ice down to lower levels overnight. In the blizzard and whiteout conditions visibility was reduced to zero at times, and the driving spindrift made walking into the wind very difficult. The windspeeds themselves added to the difficulty, making movement arduous at times, and occasionally impossible for short periods. The forecast for tomorrow is very similar. Anyone heading into the high hills will need very good waterproofs, lots of warmth layers, including hats and gloves and spares, snow goggles, head torch and spare batteries, and a map and compass backed up by excellent navigation skills.
10th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.9 -10.4 50.1 32.7 NW A cloudy day with bands of drizzly rain moving across the park throughout. On Helvellyn, this gave a cloud base of between 400m - 600m, making for low visibility and difficult navigation on the fell tops. The rain fell occasionally as sleet and hail above 600m, but was not settling apart from in a few sheltered spots behind boulders. With temperatures just above zero there was no ice on Helvellyn today, although with wind chill it certainly felt very cold on exposed ridges and summits. Anyone heading for the hills tomorrow should be prepared for cold conditions and the possibility of bands of snow down to 400m. Visibility is again expected to be poor, so a map and compass and the ability to navigate in what will be testing conditions is essential. Full waterproofs, warmth layers, winter mountain boots, and a head torch and spare batteries are also essential, as is a survival bag, hats and gloves, and spare clothing in your rucksack.
9th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -0.8 -9.7 29.5 24.6 W A mild day, though turning colder in the early afternoon. There is currently no snow of any significance on any of the fells of the Lake District, and today with the temperatures hovering around zero, there was no ice either. From 12.00pm rain turned to snow showers above 650m, and this has started to settle above 800m, but at the time of taking the summit readings this fresh snow was just a very light skittering. The cloud base was above the summits, giving reasonable views of nearby peaks, but reduced to 100m in light snow showers. At the time of writing the forecast is for further snow overnight above 800m. Anyone venturing onto the high fells tomorrow should be appropriately dressed and equipped, with full waterproofs, lots of warmth layer, good winter boots, map and compass, headtorch and spare batteries, and possibly an ice axe and crampons if the overnight snow comes to anything. It was a quiet day on the fells today, and it is hoped that snow overnight might bring more, correctly equipped, people out onto the high fells.
8th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 4.2 -2.6 19.8 12.6 SSW Extensive hillfog down to 400m was again the main weather feature on Helvellyn today, although there were signs that it would break up at times, for the most part the fog remained and visibility was reduced throughout. The day was mainly dry, but with some drizzle, and with warm temperatures those who are hoping for snow would not have found any on the fells today. Helvellyn is currently almost entirely free of snow, apart from a couple of small patches above 900m, but these can easily be walked around. The forecast for tomorrow, at the time of writing, if for colder air and snow moving in overnight, with snow showers throughout the day. Towards the end of the week we are due a real Arctic blast, so things will change. Anyone heading onto the hills tomorrow should be prepared for cold temperatures, possible blizzard conditions, and ice underfoot. Full waterproofs will be essential, as will warmth layers, including spares, hats and gloves, walking boots, map and compass, snow goggle, emergency shelter, food and drink, rucksack, and a head torch and spare batteries, coupled with experience and common sense. The prudent will also take an ice axe and crampons if going high. Bring all of these with you, and you will indeed enjoy your days out on the fells.
7th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 4.4 -1.9 15.0 12.2 WNW A day of breaking cloud for many of the high fells of the Lake District today. There have been reports from Blencathra and Wetherlam of Brocken spectres and 'climbing above the clouds'. Sadly, this didn't happen on Helvellyn today, where the cloud base remained at around 550m throughout. Occasional drizzle in the thick hillfog made for a wetting day for all. On Helvellyn there are now only a couple of small, avoidable patches of snow above 900m, and this was thawing. Exits to Swirral and Striding Edges are both entirely free of snow and ice today. The main hazard was the poor visibility due to the thick hill fog. The Assessor met a couple at the top of Brown Cove Crags searching for the way down onto Striding Edge (that's on the other side of the mountain!), then later met three men who's dog descended the wrong side of the mountain (he sensibly followed the Assessor, who fortunately was happy to take him back to the top of the hill to reunite him with his apparently unaware owner). You need a map and compass and navigation skills to walk in the mountains folks - you can't rely on always finding a Fell Top Assessor to help you out! Anyone hoping to enjoy walks in the high fells will need full waterproofs, warmth layers, including spares, hats and gloves, walking boots, map and compass, food and drink, rucksack, and a head torch and spare batteries, coupled with experience and common sense. Bring all of these with you, and you will indeed enjoy your days out on the fells.
6th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -0.7 -11.1 49.2 31.9 W A wintry feel to the high fells today, with some ice on paths above 400m. The cloud base varied from around 400m to 650m, bringing some light rain throughout the day, falling occasionally as sleet and snow pellets (refrozen rain). This made walking on the ridges - Striding Edge and Swirral Edge - challenging today. Where the rocks were wet they felt slippery, and where they were coated with ice or the little bit of snow that was falling, they felt even more slippery. Care was needed throughout. On the summit plateau there are patches of water ice and some frozen ground. The main challenge today was navigation. Remember that as Fell Top Assessors we go up Helvellyn hundreds of times each winter, and yet today the Assessor needed a map and compass and all his skills to be able to navigate accurately off the summit plateau. Visibility throughout was reduced to just a couple of metres. The Assessor met a chap today who was lost on the plateau without a map and compass. The man's excuse was that he didn't think he'd need them as he's been up Helvellyn twice before. The Assessor brought him down to safety. Anyone heading into the hills tomorrow should expect similar conditions to today, with the cloud base posing navigational problems. Make sure you have full waterproofs and warmth layers, a rucksack each with spare warmth layer, hats and gloves, walking boots, map and compass, a headtorch and spare batteries, and food for the day. An ice axe and crampons might be prudent if the snow starts to settle at all overnight.
5th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -3.4 -12.7 26.4 18.0 SSW Only small, isolated and insignificant patches of snow remain, mostly above 850m; although few in number and generally easily avoidable, if encountered they consisted of hard snow and ice. However, the vast majority of the Lakeland fells are now free from snow. Given the hard overnight frost, there were icy patches on paths and rocks at all levels, although many paths were dry. Unfortunately, given the damp forecast, this is unlikely to be the case tomorrow. Whilst writing, there is a possibility for Friday’s precipitation to fall as snow at altitude, so walkers out on Friday should be prepared for very different visibility and ground conditions to those experienced, and described, today. Full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear (ie four season boots and not trainers as folk were wearing today) and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. Once again, people were on the high fells carrying no extra clothing, wearing everything on the ascent. This meant that they were soon very cold in the minus 12 degree windchill and had to continue moving. This was a shame as the summits were places to don extra layers and linger to enjoy the magnificent scenery. The visibility was stunning with the cold air giving exceptional clarity to distant peaks, so come properly dressed and equipped to enjoy it!
4th Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -0.1 -5.2 17.8 12.0 NW A glorious spring-like day in Lakeland today. With clear blue skies for much of the day it was a real treat to be out on Helvellyn, and good to see quite a few folk enjoying the fine weather too. Snow on the high fells is negligible at the moment, although there was some frost and ice on paths earlier in the morning. A little verglas (black ice) on rocks required care at times on the ascent of Striding Edge, but by lunch time this had all melted on the descent of Swirral Edge. At the time of writing the forecast for Thursday is for a cold and frosty start, so expect ice on paths at all levels initially, and plan accordingly. Beyond the morning it looks like being another lovely day tomorrow. So, come prepared for a cold and frosty morning in the hills, with full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear, head torch and spare batteries, a map and compass, and sunglasses, and you'll have a grand day among the finest fells in the land.
3rd Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit 0.6 -9.1 37.5 32.3 W What a difference a day makes! Hoards of people on the fells and summit yesterday whereas today....I had the summit totally to myself! Admittedly, yesterday was a Bank Holiday with wonderful weather and stunning views whereas today was notably different! The, albeit light, covering of snow was thawing at all levels – it was raining and just above freezing on the summit. Little snow remains below 850m and even above this height, large areas of fellside are free from snow. The remaining snow is wet, thawing and insignificant apart from where, on popular routes, it has been compacted taking longer to thaw and creating slippery conditions. Similarly, a few patches of yesterday’s ice remain – mainly above 750m – which are generally avoidable. It would, though, only take a slight drop in temperature, which is currently forecast, for ice to reform on the damp ground and rocks at altitude. Walkers out on Wednesday should, therefore, expect to encounter some ice and anyone contemplating exposed routes at altitude – such as Striding and Swirral Edges – should bear this in mind and be prepared accordingly. Conditions today were very different on the high fells, with strong winds and driving showers of rain, to the mild valleys. Some walkers out today were simply not dressed or equipped for exploring the high fells as full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. In addition, walking poles could be useful to aid stability if paths are icy. For those who love peace and tranquillity, this first week in January is often the quietest of the entire year in the Lakes, so come properly equipped and enjoy it – you’ll also hopefully need sunglasses tomorrow! For those interested in the weather stats, the wind was noticeably stronger on the ascent – gusting over 55mph on the approach path to Striding Edge – than on the summit.
2nd Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -3.8 -12.6 19.5 13.8 NW A light dusting of fresh snow / hail / spindrift has settled on ground above 450m marginally adding to the small amount that fell overnight on New Year’s Eve. Although the depth of this rises with height, it is only between one to two centimetres deep at 900m with windswept areas being only covered in frost. The snow is only a hindrance on popular routes where it has been compacted into ice and areas subject to the sun where it has thawed during the day and similarly frozen overnight. Verglas (thin ice) on paths and rocks was the main hazard today and, given the overnight frost, could be found at all levels but was especially prevalent above 600m with some patches being hidden beneath the light covering of snow/hail/spindrift necessitating caution. Striding and Swirral Edges were a mixture of bare, dry rock, snow covered rock, verglas and compacted snow making for slippery conditions demanding care – especially in descent. Anyone contemplating exposed routes at altitude should, therefore, expect to encounter ice on rocks. Although it was wonderful to see so many people enjoying the hills today, several folk were out without rucksacks and wearing all their clothes on the ascent. Not only is this short-sighted in case they were unlucky enough to suffer a fall but they were soon cold on the summit and had to move again which was a shame as the fell-tops were places to linger and enjoy today, so full winter clothing, including spare layers, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. In addition, walking poles are useful to aid stability on icy paths. It would also be sensible to pack an ice axe in case the forecasted precipitation falls as snow at altitude.
1st Jan 2017 Helvellyn summit -4.0 -17.2 55.0 22.3 N With blue skies, what a wonderful day to start 2017! A skittering of fresh snow and hail has settled on ground above 750m. Although the depth of this rises with height, it is only between one to two centimetres deep at 900m. Below 500m there was no ice on paths and surprisingly, given the overnight rain, some paths were dry. Above 500m, there were occasional patches of ice and the number of these increased with altitude, being especially prevalent above 750m. Above this height some patches of verglas (thin ice) were hidden beneath the light covering of snow/hail necessitating caution. On popular routes the snow has been compacted again making for slippery conditions. Anyone contemplating exposed routes at altitude on Monday – such as Striding and Swirral Edges – should bear this in mind and expect to encounter ice on rocks. The gusty wind made the slippery conditions demanding today. When measuring the summit windspeed (for around 5 minutes), it varied between 4mph and 55mph. The latter gave a windchill of minus 17 degrees (the lowest recorded this season). Therefore full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. It would also be sensible to pack an ice axe in case fresh snow does fall tonight. In addition, walking poles are useful to aid stability on icy paths. Given the present forecast, sunglasses will also be essential tomorrow – especially for those venturing above the snowline. So, come properly equipped and enjoy the magnificent fells which looked stunning today!
31st Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 2.6 -6.0 36.3 28.8 SW The good news, for those who dislike the snow, is that the Lakeland fells are currently free from snow. The bad news, for those of us who do like proper winter conditions, is that the fells are currently free from snow and ice. However, the forecasted heavy overnight rain tonight may fall as snow at altitude so fell walkers on New Year’s Day should be prepared to encounter snow, ice and very different conditions to those experienced today. Anyone contemplating exposed routes at altitude on New Year’s Day – such as Striding and Swirral Edges – should bear this in mind and be prepared accordingly. Despite the mild valley temperatures, the summit windchill remains below zero and the actual summit temperature could also be sub zero tomorrow, so full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. It would also be sensible to pack an ice axe in case fresh snow does fall tonight. For those interested in the weather stats, the wind was quite gusty today with the Assessor recording a maximum gust of 53mph on the summit of Catstye Cam - 17mph more than on Helvellyn! The Fell Top Assessing team, Graham and myself, Jon, wish all our followers and generous sponsors a very Happy New Year. May you have many enjoyable, memorable and, above all, safe excursions into our wonderful fells during 2017 and I hope that we will have the pleasure of meeting you as we all continue to marvel at this beautiful environment.
30th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 4.6 -2.1 24.8 19.6 SW The Lakeland fells are virtually free from snow. The only snow remaining is wet and lies in small patches above 920m on east and north facing slopes. Since it was plus 4 degrees and foggy on the summit, these insignificant patches of snow were also thawing. As has been the situation on several days recently, the main issue today was the lack of visibility – reiterating the need for good navigational skills and the necessity of carrying a map and compass. Blindly following an apparently obvious path in fog can lead to a false sense of security as the route can often become vague when, for example, traversing rocky areas or on summit plateaus. With limited hours of daylight, always knowing your location enables progress to be monitored – I was asked on several occasions today “How far to go?” With the ground being wet, walkers at altitude should be prepared to encounter ice on grounds and rocks should summit temperatures fall slightly (although not forecast at the time of writing). Anyone contemplating exposed routes at altitude – such as Striding and Swirral Edges – should bear this in mind. Despite the mild valley temperatures, the summit windchill remains below zero, so full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. Carrying extra layers is not just for safety but also allows a snack on the summit to be consumed in comfort!
29th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 0.7 -6.9 22.5 18.1 S A cold start to the day brought frost down into the valleys, which gave ice on mountain paths from around 300m upwards. From 600m this ice is now covering the paths, but can be avoided with care. Above 600m there was a very persistent hill fog layer, reducing visibility above that altitude to around 20m. This made navigation tricky at times, and there were lots of folk out enjoying the higher fells today who were relying purely on following other people down as a means to navigation - a map and compass and the skills to use them are a much safer bet than hoping to find someone who knows where they are going and is happy for you to tag along! There is now very little in the way of snow on the high fells, with just a touch of hail above 900m. This can be seen on the eastern fringes of the Helvellyn summit plateau, especially at the exits from Striding and Swirral Edges, but the snow can be avoided with care. More dangerous at the moment is the verglas that persists on bare rock above 650m - this 'black ice' is hard to spot and makes traversing exposed rocky ridges potentially dangerous. Today the verglas was only in a few places, and could be avoided, but care is certainly needed. Anyone heading onto the fells at present should have full waterproofs, including overtrousers, lots of warmth layers, including hats and gloves, a map and compass, sturdy walking boots, head torch and spare batteries, and plenty of food and drink for the day. Although an ice axe and crampons weren't needed today, it is a very fine line between enjoying dry rock underfoot and finding those rocks plastered with hoar frost and snow.
28th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit -1.1 -9.5 21.5 15.3 SSW A bright, cold start to the day bringing frost to most parts of Cumbria. On Helvellyn the day was very similar to yesterday, albeit colder at first with ice on paths even at valley level. As the sun warmed things up the freezing level rose to around 700m by late morning. The only snow of any significance on walking routes on Helvellyn is on the east facing headwalls above 900m, including the very top of Striding Edge and Swirral Edge where a short bank of very hard snow lies. These banks of snow can just about be avoided with care. For skiers and winter climbers there is still nothing to report, as the dry weather continues. While turf is semi frozen above 750m, there is a distinct lack of snow. Throughout the day the cloud base was largely above the summits, with a few banks of fog lifting out of the valleys early morning, and occasionally rolling over the high tops throughout the day. The temperatures remained below zero, and with the windchill it felt very cold indeed if you stopped for any length of time. Full winter clothing should be taken, including waterproofs and lots of warmth layers. A map and compass, head torch and spare batteries, and food for the day are essential. With the ground semi frozen carrying crampons is a sensible precaution, and an ice axe may be found useful on the exits from Striding and Swirral Edges.
27th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit -0.8 -7.7 16.0 12.9 WSW Another lovely day to be out on the fells of Lakeland. Again there has not been any precipitation on the high hills, so there is no further fresh snow, other than a little hail which has gathered in between rocks above 770m. Also above that height the ground is semi frozen, but being dry there is very little ice about. The only snow of any significance on walking routes is on the east facing headwalls, including the very top of Striding Edge and Swirral Edge where a short bank of very hard snow lies. These banks of snow can just about be avoided with care. For skiers there is no snow yet I'm afraid, and winter climbers should note that although today on Brown Cove Crags there was a little ice above 750m, this is not yet climbable without trashing this fragile environment. What little ice there is present is just on seepage lines with no snow content, and turf is not fully frozen either. Throughout the day the cloud base was above the summits, giving good views of all the surrounding peaks of Lakeland. The temperatures were below zero though, and with the windchill it felt very cold indeed if you stopped for any length of time. Full winter clothing should be taken, including waterproofs and lots of warmth layers. A map and compass, head torch and spare batteries, and food for the day are essential.
26th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit -2.2 -11.9 57.2 36.3 WNW A superb day to be out on the high fells, albeit still very windy. The cloud base was above the summits throughout the day, giving excellent views of all the high fells of Lakeland, although occasional spindrift and driving hail showers came through throughout the period. Today the temperatures have dropped noticeable from yesterday, bringing small amounts of hail down to 400m, and ice on paths above 600m. This currently is easily avoidable, not requiring crampons, but with colder temperatures throughout the remainder of the day and night this will almost certainly change by tomorrow. The rocks on exposed ridges, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are largely dry and free of snow or ice, although today on both of these ridges there were one or two places were verglas was evident. At the top of both ridges there is a short band of very hard snow, which is difficult to avoid, and an ice axe here was useful for cutting steps today, and to safeguard a slip. The summit plateau on Helvellyn was devoid of snow, but there was some ice forming on rocks and in damp hollows. With windchill at nearly minus 12 degress today, full winter clothing and equipment were essential. This included trousers - the group wearing shorts today were visibly very, very cold indeed, despite trying to look like they do this sort of thing all the time. Remember, waterproofs are also windproof, so jacket AND trousers are essential. You will also need winter walking boots, snow goggles, map and compass, head torch and spare batteries, and plenty of food if going high. An ice axe and crampons are a sensible precaution too - better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them! With the forecast for tomorrow looking pretty good you should plan for a cold but enjoyable day on the high fells. Might even see you up there!
25th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 5.5 -2.6 42.1 30.5 WSW Setting out from Glenridding this Christmas morning it was a balmy (if wet and blustery) 10 degrees C and there was a possibility that this could be my first Christmas Day on the fells without walking in any snow; however small patches of soft, wet snow do remain above 920m on east and north facing ground. Aside from these insignificant patches, the Lakeland fells are currently free from snow. As it was plus 5 degrees and raining on the summit, even this remaining snow was thawing. The main issues today were the lack of visibility – emphasising the need for good navigational skills and the strength of the wind which is also forecast to affect those out on the fells tomorrow. The wind today was very gusty, varying from 18mph to over 40mph on the summit plateau in as many seconds. On Boxing Day, the summit temperature could return to sub zero so, with the ground being very wet, walkers at altitude should expect to encounter a combination of icy ground and strong winds creating challenging conditions. Those contemplating exposed routes at altitude – such as Striding and Swirral Edges – should bear this in mind. Despite the mild valley temperatures, the summit windchill remains below zero, so full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. On behalf of the Fell Top Assessing team – myself, Jon and colleague Graham – may I wish all our followers a very Merry Christmas. Graham will be out tomorrow, no doubt meeting those walking off a rather large lunch today!
24th Dec 2016 Helvellyn Lower Man summit -0.1 -12.9 70.2 39.9 S Another blustery day on the high fells, but with less snow than expected from yesterday's forecast. On the drive to Helvellyn the assessor saw more snow on the High Street range than was present on Helvellyn. Yesterday's thaw has evidently stripped what snow there was, and today the only snow remaining on Helvellyn was above 900m on the northern and eastern headwalls. Striding Edge and Swirral Edge both have a band of snow right at the top where they abut onto the summit plateau, and an ice axe here could certainly help to halt a long slip from these popular scrambles. There was some ice on paths above 750m, but this was only in a few places and easily avoidable. In the morning the cloud base was just above the high summits, but by midday it had fallen to around 750m, and lower in snow and hail showers. Fresh snow fell in flurries throughout the early afternoon, causing occasional blizzard conditions on the high tops with near whiteout at times, albeit for brief periods only. Anyone venturing onto the fells needs full waterproofs, lots of warmth layers including hats and gloves, a map and compass, head torch and spare batteries, and an ice axe and crampons may be needed too - better to have them and not need them, than need them and not have them! Anyone heading out over the Christmas period should spare a thought for our Mountain Rescue volunteers who will of course come out to help anyone who needs it, but would much rather be at home for Christmas. Take care in the high winds that are again forecast, and turn back if appropriate - remember, there are lots of old mountaineers, and lots of bold mountaineers, but there are very few old, bold mountaineers! Happy Christmas to you all from Graham - Jon has volunteered to report from Helvellyn on Christmas Day (thanks Jon!), and I'll be back on Boxing Day.
23rd Dec 2016 Red Tarn 4.2 -4.9 69.2 45.5 SW A truly awful day to be in the hills. Wild and mild. Today Storm Barbara was the most obvious weather feature, bringing heavy rain on storm force winds. The assessor gave up his attempt on Helvellyn today, having reached Red Tarn via a combination of walking, crawling, and occasionally being blown backwards down the hill. On such a day the wisest choice is to turn back, and that is what he did. From Red Tarn visibility was variable, ranging from occasional glimpses of Catstycam to just a few metres in rain and sleety squalls. It was not possible to see if any snow remains on the higher reaches of Helvellyn, but it did not look like the lower parts of Striding Edge or Swirral Edge currently have any snow remaining, nor did Catstycam. With the milder temperatures, it could be that the little bit of snow higher on the mountain is beginning to consolidate, or it could be that the snow has thawed completely. Hopefully tomorrow will bring better weather, allowing the assessor to make a proper assessment prior to the Christmas period. Anyone venturing onto the fells at present will need a good set of waterproofs - the assessor returned to his car soaked to the skin today - as well as lots of warmth layers, and good map and compass skills. Carry an ice axe and crampons is prudent if going high. There is an old saying - "Sometimes it is better to be at home wishing you were on a mountain, than on a mountain wishing you were at home". Today was one of those days. Anyone heading out over the Christmas period should spare a thought for our Mountain Rescue volunteers who will of course come out to help anyone who needs it, but would much rather be at home for Christmas.
22nd Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit -1.2 -11.6 53.8 37.0 SSW A similar day to yesterday, with cloud down to around 700m in the morning, bringing light snow and hail above that height. During the late morning the cloud base rose to above the summits, but fell to cover the highest peaks occasionally. There remains a dusting of snow down to around 650m and a little slushy ice on paths at that level. Above 850m on Helvellyn there is now ice, and snow drifting in sheltered places to a depth of 20cm. On other high peaks in Cumbria snow is still noticeably absent. Both Striding Edge and Swirral Edge are snowbound, with soft snow in sheltered places on both ridges and rime ice on rocks. Windslab continues to form at the top of both ridges where they exit onto the Helvellyn summit plateau. A small cornice has formed in places on north through to east facing slopes, and this will increase over forthcoming days - a cornice is a wind-blown wave of snow with nothing beneath it, so stay well back! For climbers, none of the gullies have enough snow to be climbable, and tuft is not sufficiently frozen, even at 900m, for it to be climbed sensibly. Full winter clothing is now essential for anyone going into the high fells. An ice axe and crampons should be carried, and today snow goggles were essential to aid visibility in the driving hail. In such poor visibility a map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them are vital. With this return to winter conditions it is expected that lots of folk will be hitting the high hills over the coming weekend. Storm force winds are expected, especially on Christmas Day, so plan accordingly and keep a careful eye on the weather forecast and our conditions report over the Christmas weekend. If in doubt, turn back!
21st Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 0.0 -7.9 42.2 30.3 W A return to winter conditions on the high fells. High winds overnight have brought snow to Helvellyn, with a very light dusting down to around 650m and a little slushy ice on paths at that level. Above 900m there is now ice, especially on the summit plateau which is scoured of snow, but is covered in large sheets of ice requiring extreme care and crampons. Both Striding Edge and Swirral Edge are snowbound, with a little soft snow like wet sugar on the bulk of both ridges, but with some windslab forming at the top of both ridges where they exit onto the Helvellyn summit plateau. This windslab currently is composed of an icy layer at ground depth, covered with around 15cm of wet sugary snow, topped with freshly falling hail. While there was no cornice today, being the first day of real wintery weather we have had since the snow returned, it was clear to see that this windslab was already starting to form a very slight cornice on the eastern face of the mountain. Further snow blowing in on these westerly winds will increase this cornice, so care is needed when walking around the summit plateau - a cornice is a wind-blown wave of snow with nothing much beneath it! For climbers, none of the gullies have enough snow to be climbable. Full winter clothing is now essential for anyone going into the high fells. An ice axe and crampons should be carried, and today snow goggles were essential to aid visibility in the driving hail. In such poor visibility a map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them are vital. With this return to winter conditions it is expected that lots of folk will be hitting the high hills over the coming weekend. Come properly equipped, ready for very windy weather, and you'll have a superb time.
20th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit -1.5 -12.1 44.1 34.8 SSW The Lakeland fells are currently free from snow; however above 850m, and especially above 900m, some rocks were covered in verglas (thin ice). This made for challenging conditions on exposed routes – such as the highest parts of Striding and Swirral Edges - especially in descent. Similarly, the summit plateau had intermittent patches of verglas creating a tricky environment when combined with 40 plus mph winds; indeed stronger winds that this are currently forecast for the remainder of the week with weather warnings being issued. The low cloud emphasised once again the need for good navigational skills and the necessity of carrying a map and compass. Despite the lack of any signs of winter weather in the valleys, the temperature at altitude was below zero and the windchill well below being minus 12 degrees today which is the coldest so far for this season. So full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells.
19th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 2.6 -2.3 10.8 9.5 WSW The Lakeland fells are currently free from snow and ice. The dry conditions underfoot experienced over the weekend were replaced today with damp, wet rocks necessitating caution on exposed routes, such as Striding and Swirral Edges. Once again the low cloud emphasised the need for good navigational skills and the necessity of carrying a map and compass. Despite the continuing mild weather, the windchill at altitude remains below zero; it was minus 2 degrees on the summit even though there was only a light wind. So full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out onto the fells. Carrying those extra layers is not only good for your safety – they also enable you to linger in comfort on the summit and enjoy the, admittedly non-existent views today, but you never know what tomorrow may bring so come properly equipped and enjoy!
18th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 2.0 -5.2 23.8 19.1 SSW Winter has currently left the hills with the Lakeland fells being free from snow. Conditions on Sunday varied according to location with, very generally speaking, the south and west subject to low cloud whereas fells to the north and east of the Park were largely cloud free. The summit of Helvellyn fluctuated between being in the sun and covered in cloud – blown from below as there was a cloud inversion to the south. It was a dramatic day with fantastic cloud structures and fleeting Brockenspectres. The rapidly alternating conditions between having good visibility and then suddenly being enveloped in cloud emphasised the need for good navigational skills. Despite the continuing mild weather, the windchill at altitude remains below zero; it was minus 5 degrees on the summit. So full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out into the fells. Carrying those extra layers is not just good for your safety – they also enable you to linger in comfort on the summit and enjoy the dramatic land and cloud scapes and it was worth lingering today so come properly equipped and enjoy!
17th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit -0.2 -9.7 31.8 28.3 SW The Lakeland fells are free from snow. With an overnight frost, there were occasional, isolated patches of ice and frost on rocks but, in the main, paths were largely dry. Exposed routes, such as Striding Edge, consisted of bar, dry rock and was a pleasure to walk along. However, especially on Swirral Edge, there were some slippery, frost covered rocks so care needs to be taken. Despite the mild weather, the windchill at altitude is well below zero; it was minus 9 degrees on the summit. There were people out today dressed in tracksuits or jeans without any extra clothing – specifically water and windproofs. They were visibly cold on the summit and also in descent. Although it was unlikely to rain today, precipitation is always a possibility and had it done so, such poorly equipped folk would have been at best extremely cold and, at worst, potentially hypothermic. In addition, carrying the correct clothing for a winter walk means that you are not only safer but can also layer-up and enjoy the summit panorama in comfort and it was magnificent today with a cloud inversion to the south and fine, clear views to the north and east. So for those venturing out into the fells, full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential and please have a quiet word with those about to head out inappropriately dressed and equipped – they will thank you for it when they are on the tops!
16th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 3.5 -3.0 19 16.5 SSW The good news, for those who do not like walking in the fells when paths are covered in snow and ice, is that the Lakeland Fells are now free from snow and ice. The bad news, for those of us who do like snowy conditions, is that the Lakeland Fells are now free from snow and ice! Although devoid of the white stuff, rocks were wet and slippery so caution is required on exposed routes – such as Striding and Swirral Edges. Once again, low cloud made for challenging navigation – especially on less popular routes with sections of ill defined, or no, path. A map and compass, and the knowledge of how to use them, are essential. Despite the ridiculously mild weather in the valleys, the summit windchill remains below zero so full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out into the fells.
15th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 3.3 -2.1 39.2 20.4 SSW Almost an exact repeat of yesterday's conditions on Helvellyn today. A mainly dry but cloudy day with a cloud base set at around 400m. This made visibility poor everywhere on Helvellyn above that height. Occasional drizzle felt sleety at times. There is no snow on any of the Lakeland Fells other than the odd, tiny patch here and there. All walking routes are free of snow at present. With temperatures not far above freezing it felt decidedly chilly on exposed ridges and the summit plateau today. Anyone heading into the high fells now should be prepared for cold and wet conditions, and should have good four-season boots, food and drink for the day, a head torch with spare batteries, and a map and compass. The knowledge of how to use them in poor visibility is essential.
14th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 4.7 -1.4 33.1 23.8 SSW A dry but cloudy morning with a cloud base set firm at around 300m. This made visibility poor everywhere on Helvellyn above that height until early afternoon when the hillfog began to break up slightly and the cloud base lifted. There is no snow on any of the Lakeland Fells other than the odd, tiny patch here and there. All walking routes are free of snow at present. With temperatures not far above freezing it felt decidedly chilly on exposed ridges and the summit plateau today. Interestingly, the wind speed was greater on exposed ridges around 800m than it was on the summit itself. Above Brown Cove Crags the wind was gusting to 45mph today. Anyone heading into the high fells now should be prepared for cold and wet conditions, and should have good four-season boots, food and drink for the day, a head torch with spare batteries, and a map and compass. The knowledge of how to use them in poor visibility is essential.
13th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 3.7 -2.5 16.8 9.1 S A dry morning with a cloud base lifting from 200m to above the summits by late morning. It felt very autumnal on Helvellyn again today, with no snow to speak of, and all walking routes, including Striding and Swirral Edges, completely free of the white stuff. In cloud visibility was reduced to around 50m, and the higher peaks were occasionally shrouded during the morning. From late morning the cloud base dropped, and drizzle set in. With temperatures not far above freezing it felt decidedly chilly on exposed ridges and the summit plateau today. Anyone heading into the high fells now should be prepared for cold and wet conditions, and should have good four-season boots, food and drink for the day, a head torch with spare batteries, and a map and compass. The knowledge of how to use them in poor visibility is essential.
12th Dec 2016 Blencathra summit 1.9 -4.4 20.6 11.2 S As we are awaiting a return to winter in the Lake District fells, the Assessor today took his readings from the summit of Blencathra for a change. A brighter start to the day gave good views on the ascent, but lowering cloud down to 750m brought poor visibility above that height from late morning. There is still no snow of an significance on any of the Lakeland Fells, and where it does exist in tiny patches above 750m it currently poses no hazard for the walker. Today was slightly colder than of late, with temperatures not far above freezing point, and with wind chill it certainly felt a lot colder than that. Anyone heading into the high fells now should be prepared for cold and wet conditions, and should have good four-season boots, food and drink for the day, a head torch with spare batteries, and a map and compass. The knowledge of how to use them in poor visibility is essential.
11th Dec 2016 Cairn at the top of Swirral Edge 2.0 -4.9 47.2 21.4 W A similar day today as yesterday, with some drizzle falling as occasional sleet on the summits, but by and large Helvellyn dodged any significant rain. There is now no snow at all on either Striding or Swirral Edge, apart from one tiny patch on Swirral Edge which you have to try hard to find! There are just a few patches of snow elsewhere on Helvellyn now, all above 700m, and none of these are on any of the regular walkers paths. The cloud base today remained at around 700m, making navigation on the higher fells a challenge. Today the main weather feature was the wind, with gusts in the mid 40s from rapidly changing wind directions. This made traversing any ridges slightly nervy today! Despite the lack of snow, the windchill on the summit today was well below zero. Anyone heading into the high fells now should be prepared for cold and wet conditions, and should have proper four-season boots. A map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them in poor visibility is essential.
10th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 3.2 -3.0 20,0 13.9 W A drier day today, with just the odd drizzly shower, but by and large Helvellyn dodged any significant rain. The Assessor today did the classic round of the edges, going up via Striding Edge and down via Swirral. There is now no snow at all on either of these ridges, apart from one tiny patch on Swirral Edge which you have to try hard to find! These are just a few patches of snow elsewhere on Helvellyn now, all above 700m, and none of these are on any of the regular walkers paths. It was good to see four people using the small ribbon of snow below and to the south of Pear Buttress to practice short-roping technique today - well done guys for getting some early snowcraft practice in! It was not quite so good today to see someone in wellies and a T-shirt struggling to come down the chimney on Striding Edge with a nervous partner and dog in tow. Thankfully a group of well-equipped walkers helped this couple and their dog out. Despite the lack of snow, the windchill on the summit today was well below zero. Anyone heading into the high fells now should be prepared for cold and wet conditions, and should have proper four-season boots. A map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them in poor visibility is essential.
9th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 7.0 -1.8 44.9 30.2 SW Another soggy day on Helvellyn today, and the thaw continues. There is very little snow anywhere on the fells, and the patches that remain are very easy to avoid. Swirral and Striding Edge are now pretty much free of snow, with just the odd patch on Swirral which today was wet and slushy. The cloud base in the morning was around 250m, and heavy rain made walking arduous. By lunchtime the cloud base had risen to around 650m, and the rain had eased to a drizzle on the tops. All the becks are now in spate, and could make stream crossings difficult where bridges are not in place - care is needed! Climbers should note that there is no snow anywhere of significance, and no winter routes are in condition at present. Skiers should note that yesterday on the north side of Raise there were just four tiny patches of the white stuff, and these will have diminished further today. With temperatures feeling just below zero with wind chill, full winter clothing should be carried on the fells, along with a map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them. Today visibility was reduced to around 10m at times, requiring careful navigation.
8th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 6.3 0.4 23.8 17.7 W A perfect example today of how it pays off to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. The forecast was for heavy rain in the morning, clearing to be a dry, bright afternoon, so the assessor today left his car at 11.00am. Thick fog initially made navigation interesting, but as height was gained the fog turned to patchy mist, giving superb atmospheric conditions, and even a Brocken Spectre. There is now very little snow anywhere on the fells, and the patches that remain are generally very easy to avoid. The assessor did check out a few of the larger areas of snow on Whiteside and Raise, and these were found to be reasonably solid above 700m, allowing him to practice step kicking and cutting ready for the coming winter season. It must be stressed however, that these patches of snow are very small. Climbers should note that today the assessor had good views of the whole of Brown Cove Crags, and there is currently no snow at all here. Skiers should note that on the north side of Raise there are just four tiny patches of the white stuff. With temperatures feeling like zero with wind chill, full winter clothing should be carried on the fells, along with a map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them. The assessor carried an ice axe, and while he didn't need to use it, having one with him allowed him to go test those small patches of snow in safety.
7th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 7.9 -3.6 57.8 39.5 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.
6th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 2.4 -4.1 21.5 17.6 SSW With the summit temperature just above freezing, there was a thaw at all levels although this was most noticeable below 800m. Below 600m little snow remains and even above this height large areas of the Lakeland Fells up to and including summit level are free of snow. Significant patches of snow, however, do remain, especially above 700m, and some of these are deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe. Although many of these are avoidable, some are not and on popular routes such snow has been compacted into hard snow and ice which will take longer to thaw. Above the snowline, therefore, conditions are variable demanding caution. Swirral and especially Striding Edge consist of mainly bare rock; however Swirral Edge in particular has patches of snow and similarly both exits have patches of snow; although much of this snow has softened over the past 24 hours, some harder patches remain. Owing to this, for those attempting exposed routes above the snowline, an ice axe should be carried. 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 freezing.
5th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 1.0 -6.2 17.7 14 S A clear inversion layer today with only 1 degree C difference between the temperature readings in the valley and at the summit. Given the hard overnight frost, although the summit temperature was just above freezing there was no thaw of the remaining snow, so conditions remain similar to the past 3 days. There is little snow below 600m and the paths were mainly dry. Even above 600m large areas of fellside up to and including summit level are free of snow. Significant patches of hard snow, however, do remain, especially above 700m and some of these are deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe. Although many of these are avoidable, some are not and on popular routes such snow has been compacted. Above the snowline, therefore, conditions are variable demanding caution. Swirral and especially Striding Edge consist of largely bare, sometimes dry, rock; however Swirral Edge in particular has patches of hard snow and both exits have patches of hard snow. Owing to this, for those attempting exposed routes above the snowline, an ice axe is strongly recommended. 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 freezing.
4th Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit -1.6 -7.8 10.8 4.2 E to SE With high pressure and stable weather, ground conditions have changed little during the past 48 hours. Below 600m, there is little snow and indeed many paths were dry. Even above 600m large areas of the Lakeland Fells up to and including summit level are free of snow. Significant patches of hard snow, however, do remain, especially above 700m and some of these are deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe. Although many of these are avoidable, some are not and on popular routes such snow has been compacted. Above the snowline, therefore, conditions are variable demanding caution. Swirral and especially Striding Edge consist of largely bare, sometimes dry, rock; however Swirral Edge in particular has patches of hard snow together with occasional verglas (thin ice) on rocks. Both exits have patches of hard snow. Owing to this, for those attempting exposed routes above the snowline, an ice axe is strongly recommended. Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out into the fells.
3rd Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit -0.7 -5.9 8.3 3.8 NNE Little snow now remains below 600m and even above this height large areas of the Lakeland Fells up to and including summit level are free from snow. However, significant patches of snow remain, especially above 700m, some of which are deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe. Although many of these are avoidable, some are not and on popular routes such snow has been compacted. Above the snowline, therefore, conditions are variable demanding extreme care. Swirral and especially Striding Edge consist of largely bare, sometimes dry, rock; however Swirral Edge in particular has patches of hard snow together with some verglas (thin ice) on rocks. Both exits have patches of hard snow. Owing to this, for those attempting exposed routes above the snowline, an ice axe is strongly recommended. Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out into the fells.
3rd Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit test
2nd Dec 2016 Helvellyn summit 1.6 -2.2 2 2 NNE The snow that fell in November continues to thaw at all levels – it was just above freezing on the summit. There is now little snow below 550m and even above this height large areas of fellside up to and including summit level are free from snow. Especially above 700m, significant patches of snow remain some deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe. Although many of these are avoidable, some are not and on popular routes such snow has been compacted meaning that it will take longer to thaw whilst making conditions treacherous – especially on exposed ground. Aside from such ice, the snow was soft and wet. Despite this, for those attempting exposed routes above the snowline, an ice axe is strongly recommended as it would only take a very small drop in temperature for the soft snow to harden. Crampons should also be carried for the same reason. Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for those venturing out into the fells as despite the milder temperatures, the summit windchill remains below freezing. For those interested in the weather stats, there was a constant 2mph wind blowing so that both the average and maximum wind speeds are exactly the same !
2nd Dec 2016 On the way to Helvellyn summit 0 0 0 0 0 Our fell top reports start later today! Heard the rumour about our fab #summitsafely #giveaways? 20 weeks. 20 prizes. Stay tuned!