Readings | Glossary | Contact | Support us |

Readings 2020-21

Historical readings and fell top reports:

Date of report Location Temp Windchill Max wind Ave wind Wind direction Report
5th Apr 2021 Helvellyn summit -5.9 -18.8 39.2 24.1 N We have continued to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance from 29th March is to minimise travel and to stay local. A dramatic change in conditions on the Lake District fells with the arrival of a polar airmass giving a bitterly cold northerly wind and freezing temperatures. Windchill on the summit of Helvellyn today, despite the sunshine, was nearly -19 degrees C. There was a scattering of new snow above 800m although this was thawing fast where exposed to the sun. Wintery conditions are forecast to last until at least next weekend so walkers need to be fully prepared with plenty of warm & waterproof layers, hat & gloves, a reliable & suitable method of navigation, plenty of food & drink and an emergency kit including a mobile phone, survival bag and torch. If more snow does settle on the summits then carrying microspikes or crampons and an ice axe may be appropriate. All Lakeland paths are currently clear of unavoidable snow with the overwhelming majority of the fells now totally clear. The few remaining patches of any significance lie mainly above 900m on predominantly steep N and E facing aspects. The exit slopes to both Striding & Swirral Edges are now easily climbed without setting foot on snow. Following the freeze thaw action of the winter there is a lot of loose rock around especially on Swirral Edge. There has also been a landslip on the north side of Swirral which has taken part of the path with it Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. This is the final Fell Top Assessor report of the 2020-21 season. Please respect, protect and enjoy the Lake District this summer and we'll be back for the first snows of next winter :) Jon, Wes & Zac
4th Apr 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.2 -7.2 30.9 26.1 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance from 29th March is to minimise travel and to stay local. The stable sunny weather of the past few days is changing dramatically. The weather forecasts for Easter Monday describe a bitterly cold day on the fells with near gales, sunshine & snow / hail showers. Walkers need to be fully prepared for the return of winter with plenty of warm & waterproof layers, a reliable & suitable method of navigation and emergency kit including a mobile phone, goggles, survival bag and torch. Dependent on the amount of snow that settles then carrying microspikes or crampons and an ice axe may be appropriate. As of Easter Sunday all Lakeland paths are clear of unavoidable snow with the overwhelming majority of the fells now totally clear. The few remaining patches still to thaw lie mainly above 900m on predominantly steep N and E facing aspects. The exit slopes to both Striding & Swirral Edges are now easily climbed without setting foot on snow. Following the freeze thaw action of the winter there is a lot of loose rock around especially on Swirral Edge. There has also been a landslip on the north side of Swirral which has taken part of the path with it Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
3rd Apr 2021 Helvellyn summit 5.1 4.2 6.4 1.3 N We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance from 29th March is to minimise travel and to stay local. After a couple of days of stunning sunny weather there is forecast to be a dramatic change in the weather in the next 24 hours. Easter Sunday has a severe weather warning with gale force winds increasing throughout the day and snow and freezing temperatures moving in during the evening. Walkers should be fully prepared for the return of winter with plenty of warm & waterproof layers, a reliable & suitable method of navigation and emergency kit including a mobile phone, goggles, survival bag and torch. Dependent on the amount of snow that settles then microspikes or crampons and an ice axe may all be very useful in safely dealing with the conditions. Currently all Lakeland paths are clear of unavoidable snow with the overwhelming majority of the fells now totally clear. The few remaining patches still to thaw lie mainly above 900m on predominantly steep N and E facing aspects. The exit slopes to both Striding & Swirral Edges are now easily climbed without setting foot on snow. Following the freeze thaw action of the winter there is a lot of loose rock around especially on Swirral Edge. There has also been a significant landslip on the north side of Swirral which has taken part of the path with it Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
2nd Apr 2021 Helvellyn summit -0.4 -7.6 15.4 13.4 NE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance from 29th March is to minimise travel and to stay local. All Lakeland paths are now clear of unavoidable snow with the overwhelming majority of the fells now totally clear. The few remaining patches still to thaw lie mainly above 900m on predominantly steep N and E facing aspects. The exit slopes to both Striding & Swirral Edges are now easily climbed without setting foot on snow. Following the freeze thaw action of the winter there is a lot of loose rock around especially on Swirral Edge. There has also been a significant landslip on the north side of Swirral which has taken part of the path with it The forecasts for next week suggest gale force winds, heavy rain and snow potentially to low levels in some areas. Walkers over Easter Sunday and beyond should be fully prepared for the return of winter with plenty of warm & waterproof layers, a reliable & suitable method of navigation and emergency kit including a mobile phone, goggles, survival bag and torch. Microspikes, crampons and an ice axe may all be very useful in safely dealing with the winter conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
1st Apr 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.2 -7.1 19.5 14.4 NE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance from 29th March is to minimise travel and to stay local. All Lakeland paths are now clear of unavoidable snow with the overwhelming majority of the fells now totally clear. The few remaining patches still to thaw lie mainly above 900m on predominantly steep N and E facing aspects. The exit slopes to both Striding & Swirral Edges are now easily climbed without setting foot on snow. Following the freeze thaw action of the winter there is a lot of loose rock around especially on Swirral Edge. There has also been a significant landslip on the north side of Swirral which has taken part of the path with it The forecasts for next week suggest significant snow fall settling on the fells and possibly to low levels. Walkers over the Easter weekend and beyond should be prepared for the return of winter with plenty of warm & waterproof layers, a reliable & suitable method of navigation and emergency kit including a mobile phone, survival bag and torch. Microspikes, crampons and an ice axe will all be very useful in dealing with a return to winter. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
31st Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 8.0 4.6 11.6 8.9 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that the most recent Government guidance from 29th March is to minimise travel and to stay local. All Lakeland paths are now clear of unavoidable snow with the overwhelming majority of the fells totally clear of snow. The remaining patches still to thaw lie mainly above 900m on predominantly steep N and E facing aspects and present no hazard to walkers. The only exception to this is on the exit to Striding Edge where there is now a snow free route located slightly to the south of the normal path from the summit to/from Striding Edge. The normal route is also beginning to appear beneath the final bank of snow left to thaw. Today was exceptional for this time of year with both the summit temperature and wind chill (what the temperature feels like) at 11am being above freezing. This is not forecast to continue for the next few days, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment remain essential for anyone going out onto the high fells. This is not just for safety, but also for comfort and enjoyment as when not covered in cloud the summits are a place to linger - but with another layer on! Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone. The Fell Top Reports continue until Easter Monday; however today was my last day for this year’s winter season so may I wish all our readers many enjoyable, memorable and safe days exploring our wonderful fells as restrictions ease in the coming days and weeks. All the best Jon
30th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 3.3 -3.2 19.1 16.1 WSW - SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that the most recent Government guidance from 29th March is to minimise travel and to stay local. The dramatic thaw over the past 3 days continues. It was plus 3 degrees on the summit at midday in the cloud and no doubt warmer a short while later when the cloud cleared. The overwhelming majority of the Lake District’s paths and fells are now totally clear of snow. The only unavoidable snow encountered on Monday (and probably on any path in the entire Lake District) was right at the top of the exit to Striding Edge. Now there is a snow free route located slightly to the south of the normal path from the summit to/from Striding Edge. The normal route crosses a steep bank of old snow that is still over 40cm deep, so will take time to thaw. Despite the multitude of daffodils in the valleys, the summit wind chill (what the temperature feels like) at midday remained below freezing, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment remain essential for anyone going out onto the fells. This is not just for safety, but also for comfort and enjoyment as those wearing shorts and devoid of extra layers soon discovered. Several people asked for directions in the cloud. Although better to ask then not, far more preferable is to always take a map, compass and have the skills to use them in poor visibility. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
29th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 6.1 -1.3 38.8 31.1 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance from 29th March is to minimise travel and to stay local. Another wet, windy and mild day on the fells – it was plus 6 degrees on the summit at midday. Both Sunday and today’s weather has completely thawed all the snow that fell last week leaving only older snow that has been present for months and has undergone several thaw/freeze cycles. That said, the vast majority of the Lake District’s paths and fells are now clear of snow. The only unavoidable snow encountered today (and possibly in the entire Lake District) was right at the top of the exit to Striding Edge. The normal route crosses a steep bank of snow that is still over 50cm deep, so will take time to thaw. However, there is now a far shorter and smaller snow patch to cross slightly to the south of the normal route which may even thaw by Tuesday evening given the current forecast. However, if temperatures are marginally colder than predicted, the snowpack could refreeze hence an ice axe (or walking poles as a minimum if you choose your route with care) remain recommended for anyone attempting Striding Edge. By contrast, Swirral Edge can now be climbed without setting foot on snow. Sunday’s torrential rain followed by more rain today has left streams and rivers in spate and lakes overflowing – eg Ullswater was coming close to the road near Glenridding. Route choice on both paths and roads for walkers out on Tuesday should reflect these difficulties. Despite the multitude of daffodils in the valleys, the summit wind chill at midday remained below freezing, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment remain essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
28th Mar 2021 Hobcarton End (Grisedale Pike) 5.5 -2.0 56.1 41.0 W Here is today's report: A wet and wild day in the Lakes with persistent rain and gale-force winds over the fells. Much of the fresh snow that fell over high ground in the last few days has now melted. That said, although not inspected today, a long band of old snow is present around north and east-facing corrie rims on Helvellyn and the adjacent fells to the south. This will be quite resistant to today's thawing conditions. Striding edge in particular has a steep bank of unavoidable snow on the final slopes leading onto the plateau and requires care to cross. Other similar routes in the region may also have areas of snow to negotiate which should be anticipated with additional winter mountaineering equipment being carried if necessary. Strong to gale force winds are in the forecast over high ground in the next couple of days, and the windchill temperature is still generally below freezing on the higher tops. Careful route choice and appropriate equipment are advised including warm and waterproof clothing, hats and gloves, map and compass, headtorch, survival blanket, and sufficient food and a hot drink. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
27th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit -1.9 -11.2 23.3 21.0 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Here is today's report: A cold and clear day with good spells of sunshine and blustery winds. More fresh snow fell overnight and has settled above 500m. Much of the fresh snow has been transported by the wind and has settled in sheltered areas building into small (ankle deep) drifts. Ice is also beginning to form in places. A long band of older refrozen snow (névé) is present around north and east-facing corrie rims on Helvellyn and the adjacent fells to the south. Potentially unstable windslab is also present on top of the old névé should be avoided. Where exposed, the old snow is hard and icy, especially where it has been compressed by walker's feet. The classic ridges (Striding and Swirral edge) are now a combination of bare rock and snow so good care is required for anyone travelling these routes. Striding edge in particular has a steep bank of unavoidable snow on the final slope leading onto the plateau (above a big drop!). Other similar routes in the region may well have areas of snow to negotiate which should be anticipated with additional winter mountaineering equipment being carried if necessary. Despite feeling springlike in the valleys, the temperature on the tops today was below freezing and the 'feels like' or windchill temperature is still very cold (-11°C today). Gale force winds are in the forecast over high ground for the next couple of days. Warm and waterproof clothing including hats and gloves, map and compass, headtorch, survival blanket, and sufficient food and a hot drink are all recommended. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
26th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit -1.5 -10.6 29.6 23.8 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Here is today's report: A wet morning gave way to a fine and clear day with blustery winds. A dusting of fresh snow fell overnight and has settled above 700m. Much of the fresh snow has been transported by the wind and has settled in sheltered areas building into small drifts. Older refrozen snow (névé) is present in a long band around the north and east-facing corrie rims on Helvellyn and the adjacent fells to the south. This older snow is hard and icy, especially where it has been compressed by walker's feet crossing it. The classic ridges (Striding and Swirral edge) are mostly bare rock but with thin snow cover towards the top. Striding edge in particular still holds a steep bank of unavoidable névé on the final slope leading onto the plateau. Other similar routes in the region may well have areas of snow to negotiate which should be anticipated with additional equipment being carried if necessary (i.e. microspikes). Despite feeling springlike in the valleys, the temperature on the tops today was below freezing and the 'feels like' or windchill temperature is still very cold (-10°C today). Warm and waterproof clothing including hats and gloves, map and compass, headtorch, survival blanket, and sufficient food and a hot drink are all recommended. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
25th Mar 2021 Blencathra (Halls Fell Top) 1.4 -5.4 21.3 14.1 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Here is today's report: A wet and windy day with persistent showers falling as sleet over high ground. The fells are more or less clear of snow, with just a few isolated patches to be found around north and east-facing corrie rims on Helvellyn. A couple of small areas were encountered today descending off the top of Hall's Fell which are easy to avoid. The remaining snow is continuing to thaw albeit slowly, and it is generally compact, especially where it has been compressed by walker's feet. Striding edge still holds a steep bank of unavoidable snow on the final slope leading onto the plateau. Anyone travelling this route is advised to take particular care in this area as a slip could result in a long fall. Although it is only a small area, microspikes and/or walking poles/ice axe advised. Swirral Edge by contrast can be done without setting foot on snow but it should be noted that other similar routes may still hold unavoidable patches of snow to negotiate. Despite feeling springlike in the valleys, the 'feels like' or windchill temperature on the tops is still very cold (-5°C today). Warm and waterproof clothing including hats and gloves, map and compass, headtorch, survival blanket, and sufficient food and a hot drink are all recommended. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
24th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.2 -7.1 25.8 19.7 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Here is today's report: A dry and and clear day with good visibility in the fells and blustery winds. The vast majority of the fells are clear of snow with just a few isolated patches to be found, typically around north and east-facing corrie rims on Helvellyn and the fells extending to the south. The summit temperature was just above freezing point today and as a result, any remaining snow was hard and icy especially where it has been compacted by walkers feet. Striding edge in particular still holds a steep bank of unavoidable snow on the final slope leading onto the plateau. Anyone travelling this route is advised to take particular care in this area as a slip could result in a long and damaging fall. Microspikes and/or walking poles/ice axe advised. Swirral Edge by contrast can be done without setting foot on snow but it should be noted that other similar routes may still hold unavoidable patches of snow to negotiate. Despite feeling springlike in the valleys, the 'feels like' or windchill temperature on the tops is still very cold (-7°C today). Warm and waterproof clothing including hats and gloves, map and compass, headtorch, survival blanket and sufficient food and a hot drink are all recommended. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
23rd Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.5 -9.8 44.0 35.6 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. The thaw continues, albeit at an extremely slow rate owing to the location and height of the remaining snow combined with a summit temperature at midday only marginally above freezing. The remaining snow lies above 700m in isolated sheltered spots and hollows with the vast majority above 850m predominantly, but not exclusively, on north and east facing aspects. Although overnight temperatures at altitude may have dipped below freezing, there was no indication today of a hard overnight frost. However, the vast majority of the Lake District’s paths and fells are now clear of snow. As has been the case for almost a week now, the only unavoidable snow encountered today was at the exits to Swirral and especially Striding Edge. Swirral’s is only a step or two whereas there is a steep and deep (over 60cm) bank of snow guarding Striding’s exit. Today this was relatively soft snow; however it would only take a marginal drop in temperature (currently forecast overnight) for this to harden and become icy. Owing to the potential serious consequences of a slip here without the means to stop yourself with an immediate ice axe arrest, an ice axe is essential for anyone attempting Striding Edge and it is recommended to also carry crampons. There are small cornices above, again mainly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes over 850m in altitude. Although most have slumped and are small, they are extremely unstable so please keep off the snow near such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Despite the multitude of daffodils in the valleys, winter conditions still exist on the high fells with a summit wind chill at midday of minus 10 degrees C, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
22nd Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.4 -5.4 18.5 15.1 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Conditions on Helvellyn today were very similar to the last few days. The remaining snow cover is continuing to thaw at all levels and the vast majority of paths can now be followed without setting foot on snow. However Striding Edge still presents a significant winter hazard with a steep bank of snow above a large drop on the exit slopes to the Helvellyn plateau. The snow was soft and granular today but firmer where it has been compressed by walkers feet and will quickly become hard and icy with the forecasted drop in temperatures later on in the week. Due to the serious consequences of a slip here the security of an ice axe and microspikes would be a very sensible addition to your equipment for anyone tackling the Hevellyn Edges. Swirral Edge has less snow cover but there is still a very short section to cross. The rest of the remaining snow is generally to be found on steep N through E aspects above 750m and in sheltered hollows and gullies. Cornices still exist above many steep slopes mainly but not exclusively those with a N through E aspect. These are very unstable in the warmer temperatures so please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise. Despite todays spring like conditions on the fells the mountain weather forecasts are indicating a return to winter next week with snow on the summits so please go well equipped and prepared with plenty of warm and waterproof clothing, hat & gloves and a suitable and reliable method of navigation. Emergency kit including a whistle, torch, mobile phone and a survival bag should also be included. Carrying microspikes / crampons and an ice axe would still be a sensible option for anyone venturing on to exposed or scrambling terrain. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
21st Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 3.5 -0.5 10.9 7.1 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. The remaining snow cover is continuing to thaw at all levels and the vast majority of paths can now be followed without setting foot on snow. However Striding Edge still presents a significant winter hazard with a steep bank of snow above a large drop on the exit slopes to the Helvellyn plateau. The snow was soft and granular today but firmer where it has been compressed by walkers feet. Due to the serious consequences of a slip here the security of an ice axe and microspikes would be a very sensible addition to your equipment for anyone tackling the Hevellyn Edges. Swirral Edge has less snow cover but there is still a very short section to cross. The rest of the remaining snow is generally to be found on steep N through E aspects above 750m and in sheltered hollows and gullies. Cornices still exist above many steep slopes mainly but not exclusively those with a N through E aspect. These are very unstable in the warmer temperatures so please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise. Despite todays spring like conditions on the fells the mountain weather forecasts are indicating a return to winter next week with snow on the summits so please go well equipped and prepared with plenty of warm and waterproof clothing, hat & gloves and a suitable and reliable method of navigation. Emergency kit including a whistle, torch, mobile phone and a survival bag should also be included. Carrying microspikes / crampons and an ice axe would still be a sensible option for anyone venturing on to exposed or scrambling terrain. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
20th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 4.7 0.2 19.1 15.7 WNW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Much of the National Park was covered with cloud today with just the summits poking through the inversion but there was plenty of sunshine and blue skies to the east of the Helvellyn ridge. The remaining snow cover is continuing to thaw at all levels and the vast majority of paths can now be followed without setting foot on snow. However Striding Edge still presents a significant winter hazard with a steep bank of snow above a large drop on the exit slopes to the Helvellyn plateau. The snow was soft and granular today but firmer where it has been compressed by walkers feet. Due to the serious consequences of a slip here the security of an ice axe and microspikes would be a very sensible addition to your equipment for anyone tackling the Hevellyn Edges. Swirral Edge has less snow cover but there is still a very short but unavoidable section to cross. There has been significant snow loss from south facing slopes in the last couple of days so the remaining snow is generally to be found on steep N through E aspects above 700m and in sheltered hollows and gullies. Cornices still exist above many steep slopes mainly but not exclusively those with a N through E aspect. These are very unstable in the warmer temperatures so please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise. There is still plenty of time for a final wintery blast and bad weather can strike at anytime so please go well equipped with plenty of warm and waterproof clothing, hat & gloves and a suitable and reliable method of navigation. Emergency kit including a whistle, torch, mobile phone and a survival bag should also be included. Carrying microspikes / crampons and an ice axe would still be a sensible option for anyone venturing on to exposed or scrambling terrain. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
19th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 2.2 -5.5 30.8 21.9 NNE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. The thaw continues, albeit at a slower pace owing to the location and height of the remaining snow; it was plus 2 degrees on the summit at midday and, although overnight temperatures may have dipped below freezing, there was no indication of a hard overnight frost. The majority of the Lake District paths and fells are now clear of snow and, below cloud height (c550m to 750m), paths were dry giving good traction. The remaining snow lies above 650m in isolated sheltered spots and hollows with the vast majority now above 850m predominantly, but not exclusively, on north and east facing aspects. The only unavoidable snow encountered today was situated in such locations at the exit to Swirral Edge and especially Striding Edge where there is a steep and deep (over 60cm) bank of snow. Today this was fairly soft snow; however it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for this to harden. Owing to the serious consequences of a slip here without the means to stop yourself with an immediate ice axe arrest, an ice axe is essential for anyone attempting the edges and it is strongly recommended to also carry crampons if negotiating Striding Edge. There are cornices above, again mainly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes. Although these have dramatically reduced in size over the past few days and most have slumped, they are extremely unstable in the milder temperatures, so please keep off the snow near such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Despite the appearance of Spring in the valleys, the summit wind chill remains below freezing, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
18th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 8.2 5.2 19.9 7.6 NNE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures meant that the remaining snow cover on the Lake District fells is continuing to thaw. The vast majority of paths can now be followed without setting foot on snow. However Striding Edge still presents a significant winter hazard with a steep bank of snow above a large drop on the exit slopes to the Helvellyn plateau. The snow was soft and sugary today but firmer where it has been compressed by walkers feet. Due to the serious consequences of a slip here the security of an ice axe and microspikes would be a very sensible addition to your equipment for anyone tackling the Hevellyn Edges. Swirral Edge has less snow cover but there is still an unavoidable section to cross. The older snow from February is still to be found on steep N through E aspects above 850m. Overlying this the new snow which fell last week can be found above 700m on E through S aspects and in sheltered hollows and gullies. Cornices still exist above many steep slopes mainly but not exclusively those with a N through E aspect. These are very unstable in the warmer temperatures so please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise. There is still plenty of time for a final wintery blast and bad weather can strike at anytime so please go well equipped with plenty of warm and waterproof clothing, hat & gloves and a suitable and reliable method of navigation. Emergency kit including a whistle, torch, mobile phone and a survival bag should also be included. Carrying microspikes / crampons and an ice axe would still be a sensible option for anyone venturing on to exposed or scrambling terrain. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
17th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 3.4 -3.3 20.4 11.1 NNE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Tuesday’s turbo thaw had halted this morning owing to a combination of an overnight frost at altitude and the height and location of the remaining snow. However, as I left the hill this afternoon it was noticeably warmer so the daytime thaw has probably recommenced. The snow level remains around 650m with the vast majority lying above 850m; however even above this height large areas of the fells up to and including summit level are now free from snow. The largest patches of snow lie in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly, but far from exclusively, north and east facing aspects where above 900m there are drifts deep enough to swallow a 60cm ice axe, although such depth is the exception. With the overnight frost following a significant thaw, the snowpack was notably firmer compared to Tuesday and, in places, hard and icy making venturing onto steep and exposed patches treacherous without crampons and especially an ice axe. There are cornices above, again mainly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes. Although small many have slumped and have cracks indicating their instability, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise; indeed on the Helvellyn summit plateau there are footprints far, far too close to the corniced edge. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are in mixed condition. Their crests are largely bare dry rock giving excellent traction; however both exits are guarded with unavoidable deep, steep banks of snow. On Striding Edge in particular this snow was in places hard and icy and located where a slip without the means to stop yourself with a swift ice axe arrest could have extremely serious consequences. Therefore anyone attempting such routes must be experienced in winter mountaineering and be equipped with both ice axe and crampons. With a summit wind chill below freezing, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone. For those interested in the weather stats, there were wind gusts far stronger (estimated at 30mph) than measured on the summit!
16th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 4.1 -3.9 34.1 18.0 N - NNW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. There has been a turbo thaw at all levels over the past 24 hours with overnight rain and a summit temperature at midday of plus 4 degrees. The thaw has been most marked below 800m. The snow level has now risen to 650m; however even above this height large areas of the fells up to and including summit level are now free from snow. That stated, a significant amount of snow still remains especially above 800m in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly, but far from exclusively, north and east facing aspects where above 900m there are drifts deep enough to swallow a 60cm ice axe, although such depth is the exception. The snowpack was very soft and wet and laborious when having to trudge through it. There are cornices above, again mainly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes. Although reducing in size with the thaw, they also consist of soft, wet and extremely unstable snow – some having slumped over the past 24 hours - so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise; indeed on the Helvellyn summit plateau there are footprints far, far too close to the corniced edge. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are in mixed condition. Their crests are largely bare rock; however both exits are guarded with unavoidable deep, steep banks of snow. Today, this was soft snow and only an ice axe was required to safely negotiate them. However, given their altitude, it would only take a marginal drop in temperature (currently forecast overnight) for the snow to harden and ice to return so anyone attempting such routes must be experienced in winter mountaineering and equipped with both ice axe and crampons. With a summit wind chill below freezing, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Excellent navigation is required when deep snow obscuring landmarks is combined with low cloud as paths cannot simply be followed. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
15th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.9 -6.2 20.6 8.9 NNW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. There is currently quite a contrast between the Spring-like valleys resplendent with daffodils and the wintery conditions that exist on the fells. There is no snow below 600m; above 600m the average snow depth increases with altitude although coverage varies enormously with little or nothing on exposed and windswept areas, such as parts of the summit plateau, to deep drifts easily able to swallow a 60cm ice axe with a depth of 30cm not uncommon. The most extensive and deepest coverage are to be found in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly, but far from exclusively, north and east facing aspects. The snowpack was soft, wet and, with a summit temperature just above freezing, thawing at virtually all levels. The thaw was especially rapid below 700m. Trudging through deep, soft snow is energy sapping so walkers out on Tuesday should allow extra time for this. There are cornices above, again mainly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes. Although small, they consist of soft, wet, unstable snow so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise; indeed on the Helvellyn plateau there were footprints far, far too close to the corniced edge. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are in mixed condition with bare rock and snow along their crests. Both exits are guarded with deep, steep banks of snow. Today, this was soft snow and only an ice axe was required to safely negotiate them. However it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for the snow to harden and ice to return so anyone attempting such routes must be experienced in winter mountaineering and equipped with both ice axe and crampons. With a summit wind chill well below freezing, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Excellent navigation is required when deep snow obscuring landmarks is combined with low cloud as paths cannot simply be followed. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
14th Mar 2021 Browncove Crags summit -0.1 -7.9 27.8 22.1 W We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Here is today's report: A challenging day in the fells with strong winds, poor visibility, and frequent wintery showers throughout the morning. White-out conditions at times. The snowline is down to roughly 600m on the western side of Helvellyn and much of the snow today was wet with knee-deep drifts in places making progress slow and difficult. Westerly winds continue to transport snow over high and exposed ground, depositing it in sheltered areas and on lee slopes with a north through east orientation. Although not inspected today, cornices were seen building around corrie rims yesterday and windslab is also present in these locations as well as along ridge flanks. Old refrozen snow (névé) and ice also lie underneath in some places. On the Helvellyn plateau, many of the paths are buried or partially buried under deep drifts of snow and can't be relied upon to find your way in poor visibility. Routes such as Striding and Swirral edge are in full winter condition and should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience and ability, and good judgment. Although conditions are forecast to improve into the coming week, anyone heading into the higher fells tomorrow should be prepared for winter conditions. Warm and waterproof clothing including hats & gloves and additional equipment including goggles, mountain boots, ice axe and crampons and/or walking poles are all recommended. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
13th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit -2.7 -13.6 33.8 27.8 WNW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Here is today's report: A substantial amount of snow fell overnight and has settled down to roughly 400-450m on the western side of Helvellyn and many of the surrounding Cumbrian Fells once again have a white coat. Strong westerly winds continue to transport snow over high and exposed ground with substantial (knee deep) accumulations building in sheltered areas and on lee slopes with a north through east orientation. Cornices are building around corrie rims and potentially unstable windslab is also present in these locations as well as along ridge flanks. Old refrozen snow (névé) and ice also lie underneath in some places. On the Helvellyn plateau, many of the paths are buried or partially buried under deep drifts of snow and can't be relied upon to find your way in poor visibility. Routes such as Striding and Swirral edge are in full winter condition and should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience and ability, and good judgement. Strong winds are forecast tomorrow with sub-zero temperatures on high ground and further precipitation which may be heavy later in the day. Anyone heading into the higher fells tomorrow should expect challenging conditions with significantly reduced visibility and potential whiteout conditions at times. Good and reliable navigation skills and equipment are required in the current conditions. Warm and waterproof clothing including hats & gloves and additional equipment including goggles, mountain boots, ice axe and crampons and/or walking poles and microspikes are all essential. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
12th Mar 2021 Nethermost Pike summit -1.9 -12.6 34.6 28.6 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Here is today's report: A dusting of fresh snow fell overnight on Helvellyn and surrounding fells which has settled above 600m. Strong SW winds continue to dominate the weather bringing further wintery showers on and off through the morning. Wind-blown snow and graupel (rimed up snow) was being transported over high ground today and deposited on lee slopes (north through east facing). Some of this snow has settled on small patches of older frozen snow which is present in these locations above roughly 850m and may not be very well bonded. This includes an unavoidable area of snow on the exit slopes of Swirral edge. Although it is only a small area, an ice axe and crampons may be worth carrying for anyone attempting this or similar routes. Strong winds are forecast into the weekend with sub-zero temperatures on high ground and further precipitation. Anyone heading into the higher fells tomorrow should expect challenging conditions with wintery showers and be equipped to deal with these conditions. Warm and waterproof clothing including hat & gloves, mountain boots, and additional equipment including a map and compass (and proficiency navigating in difficult conditions), and a survival/group shelter are all essential. Goggles and microspikes may also be a useful addition. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
11th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit -1.2 -11 41.4 33.4 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Here is today's report: A dry morning with gales over high ground and showers developing around midday. Yesterday's fresh snow has melted at lower levels and the path from Swirls carpark to the top of Helvellyn is more or less snow-free apart from a few small avoidable patches. However, there is still snow present on steep ground with north through east-facing aspects above 750-800m and much of it is now hard and icy. This includes an unavoidable area of snow on the exit slopes of Swirral edge. Although it is only a small area, an ice axe and crampons may be worth carrying for anyone attempting this or similar routes. Strong winds are forecast throughout the day and into tomorrow with sub-zero temperatures on high ground and more precipitation. Anyone heading into the higher fells tomorrow should expect challenging conditions with wintery showers and be equipped to deal with these conditions. Warm and waterproof clothing including hat & gloves, mountain boots, and additional equipment including a map and compass (and proficiency navigating in difficult conditions), and a survival/group shelter are all essential. Microspikes may also be a useful addition. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
10th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.6 -8.5 30.9 29.9 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Here is today's report: Fresh snow fell overnight down to 700m on strong SE winds which veered SW through the morning. As a result, much of the snow settled on predominantly northwest, through north and east-facing slopes above 700m. On the way up Helvellyn from Swirls carpark this morning, the greatest accumulations of snow were encountered above this height on the slopes leading up onto Browncove crags, where knee-deep drifts were present in places. Above this, and onto the Hellvelyn plateau much of the ground is still bare although some drifting is present here too. All of the snow encountered today was wet with rain and sleet falling over the higher tops. Winds are forecast to strengthen through the day and into tomorrow with severe gales across high ground. The freezing level is also forecast to drop to around 700m tomorrow so much of today's wet snow will freeze and ice will begin to form. Anyone venturing into the higher fells tomorrow should expect a very challenging day with a return to winter conditions and be suitably equipped for such. Warm and waterproof clothing including hat & gloves, mountain boots, and additional equipment including a map and compass (and proficiency navigating in difficult conditions), and a survival/group shelter are all essential. Microspikes may also be a useful addition. Anyone planning routes over steep or exposed ground tomorrow is urged to take heed of the wind strength and direction. An ice axe and crampons may be required for such routes. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
9th Mar 2021 Blencathra summit 1.9 -5.1 18.6 13.5 SSE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Another relatively warm and cloudy day with the remaining snow cover continuing to slowly thaw. These patches of firm and icy snow are generally to be found on steep N through E aspects and in sheltered hollows above 850m. They can be a significant hazard where they are unavoidable for example at the top of Swirral Edge but overall the vast majority of other paths, including Striding Edge & Sharp Edge on Blencathra, can now be climbed without setting foot on snow. Summit temperatures were still only just above freezing with a wind chill of -5 degrees C so please go well equipped with plenty of warm and waterproof layers, hats & gloves, food & fluid and a reliable method of navigating. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
8th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.3 -6.9 25.0 19.9 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. There were a few snow showers on the highest summits today but overall the remaining snow cover is continuing to slowly thaw. These patches of firm and icy snow are generally to be found on steep N through E aspects and in sheltered hollows above 850m. The main hazard they present on Helvellyn is on the exit to Swirral Edge where a short section must be crossed. However the vast majority of other paths, including Striding Edge, can now be climbed without setting foot on snow. The areas of rime ice reported above 850m for the last few days have also thawed. Summit temperatures were still only just above freezing with snow in the air and the wind chill was -7 degrees C so please go well equipped with plenty of warm and waterproof layers, hats & gloves, food & fluid and a reliable method of navigating. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
7th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.2 -3.2 12.3 4.7 WNW - N We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Ground conditions have changed little over the past 48 hours owing to high pressure, no precipitation and light winds. For the vast majority of that time there have been sub zero temperatures at altitude. Today at midday the summit temperature was just above freezing; thus the only noticeable changes over the past 48 hours have been a significant reduction of the soft rime that now lies mainly above 850m and a marginal softening, but no thaw, of the remaining snow which is still hard and icy, but not rock hard. The remaining snow patches lie above 850m (with the majority above 900m) in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly steep north and east facing aspects. Owing to its hard and icy nature walkers out on Monday are strongly advised to avoid any snow patches. However, as for the past few days, the only unavoidable snow encountered today was at the exit to Swirral Edge. Although it is only a very short section, an ice axe is recommended, especially in descent, as it was hard snow and the footprints in it were similarly icy. Admittedly, you would have to be unlucky to have a serious slide on it, but that’s how accidents occur and, especially at the moment, we all need to strongly err on the side of caution. Conversely with careful route choice, Striding Edge and its exit can now be climbed without setting foot on snow with the normal path up its exit now also almost free from snow. However, the vast majority of the Cumbrian fells and paths are now not only free from snow but were also dry giving good traction. Although, especially in the morning, anywhere above 500m where paths cross drainage lines there were isolated patches of ice. These had, or were, thawing during the day but could well refreeze overnight. Above 850m more of a hazard was isolated patches of hard ice in sheltered spots and hollows some of which were difficult to spot – especially in descent. Thus particular care needs to be taken on exposed routes above 850m where slippery rime and hard ice is interspersed with predominantly confidence boasting bare dry rock. With a summit wind chill below freezing, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Once again, it was evident today that people who thought that shorts were a good idea when venturing out had changed their minds when on the summit. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
6th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit -2.0 -7.6 9.2 5.3 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. With high pressure, no precipitation, light winds and sub zero temperatures at altitude, ground conditions have hardly changed over the past 24 hours – the only noticeable difference being slightly less soft rime above 800m on Saturday compared with Friday. The vast majority of the Cumbrian fells and paths are now not only free from snow but were also dry giving good traction. However, especially in the morning, anywhere above 200m there were isolated patches of ice where paths cross drainage lines. Lower down these had thawed during the day but could well freeze again tonight. Above 800m some rocks were covered in soft rime ice and, mainly above 900m, this was also on the ground. More of a hazard, particularly above 850m, were isolated patches of hard ice in sheltered spots and hollows some of which were difficult to spot – especially in descent. Thus particular care needs to be taken on exposed routes where slippery rime and hard ice is interspersed with mainly confidence boasting bare dry rock. Above 850m (with the majority above 900m), lie patches of snow. These are located in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly steep north and east facing aspects. Having undergone a thaw/freeze cycle this week, the snow is rock hard and often covered in soft rime. As such walkers out on Sunday are strongly advised to avoid any snow patches. However, as for the past few days, the only unavoidable snow encountered today was at the exit to Swirral Edge. Although it is only a very short section, an ice axe is recommended, especially in descent, as it was hard snow and the footprints in it were similarly icy. Admittedly, you would have to be unlucky to have a serious slide on it, but that’s how accidents occur and, especially at the moment, we all need to strongly err on the side of caution. Conversely with careful route choice, Striding Edge and its exit can now be climbed without setting foot on snow with the normal path up its exit now also almost free from snow. With a return to sub zero summit temperatures, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. It was evident today that people who thought that shorts were a good idea when venturing out had changed their minds when on the summit. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
5th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit -3.8 -8.4 5.5 4.2 NNE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. With summit temperatures now below freezing, the slow thaw of the remaining snow that occurred earlier this week has stopped altogether. The last remnants of snow lie in patches above 850m (with the majority above 900m), in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly steep north and east facing aspects. Having undergone a thaw/freeze cycle the snow is rock hard and often covered in soft rime. As such walkers out on Saturday are strongly advised to avoid any snow patches. That stated, the vast majority of the Cumbrian fells and paths are now free from snow. As for the past few days, the only unavoidable snow encountered today was at the exit to Swirral Edge. Although it is only a very short section, an ice axe is recommended, especially in descent, as it was hard snow and the footprints in it were similarly icy. Admittedly, you would have to be unlucky to have a serious slide on it, but that’s how accidents occur and, especially at the moment, we all need to strongly err on the side of caution. Conversely with careful route choice, Striding Edge and its exit can now be climbed without setting foot on snow with the normal path up its exit now also almost free from snow. As on Thursday (and also likely to be the case on Saturday) soft rime was more of an issue on paths above 800m – especially when compacted. Especial care needs to be taken on exposed routes above 800m where confidence boasting bare dry rock was interspersed with slippery rime and some verglas (thin ice). Walkers may find micro spikes useful here. Upland tarns (such as Red Tarn) have frozen but only just so must not be ventured onto. With a return to sub zero summit temperatures, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
4th Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit -1.6 -9.7 20.5 15.9 ENE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Summit temperatures are once again below freezing with rime ice forming down to 800m and Red Tarn was almost fully frozen. The vast majority of the Lake District fells are now clear of snow but the rime ice and a few areas of verglas on the summits mean that conditions underfoot remain tricky and microspikes were very useful today. With careful route choice Striding and Swirral Edges can now both be climbed without setting foot on snow although there is still rime and verglas to contend with. However it's essential for anyone who does venture onto the few remaining patches of snow to be fully kitted out with an ice axe and crampons as it has now refrozen and the surface is bullet hard and icy. This hazard is generally to be found above 850m in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly steep north and east facing aspects. Despite the spring like conditions in the valleys and the lack of snow, winter is still very much in evidence on the fells and walkers should go equipped with plenty of warm and waterproof layers, hats & gloves, a reliable method of navigating, food & fluid and some emergency kit including a survival bag, whistle and headtorch. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
3rd Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 6.3 4.9 4.4 2.6 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Ground conditions today were extremely similar to Tuesday owing to another overnight temperature inversion combined today with a cloud inversion. It was minus 3 degrees in a cloudy Glenridding this morning and plus 6 degrees on a sunny summit a couple of hours later. The result of which meant that there were patches of frost and some ice on paths lower down – especially on drainage lines - but none on higher elevations. This valley frost and ice had thawed by the afternoon. However, walkers out on Thursday should expect, and be prepared to encounter, a return to patches of ice and possibly frost in shady and sheltered spots at altitude. The overnight temperature inversion also meant that there was a continuing thaw of the remaining snow albeit at a snail’s pace. The thaw is so slow since the remaining snow lies in patches above 850m (with the majority above 900m), in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly steep north and east facing aspects. The snowpack was generally soft and sugary apart from places where it has been compacted. Since it is likely to refreeze overnight, walkers out on Thursday are strongly advised to avoid any snow patches. That stated, the vast majority of the Cumbrian fells and paths are now free from snow. As for the past few days, the only unavoidable, and icy, snow encountered today was at the exit to Swirral Edge. Although it is only a very short section, an ice axe is recommended, especially in descent, as it was hard snow and the footprints in it were similarly icy. Admittedly, you would have to be unlucky to have a serious slide on it, but that’s how accidents occur and, especially at the moment, we all need to strongly err on the side of caution. Conversely with careful route choice, Striding Edge and its exit can now be climbed without setting foot on snow with the normal path up its exit now also almost free from snow. The past 3 days have been the exception with a summit windchill above zero. Walkers out on Thursday should expect, and be prepared for, a return to a more normal sub zero summit windchill so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
2nd Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 6.2 2.9 7.9 6.0 S We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Ground conditions confirmed what the clever people at the Met Office had forecast, namely that there was an overnight temperature inversion. This meant that in the morning there were patches of frost and some ice on paths lower down but, unlike Monday, none on higher elevations. Even in sheltered spots, this valley frost soon thawed. However, walkers out on Wednesday should expect, and be prepared to encounter, a return to patches of ice in sheltered spots at altitude. The overnight temperature inversion meant that there was a continuing slow thaw of the remaining snow which lies in patches above 850m in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly steep north and east facing aspects. The snowpack was notably softer than on Monday apart from places where it has been compacted. Since it is likely to refreeze overnight, walkers out on Wednesday are strongly advised to avoid any snow patches. That stated, the vast majority of the Cumbrian fells and paths are now free from snow. As for the past few days, the only unavoidable, and icy, snow encountered today was at the exit to Swirral Edge. Although it is only a very short section, an ice axe is strongly recommended, especially in descent, as it was hard snow and the footprints in it were similarly icy. Conversely with careful route choice, Striding Edge and its exit can now be climbed without setting foot on snow with the normal path up its exit now also almost free from snow. Monday and Tuesday were definitely the exception with a summit windchill above zero. Walkers out on Wednesday should expect, and be prepared for, a return to a more normal sub zero summit windchill so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
1st Mar 2021 Helvellyn summit 5.2 4.1 4.6 1.9 ESE to S We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. The majority of the Cumbrian fells and paths are now free from snow. The thaw of the remaining snow continues (it was plus 5 degrees C on the summit at midday) but at a slower pace owing to its altitude (remaining patches now being above 850m), their location in shady hollows and on predominantly steep north and east facing aspects and the fact that the snow freezes hard in the overnight frost making it resistant to the daytime thaw. Owing to much of the remaining snow being icy, it is best avoided. More of an issue on paths, especially in the morning, were patches of frost and even verglas (thin ice) on rocks located primarily in the shade. Given that the majority of paths were dry such sudden slippery sections were treacherous and demand attention, especially on steep ground. The only unavoidable snow encountered today was at the exit to Swirral Edge where, although only a very short section, an ice axe is strongly recommended as it was hard snow and the footprints in it were similarly icy. Conversely with careful route choice, Striding Edge and its exit can now be climbed without setting foot on snow although miss that route (which lies to the south) and there’s steep, hard, icy snow on its exit. Monday was definitely the exception with a summit windchill above zero. Walkers out on Tuesday should expect, and be prepared for, a return to a more normal sub zero windchill so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
28th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 5.4 5.4 4.2 2.5 Not Recorded We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town, or city where they live. Here is today's report: A beautiful spring-like day in the Cumbrian fells with very little wind and superb visibility outside of any lingering cloud. Inversion conditions for a time during the morning. The Cumbrian fells are almost snow-free, with just a few patches remaining in the higher fells, typically on steep ground around north and east-facing corrie headwalls. Overnight temperatures have been at or below freezing point, and today many of the paths at mid-altitude had a thin layer of frost or ice making them particularly slippery and persisting into the afternoon on shady slopes. Any remaining snow, even though generally confined to small patches is hard and icy and best avoided where possible. The classic ridges (Striding and Swirral edge) can just about be completed without setting foot on snow, albeit apart from a small section at the top of Swirral edge. Windchill temperatures remain cold and generally below freezing point so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional equipment including a map and compass, headtorch and survival blanket/shelter are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
27th Feb 2021 Skiddaw summit 2.7 -2.4 12.6 10.2 W We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town, or city where they live. Here is today's report: Another fine and dry day with light winds and good visibility outside of any lingering cloud with little change in ground conditions over yesterdays' report. The Cumbrian fells are almost snow-free, with just a few patches remaining in the higher fells, typically on steep ground around north and east-facing corrie headwalls. It is worth noting that overnight temperatures have been at or below freezing point, so even though they are generally small patches, they are hard and icy and best avoided where possible. The classic ridges (Striding and Swirral edge) can just about be completed without setting foot on snow, albeit apart from a very small section at the top of Swirral edge. Windchill (feels like) temperatures remain below freezing point so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional equipment including a map and compass, headtorch and survival blanket/shelter are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
26th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.1 -8.1 22.7 19.9 W We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town, or city where they live. Here is today's report: A dry and bright day with light winds and superb visibility outside of any lingering cloud. The Cumbrian fells are relatively snow-free, although what snow remains needs to be negotiated carefully as it has frozen well overnight and tends to be found on steep ground around north and east-facing corrie headwalls. The classic ridges (Striding and Swirral edge) can just about be completed without setting foot on snow, albeit apart from a very small section at the top of Swirral edge. As a result of the ground being well frozen earlier in the month and subsequently having thawed out in most areas, it is now very soft and prone to erosional damage in places. Please help us to reduce the impact by sticking to footpaths where possible and of course avoiding any unnecessary damage. Windchill (feels like) temperatures remain below freezing point so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional equipment including a map and compass, headtorch and survival blanket/shelter are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
25th Feb 2021 Lower Man summit -0.2 -8.4 27 22.5 W We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town, or city where they live. Here is today's report: A dull start to the day with light showers and hill fog gave way to dry and clear conditions in the afternoon. The ground is still very wet and many rivers are in spate following heavy rain earlier in the week. Although the Cumbrian fells are relatively snow-free, what snow remains needs to be negotiated carefully as it tends to be found on steep ground around north and east-facing corrie headwalls. The summit temperature was around freezing point today, and these areas of snow have become firm and icy, especially where it has been compacted by walkers' feet. The final section of Swirral edge has an area of unavoidable snow, from where a slip could result in a long and damaging fall. Microspikes/Crampons may be required to negotiate this and similar areas safely. Small patches of ice are also still present on the summit plateau and are proving very resistant to the milder temperatures. As a result of the ground being well frozen earlier in the month and subsequently having thawed out in most areas, it is now very soft and prone to erosional damage in places. Please help us to reduce the impact by sticking to footpaths where possible and of course avoiding any unnecessary damage. Windchill (feels like) temperatures remain below freezing point so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional equipment including a map and compass, headtorch and survival blanket/shelter are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
24th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 3.1 -4.8 33.8 27.4 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Here is today's report: Another very wet day in the Lakes with Cumbria under a Met Office yellow warning for rain until 20:00 this evening. The ground is saturated and many rivers are in spate with areas of localised flooding across the county. Although relatively snow-free, conditions in the higher fells remain challenging with strong winds and driving rain. What snow remains needs to be treated with care as it tends to be found on steep ground around north and east-facing corrie headwalls. The final section of Swirral edge is a good example, where an area of unavoidable snow needs to be negotiated, from where a slip could result in a long and damaging fall. With overnight summit temperatures forecast to be around freezing tomorrow, the remaining snow could refreeze and microspikes or crampons may be required to negotiate this and similar areas safely. Patches of ice are also still present on the summit plateau and are proving very resistant to the milder temperatures. As a result of the ground being well frozen earlier in the month and subsequently having thawed out, it is now very soft and prone to erosional damage in many places. Please help us to reduce the impact by sticking to footpaths where possible and of course avoiding any unnecessary damage. Despite the milder temperatures, the summit windchill remains below freezing so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional equipment including a map and compass, headtorch and survival blanket/shelter are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
23rd Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 2.4 -8.3 62.1 48.7 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Small, insignificant isolated patches of snow can be encountered from 650m in sheltered spots and hollows with the vast majority of snow now lying above 850m on N and E facing aspects. Conversely, most of the fells and paths of the Lake District are now clear of snow and, with a summit temperature just above freezing combined with driving rain, the thaw is continuing. That said, the remaining snow will take time to thaw owing to a combination of factors : its height, the fact that it lies in sheltered spots, its undergone a thaw/freeze and has sometimes been compressed by walkers’ feet. However, the only unavoidable snow encountered today was at the exit to Swirral Edge where, although only a short section, an ice axe is strongly recommended as it was hard snow and the footprints in it were similarly icy. Indeed some walkers, especially in the current climate, may prefer the added security of microspikes and/or crampons especially given the other patches of hard snow and ice that still exist near the top of Swirral Edge. Conversely with careful route choice, Striding Edge can now be climbed without setting foot on snow. However, if you miss this snow free route (which lies to the south), crampons and ice axe will be required. There are still some cornices above N and E facing slopes. Given the milder temperatures these are now considerably smaller and have slumped. However, they still should not be approached so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Despite the milder temperatures, the summit windchill remains well below freezing so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Anyone venturing above 800m should expect and be prepared to encounter patches of ice, even though these are now generally avoidable. Given Saturday’s current forecast, goggles are also highly recommended to lessen the sting of rain (and potentially hail) driven in on gale/storm force winds. Owing to the strength of the wind, thoughtful foot (and hand on exposed sections) placement was essential today and this is also likely to be the case on Saturday. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back, although, again, given the current forecast for Saturday consider if you want to venture out in the first place!! A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
23rd Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 2.4 -8.3 62.1 48.7 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Small, insignificant isolated patches of snow can be encountered from 650m in sheltered spots and hollows with the vast majority of snow now lying above 850m on N and E facing aspects. Conversely, most of the fells and paths of the Lake District are now clear of snow and, with a summit temperature just above freezing combined with driving rain, the thaw is continuing. That said, the remaining snow will take time to thaw owing to a combination of factors : its height, the fact that it lies in sheltered spots, its undergone a thaw/freeze and has sometimes been compressed by walkers’ feet. However, the only unavoidable snow encountered today was at the exit to Swirral Edge where, although only a short section, an ice axe is strongly recommended as it was hard snow and the footprints in it were similarly icy. Indeed some walkers, especially in the current climate, may prefer the added security of microspikes and/or crampons especially given the other patches of hard snow and ice that still exist near the top of Swirral Edge. Conversely with careful route choice, Striding Edge's exit can now be climbed without setting foot on snow. However, if you miss this snow free route (which lies to the south), crampons and ice axe will be required. There are still some cornices above N and E facing slopes. Given the milder temperatures these are now considerably smaller and have slumped. However, they still should not be approached so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Despite the milder temperatures, the summit windchill remains well below freezing so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Anyone venturing above 800m should expect and be prepared to encounter patches of ice, even though these are now generally avoidable. Given Wednesday’s current forecast, goggles are also highly recommended to lessen the sting of rain (and potentially hail) driven in on gale/storm force winds. Owing to the strength of the wind, thoughtful foot (and hand on exposed sections) placement was essential today and this is also likely to be the case on Wednesday. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back, although, again, given the current forecast for Wednesday consider if you want to venture out in the first place!! A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
22nd Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.0 -5.4 13.5 10.7 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. The Lake District fells and most paths are now generally clear of snow. The remaining patches can be found on N through E aspects above 800m. The snow is generally soft apart from where it has been compressed by walkers feet. Additionally there are still some large areas of sheet ice to contend with especially around the edges of the snow patches. If you do stray onto the snow, through choice or necessity, then winter equipment such as an ice axe, crampons and or microspikes will be very important in keeping you safe. With careful route choice Striding Edge can now be climbed without setting foot on snow with a clear line up the headwall on climbers left. This can be tricky to find in descent. The easier lines on the northern flank of the ridge are still very snowy / icy. Swirral Edge is still pretty wintery and the extra security of an ice axe, microspikes and or crampons will be appreciated by most walkers as there are a number of unavoidable snow patches above large drops to cross. There are still some large and unstable cornices above N through E aspects which are slumping in the warmer temperatures. Please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise As a result of the winters freeze thaw action there is now also a lot of loose rock on the fells including on popular routes such as the Helvellyn edges. Although it felt like spring on the fells today we are still very much in the middle of the winter season so please be prepared with plenty of warm and waterproof layers, a reliable and accurate way of navigating, a headtorch and plenty of food & drink plus any winter equipment required to keep you safe on your chosen route. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
21st Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 2.8 -3.9 25.9 18.5 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. Torrential rain at all levels overnight has meant that snow melt has been pretty dramatic. The Lake District fells and most paths are now generally clear of snow. The remaining patches can be found on N through E aspects above 800m. The snow is generally soft apart from where it has been compressed by walkers feet. Additionally there are still some large areas of sheet ice to contend with. On Monday the freezing level is forecast to drop to 900m so much of this snow will refreeze and full winter equipment will be required by anyone venturing onto the snow - either by choice or necessity. With careful route choice Striding Edge can now be climbed without setting foot on snow with a clear line up the headwall on climbers left. This can be tricky to find in descent. The easier lines on the northern flank of the ridge are still very snowy / icy and hillgoers should always be prepared to deal with these conditions. Swirral Edge is still pretty wintery and the extra security of an ice axe, microspikes and or crampons will be appreciated by most walkers especially as the snow pack refreezes. There are still some large and unstable cornices above N through E aspects which are slumping in the warmer temperatures. Please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise As a result of the winters freeze thaw action there is now also a lot of loose rock on the fells including on popular routes such as the Helvellyn edges. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
20th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 5.5 -2.9 80.2 35.8 S We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. A challenging day of strong gusty winds and torrential rain for the Lake District. Windspeeds on the summit of Helvellyn rose from 15mph to 80mph while the fell top assessors was taking his observations! The thaw is continuing at all levels with summit temperatures of 5 degrees C. The ground is generally saturated and becks, streams & rivers are in spate with associated hazards. The few remaining isolated patches of snow are generally to be found above 750m on N through E aspects. Many routes are now snow free including the Swirls path on Helvellyn from the Thirlmere side. Striding & Swirral Edges can almost be climbed without setting foot on snow. However there are a few unavoidable patches including the steep exit slopes on which a slip would have very serious consequences. There is also a surprising amount of sheet ice to contend with here and on the Helvellyn plateau where the snow has been compressed by walkers feet and around the edges of the remaining snow patches. Microspikes and an ice axe as a minimum but preferably crampons are strongly recommended for anyone tackling steep and exposed terrain where they may have to cross areas of snow. As a result of freeze thaw action there is now also a lot of loose rock on the fells including on popular routes such as Swirral Edge. Full winter clothing and equipment are still required by anyone venturing onto the Lake District fells. Hypothermia is a very real risk in the current wet and windy conditions especially if you are ill equipped, lost, injured and or exhausted. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
19th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.9 -8.3 48.9 40.9 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Fresh snow fell overnight above 800m adding a maximum of 5cm to existing accumulations in sheltered spots and hollows. This, however, is almost irrelevant as there is a daytime thaw at all levels. It was plus 2 degrees on the summit at midday and raining heavily so the fresh snow was quickly thawing leaving the more resilient, older snow. Even in sheltered spots, no snow or ice was encountered below 650m with the main snowline being around 750m. Even above this height, large areas of the fells are free from snow almost to summit level. The greatest accumulations of snow are on N and E facing aspects where, above 850m, the deepest drifts can easily swallow a 60cm ice axe - although such depth is the exception. The snowpack was predominantly soft and wet, although there were patches of hard snow and ice especially on popular routes were the snow has been compacted. The largest amount of ice encountered today, as on Thursday, was on the summit plateau which was covered in it and hard snow with some soft snow. This ice, combined with the storm force wind, made crampons essential to avoid being blown over (and potentially off the edge). There are cornices above, predominantly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes. With the thaw these now consist of predominantly soft snow, have slumped and weakened. Therefore, although reduced in size, they are extremely unstable, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Despite the milder temperatures, the summit windchill remains well below freezing so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline an ice axe and crampons remain essential regardless of route; this is despite the snowpack being mainly soft and wet owing to the amount of hard snow and especially ice that still exists. The crests of both Striding and Swirral Edges are in mixed condition consisting of bare rock, soft snow and hard compacted snow and ice. Both exits are guarded by banks of steep, deep unavoidable snow. Today, this was soft snow but it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for this snow to harden and in a place where a slip without the means to stop yourself would have extremely serious consequences. Excellent navigational skills are essential especially when low cloud is combined with snow. Goggles are highly recommended in case fresh snow or spindrift is encountered and they also help to increase contrast when looking for steep edges. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back, although given the current forecast for Saturday consider if you want to venture out in the first place - as nobody else did today given the fact that it was thoroughly wet and miserable!! A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
18th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit -0.2 -9.7 41.7 24.6 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. A day of challenging conditions on the Lake District fells with wintery squalls and heavy rain blowing through on strong winds. The freezing level was around 900m and below this the remaining snowpack was continuing to thaw. Some routes such as the Swirls path on Helvellyn can now be climbed without setting foot on snow until you get to the summit plateau. However Striding & Swirral Edge and other N through E aspects are still in full winter condition with significant amounts of snow still present down to Red Tarn at 700m. The exits to both Edges consists of steep unavoidable snow above a significant drop. It would only take a small drop in temperature for these to refreeze giving very serious conditions underfoot. Where undisturbed the snow is generally soft and sugary but where it has been compressed by walkers feet or is overlying drainage lines then there are large areas of sheet ice and hard snow to contend with. Above 850m there was a sprinkling of new snow but the main hazards on the plateau were verglas, rime ice, areas of sheet ice and neve. Crampons and ice axes are still essential for all but the flattest of routes on the high summits and should be carried by anyone venturing above the snowline. Microspikes and trekking poles are also very useful in preventing slips and trips There are cornices above, predominantly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes. These have slumped and are thawing in the warmer temperatures. Therefore, although reduced in size, they are extremely unstable, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Despite the milder temperatures, the summit windchill remains well below freezing so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Goggles were almost essential today for dealing with the snow, sleet and graphal being driven through on strong winds. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back.
17th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.1 -9.2 33.9 24.4 SSE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. The thaw continues at almost all levels, it was zero degrees C on the summit around midday although was hailing above 600m as the assessor left the hill. No ice worth mentioning was encountered on paths below 600m. Above 600m hard patches of ice remain on paths; these are mainly situated on flatter sections, where paths are crossed by drainage lines and, especially above 700m, on popular routes where snow has been compacted and on the edges of snow patches where snow has melted and then refrozen. The main snowline is now around 750m; however even above this height large areas of the fells right up to and including the summit plateau are now free from snow. That said significant amounts of snow remain with the greatest accumulations being on N and E facing aspects where, above 850m, the deepest drifts can easily swallow a 60cm ice axe - although such depth is the exception. Where undisturbed, the snowpack was mainly soft and wet with occasional patches of hard snow and ice. The summit plateau was a mixture of bare ground, soft snow, slush, ice and compacted hard snow. With the summit temperature hovering around zero, it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for the wet snow to harden and far more ice to be present which walkers out on Thursday heading for the higher fells should be prepared and equipped for. There are cornices above, predominantly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes. With the thaw these now consist of predominantly soft snow, have slumped and weakened. Therefore, although reduced in size, they are extremely unstable, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Despite the milder temperatures, the summit windchill remains well below freezing so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline an ice axe and crampons remain essential regardless of route; this is despite the snowpack being mainly soft and wet owing to the amount of hard snow and ice that still exists and the fact that it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for the snow to harden. Eg on the so-called “easy” path up Helvellyn from Swirls there remains a steep section of unavoidable snow near Browncove Crags where a slip without the means to stop yourself would have serious consequences. The crests of both Striding and Swirral Edges are in mixed condition consisting of bare rock, soft snow and hard compacted snow and ice. Both exits are guarded by banks of steep, deep unavoidable snow. Today, this was soft snow but, again, this could well return to being steep, hard snow on Thursday. Therefore, anyone attempting such exposed routes above the snowline must be experienced in winter mountaineering. Ice on rocks and boulders, which was solid last week, is now loose in places so care needs to be taken even when wearing crampons. Excellent navigational skills are essential especially when low cloud is combined with snow obscuring landmarks. Goggles are highly recommended in case fresh snow or spindrift is encountered and they also help to increase contrast when looking for steep edges. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
16th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.9 -6.3 33.8 23.8 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. The thaw continues at all levels; once again, although the summit temperature around midday was only just above freezing, the thaw was being accelerated by driving rain and drizzle. As this was accompanied with a predominantly S to SW wind it was noticeable that slopes facing these directions are thawing faster than other aspects (plus E and N facing slopes had deeper drifts to begin with). The snowline has now risen to around 750m although up to 850m large areas of the fells are now free from snow. Above 850m a significant amount of snow remains. The snowpack was mainly soft and wet with patches of hard snow and ice. Drifts of up to 100cm still exist, although such depth is the exception. More commonly above 850cm the snow drifts in sheltered spots and hollows are between 10cm and 15cm. There are also patches of hard ice on paths; although these can be found as low as 350m, the majority now lie above 600m and are mainly situated on flatter sections, where paths are crossed by drainage lines and, especially above 700m, on popular routes where snow has been compacted. During this transitional phase some paths had sections of slush literally adjacent to sections of hard, slippery ice creating treacherous conditions. With deep snow still obscuring/obliterating landmarks, conditions above the snowline can change quickly and dramatically when showers blow through, particularly if these are in the form of snow – which is currently forecast at altitude on Wednesday. Excellent navigational skills are essential as is a safe back-up escape plan to ensure that you do not get caught out in a whiteout somewhere where you do not want to be. There are cornices above, predominantly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes. With the thaw these have slumped, weakened and,, presumably (I didn’t go too close!) now consist of soft snow. Therefore, although reduced in size, they are unstable, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Upland tarns, such as Red Tarn, remain frozen although with the milder temperatures are unsafe to venture onto. Despite the milder temperatures, the summit windchill remains well below freezing so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline an ice axe and crampons remain essential; this is despite the snowpack being mainly wet owing to the amount of hard snow and ice that still exists and the fact that it would only take a marginal drop in temperature (currently forecast on Wednesday) for the snow to harden. This is the case regardless of route. Eg on the so-called “easy” path up Helvellyn from Swirls there remains a steep section of unavoidable snow near Browncove Crags where a slip without the means to stop yourself would have serious consequences. The crests of both Striding and Swirral Edges are in mixed condition consisting of bare, wet rock, soft snow and hard compacted snow and ice. Both exits are guarded by banks of steep, deep unavoidable snow. Today, this was soft snow but, again, this could well return to being steep, hard snow on Wednesday. Therefore, anyone attempting such exposed routes above the snowline must be experienced in winter mountaineering. Ice on rocks and boulders, which was solid last week, is now loose in places so care needs to be taken even when wearing crampons. Goggles are highly recommended in case fresh snow or spindrift is encountered and they also help to increase contrast when looking for steep edges. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
15th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.3 -7.2 30.4 25.1 S We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. There is a thaw at all levels; although the summit temperature around midday was only a degree above freezing, the thaw was being accelerated by driving rain. However, owing to last week’s prolonged sub zero temperatures, the hard patches of ice are proving more resistant to the thaw. These can still be found on paths almost to valley level especially on flatter sections, where they are crossed by drainage lines and, especially above 700m, on popular routes where snow has been compacted. Depending upon aspect, the snowline is between 600m and 700m; however between 700m and 800m large areas of fellside are now free from snow – especially on S and W facing slopes. The snowpack was mainly soft and wet with patches of hard snow and ice. As the snow depth is often over 10cm, this made for heavy going when trudging through it. With deep snow obscuring/obliterating landmarks, conditions above the snowline can change quickly and dramatically when showers blow through, particularly if these are in the form of snow. Excellent navigational skills are essential as is a safe back-up escape plan to ensure that you do not get caught out in a whiteout somewhere where you do not want to be. Cornices exist above, predominantly but not exclusively, N and E facing slopes. With poor visibility, it was not possible to inspect them today. However, with the combination of milder temperatures and rain they will have weakened and become unstable, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Upland tarns have frozen, and some were covered by snow; with milder conditions these will be unsafe to venture onto. Despite the milder temperatures, the summit windchill remains well below freezing so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline, despite the snowpack being mainly wet, an ice axe and crampons remain essential; this is owing to the amount of hard snow and ice that still exists and the fact that it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for the snow to harden. This is the case regardless of route. Eg on the so-called “easy” path up Helvellyn from Swirls there remains a steep section of unavoidable hard snow near Browncove Crags where a slip without the means to stop yourself would have serious consequences. Anyone attempting, or traversing, steep and exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding or Swirral Edge, must be experienced in winter mountaineering including the ability to competently assess the stability, or otherwise, of the snowpack as it weakens during the thaw. Ice on rocks and boulders, which has been solid, is now loose in places so care needs to be taken even when wearing crampons. Goggles are highly recommended in case fresh snow or spindrift is encountered and they also help to increase contrast when looking for steep edges. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
14th Feb 2021 Nethermost Pike summit -1.6 -11.6 40.6 16.5 SSE (variable) We are continuing to run the service for people exercising locally and to assist local mountain rescue teams to make informed decisions in the event that their services are required. Here is today's report: The high fells are in full winter condition and careful planning and preparation is required for anyone venturing above the snowline. A marked change in the weather today as frontal systems out to the west push into the cold air that we have experienced during the last week. Upland gales and freezing rain made for very challenging conditions today. Terrain remains widely frozen from the valleys upward with only a slight thaw at low to mid-elevations. Ice is present on paths from low levels upwards, particularly around any drainage lines. Above 400m, freezing rain was covering most surfaces in a thin film of verglas. Progress above this altitude would have been very difficult without microspikes and walking poles today. Crampons and an ice axe are essential for anyone venturing onto steep terrain. Please note that in the current conditions, a slip in the wrong place (even on moderately steep ground) could result in a long and damaging fall. On the western side of Helvellyn, the snowline starts at roughly 600-700m with continuous cover up to summit level. Most of the snow is either old exposed névé (refrozen snow) or scoured with a breakable crust overlying sugary snow. Potentially unstable windslab was seen developing on north-northwest facing slopes yesterday and is likely to be present at the top of gullies, scarp slopes, and on ridge flanks with similar aspects. Most of the paths and other terrain and water features above the snowline are buried under snow and can't be relied upon to find your way if visibility deteriorates. Whiteout conditions are not unlikely. A map and compass and good mountain navigation skills will be essential in such conditions in the coming days. Steep and exposed routes such as Swirral and Striding edge should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience and appropriate equipment. Small cornices are present around corrie rims and will become unstable in the milder temperatures that are forecast in the coming week. Extreme care should be taken in areas in close proximity to the corrie rims which might not be visible in cloudy conditions. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional equipment including a headtorch and survival bag are all essential for anyone going into the higher fells. Goggles are also recommended for navigating in windy conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and aware of your limits.
13th Feb 2021 Brown Crag -5.2 -17.9 70.7 52.1 SSE We are continuing to run the service for people exercising locally and to assist local mountain rescue teams to make informed decisions in the event that their services are required. Here is today's report: A decision was made to turn around at roughly 600m from Brown Crag on the western flanks of Whiteside today due to gale to storm-force winds across the high fells. High areas with slopes in the lee of the wind were particularly badly affected by ferocious downslope winds as the air was squeezed and accelerated over the Helvellyn plateau. For anyone venturing out tomorrow, please note that continued severe gale to storm-force winds are in the forecast accompanied by more snow and/or freezing rain. The high fells are in full winter condition and careful planning and preparation is required for anyone venturing above the snowline. Terrain is widely frozen down to valley level and ice is present on paths from low levels upwards, particularly around any drainage lines. Notably, the path leading up to Grisedale Tarn from Dunmail Raise is particularly affected by large areas of ice that are difficult to avoid. The fells in the west of the National Park have generally less snow cover than central and eastern fells. However, on the western side of Helvellyn, the snowline starts at roughly 600m with continuous cover up to summit level. Most of the snow is either old exposed névé (refrozen snow) or scoured with a breakable crust overlying unconsolidated sugary snow. Airborn snow was seen blowing high above the top of Lower Man and Browncove Crags today and being deposited onto its north and northwest facing slopes. Windslab will be developing on similar aspects, particularly at the top of gullies, scarp slopes, and on ridge flanks in the lee of the wind. These are likely to be extremely reactive and should be treated with caution. Even small areas of windslab present a hazard on steep ground as it is not very well bonded to the underlying crust and it would only take a small area of snow to fail to potentially take you off your feet and into a fall. Most of the paths and other terrain and water features above the snowline are buried under the snow and can't be relied upon to find your way if visibility deteriorates. A map and compass and good mountain navigation skills will be essential in such conditions in the coming days. Steep and exposed routes such as Swirral and Striding edge should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience and appropriate equipment. In any high winds similar to today, they are not advisable! A slip in the wrong place (even on moderately steep ground) could result in a long and damaging fall. Small cornices are present around corrie rims and will become unstable in the milder temperatures that are forecast in the coming week. Extreme care should be taken in areas in close proximity to the corrie rims which might not be visible in cloudy conditions. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional equipment including an ice axe, crampons/microspikes, headtorch, and survival bag are all essential for anyone going into the higher fells. Goggles will also be essential for navigating safely in windy conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and aware of your limits.
12th Feb 2021 Fairfield summit -6.1 -16.0 20.0 16.3 SSE Here is today's report: Another fine, clear day in the Lakes with little change in the ground conditions but an increase in wind speed over yesterday. The high fells are in full winter condition and careful planning and preparation is required for anyone venturing above the snowline. Terrain is widely frozen down to valley level and ice is present on paths from low levels upwards, particularly around any drainage lines. Notably, the path leading up to Grisedale Tarn from Dunmail Raise is particularly affected by large areas of ice that are difficult to avoid. The fells in the west of the National Park have generally less snow cover than central and eastern fells. However, on the western side of Helvellyn, the snowline starts at roughly 600m with continuous cover up to summit level. Almost all of the snow encountered today was hard and unforgiving with a well-scoured but breakable crust and small patches of reactive windslab in some sheltered/depositional areas. Although small, these areas of windslab present a hazard on any steep ground as it is not very well bonded to the underlying crust, and are likely to be present on north through west-facing aspects, particularly at the top of gullies and scarp slopes with a similar aspect. Most of the paths and other terrain and water features above the snowline are buried under the snow and can't be relied upon to find your way if visibility deteriorates. A map and compass and good mountain navigation skills will be essential in such conditions in the coming days. Steep and exposed routes such as Swirral and Striding edge should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience and appropriate equipment. In the current conditions, a slip in the wrong place (even on moderately steep ground) could result in a long and damaging fall. Small cornices are present around corrie rims, and although generally stable at the moment, they will become fragile when milder temperatures return. Extreme care should be taken in areas in close proximity to the corrie rims which might not be visible in cloudy conditions. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional equipment including an ice axe, crampons/microspikes, headtorch and survival bag are all essential for anyone going into the higher fells. Goggles are also recommended for navigating in windy conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and aware of your limits.
11th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit -5.7 -13.7 22.2 12.7 ESE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Here is today's report: A fine, clear day in the Lakes with little change in the ground conditions. The high fells are in full winter condition and careful planning and preparation is required for anyone venturing above the snowline. Terrain is widely frozen down to valley level and ice is present on paths from low levels upwards, particularly around any drainage lines. Notably, the path leading up to Grisedale Tarn from Dunmail Raise is particularly affected by large areas of ice that are difficult to avoid. The fells in the west of the National Park have generally less snow cover than central and eastern fells. However, on the western side of Helvellyn, the snowline starts at roughly 600m with continuous cover up to summit level. Almost all of the snow encountered today was hard and unforgiving with a well-scoured but breakable crust and small patches of soft windslab in some sheltered/depositional areas. Although small, these areas of windslab present a hazard on any steep ground as it is not very well bonded to the underlying crust. Most of the paths and other terrain and water features are buried under the snow and can't be relied upon to find your way if visibility deteriorates. A map and compass and good mountain navigation skills will be essential in such conditions in the coming days. Steep and exposed routes such as Swirral and Striding edge should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience and appropriate equipment. In the current conditions, a slip in the wrong place (even on moderately steep ground) could result in a long and damaging fall. Small cornices are present around corrie rims, and although generally stable at the moment, they will become fragile when milder temperatures return. Extreme care should be taken in areas in close proximity to the corrie rims which might not be visible in cloudy conditions. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and additional equipment including an ice axe, crampons/microspikes, headtorch and survival bag are all essential for anyone going into the higher fells. Goggles are also recommended for navigating in windy conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and aware of your limits.
10th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit -7.3 -16.4 23.4 15.4 NE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Here is today's report: Another cold day with lighter winds than the last few days. Terrain is widely frozen down to valley level and ice is present on paths from low levels upwards, particularly around any drainage lines. The fells in the west of the National Park have generally less snow cover than central and eastern fells. On the western side of Helvellyn, the snowline starts at roughly 400m, initially as fragmented patches and above 700m it is a continuous cover up to summit level. Almost all of the snow encountered today was hard and unforgiving with large areas of exposed nèvè (refrozen snow). An ice axe and crampons/microspikes are essential for anyone venturing onto even moderately steep ground above the snowline. Large paths and other terrain and water features are buried under the snow and can't always be relied upon to find your way. As such, navigation is very difficult in any cloud and whiteout conditions are not unlikely in the coming days. Mobile phone batteries also fail within minutes in cold temperatures so mapping software (App's) can't be relied upon. A map and compass and good mountain navigation skills are essential for anyone heading onto the higher tops. Steep and exposed routes such as Swirral and Striding edge are in full winter condition and should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience and appropriate equipment. In the current conditions, a fall in the wrong place could be long and damaging. Cornices weren't really visible today but are likely to be present around corrie rims and along ridge flanks. Extra care should be taken in areas in close proximity to corrie rims which might not be very visible. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and additional equipment including a headtorch and survival bag are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Goggles are also recommended for navigating in windy conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and aware of your limits.
9th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit -7.3 -20.0 35.5 27.0 NE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. There is currently a dramatic contrast between the cold, green valleys and the alpine conditions above the snowline which is between 400m and 450m. Below this height many paths were dry although there were patches of ice at all levels, especially on flatter sections or where paths cross drainage lines. Above 450m, snow depth rapidly increases with height with all aspects holding a significant amount of snow; even the summit plateau had an average of between 30cm to 40cm and above 850m the deepest drifts are now over 100cm. The snowpack continues to consolidate although difficulties encountered moving over it varies. Where there is either a weight baring crust or the snow has been compacted, it is relatively easy (with crampons); however it is both energy sapping and time consuming when either a non-weight baring crust or soft snow is encountered. Route planning must take this into consideration. Several snow showers were marginally adding to existing accumulations and, with Cumbria under a Met Office yellow warning for snow until midnight on Wednesday, walkers out on Wednesday should expect to encounter more snow and spindrift – especially to the E of the Park. With deep snow obscuring/obliterating landmarks, conditions above the snowline can change quickly and dramatically when snow showers blow through from bright sun to virtual or actual whiteout conditions. Excellent navigational skills are essential as is a safe back-up escape plan to ensure that you do not get caught out in a whiteout somewhere where you do not want to be. Cornices exist above, predominantly, N and E facing slopes. Although they have consolidated with the colder temperatures, some small cracks were briefly observed (when conditions allowed), so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. With a summit windchill of minus 20 degrees C, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline, regardless of route, an ice axe and crampons are essential; this is owing to the amount of hard snow and ice currently covering the fells. Anyone attempting, or traversing, steep and exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding or Swirral Edge, must be experienced in winter mountaineering including the ability to competently assess the stability, or otherwise, of the snowpack. Although the snowpack continues to consolidate, patches of unstable snow remain and more could develop with fresh snow/spindrift being blown about and deposited. Goggles are highly recommended in case fresh snow or spindrift is encountered and they also help to increase contrast when looking for steep edges. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
8th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit -7.4 -22.4 66.9 50.7 ENE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. The high fells of the Lake District are currently in full winter condition with significant amounts of snow on all aspects with the east of the National Park having the greatest accumulations. Crampons & ice axe are essential for anyone venturing above the snowline. The snow level is approximately 400m on Helvellyn but there were significant patches of ice on paths down to valley level where microspikes and trekking poles would be very useful. The snow depth increases with height to around knee deep on the tops and is continuing to consolidate and stabilise in the cold temperatures. Much of the snow now has an icy crust which is generally weight bearing. Where walkers feet have compressed the snow the going is easier but icier. Snow showers were being blown through on strong easterly winds which created temporary blizzard and whiteout conditions. The new snow was being deposited on west facing slopes and in sheltered hollows and behind features with a few areas of poorly bonded soft slab developing. Striding & Swirral Edges are both buried under deep snow with a few protruding rocks on which rime ice had formed above 800m. . The exit slopes to both Edges were passable with careful route choice and the correct equipment. The continued low temperatures mean that the snowpack will become firmer, icier and more serious with the potential for long slides / falls. Full winter clothing and equipment including ice axe and crampons are essential for anyone venturing onto the fells. The depth of snow also means that many paths and obvious features are hidden so excellent navigation is critical. Goggles were very useful today to protect the eyes from the snow showers but also to increase contrast when looking for hazards like cornices and cliff edges. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
7th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit -7.0 -23.0 61.1 50.4 E We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. The high fells of the Lake District are currently in full winter condition with significant amounts of snow on all aspects although the western fells appear to have less coverage. Crampons & ice axe are essential for anyone venturing above the snowline. The snow level is now around 400m on Helvellyn but there were significant patches of ice on paths below this altitude. The snow is beginning to consolidate and stabilise in the colder temperatures. Generally there is a breakable crust over calf to knee deep snow which will sometimes hold bodyweight but overall makes for very slow going. Where walkers feet have compressed the snow the going is easier but icier. Striding & Swirral Edges are both buried under deep snow with a few protruding rocks on which rime ice was actively forming above 850m. There has been a significant amount of avalanche activity in the last few days with multiple tracks noted in all the high Helvellyn corries. However the snowpack is now beginning to refreeze and stabilise. The exit slopes to both Edges were passable with careful route choice and the correct equipment. The forecasted low temperatures mean that the snowpack will become icier and more serious with the potential for long slides / falls. Full winter clothing and equipment including ice axe and crampons are essential for anyone venturing onto the fells. The depth of snow also means that many paths and obvious features are hidden so excellent navigation is critical. Goggles were very useful today to protect the eyes from the snow showers and grauphal but also to increase contrast when looking for hazards like cornices and cliff edges. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
6th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit -1.5 -13.5 68.8 55.7 E We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. The high fells of the Lake District are currently in full winter condition with significant amounts of snow on all aspects. There was a noticeable thaw throughout the day from the snow level at 350m up to around 700m. Depth increased markedly with altitude with an unusual calf to knee deep covering of soft snow on the Helvellyn plateau. Where the snow has been compressed by walkers feet it is consolidating but away from these "paths" the snow is still soft & wet with a slight crust which means walking is far harder physically and progress far slower than normal; factors which must be considered when route planning Striding & Swirral Edges are both buried under deep soft snow with a few protruding rocks on which rime ice was actively forming above 800m. The snow on steeper areas is just beginning to stabilise in the colder temperatures but the potential for more avalanches is still a concern. A localised venturi effect on the summit of Helvellyn gave gusts of nearly 70mph and there was some movement of snow on the easterly winds. However in general the winds were around 40mph and were having very little effect on the soft & heavy snowpack. The temperature is forecast to significantly drop for Sunday which will quickly refreeze the snow pack at all levels giving serious and icy conditions. Full winter clothing and equipment including ice axe and crampons are essential for anyone venturing onto the fells. The depth of snow means that many paths and obvious features are hidden so excellent navigation is critical. Goggles were very useful today to protect the eyes from the spindrift but also to increase contrast when looking for hazards like cornice edges and cliffs. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
5th Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.5 -4.7 13.4 4.8 ENE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. With a daytime summit temperature just above freezing, there was a slow thaw although this was only really noticeable below 500m and especially below 400m. The main snowline is now around 350m. Depth increases markedly with altitude to reach an unusual 50cm on the summit plateau itself with drifts of over 100cm. The snowpack was soft at all levels and increasingly wet with decreased elevation. Breaking trail through the snowpack is energy sapping and even following footprints was heavy going. Excellent navigation is required as the deep snow obscures landmarks (including cairns), paths are completely covered and low cloud creates virtual, or actual, whiteout conditions. Therefore routes above the snowline are far harder physically and progress far slower than normal; factors which must be considered when route planning. The soft and wet snow has also created an extremely unstable snowpack on steep slopes – especially on N and E facing where, above 700m, old hard snow existed prior to the recent snowfall. There are reports of snow sliding down Helvellyn, Catstye Cam and Whiteside. Cornices exist above some N & E facing slopes. Owing to extremely poor visibility it was impossible to either see or inspect them so they could already have collapsed and contributed to the snow that has slid down the slope. If not, they will be extremely unstable, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Upland tarns, such as Red Tarn, are hidden beneath a layer of snow so also need to be avoided; not as simple as it sounds in whiteout conditions. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Goggles are highly recommended in case fresh snow or spindrift is encountered. Although the snowpack on Friday was soft, it would only take a marginal drop in temperature, (currently forecast on Saturday at altitude) for ice and hard snow to readily form creating very different conditions. Therefore, for those venturing above the snowline, regardless of route, an ice axe and crampons are essential. Anyone attempting, or traversing, steep and exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding or Swirral Edge, must be experienced in winter mountaineering including the ability to competently assess the stability, or otherwise, of the snowpack. (The reason why the Assessor avoided Striding Edge, specifically because of its unstable exit, on both Thursday & Friday). Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
4th Feb 2021 Helvellyn Trig Point 0.2 -7.4 23.0 13.9 S We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live Heavy snow fell overnight on light winds giving a fairly uniform distribution across most aspects of the Lake District fells. At 300m the snow was soft, wet and approximately boot deep. Depths increased dramatically with altitude with an unusual calf to mid thigh deep snow pack found on the Helvellyn plateau. Paths above 600m were totally drifted in and invisible and this combined with whiteout conditions at times made for very slow going. Progress on foot was taking 2-3 times longer than usual. There was a sudden increase in temperature after the snow and heavy rain fell up to altitudes of 800m producing a striking network of drainage channels on the snows surface but also an unstable snowpack. Striding and Swirral Edges are both buried beneath soft and sticky deep snow with flutings and small cornices evident on the northern side of the ridge. Even on the crest the snow was calf to mid thigh deep and any routes on the flanks were fully buried in unstable deep snow. Any snow knocked off the ridge readily formed snow wheels which rapidly increased in size as they disappeared down into the gloom! The headwall on Striding Edge would have been a very high risk option today and the exit to Swirral was marginal with just enough rocks showing to plot a secure route up. There were multiple wet snow, or possible cornice collapse, avalanches on the Red Tarn face of Helvellyn, Catstycam Gully and in Kepple Cove. These had all occurred on steep and craggy NW - NE aspects with the debris fields extending as low as 500m. Any cornices will be incredibly unstable with summit temperatures above freezing and the additional loading from the new snow. Please give them a very wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise. Red Tarn was still frozen with approximately 90% of the ice covered in snow. In poor visibility with the majority of landmarks obscured it would easily be possible to wander onto this hazard. Full winter clothing and equipment are required by anyone venturing onto the fells with goggles also being very useful today. An ice axe and crampons are essential for safe travel in the current very challenging conditions. Just a small drop in temperature will quickly refreeze the snow pack giving very serious and icy conditions at all levels. Please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
3rd Feb 2021 c100m from Helvellyn summit -1.7 -9.1 17.9 11.3 ESE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. It’s groundhog day with a repetition of Tuesday’s caveat! For those undertaking their local exercise on Thursday, unfortunately this report is probably already out of date as I write it since it was still snowing (raining in the valleys) as I left the hill and yet again Cumbria is currently under another Met Office Yellow warning for snow until 6pm on Thursday. Therefore please expect, and be prepared to encounter, more snow than experienced and described on Wednesday. The following report, though, will give you an idea of what ground any fresh snow will be covering. Fresh snow has settled above c300m deposited on predominantly E winds adding to existing accumulations. The precipitation was falling as rain below c300m. As usual, the depth of the snow that’s fallen over the past 48 hours varies considerably from little on windswept areas to drifts of up to 60cm at 900m in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly W facing aspects with a very approximate average being around 8cm at 900m . The consistency of the recent snow also varies from mainly wet below 500m to soft powder above this altitude. Above 700m, especially on E and N facing aspects, there is old, hard snow above which the fresh snow, deposited on E winds, was failing to settle. That was the situation where observation was possible, however owing to extremely poor visibility it was not possible to inspect Helvellyn’s main E face where there is a possibility that an unstable layer of snow could be building on it and other such slopes. A particular hazard on paths, especially on flatter sections or where they cross drainage lines, is fresh snow covering patches of ice. This was also a problem above 700m on popular routes where old compacted snow and ice was hidden. On windswept areas, especially above 800m, large areas of ground were covered by ice. On Monday, small cracks were observed in some of the cornices that exist above N and E facing slopes. Again owing to poor visibility, it was not possible to safely inspect them today but please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Upland tarns, such as Red Tarn, have frozen and may now be hidden under fresh snow. This combined with slightly milder temperatures makes them extremely dangerous to walk on. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Goggles are highly recommended given the amount of fresh snow and spindrift being blown about. For those venturing above the snowline, an ice axe and crampons are essential. This is the case even on the so called “easy” routes owing to the amount of ice and hard snow (especially above 750m) making the going treacherous without the proper equipment even on relatively flat ground. The fell top assessor turned back today c100m before the summit owing to lack of visibility and the inability to clearly see the edges of steep drops; hence excellent navigational skills are required when deep snow obscuring landmarks is combined with low cloud especially when snow/spindrift is being blown about and obliterating your upward footprints – you can’t simply turn around and follow your footprints back down. There is the potential for walkers out on Thursday to encounter deep fresh snow, trudging through which saps energy; so please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
2nd Feb 2021 Great Rigg summit (766m) -1.8 -11.6 28.7 25.0 ESE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. For those undertaking their local exercise on Wednesday, unfortunately this report is probably already out of date as I write it since it was still snowing (raining in the valleys) as I left the hill and yet again Cumbria is currently under another Met Office Yellow warning for snow until midnight on Thursday. (With an additional yellow warning for rain at lower elevations from 6pm on Tuesday until midday on Thursday). Therefore please expect, and be prepared to encounter, far more snow than experienced and described on Tuesday. The following report, though, will give you an idea of what ground any fresh snow will be covering. Fresh snow has settled at all levels deposited on a predominantly E wind. It was thawing below 350m with a rapid thaw below 200m. The consistency of the snowpack was mainly wet at lower elevations and powder higher up where unaffected by the thaw. As usual, depth varied from little on windswept areas to drifts of up to 20cm at 750m in sheltered spots and hollows. Above 700m, especially on E and N facing aspects, there is old, hard snow above which the fresh snow, deposited on E winds, was failing to settle. That was the situation observed on Great Rigg, but may not be the case elsewhere where an unstable layer of snow could be building on such slopes. A particular hazard on paths, especially on flatter sections or where they cross drainage lines, was fresh snow covering patches of ice. This was also a problem above 700m on popular routes where old compacted snow and ice was hidden. Also above 700m some rocks were covered in verglas (thin ice). On Monday, small cracks were observed in some of the cornices that exist above N and E facing slopes, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Upland tarns, such as Red Tarn, have frozen and may now be hidden under fresh snow. This combined with slightly milder temperatures makes them extremely dangerous to walk on. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Goggles are highly recommended given the amount of fresh snow and spindrift being blown about. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, exposed ground an ice axe and crampons are essential in case hard snow or ice is encountered. There is the potential for walkers out on Wednesday to encounter deep fresh snow, trudging through which saps energy; so please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
1st Feb 2021 Helvellyn summit -3.4 -10.2 10.8 9.8 NNE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Yet again this season, today’s report comes with a health warning in that Cumbria is currently under another Met Office Yellow warning for snow from 10pm on Monday until midnight on Wednesday. (ie 50 hours!) Therefore anyone exercising locally in the fells on Tuesday should expect, and be prepared to encounter, far more snow than experienced and described on Monday. The following report, though, will give you an idea of what ground any fresh snow will be covering. Ground conditions have changed little over the past 48 hours. Below 700m many paths were dry; however patches of ice were encountered at all levels especially on drainage lines or flatter ground where water had been able to thaw prior to freezing. The main snow line is around 700m; however depth and coverage varies enormously from nothing at all on windswept areas and many S and W facing slopes, to drifts deep enough to swallow a 70cm ice axe – although such depth is the exception. The largest accumulations of snow are to be found on E and N facing aspects. The snow was hard and occasionally icy. Any fresh snow falling on this old snow will not bond to it potentially creating an unstable layer and this must be considered for anyone attempting, or traversing, exposed ground above 700m on predominantly E or N facing slopes. Small cracks have appeared in some of the cornices that exist above N and E facing slopes, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Upland tarns, such as Red Tarn, have frozen. It is likely that on Tuesday they could be hidden under fresh snow. This combined with slightly milder temperatures will make them extremely dangerous to walk on. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, exposed ground an ice axe and crampons are essential. Given the weather forecast, goggles are highly recommended. There is the potential for walkers out on Tuesday to encounter deep fresh snow, trudging through which saps energy; so please be conservative with your plans and know both your limits and also when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
31st Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -4.1 -9.8 16.4 7.4 SSW (variable) We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Here is today's report: A cold day in the hills with good visibility and light winds. Conditions have changed little overnight, and terrain was widely frozen down to low levels throughout the day. The snowline starts at roughly 700m and over the majority of ground above this height, it is a patchwork of snow, ice, and bare ground. Below 700m, the paths are largely clear of snow, although ice is present in places, particularly around any drainage lines. The greatest accumulations of snow are generally found on steep ground in high NE facing corries, gullies, and scarp slopes where long ribbons of snow still run unbroken right down to the corrie floor. All of the snow encountered today was hard névé (refrozen snow) and required the use of crampons to move over safely, even on relatively easy-angled terrain. Swirral and Striding edge both have steep banks of unavoidable hard snow on their exit slopes. The consequences of a slip or fall in these areas (or similar steep ground) could potentially be very long and damaging. Cold conditions look set to continue into next week, so it is advised that anyone venturing into the higher fells is adequately equipped. Full winter clothing (warm/waterproof layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, as well as a map, compass and headtorch are all essential. For anyone planning routes on steep or exposed ground, crampons and an ice axe are also essential. Microspikes and walking poles are useful for easier angled (non-consequential) terrain. Please be conservative with your plans.
30th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -4.6 -17.1 46.7 35.4 E - ENE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. A pleasant change is that below 500m many paths, especially pitched ones, were dry! Above 400m there were patches of ice on paths especially on drainage lines or flatter ground where water had frozen in the overnight frost or where old snow has been compacted and the frequency of such slippery ground increased with altitude. The main snow line is around 700m; however depth and coverage varies enormously from little or nothing on windswept areas, such as parts of the summit plateau, to deep drifts able to swallow a 70cm ice axe – although such depth is the exception. The largest accumulations of snow are to be found on E and N facing aspects. The snowpack on Friday was mainly wet and with a hard overnight and daytime frost, this snow is now hard, icy and treacherous for anyone without proper winter equipment. Cracks have appeared in some of the cornices that exist above N and E facing slopes, so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Upland tarns, such as Red Tarn, have partially frozen and may possibly be completely frozen on Sunday but will be unsafe to walk on. The coldest summit windchill measured so far this season (of minus 17 degrees C) was recorded around midday today, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. It was disappointing to see some people out today dressed in trainers and without additional clothing. Given the large amount of ice and hard snow above 700m, it is unfortunately all to easy to turn an ankle. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, exposed ground an ice axe and crampons are essential. Striding Edge was lulling people into a false sense of security today as its crest is mainly bare rock. Its exit, however, is guarded by a bank of steep, deep, unavoidable hard snow and ice. There are steps cut into it and were being used by people without crampons and ice axes. Although this can be done, a slip without the means to stop yourself could have extremely serious consequences; please be conservative with your plans, know your limits and know when to turn back. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
29th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.9 -3.7 19.4 11.3 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally. Here is today's report: A cloudy day with light winds and thawing conditions at all levels. The snow level now starts at around 700m. Above this height, and across the Helvellyn plateau, the ground is now a patchwork of wet snow, ice, and exposed ground. Many of the paths are still substantially covered in snow, and in reduced visibility, they may be difficult to follow. The greatest accumulations of snow are to be found on steep north through east-facing aspects where significant quantities still remain. Many of the cornices (snow overhangs) have collapsed in the milder temperatures, however, they are still present in these areas, generally around corrie rims. Please give them a wide berth. The forecast going into the weekend is for subzero temperatures down to low levels. Any remaining snow will re-freeze and with all the wet ground, ice may also be present over large areas. Swirral and Striding edge (and similar steep and exposed routes) will be serious propositions in these conditions and should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience and the correct equipment including an ice axe and crampons. For anyone venturing into the high fells, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional items including a headtorch, map and compass, and goggles (for navigating in windy conditions) are essential. Walking poles and microspikes are also very useful. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
28th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.2 -7.0 21.3 17.2 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally. Here is today's report: Around 3 inches of fresh snow fell overnight down to around 400m. The freezing level rose to just above summit level during the morning, and it was raining lightly across the tops just before midday. The milder temperatures meant that much of the snow encountered today was soft and heavy making walking quite arduous. Relatively light winds overnight and during the day means that wet snow has settled over much of Helvellyn's summit plateau. As a result, many of the paths have been covered over once again and in today's thick cloud, visibility was reduced significantly giving near whiteout conditions at times. At higher elevations, older patches of névé (refrozen snow) are still quite resistant to the thawing conditions and lie underneath the new snow in places. The greatest accumulations of snow are to be found on steep north through east-facing aspects where significant quantities remain. Fragile cornices (snow overhangs) are also present around many north and east-facing corrie rims and cracks have appeared as they begin to collapse in the milder temperatures. These are a considerable hazard to walkers (especially in reduced visibility) as they are generally found above steep, craggy ground and in close proximity to many of the paths, as well as the trig point on Helvellyn. Please give them a wide berth. Steep and exposed routes such as Striding and Swirral edge are both serious propositions at the moment and should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience. Anyone venturing above the snowline tomorrow should anticipate challenging conditions with significantly reduced visibility in any cloud. Please do not rely on being able to follow paths or other people's footprints and be prepared to navigate in whiteout conditions. For anyone venturing into the fells, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), and equipment including mountain boots, ice axe and crampons are essential. Additional items including a map and compass and goggles (for navigating in windy conditions) are also essential. Walking poles and microspikes are also very useful. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
27th Jan 2021 Nethermost Pike summit 2.2 -2.7 11.5 9.8 WNW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally. Here is today's report: A cloudy day with light winds and thawing conditions at all levels up to and including the highest tops. The snowline has retreated back up the hill to around 500m and most of the snow encountered today was soft, sugary, and wet. Ice is present on paths (particularly at mid-altitude), where snow has previously been compacted by walkers and refrozen. Older patches of névé (old refrozen snow) are quite resistant to the thawing conditions at higher elevations and are still quite firm. Snow distribution is now quite marked, with many south and west-facing slopes being a patchwork of snow and exposed ground. Deep drifts (over 1 metre in places) are still present in many sheltered areas on these aspects. The greatest accumulations of snow are to be found on steep north through east-facing aspects where significant quantities remain. Large cornices (snow overhangs) have been seen in these locations (around corrie rims) over the last few days, and in the milder temperatures, they will be extremely unstable. These are a considerable hazard to walkers as they are generally found above steep, craggy ground and in close proximity to many of the paths, as well as the trig point on Helvellyn. Walking too close to, or onto a cornice could cause it to collapse, potentially taking a person with it. Please give them a wide berth. It will only take a marginal drop in temperature overnight for the remaining wet snow to refreeze. Anyone venturing above the snowline tomorrow should anticipate large unavoidable areas of hard refrozen snow. Steep and exposed routes such as Striding and Swirral edge are both serious propositions at the moment and should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience. For anyone venturing into the fells, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and additional items including a map and compass and goggles (for navigating in windy conditions) are all essential. For those considering routes on steep and exposed terrain, an ice axe and crampons are also essential. Walking poles and microspikes are also very useful. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
26th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -2.3 -11.3 31.6 23.2 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally. Here is today's report: A cloudy day with fresh snowfall down to Swirls car park (220m) during the morning which started to fall more heavily in the early afternoon. The higher fells were extremely challenging today with near white-out, and occasional full white-out conditions making navigation very difficult. The wind speeds recorded today are less than was experienced on the way down and are estimated to have been around 40mph at times. Major paths were almost impossible to follow over large areas and footprints that were made on the way up were entirely filled in on the return journey. Straying off route in these conditions is potentially dangerous, as large, unstable cornices (snow overhangs) are present and continuing to build around many north and east-facing corrie rims. These are a considerable hazard to walkers as they are generally found above steep, craggy ground and in close proximity to many of the paths, as well as the trig point on Helvellyn. Walking too close to, or onto a cornice could cause it to collapse, potentially taking a person with it. Goggles were essential today, as was a map and compass and proficiency in mountain navigation (specifically taking and walking on a bearing with almost no visibility but being aware of where the hazards are). Snow distribution is varied with the greatest accumulations on north through east-facing aspects where drifts up to 1 metre deep are not uncommon. South and west-facing slopes generally hold less snow, and high ground, exposed to the wind has been scoured exposing old hard refrozen snow (névé). New and drifted snow often lies over névé and ice, making even moderately angled ground serious to negotiate without microspikes or crampons. Unstable windslab is continuing to accumulate on many steep scarp slopes, in gullies, as well as along ridge flanks. Steep and exposed routes such as Striding and Swirral edge are both serious propositions at the moment and should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience and the correct equipment. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), and mountain boots are essential for anyone venturing into the fells. Walking poles are also very useful. For those considering routes on steep and exposed terrain, an ice axe and crampons are also essential. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
25th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -2.6 -12.7 27.2 22.7 W We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. The main feature of today was the amount of snow being redistributed around the fells by the fresh westerly winds. The snow cover is now very variable with westerly aspects being scoured and deep drifts and wind slab developing behind features, in hollows and sheltered spots and on generally easterly aspects. The exit slopes to Striding Edge were a serious proposition today with lots of unstable soft snow and windslab being laid down beneath a steep cornice. Any tracks from the weekend have disappeared beneath the drifting snow. If you do decide to attempt this or similar slopes then careful route choice staying on or close to rocks as much as possible will be key. A simple slip or slide here would potentially take you into steep and rocky terrain below with serious consequences. The drifting snow will also make navigation trickier especially when the cloud is down. Please don't rely on following summer paths or footsteps as they may not be visible. Striding and Swirral Edges are both a mixture of soft snow, rime ice, sheet ice and bare rock. The ridge crest was the easiest option today as many of the easier options on the flanks were banked out with drifted snow. Large cornices are continuing to build above NE through SE aspects and are now a considerable hazard to walkers and climbers. The cornices above the east face of Helvellyn ie right next to the summit trig point are 2-3m. Please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise. Areas which have been scoured such as the Helvellyn plateau are a mixture of old icy snow, rime ice and frozen ground. Additionally many of the paths are becoming icier underfoot as the snow is compressed beneath walkers feet. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Although the snowpack is currently mainly soft, for those venturing above the snowline an ice axe and crampons are essential. A simple slip on the Helvellyn Edges or other exposed terrain could have very serious consequences without the means to quickly stop your slide. Even on the so called “easy” route up Helvellyn from Swirls, Thirlmere there is a large area of unavoidable, steep, hard icy snow to cross. Goggles were also very useful to combat the copious amounts of spindrift. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
24th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -4.5 -8.3 4.0 2.7 E We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. A cold and still night with a few snow showers gave way to another fine day across the Lake District fells. Conditions were very similar to yesterday with the snow level around 300m on shaded slopes but where exposed to the sun it is much higher. There is a significant amount of ice on paths especially between 200m and 600m and microspikes and walking poles are very useful. Generally the snow is soft and increases in depth with altitude up to 1m+ on lee slopes and in hollows. In places it is overlying and poorly bonded to old refrozen snow or neve. There were also patches of windslab around on steep NE through SE aspects which if triggered would easily be enough to take you off your feet and potentially into steep and rocky terrain below. Where the snow is being compressed by walkers feet it is becoming hard and icy Large cornices are present above NE through SE aspects and are now a considerable hazard to walkers and climbers. The cornices above the east face of Helvellyn ie right next to the summit trig point are 2-3m. Please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise. Striding and Swirral Edges are both a mixture of deep soft snow, rime ice and bare rock. The ridge crest was the easiest option today as many of the easier options on the flanks were banked out with drifted snow. The exit to the Striding Edge felt very serious with a large bank of steep and deep poorly bonded soft snow and a cornice to surmount. The exit to Swirral Edge has now banked out as well but is generally more wind scoured and icy overall. The lighter winds have allowed more snow to settle on the Helvellyn plateau and there is now a good covering with some large drifts. Surface hoar crystals are also starting to develop in the calm conditions Despite the calm and sunny conditions the summit windchill was still minus 8 degrees C Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Although the snowpack is currently mainly soft, for those venturing above the snowline an ice axe and crampons are essential. A simple slip on the Helvellyn Edges or other exposed terrain could have very serious consequences without the means to quickly stop your slide. Even on the so called “easy” route up Helvellyn from Swirls, Thirlmere there is a large area of unavoidable, steep, hard icy snow to cross. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
23rd Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -4.6 -13.5 20.1 16.1 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally to where they live. A hard frost overnight with a few snow showers gave way to a fine day on the Lake District fells. The snow level is around 300m on shaded slopes but where exposed to the sun is much higher. Generally the snow is soft and increases in depth with altitude up to 1m+ on lee slopes and in hollows. In places it is overlying and poorly bonded to old refrozen snow or neve. There were also plenty of patches of windslab around on NE through SE aspects which if triggered would easily be enough to take you off your feet and potentially into steep and rocky terrain below. Large cornices are continuing to develop above NE through SE aspects and are now a considerable hazard to walkers and climbers. The cornices above east face of Helvellyn ie right next to the summit trig point are 2-3m. Please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise. Striding and Swirral Edges are both a mixture of deep soft snow, rime ice and bare rock. The ridge crest was the easiest option today as many of the easier options on the flanks were banked out with drifted snow. The exit to Striding Edge is a large bank of steep and deep poorly bonded soft snow and there is a cornice to sumount. Swirral Edge was more wind scoured and icy. The lighter winds have allowed more snow to settle on the Helvellyn platea and there is now a good covering with some large drifts. With a summit windchill around midday of minus 13 degrees C, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Although the snowpack is currently mainly soft, for those venturing above the snowline an ice axe and crampons are essential. This is due to the older hard snow and ice that can be encountered and this is not limited to the more exposed routes, such as Striding and Swirral Edges. On the so called “easy” route up Helvellyn from Swirls, Thirlmere there was a large area of unavoidable, steep, hard icy snow where a slip without the means to stop yourself quickly could have serious consequences. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
22nd Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -2.9 -13.3 28.3 24 W We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Yet again this week, today’s report comes with a health warning in that currently Cumbria is under another Met Office Yellow warning for both snow and ice from 4pm on Friday until 10-30am on Saturday. Therefore anyone exercising locally in the fells on Saturday should expect, and be prepared to encounter, more snow and ice (especially at lower elevations) than experienced and described in the following report. Below 500m, there is a slow daytime thaw of the snow that has fallen over the past 48 hours with the main snowline now being around 400m. However, this snow now being wet/thawed combined with an overnight valley frost tonight will create hard snow/ice below 500m on Saturday. Above 400m snow depth rises with altitude. It has been accompanied with strong predominantly W winds so the depth varies considerably from little on windswept areas (such as large parts of the summit plateau) to deep drifts of over one meter (although such depth is the exception) with 40-50cm drifts being relatively commonplace in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly SE to NE facing aspects. The fresh snow is soft powder and continues to be redistributed. Above 800m, again mainly on SE to NE facing aspects, the fresh snow can lie above neve (hard snow) with the 2 layers not bonding. This combined with windslab in the same areas has created unstable conditions which should be avoided. There are cornices above N and E facing slopes. Although they are small, they are also unstable so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. With a summit windchill around midday of minus 13 degrees C, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Although the snowpack is currently mainly soft, for those venturing above the snowline an ice axe and crampons are essential. This is due to the older hard snow and ice that can be encountered and this is not limited to the more exposed routes, such as Striding and Swirral Edges. On the so called “easy” route up Helvellyn from Thirlmere there was a large area of unavoidable, steep, hard icy snow where a slip without the means to stop yourself quickly could have serious consequences. Owing to the amount of spindrift and hail being blown about, goggles are highly recommended. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful. Trudging through soft snow saps the energy and, in addition, deep snow obscuring landmarks, combined with low cloud demands excellent navigational skills (especially near steep drops) so please be conservative with your plans for Saturday and know your limits. A pandemic is not the time to be pushing your comfort zone.
21st Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -2.4 -13.5 43.8 35.9 W We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally. Overnight snow settled down to 250m as Storm Christoph blew through. At higher elevations this was being rapidly redistributed onto mainly NE through SE aspects. This was being deposited as unstable soft wind slab in gullies, on steep slopes and in sheltered hollows up to a depth of 50cm. In a significant number of places this is overlying old icy snow which had survived the thaw of the last few days and has now refrozen hard, Additionally there were large volumes of grauphal being moved around in the wind. The combination of these factors mean that there are some very unstable areas of snow with a risk of avalanche. Unstable cornices were continuing to build above N through E to S slopes. Please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience to do likewise. The Helvellyn plateau was generally frozen and scoured clear of snow. However there are some very large drifts to the lee of features and in hollows. The Swirls path is particularly badly affected with deep drifts to negotiate between 600-800m. There is also a large unavoidable patch of hard icy snow at Swirls Steep which requires an ice axe and crampons to safely cross. Swirral and Striding Edges are generally buried under drifts of deep snow overlying old refrozen neve with rime ice forming above 800m. Again an ice axe and crampons are essential for anyone tackling this or similar terrain. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Although the snowpack is currently mainly soft it is overlying a lot of refrozen and icy old snow and for those venturing above the snowline an ice axe and crampons are essential. Goggles are highly recommended to lessen the sting of hail and spindrift. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful. With a lot of fresh snow on the fells and a high potential for avalanches please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
20th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.1 -5.8 10.9 9.0 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Today’s report comes with a health warning (and we are all used to them at the moment!) in that Cumbria is under a Met Office Yellow warning for both rain and snow (depending upon altitude) until 6am on Thursday. Therefore anyone exercising locally in the fells on Thursday should expect, and be prepared to encounter, more snow than experienced and described in the following report. The remaining snow has continued to thaw over the past 24 hours. Large areas of the fells up to and including summit level are now free from snow. That said, above 800m a significant amount of snow remains in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly N and E facing slopes where the deepest drifts can easily swallow a 70cm ice axe, although such depth is the exception. The snowpack was mostly soft and very wet, although, especially above 850m, there were patches of hard snow. Also above 850m, there were isolated patches of ice on paths especially on flat or gently sloping ground where water or thawed snow had frozen solid overnight. The summit temperature at midday was zero degrees and the precipitation changed from rain to hail to sleet/snow in the space of 15 minutes! This snow was already starting to settle above 800m as the assessor left the hill. Thus above 850m fresh snow could now be settling above patches of ice and some hard snow creating treacherous conditions. The cornices that exist above N and E facing slopes have both weakened and shrunk over the past 24 hours. Although they are small, they are extremely unstable so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Although the snowpack is currently mainly soft, for those venturing above the snowline an ice axe is essential and crampons must be carried in case ice is encountered. Goggles are highly recommended to lessen the sting of hail and spindrift. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful. With fresh snow on the fells and the potential for deep drifts, please be conservative with your plans for Thursday and know your limits.
19th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.6 -4.9 16.5 11.3 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. There is a thaw at all levels with constant rain accompanying today’s walk and Cumbria under a Met Office weather warning for rain until midday on Wednesday – when the warning currently changes to snow. At midday, it was just above freezing on the summit and the precipitation was still falling as rain. The main snowline is now around 750m with only patches of avoidable snow below that height. Even above 750m, large areas of the fells right up to and including summit level are free from snow. That said, a significant amount of snow remains in sheltered spots and hollows and on predominantly N and E facing slopes where the deepest drifts can easily swallow a 70cm ice axe, although such depth is the exception. The snowpack is soft and very wet. The main obstacle on paths was ice. This was found above 850m and especially on flat or gently sloping ground where water or thawed snow had frozen solid overnight. This ice was at a transitional stage in that one minute you could be walking in slush and the next step was on ice making conditions especially treacherous. The cornices that exist above N and E facing slopes consist of wet snow and are weakening. As such, although they are small, they are extremely unstable so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Although the snowpack is currently soft and thawing, for those venturing above the snowline, an ice axe is essential and crampons must be carried. This is simply because it will only take a marginal drop in temperature for the thaw to cease and the considerable amount of remaining snow to freeze. A slip on such hard snow without the means to stop yourself would have serious consequences. Goggles are highly recommended in case the rain changes to hail at altitude. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful as will be, given Wednesday’s forecast following Tuesday’s rain, flippers and a boat!!
18th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -0.3 -9.6 29.8 24.4 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Fresh snow fell overnight and settled above c750m. However, there was a slow daytime thaw at virtually all levels with almost constant light rain and drizzle. This was only falling as a mixture of hail, sleet and rain at summit level where the temperature at 1pm was marginally below zero degrees. There are small isolated patches of avoidable snow from 500m and these grow in number and size with altitude with the main snow line being around 700m. The snow pack was soft and very wet with the only exceptions being at summit level, where there was some hard snow, and where snow had previously been compacted on popular routes. Ice was also present in similar locations. Snow depth varied from little on windswept areas, such as parts of the summit plateau, to drifts of over a meter in sheltered spots and hollows and on generally N to E facing slopes, although such depth is the exception. There are cornices above N and E facing slopes. The ones over the headwall of Helvellyn appeared to consist (I did not get too close!) of soft snow with a hard crust. Therefore please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Although the snow pack is currently soft, for those venturing above the snowline, an ice axe is essential and crampons must be carried. This is simply because it will only take a marginal drop in temperature for the considerable amount of snow to harden and for a slip without the means to stop yourself having serious consequences. Crampons were useful today on the flat summit plateau owing to the amount of ice. Goggles are highly recommended to lessen the sting of hail and spindrift. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful. Deep snow obscuring landmarks combined with low cloud demands excellent navigational skills as paths cannot simply be followed and steep drops are far less obvious, so please be conservative with your plans and know your limits. With Cumbria under a yellow warning for rain all day, Tuesday unfortunately won’t be the best day to be out anyway!!
17th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -1.0 -8.3 26.1 19.7 WNW We are continuing to provide fell top condition reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally and not leave the village, town, or city where they live. A fresh dusting of snow overnight added to the significant quantities that survived yesterday's thaw, and above 700m, snow and large areas of ice are still present over almost all of the ground up to and including the summit. Small areas of snow exist at lower levels, however, they are fairly easy to avoid. Much of the snow encountered today was well consolidated and frozen, meaning that a potential slip in the wrong place (if not stopped) would quickly pick up speed and could result in a long and damaging fall. Strong winds over the last couple of days mean that snow distribution and depth is quite varied. Any high, exposed ground has a fairly thin cover, whereas slopes in the lee of the preceding winds (north through east-facing) have the largest accumulations. Fragile cornices are present around north and east-facing corrie rims and these should be avoided. Swirral and Striding edge are both in full winter condition and should only be attempted by those with sufficient winter mountaineering experience - An ice axe and crampons are essential for these and other similar steep and exposed routes in the area. For anyone venturing into the fells, full winter clothing including waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves, mountain boots, as well as a map and compass, headtorch, and a survival blanket are all essential. Goggles are also recommended for navigating in windy conditions. Microspikes and walking poles are also very useful at the moment. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
16th Jan 2021 North Ridge of Lower Man 1.9 -9.1 70.7 59.1 W We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town, or city where they live. It should be noted that the police were questioning and possibly fining people who were returning back down off the hill today with cars registered from outside Cumbria. Gale to storm force winds were the main feature of today's weather making walking particularly arduous over any high and exposed ground. The snowline was down to Swirls car park this morning (roughly 200m), however, it was thawing at all levels up to 800m from where today's readings were taken. Snow depth increases a little with height and was typically around ankle-deep, although drifts up of up to one metre are not uncommon. Strong winds yesterday and today mean that snow distribution is now quite varied. Windward slopes (generally south through to west facing) have been quite well scoured and typically hold less snow than slopes in the lee of the wind (north through to east facing). Although not inspected today, cornices were seen building yesterday around many north and east-facing corrie rims, and in today's thawing conditions they will have been very unstable. It will only take a marginal drop in temperature to refreeze today's wet snow which would create particularly challenging and potentially treacherous conditions for the ill-prepared. Anyone attempting steep and exposed routes such as Swirral and Striding edge should only do so if they have sufficient winter mountaineering experience and equipment including an ice axe and crampons. For anyone venturing out into the fells, full winter clothing including waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves, mountain boots, as well as a map and compass, headtorch and survival blanket are all essential. Goggles are also recommended for navigating in windy conditions. Microspikes and walking poles are also very useful at the moment. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
15th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -4.4 -14.1 21.6 19.7 SSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town, or city where they live. It was a fine day in the fells today with a cloud inversion blanketing large areas in the south of the national park. The snow level was around 300m and it remained sub-zero throughout the day from this altitude upwards. Snow depth increases with height and was typically around boot deep above 700m in areas where it wasn't affected by the wind. Drifts up to one metre deep are not uncommon. Older snow and ice also lies underneath the new snow, typically on high, steep ground in the north and east-facing corries. Almost all of the snow that fell yesterday is dry and unconsolidated making it very susceptible to wind transportation and this was happening at almost all levels on fresh to strong southwesterly winds. As a result, many slopes exposed to these winds were becoming scoured today and the snow was being redistributed on opposite north through east-facing slopes. Pockets of very unstable windslab have formed on many different aspects, typically along ridge flanks and around corrie rims where cornices are also building. A small avalanche was witnessed today on the Helvellyn headwall which would have been large enough to take you off your feet. Swirral and Striding edge are both in full winter condition and require a lot of care and good judgement. Anyone attempting these, or similar steep, exposed routes should only do so if they have sufficient winter mountaineering experience and equipment including an ice axe and crampons. With summit windchill around minus 14°C today, full winter clothing including waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves, mountain boots, as well as a map and compass, headtorch and survival blanket are all essential for anyone heading out onto the fells. With all the loose snow blowing around, goggles are also recommended. Microspikes and poles are also very useful. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
14th Jan 2021 Great Rigg summit (766m) -2.1 -11.8 28.7 22.7 E We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. Today’s report comes with a health warning (and we are all used to them at the moment!) in that it was snowing heavily whilst I was on the hill, continued to do so as I descended and Cumbria is under a Met Office Yellow warning for snow and ice until 9pm on Thursday. Therefore anyone exercising locally in the fells on Friday should expect and be prepared to encounter more snow than described and experienced on Thursday. Depending upon your starting point, snow was falling and settling virtually down to valley level and certainly above 200m. At this altitude it was soft and wet with paths saturated so if there is an overnight valley frost tonight (currently not forecast, but only marginally so) walkers on Friday should expect to encounter ice on paths at all levels. With increasing altitude, the consistency of the snowpack changed to soft powder. The snow was being deposited on a predominantly easterly (SE-NE) strong breeze (5 to 6 on the Beaufort wind scale) with only 2cm on windblown areas to drifts of over 1m in sheltered spots and hollows. A very approximate average was around 10cm at 750m, with knee deep drifts being fairly common. This made the going hard and laborious and should be considered when route planning for Friday. Above 600m, and increasingly above 700m, the fresh snow lay above old snow and ice on paths and rocks making conditions treacherous especially on windblown areas with less snow cover. With a summit windchill on Great Rigg (766m) of minus 12 degrees C, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline, an ice axe is essential and crampons must be carried in case the soft snow hardens or ice is encountered. With the deep snow, walking poles will be useful and goggles recommended to lessen the sting of hail and spindrift driven on strong winds (they were certainly used today!). For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful. Deep snow obscuring landmarks combined with low cloud demands excellent navigational skills as paths cannot simply be followed (even directional cairns were disappearing beneath the snow) and steep drops are far less obvious, so please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
13th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit 1.7 -4.5 14.5 13.8 WSW A cloudy and wet day with very little change in temperature (isothermic) from valley level all the way up to the summits as a warm front pushes through the region. The temperature in the valley was 1°C and marginally warmer at 1.7°C on the summit of Helvellyn today. The remaining snow, although now very fragmented, froze solid yesterday and is proving quite resistant to today's thaw. Much of the ice is now also covered in water making for very slippery conditions underfoot. Large ribbons of snow are still present across the higher tops and have in-filled the paths in many places. Although these areas are generally easy to avoid, microspikes and walking poles are really useful. Steep north and east-facing corrie headwalls such as Brown Cove and the area above Red Tarn still hold a reasonable amount of snow. Swirral and Striding edge are both in full winter condition and are a mixture of rock and unavoidable areas of snow and ice. In the current conditions, they are both very serious propositions and have the potential for long and damaging falls in the event of a slip. Anyone exercising locally (as per the government guidelines) and venturing into the fells should be suitably equipped and experienced; Full winter clothing including waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves, mountain boots, headtorch, survival bag, map & compass (and the ability to navigate in challenging conditions) are all essential. For anyone attempting Swirral or Striding edge or similar routes over steep and exposed ground, an ice axe and crampons are also essential. Goggles are also potentially very useful to enable you to navigate effectively in windy conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
12th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -3.6 -14.1 31.4 20.0 NE A cold and clear day in the Lakes with excellent visibility which provided a good opportunity to see how much snow and ice has thawed in the milder temperatures we have experienced in the last few days. Any remaining snow is now very fragmented and on the ascent from Thirlmere today almost all of it could be avoided apart from on the summit plateau itself, where a few large unavoidable areas remain close to the summit. All of the snow that was encountered today is essentially névé and is very, hard, compact and icy. Large areas across the higher tops are also covered in ice and verglas meaning that microspikes and walking poles are really useful. Steep north and east-facing corrie headwalls such as Brown Cove and the area above Red Tarn still hold a reasonable amount of snow. Swirral and Striding edge are both in full winter condition and are a mixture of rock and unavoidable areas of snow and ice. In the current conditions, they are both very serious propositions and have the potential for very long and damaging falls in the event of a slip. Anyone venturing onto these routes, or similar steep and exposed ground should be suitably experienced and equipped - An ice axe and crampons are essential. It felt very cold in the wind today with a windchill or 'feels like' temperature of -14°C. As such, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment (headtorch, map, compass, whistle & survival bag) are all essential. Goggles are also recommended to enable you to navigate in windy conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
11th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit 2.8 -8.2 74.2 48.2 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should stay at home and exercise locally to where they live. A day of gale force winds and rain at all levels with the remaining snowpack continuing to rapidly thaw. The snow level is currently around 500m with the depth increasing with altitude. The large areas of ice which exist on many paths above this height are proving very resistant to the thaw and microspikes are still very useful for anyone going above the snowline. Away from the popular paths the snow pack is now very soft & wet making heavy & insecure going. In places it has drifted up to 1m deep. Striding & Swirral Edges are both still buried in soft & saturated snow which is covering a surprising amount of ice. The ridge crest gave the easiest route today as the easier paths on the flanks were still banked out. Crampons & an ice axe were essential for a safe climb and descent today. Up on the Helvellyn plateau there are large areas of ice and snow meaning that navigation in poor visibility is very tricky as paths and features are often obscured. The cornices that have formed above N through E aspects are slumping & cracking and are incredibly unstable. There was evidence of several small slides probably triggered by cornice collapse. Please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience likewise A slight drop in temperature will quickly refreeze the saturated snowpack giving very serious conditions for those without the appropriate skills and equipment. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment (torch, map, compass, whistle & survival bag) are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline onto steeper and more exposed terrain, like the Helvellyn Edges, an ice axe and crampons are essential. For lower easier angled terrain and icy paths microspikes and poles are extremely useful. Goggles are also recommended to enable you to navigate in windy conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
10th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit 0.1 -7.5 22.3 17.6 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should stay at home and exercise locally to where they live. A dramatic change in conditions overnight with the freezing level rising above the summits. The snow level is currently around 400m with the depth increasing with altitude. The large areas of ice which exist on many paths are proving very resistant to the thaw and microspikes are still very useful for anyone going above the snowline. Away from the paths the snow pack is now very soft & wet making heavy going. In places it has drifted up to 1m deep. Striding & Swirral Edges are both still buried in soft insecure snow and rime on which a slide would be very hard to stop even with an ice axe. The Helvellyn plateau has a complete covering of wet snow, slushy ice & rime meaning that navigation in poor visibility is very tricky as paths and features are often obscured. The cornices that formed above N through E aspects yesterday are becoming saturated and are incredibly unstable. Please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience likewise A slight drop in temperature will quickly refreeze the saturated snowpack giving very serious conditions for those without the appropriate skills and equipment. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment (torch, map, compass, whistle & survival bag) are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline onto steeper and more exposed terrain, like the Helvellyn Edges, an ice axe and crampons are essential. For lower easier angled terrain and icy paths microspikes and poles are extremely useful. Deep snow obscuring landmarks combined with low cloud demands excellent navigational skills as paths cannot simply be followed and steep drops are far less obvious Goggles are also recommended to enable you to navigate in windy conditions. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
9th Jan 2021 Blencathra summit -3.5 -14.3 30.5 22.6 SW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live A bitterly cold night with temperatures dropping to minus 8 degrees C gave way to a fine winters day with fresh SW winds As for the last week the biggest hazard is ice on paths especially on popular routes where snow has been compacted and where small streams or drainage lines cross. This ice can also be found hidden beneath the fresh powder snow and spindrift giving a false sense of security. On steeper routes where fresh snow/spindrift lies above older, compacted snow, the two layers have not bonded creating unstable conditions. Away from the paths the snow pack is still very soft and will significantly slow any progress on foot. In places it has drifted up to 1m deep. Sharp Edge on Blencathra had a good covering of soft unconsolidated snow giving quick but insecure climbing. The SW winds were rapidly redistributing the snow on to N through E slopes and there were some large pockets of soft unstable windslab developing. These are easily large enough to take a walker off their feet when triggered at which point an ice axe will be essential to stop your slide. The assessor triggered a 20m shooting crack and small slide on a 30 degree easterly slope at 600m. Cornices have formed above steep slopes on many different aspects. Although they are very small, they consist of soft snow and will become extremely unstable with the forecasted increase in summit temperatures. Please give them a wide berth and advise others with less experience likewise. The windchill on Blencathra this afternoon was minus 14 degrees C, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment (torch, map, compass, whistle & survival bag) are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe and crampons are also essential and are also strongly recommended for anyone going above the snowline owing to the amount of ice on paths. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful. Goggles are recommended to reduce the sting of hail and spindrift driven on strong winds. Deep snow obscuring landmarks combined with low cloud demands excellent navigational skills as paths cannot simply be followed and steep drops are far less obvious, so please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
8th Jan 2021 Wansfell Pike summit (482m) -2.5 -14.1 43.6 35.2 NNE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. A skittering of fresh powder snow has fallen down to valley level with around 1cm to 2cm at 400m adding to existing accumulations. Snow depth rises with height with the actual depth varying considerably owing to the fact that it has been deposited on strong N to NE winds and, generally, more has fallen in the East of the National Park compared to the West. Even on Wansfell Pike (482m) in sheltered spots and hollows there were drifts of over 70cm, although such depth is exceptional. Where undisturbed, the snowpack is very soft making the going laborious where deeper drifts are encountered. As for the past week, though, the main hazard on paths is ice. With another overnight frost, there was ice on paths, and my road, upwards (and downwards!). Anyone exercising locally on Saturday should be prepared to encounter even more ice at lower levels with a slow daytime thaw below 300m (especially on aspects catching the sun) followed by another forecasted hard overnight frost tonight with Cumbria under a Met Office Yellow warning for ice until 11am on Saturday. Ice is also present on popular routes where snow has been compacted and where small streams or drainage lines cross paths. This older ice was hidden beneath the fresh powder snow and spindrift giving a false sense of security underfoot. On steeper routes where fresh snow/spindrift lies above older, compacted snow, the two layers have not bonded creating unstable conditions. Cornices have formed above steep slopes on many different aspects. Although they are very small, they consist of soft snow and are extremely unstable; indeed some had developed deep (relatively speaking) cracks. So please do not venture near the edge of any steep slope. Even at only 480m on Wansfell Pike, the summit windchill at 11am was minus 14 degrees C, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe and crampons are also essential and are strongly recommended for anyone going above the snowline owing to the amount of ice on paths. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes and poles are extremely useful. Goggles are recommended to reduce the sting of hail and spindrift driven on strong winds. Deep snow obscuring landmarks combined with low cloud demands excellent navigational skills as paths cannot simply be followed and steep drops are far less obvious, so please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
7th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -3.4 -11.6 15.5 14.7 WSW We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. A wintery day on the fells with slow moving snow showers and light winds. The terrain was generally frozen at all levels with only a slow thaw in the valleys throughout the day. The snow coverage across the National Park is very localised with levels being around 400m on Helvellyn while Penrith just down the road at 150m was looking rather snowy this evening. Yesterdays sun has also had an effect with the snow level on south facing slopes being much higher. The snow pack is currently very shallow including at summit levels and this combined with a lot of ice on paths meant that Microspikes were incredibly useful today almost from the car park. This ice hazard was most obvious between 300m and 600m. Above this altitude it was mostly hidden beneath the snow giving a false sense of security which can catch out the unwary. Snow showers on light winds throughout the day have added a thin layer to the existing cover. There has been very little redistribution by the wind although some soft deep drifts were found which slowed progress. Away from the paths the snow was still generally very soft and unconsolidated. Striding Edge is buried under a thin layer of soft but helpful snow and rime ice. The easiest route is along the exposed crest as the paths on the flanks are beginning to bank out. Swirral Edge felt far more serious today especially in descent with deeper and more unstable snow. The Helvellyn plateau has a good covering of snow and ice and navigation was tricky in the cloud as landmarks and paths have been obscured. There were small unstable cornices above the east face which should be given a wide berth. Crampons and an ice axe were essential today along with microspikes at lower elevations. Full winter clothing, hats & gloves, appropriate navigation equipment, a survival bag and a torch should also be carried. Please be conservative with your plans and know your limits.
6th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -4.2 -10.6 9.6 7.6 NE We are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. High pressure, stable temperatures and minimal precipitation means that underfoot conditions have changed little over the past few days. Owing to the fickle nature of showers, however, this may not be the case in other areas of the National Park. There has been a little redistribution of snow on the predominantly NE winds with spindrift on S and W facing slopes and in sheltered spots and hollows. Snow can be encountered from 300m, with the main snowline being around 400m. Snow depth rises with height and although the actual depth varies, there is a general covering of between 5cm to 10cm with the deepest drifts able to swallow a 70cm ice axe, although such depth is exceptional. Where undisturbed, the snowpack is very soft with isolated harder patches found below 650m on aspects catching the sun which have undergone a thaw / freeze . As for the past few days, though, the main hazard on paths is ice. With another overnight frost, there was ice on paths at all levels and there is likely to be even more on Thursday owing to a slow daytime thaw below 400m (especially on aspects catching the sun) followed by another forecasted hard overnight frost tonight. Ice is also present on popular routes where snow has been compacted and where small streams or drainage lines cross paths. Above 500m, such older ice was sometimes hidden beneath fresh snow and spindrift giving a false sense of security underfoot. On steeper routes where fresh snow/spindrift lies above older, compacted snow, the two layers have not bonded creating unstable conditions, such as on the exit to Striding Edge. Cornices have formed above steep slopes on many different aspects. Although they are very small, they consist of soft snow and are extremely unstable; indeed some have developed deep (relatively speaking) cracks. So please do not venture near the edge of any steep slope. Given a summit windchill on Wednesday of minus 11 degrees C, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe and crampons are also essential and are strongly recommended for anyone going above the snowline owing to the amount of ice on paths. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes are extremely useful. Goggles are recommended to reduce the sting of hail and spindrift driven on strong winds. Deep snow obscuring landmarks combined with low cloud creates challenging navigation as paths cannot simply be followed and steep drops are far less obvious, so only venture out in these conditions if you are competent and confident to do so.
5th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -3.8 -15.6 39.8 33.2 NNE Zac, Wes and Jon are continuing to provide the Fell Top Reports for people who are undertaking their daily local exercise during the lockdown. We would like to remind everyone that Government guidance stipulates that people should only exercise locally, not leaving the village, town or city where they live. High pressure, stable temperatures, similar cloud height and minimal precipitation meant that underfoot conditions have changed little in the past 24 hours. Owing to the fickle nature of showers, however, this may not be the case in other areas of the National Park. Snow can be encountered from 300m, with the main snowline being around 400m. Snow depth rises with height and although the actual depth varies, there is a general covering of between 5cm to 10cm with the deepest drifts able to swallow a 70cm ice axe, although such depth is exceptional. Where undisturbed, the snowpack is very soft. As for the past few days, though, the main hazard on paths is ice. With another overnight frost, there was ice on paths at all levels and this is likely to also be the case on Wednesday especially as Cumbria is under a Met Office warning for ice until 11am on Wednesday. Ice is especially present at lower elevations where snow or ice has thawed during the day, on popular routes where snow has been compacted and where small streams or drainage lines cross paths. Above 500m, such older ice was hidden beneath fresh snow and spindrift giving a false sense of security underfoot. On steeper routes where fresh snow/spindrift lies above older, compacted snow, the two layers have not bonded creating unstable conditions, such as on the exit to Striding Edge. Small unstable cornices have formed on many different aspects. Owing to very poor visibility today, it was not possible (or rather sensible!) to inspect those above Helvellyn’s headwall. The simple advice is to give the top of any steep slope a wide berth. Given a summit windchill on Tuesday of minus 15 degrees C, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe and crampons are also essential and are strongly recommended for anyone going above the snowline owing to the amount of ice on paths. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes are extremely useful. Goggles are recommended to reduce the sting of hail and spindrift driven on strong winds. Deep snow obscuring landmarks combined with low cloud creates challenging navigation as paths cannot simply be followed and steep drops are far less obvious, so only venture out in these conditions if you are competent and confident to do so.
4th Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -3.0 -14.1 42.9 31.3 NE - ENE Snow showers overnight have added another 1-2cm to existing accumulations, mainly above 500m; some of which has been redeposited on today’s strong NE wind. The snowline lies between 300m and 400m depending upon aspect. Above 400m, where the snow has not been disturbed, the snow is soft and its depth generally between 5 and 10 cm, with exceptional deeper drifts able to swallow a 70cm ice axe. As for the past few days, though, the main hazard on paths is ice. With a hard overnight frost, there was ice at all levels (including black ice on pavements) and this is likely to also be the case on Tuesday. Ice is especially present at lower elevations where snow or ice has thawed during the day, on popular routes where snow has been compacted and where small streams or drainage lines cross paths. Especially above 600m, such older ice was hidden beneath fresh snow giving a false sense of security underfoot. This was notably so on steep routes above the snowline where the fresh snow was unstable. Small unstable cornices have formed on many different aspects. Owing to very poor visibility today, it was not possible (or rather sensible!) to inspect those above Helvellyn’s headwall. The simple advice is to give the top of any steep slope a wide berth. With a summit windchill on Monday of minus 14 degrees C, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes crampons and an ice axe are also essential and are strongly recommended for anyone going above the snowline owing to the amount of ice on paths. For thinner ice on paths, microspikes are extremely useful. The slightly deeper snow compared with the past few days, combined with low cloud creates challenging navigation as paths cannot simply be followed and landmarks disappear. It was disappointing to meet people out with neither maps nor compasses although they were sensibly turning back.
3rd Jan 2021 Grasmoor summit -2.4 -9.6 14.6 10.4 NW Today's recordings are from the summit of Grasmoor (852m) in the northwestern fells. A small dusting of new snow overnight led to a cloudy morning, eventually giving way to clearer conditions in the early afternoon. Despite the relatively low wind speeds recorded today, it should be noted that much stronger winds were experienced during the day and estimated to be in the region of 30-35mph at times. This would also have affected the windchill temperature, which would have been a few degrees cooler than the figure recorded. Snow cover in this area of the national park is generally thinner than in more eastern fells, however, conditions remain wintery with terrain widely frozen at all levels. Compacted snow on the paths and ice present real hazards, especially around drainage lines and stream crossings. As such, microspikes and/or walking poles are a real asset. The snow level has lifted slightly to roughly 500m in the NW fells and increases a little with height to around boot-deep where it hasn't been disturbed by the wind. Knee-deep drifts are present in many sheltered dips and hollows. High ground exposed to the wind tends to be relatively well scoured, and exposed rock across the tops is well covered in rime ice. As such, many of the paths are very difficult to see when the cloud comes in calling for good navigation skills. Small cornices have formed on many different aspects, typically around corrie and gully rims and along ridge flanks. These are comprised of soft unstable snow and should be given a wide berth. Some small upland tarns have frozen over and with snow on the top of the ice, they can be quite difficult to see and present an additional hazard. Wintery conditions look set to continue for the time being. As such, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and equipment including a headtorch are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing into the higher fells and considering routes on steep or exposed ground, an ice axe and crampons are essential.
2nd Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -4.7 -15.4 36.8 27.1 NNE A few fleeting snow showers during the morning but otherwise the ground conditions remain very similar to yesterday. Although it was a generally fine day today, conditions in the fells are very challenging at the moment. Terrain remains widely frozen down to valley level and compacted snow on the paths and ice at all levels present real hazards, especially around drainage lines and stream crossings. Lower slopes are particularly affected by ice, and microspikes and/or walking poles are a real asset. The snow level remains at roughly 300m and increases a little with height to roughly boot-deep in areas where it hasn't been disturbed by the wind. Knee-deep drifts are present in many sheltered dips and hollows. High ground exposed to the wind tends to be relatively well scoured, and exposed rock across the summit plateau is well covered in rime ice. As such, many of the paths are very difficult to see when the cloud comes in calling for good navigation skills. Swirral and Striding edge are both in full winter condition and great care is required on this, and any similar exposed routes from which a fall could be very serious and potentially fatal. Small cornices have formed on many different aspects, typically around corrie and gully rims and along ridge flanks. These are comprised of soft unstable snow and should be given a wide berth. Some small upland tarns have frozen over and with snow on the top of the ice, they can be quite difficult to see and present an additional hazard. Wintery conditions look set to continue for the time being. As such, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and equipment including a headtorch are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing into the higher fells and considering routes on steep or exposed ground, an ice axe and crampons are essential. With Tier 4 restrictions now in place, we would like to urge all hill goers to act responsibly and well within your level of comfort and ability.
1st Jan 2021 Helvellyn summit -3.0 -14.0 44.6 30.2 NE More fresh snow overnight and terrain remains widely frozen down to valley level. The main difference today over the last week was the marked increase in wind speed giving the hills a very serious feel. Compacted snow on the paths and ice at all levels present real hazards, especially around drainage lines and stream crossings. Lower slopes are particularly affected by ice, and microspikes and/or walking poles are a real asset. The snow level remains at roughly 300m and increases a little with height to roughly boot-deep in areas where it hasn't been disturbed by the wind. Knee-deep drifts are present in many sheltered dips and hollows. High ground exposed to the wind tends to be relatively well scoured, and exposed rock across the summit plateau was well covered in rime ice today. Swirral and Striding edge are both in full winter condition and great care is required on this, and any similar exposed routes from which a fall could be very serious and potentially fatal. Small cornices have formed on many different aspects, typically around corrie and gully rims and along ridge flanks. These are comprised of soft unstable snow and should be given a wide berth. Some small upland tarns have frozen over and with snow on the top of the ice, they can be quite difficult to see and present an additional hazard. Wintery conditions look set to continue for the time being. As such, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and equipment including a headtorch are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing into the higher fells and considering routes on steep or exposed ground, an ice axe and crampons are essential. With Tier 4 restrictions now in place, we would like to urge all hill goers to act responsibly and well within your level of comfort and ability.
31st Dec 2020 Hallsfell Top (Blencathra) -2.0 -9.4 13.8 12.0 NNE A beautiful day in the fells with inversion conditions blanketing large areas of the region under low cloud and only the higher tops peeking through for most of the day. A dusting of new snow fell overnight down to low levels and terrain remains widely frozen from valley level upwards. Compacted snow on the paths and ice at all levels present real hazards, especially around drainage lines and stream crossings. The snow level remains at roughly 300m and increases a little with height to roughly boot-deep in areas where it hasn't been disturbed by the wind. Knee-deep drifts are not uncommon. High ground exposed to the wind tends to be relatively well scoured, although almost no bare ground is visible across the Blencathra tops. Some south-facing slopes have been affected by the sun in the last few days and have thinner and more patchy snow cover. Sharp edge is in full winter condition and great care is required on this, and any similar exposed routes from which a fall could be very serious and potentially fatal. Small cornices have formed on many different aspects, typically around corrie rims and along ridge flanks. These are comprised of soft unstable snow and should be given a wide berth. Some small upland tarns have frozen over and with snow on the top of the ice, they can be quite difficult to see and present an additional hazard. Wintery conditions look set to continue for the time being. As such, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and equipment including a headtorch are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. Microspikes are also a real asset in the current conditions. For those venturing into the higher fells and considering routes on steep or exposed ground, an ice axe and crampons should be carried. Climbers, the conditions are lean with very little snow cover in and around many of the gullies and scarp slopes. Venturing into these areas risks damaging rare arctic/alpine plant species. Please avoid climbing until conditions improve. Please refer to the BMC “White Climbing Guide” for details. With Tier 4 restrictions now in place, we would like to urge all hill goers to act responsibly and well within your level of comfort and ability.
30th Dec 2020 Top of Swirral Edge -4.9 -13 16.0 10.1 NW The cold settled weather continues with terrain widely frozen down to valley level today and remaining so throughout the day. Compacted snow on the paths and ice from low levels upwards, especially around drainage lines and stream crossings meant that people were slipping unexpectedly onto very hard and unforgiving ground. Microspikes are a real asset in the current conditions. The snow level remains at roughly 300m and increases a little with height. Adjacent to many of the paths it is roughly ankle-deep, with knee-deep drifts in many sheltered dips and hollows. The summit plateau is relatively well scoured, although little bare ground is exposed. It is very icy over large areas with drifted snow accumulating adjacent to some of the paths. Striding and Swirral Edge are in full winter condition and great care is required on these and any similar exposed routes where a fall could be fatal. Both were very busy today and some people were taking unnecessary risks with regard to their equipment (or lack of it) and technique (bum-sliding). This potentially puts other hill-goers at risk too. Small cornices have formed in some areas around the north and east-facing corrie rims and are comprised of soft unstable snow and should be given a wide berth. The prevailing conditions look set to continue for the time being. As such, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and equipment including a headtorch are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing into the higher fells and considering routes on steep or exposed ground, an ice axe and crampons should be carried, and as previously mentioned, microspikes will be extremely useful. Climbers, the conditions are lean with very little snow cover in and around many of the gullies and scarp slopes. Venturing into these areas risks damaging rare arctic/alpine plant species that grow here. Please avoid climbing until conditions improve. Please refer to the BMC “White Climbing Guide” for details. With Tier 4 restrictions now in place, we would like to urge all hill goers to act responsibly and well within your level of comfort and experience.
29th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -2.6 -11.2 27.1 9.5 NNE With no significant precipitation over the past 24 hours and temperatures remaining the same, ground conditions are similar to Monday; the differences being slightly more compacted snow and ice on popular routes and some redistribution of powder snow on a northerly wind, mainly above 700m. Snow is encountered from 300m, however, especially in the morning, there was ice on paths at all levels. Indeed this is more of a hazard lower down where it can thaw during the day and refreeze hard overnight. Snow depth increases with height with actual depth varying from little on exposed areas to drifts deep enough to swallow a 70cm ice axe; however, the majority of coverage is little over boot depth. Where undisturbed, the snow is soft powder. On popular paths it has been compacted into harder snow and ice, making conditions treacherous even on so-called easy routes. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, have similar conditions underfoot to those already described ie soft snow, hard compacted snow and also some ice and rime ice on rocks making conditions treacherous, especially in descent. Therefore, such routes should only be attempted by those equipped for, and experienced in, these conditions. Cornices have formed above some north through east faces. Although very small they comprise soft unstable snow and should be given a wide berth. Small upland tarns have partially or fully frozen but are completely unsafe to walk on. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe is essential and crampons should also be carried in case ice or hard snow is encountered – which it was on Tuesday. Even at low levels microspikes would be very useful for a safe and enjoyable day. Many people out today did successfully negotiate the edges without the correct equipment; however, the consequences of a simple slip on snow & ice not quickly arrested could be severe. It is never a good time to have an accident, but especially not in the middle of a pandemic. Climbers. Unfortunately the gullies are still full of soft powder snow, so please do not attempt routes in these conditions as damage will be done to the rare alpine plants. Please refer to the BMC “White Climbing Guide” for details. Plus, it would not be much fun anyway!
28th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -2.6 -10.3 15.0 12.7 NE Freezing fog blanketed much of the Eden Valley throughout the day but above this several hundred people enjoyed a sunny, cold & calm day on Helvellyn. The snow level remains around 300m but there was a significant frost in the valleys overnight and many paths even at low levels are very icy. Lower sunlit slopes suffered a bit of thaw today but will quickly refreeze in the cold temperatures overnight. Higher on the mountain the deepest snow, which can be up to knee deep, can be found on N through E aspects where the wind has deposited it. It is beginning to consolidate and in places there was a non weight bearing crust. Beneath this there are still patches of the old snow, especially on paths where it has been compressed by walkers feet, which have now refrozen and can catch out the unwary. We strongly recommend that anyone venturing out above the snow line is equipped with winter boots, crampons and an ice axe. Even at low levels microspikes would be very useful for a safe and enjoyable day. The consequences of a simple slip on snow & ice not quickly arrested could be severe. Bum sliding down Swirral Edge in trainers is a recipe for disaster! Swirral & Striding Edge are in good winter condition with a reassuring covering of snow offering secure footing for those with the correct equipment and skills. The Helvellyn plateau is a mixture of soft snow and iced rock with rime forming above 800m. Small cornices can be found above north through east faces and these should be given a wide berth. A number of people had very lucky escapes today after straying too close to the edge. Climbers - Much of the turf is now buried and insulated by a thin layer of soft snow and remains unfrozen. Gullies should be avoided in these conditions due to the risk of damaging the rare alpine plants which somehow survive in these areas. The soft snow and wet grass wouldn't be much fun to climb anyway!
27th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -3.1 -13.4 28.4 24.6 WSW Storm Bella swept through the Lake District giving very challenging conditions overnight closely followed by a significant drop in temperature and snow showers down to valley level throughout the day. The high fells are once again in full winter condition and an ice axe and crampons are essential for anyone venturing above 500m even on the easiest routes. Snow is lying above 300m and increases in depth with height up to calf deep with deeper drifts. Above 700m this is overlying patches of refrozen older snow which can catch out the unwary. The new snow is being redeposited onto N through E slopes by a fresh SW wind. Areas above 700m including the Helvellyn Edges and plateau are a mixture of old refrozen & icy snow, fresh snow with small areas of windslab, rime and bare rock. Cornices were beginning to develop above the East Face and should be given a wide berth as they are particular unstable while forming. Exposed turf was frozen but any areas buried under the new snow are still soggy Full winter clothing and equipment including an ice axe, crampons, warm and waterproof clothing, map & compass, goggles and a headtorch are currently essential to safely enjoy the winter fells.
26th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 0.2 -10.0 59.9 40.8 SW The great snow conditions from the last couple of days are rapidly thawing as the freezing level rose above the summits and a strong SW wind brought rain at all levels. The remaining snow can generally be found above 650m on S through W facing slopes. However where it has been compressed beneath walkers feet icy patches can be found on paths down to 500m. Above 950m there was still some rime ice holding on but generally everything was soft, slushy and thawing fast. Microspikes were the best option today giving good traction on Striding & Swirral Edges which were a combination of slush & wet rock. However as the freezing level drops overnight then all these saturated snow patches will quickly refreeze forming neve on which crampons & an ice axe will be essential for safety on these and other exposed routes and indeed anywhere above the snowline. There were a number of groups heading up the mountain late in the day with minimal kit and unsuitable clothing & footwear. Sunset is currently around 3.50pm so starting early and carrying a head torch along with plenty of warm and waterproof clothing and a map & compass is to be recommended. Googles were also a very useful addition today to help deal with the 60mph winds and driving rain. Conditions for tomorrow are forecast to change dramatically with freezing temperatures and snow lying to low levels. Crampons and ice axes are essential for anyone venturing above the snow line.
26th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 0.2 -10.0 59.9 40.8 SW The great snow conditions from the last couple of days are rapidly thawing as the freezing level rose above the summits and a strong SW wind brought rain at all levels. The remaining snow can generally be found above 650m on S through W facing slopes. However where it has been compressed beneath walkers feet icy patches can be found on paths down to 500m. Above 950m there was still some rime ice holding on but generally everything was soft, slushy and thawing fast. The walking routes from Thirlmere can generally be climbed without setting on foot on snow with some careful route choice. Microspikes were the best option today giving good traction on Striding & Swirral Edges which were a combination of slush & wet rock. However if the freezing level does drop then all these saturated snow patches will quickly refreeze forming neve on which crampons & an ice axe will be essential for safety on these and other exposed routes. There were a number of groups heading up the mountain late in the day with minimal kit and unsuitable clothing & footwear. Sunset is currently around 3.50pm so starting early and carrying a head torch along with plenty of warm and waterproof clothing and a map & compass is to be recommended. Googles were also a very useful addition today to help deal with the 60mph winds and driving rain.
25th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -2.0 -10.4 20.9 17.2 WSW A hard frost overnight created patches of ice on paths at all levels. However, below 450m some paths were largely dry. Above 450m snow was encountered with the main snowline being around 550m. The snow depth increased with height although since the snow was deposited on strong gale force NE winds, actual coverage varies from little on exposed areas, such as parts of the summit plateau, to drifts deep enough to swallow a 70cm ice axe, although such depth is the exception. Where the snow has been undisturbed it is generally soft, sometimes with a hard crust. However on popular routes where it has been compacted and also below 600m where there has been a thaw/freeze there is a thin layer of hard snow and ice. This was causing problems today, especially on descent, and on the so-called easy routes up Helvellyn from the Thirlmere side. An ice axe or walking poles for stability combined with micro-spikes are both very useful in these conditions. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, have similar conditions underfoot to those already described ie soft snow, hard compacted snow and also rime ice on rocks. Therefore, such routes should only be attempted by those equipped for, and experienced in, these conditions. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone going out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe is essential and crampons should also be carried in case ice or hard snow is encountered. Excellent navigational skills are required when deep snow obscuring landmarks is combined with low cloud. A good sense of humour could also be essential given the fact that, at the time of writing, Cumbria is under 2 Met Office Yellow warnings for both rain and the strength of the wind from Boxing Day Afternoon. It could well be a day for sitting by a roaring fire!! Climbers - East facing crags were well rimed above 750m and any exposed turf was well frozen. However there is very limited snow cover in the gullies so the risk of damage to the rare alpine plants that grow here is still unacceptably high. In addition the forecasted milder temperatures and Met Office weather warnings do not invite getting the climbing gear out!! May the Fell Top Assessing team of Zac, Wes and Jon wish everyone a very Happy Christmas with many enjoyable, memorable and safe days out in our magnificent fells.
24th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -5.2 -15.6 26.5 17.3 NNE A beautiful day up on the Helvellyn Edges with plenty of folk out enjoying the winter conditions and working up an appetite for their Christmas dinner The snow cover was reasonably evenly distributed across the fellside above 600m being generally boot deep with drifts up to knee deep.. However looking across to Scafell Pike and the Central Fells it appeared that there was less coverage out west. There was plenty of evidence (including some great raised footprints on the plateau) that strong NE winds had redistributed the snow mainly on to slopes with a S through W aspect meaning the easier routes from the Thirlmere side also had a good covering. Generally the snow was dry and soft with just a hint of a crust developing. Down in the valleys there had been a hard frost overnight. Above 400m there were large areas of ice on the paths. However this hazard became less of a concern once the snowline was reached at 600m. Conditions on the Edges were good with dry rock and a good covering of snow meaning that microspikes were probably the best option today Disappointingly there were a large number of ill equipped walkers out and about. Fortunately the snow was in a very forgiving state and good progress could be made with positive footwork in winter boots. However the snow pack is already beginning to consolidate and go through a freeze thaw process which can quickly result in far more serious conditions. Anyone venturing above the snow line should be equipped with an ice axe and crampons along with full winter clothing and equipment Climbers - Conditions are beginning to build very nicely. East facing crags were well rimed above 750m and any exposed turf was well frozen. However there is very limited snow cover in the gullies so the the risk of damage to the rare alpine plants that grow here is still unacceptably high.
23rd Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -1.4 -12.6 47 35.7 NE Snow has fallen overnight, during the day and continued to do so as the Assessor left the hill. It has settled above around 350m, but was already thawing below 500m. The consistency of the snowpack varied. Below around 600m it was mainly soft and wet. Above 600m it was increasingly soft powder. This was being blown about on the Strong Gale Force NE winds and so coverage varied enormously from virtually nothing on exposed areas, such as large parts of the summit plateau, to drifts deep enough to swallow a 70cm ice axe, although such depth was the exception. The deepest drifts are to be found in sheltered spots and hollows and on S and W facing slopes. Above 900m are patches of old, hard snow. As many of these were on N and E facing slopes, little fresh snow (blown in on NE winds) has settled over them. Above 750m there were patches of ice on paths and the frequency of these increased with altitude. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, consist of soft snow, hard snow and some verglas (thin ice) on rocks. Given the current forecast, there is likely to be more ice underfoot on Thursday, so such routes should only be attempted by those equipped for, and experienced in, such conditions. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. For those venturing above the snowline and attempting, or traversing, steep slopes an ice axe is essential and crampons should also be carried in case ice is encountered. Excellent navigational skills are required when deep snow obscuring landmarks is combined with low cloud. Hopefully, though, sunglasses will also be required for walkers out on Christmas Eve! Conversely, if conditions are similar to Wednesday’s, then goggles are highly recommended. Climbers. The fresh snow is mainly powder and the turf has yet to freeze. Please do not attempt routes in these conditions as damage will be done to the rare alpine plants. Please refer to the BMC “White Climbing Guide” for details.
22nd Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -0.5 -7.7 15.9 12.3 SW This report comes with a health warning in that, at the time of writing, overnight sleet and/or snow is forecast above 650m; so walkers out on Wednesday should expect and be prepared to encounter different underfoot conditions to those experienced and described on Tuesday. The majority of the fells up to and including summit level are free from snow. The little that remains can be found above 900m in sheltered spots and hollows and on mainly east and north facing aspects and reaches a maximum depth of around 3cm !! Most of it was easily avoidable, but where it wasn’t (such as the very top of Swirrel Edge) it was hard and icy – far more nuisance value than fun, especially in descent. For the first time in, what seems ages, there were some dry rocks and paths underfoot. Ironically, above 750m this created its own hazard especially on exposed routes such as Striding and Swirrel Edges; walking on dry rock can lead to complacency; however the edges also had patches of wet rock, ice and verglas (thin ice). Concentration is definitely required on such routes in these mixed conditions. With the summit temperature below freezing, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. Given the current forecast, walkers heading out on Wednesday should have excellent navigational skills in limited or poor visibility and those heading for the high fells should also be prepared to encounter snow and ice by taking ice axe and crampons.
21st Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 2.6 -4.2 18.8 13.5 S - SSW Much of the weekend’s snow above 700m has thawed. Some fresh snow fell overnight and has settled above 900m on the older snow that remained. However, the majority of the fells up to and including summit level are free from snow. Although insignificant, isolated patches of snow can be found from 700m, the majority lies above 900m in sheltered spots and hollows and on mainly east and north facing aspects. The snow was soft, very wet, thawing and largely avoidable. Far more of a hazard was the wet, slippery nature of the rocks underfoot , especially on exposed routes. At the time of writing, the current forecast is for an overnight frost and a daytime freezing level on Tuesday of c800m. Given the current ground conditions, anyone heading for the higher fells on Tuesday should be prepared to encounter verglas (thin ice) on rocks and paths together with thin patches of hard, icy snow (ie far more nuisance value than fun!) With a summit windchill on Monday of minus 4 degrees C, full winter clothing (waterproofs, extra warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment – including map and compass and ability to use them in limited visibility - are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. Hopefully, sunglasses will also be required on Tuesday!
20th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -0.1 -7.8 22.7 19.3 SW Wintery conditions returned to the higher fells today with a mixture of sleet, snow, and graupel above roughly 700m. Although it was just a light dusting, the classic ridges (Striding and Swirral Edge) require a high level of care to negotiate safely. With all the recent rain, rivers are full making them difficult to cross and the ground is saturated making some of the paths and rocky areas very slippery. The freezing level tomorrow is forecast to fluctuate and eventually drop to around 700m. As a result, today's wet snow is likely to freeze and any further precipitation could fall as snow, especially later in the day. Anyone venturing into the higher fells should be prepared for wintery weather and potentially icy conditions on the tops. Full winter clothing including waterproofs, warm layers as well as hat & gloves, and equipment including mountain boots, headtorch, map and compass and the ability to use them in poor visibility are all essential. Carrying additional equipment including goggles, ice axe & crampons or microspike is also advisable.
19th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 1.7 -7.6 47.9 28.4 SSW Heavy rain overnight and early morning gave way to generally dryer conditions with showers occasionally falling as sleet over the highest tops and winds gusting gale-force over the summits. Rivers are full making them difficult to cross and the ground is saturated making some of the paths very slippery. The fells are free of snow and ice, however, the freezing level is forecast to lower to around 900m tonight/tomorrow, therefore anyone venturing out should be prepared for wintery weather and potentially icy conditions on the tops. Full winter clothing including waterproofs, warm layers as well as hat & gloves, and equipment including mountain boots, headtorch, map and compass and the ability to use them in poor visibility are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. Carrying additional equipment including goggles, ice axe & crampons or microspikes may also be advisable.
18th Dec 2020 Raise summit 6.6 0.2 39.9 26.7 S Torrential rain and southerly winds gusting 45-50mph combined with reduced visibility gave very challenging conditions in the fells today. Rivers are full making them difficult to cross and the ground is saturated making some of the paths particularly slippery. Despite being relatively mild, the very wet conditions and strong winds make it feel very cool. The fells are basically free of snow and ice apart from very small isolated patches on some steep north and east-facing aspects above 850m (generally around corrie rims and the tops of gullies). The freezing level is forecast to lower to around 1000m tomorrow, therefore anyone venturing out should be prepared for wintery weather on the tops. Full winter clothing including waterproofs, warm layers as well as hat & gloves, and equipment including mountain boots, headtorch, map and compass and the ability to use them in poor visibility are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells.
17th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 1.6 -6.7 34.5 25.9 W A wet morning was followed by improving conditions as the cloud base lifted and sunny spells began to develop in some places in the afternoon. The fells are basically free of snow and ice apart from very small isolated patches on some steep north and east-facing aspects above 850m (generally around corrie rims and the tops of gullies). The ground is still very wet from all of the recent rain and many of the paths are slippery. Damp conditions combined with strong winds continue to generate a wind chill or 'feels like' temperature of around -7°C. Full winter clothing including waterproofs, warm layers as well as hat & gloves, and equipment including mountain boots, map and compass and the ability to use them in poor visibility are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells.
16th Dec 2020 Dollywaggon Pike summit 3.5 -2.6 45.8 28.5 S A wet and wild day in the fells with gale-force southerly winds and heavy rain at times. As was reported yesterday, the fells are basically free of snow and ice apart from small isolated patches on steep north and east-facing aspects above around 900m. No snow or ice was encountered or seen today at all. However, with all of the recent rain, the rivers are high and paths are very wet and slippery. The temperature is forecast to get colder towards the weekend with the freezing level is predicted to be at or around the summit level. It is therefore likely that we will see wintery weather returning with snow and ice in the higher fells. Full winter clothing including waterproofs, warm layers as well as hat & gloves, and equipment including mountain boots, map and compass and the ability to use them in poor visibility are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells.
15th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 1.0 -7.2 28.1 22.2 SSW The good news (for those who dislike the snow) is that the fells are, basically, free from snow and ice. The bad news (for those who love winter conditions) is that the fells are, basically, free from snow and ice! Even the east facing headwall of Helvellyn (which generally holds snow the longest) only has some isolated patches at virtually summit level. No snow was encountered lying on any paths. However, given all the recent rain (with more forecasted on Wednesday) paths are very wet and rocks slippery. With the summit temperature around midday of only plus one degree centigrade it would only take a marginal drop in temperature for ice to form and the precipitation to fall as snow. Indeed, early risers encountered descending as the Fell Top Assessor was ascending reported some wet summit snow. This had all thawed by the time I was there. People were walking up today wearing everything that they had and, therefore, had nothing extra to cope with the minus 7 degrees summit windchill (or to keep warm if anything had gone wrong). Thus, full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment – including map and compass and ability to use them in limited visibility - are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells.
14th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 2.3 -5.6 35.3 27.2 SW The remnants of last weeks snow storm are rapidly disappearing from the Lake District fells helped on their way by some very heavy rain The few patches of wet snow remaining are to be found on easterly aspects above 800m and in and around sheltered hollows & features on other slopes. The vast majority of paths including the scrambles of Striding & Swirral Edges can now be climbed without setting foot on snow. With the current thaw and heavy rain over the last few days many of the streams and rivers are now in spate making river crossings tricky and potentially dangerous. Full winter clothing is currently required by anyone venturing onto the fells. Wind, rain and insufficient wet clothing are a perfect recipe for hypothermia especially if you are moving slowly for some unforeseen reason.
13th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 2.0 -7.4 43.9 36.7 S A challenging day of high winds, poor visibility and incessant rain on the fells today with the thaw continuing at all levels. The majority of the popular routes on Helvellyn including Striding & Swirral Edges can now be climbed without setting foot on snow. There was a sprinkling of new snow above 800m this morning but this was also melting as the freezing level rapidly rose above the summits. The few remaining patches of old wet snow are to be found on easterly aspects above 800m and in and around sheltered hollows & features. The Helvellyn plateau is generally clear and the remaining ice and hard snow that was evident on many of the paths from the compression by walkers feet has softened and thawed and is an easily avoided hazard. Full winter clothing is currently required by anyone venturing onto the fells. Wind, rain and wet clothing are a perfect recipe for hypothermia especially if you are moving slowly for some unforeseen reason.
12th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 1.2 -5.3 16.3 14.0 W Another warm and wet day on the hill with the thaw slowly continuing at all levels. The majority of the popular routes on Helvellyn including Striding & Swirral Edges can now be climbed without setting foot on snow. The few remaining patches of wet snow are to be found on easterly aspects above 800m and in and around sheltered hollows & features. Any drop in temperature will quickly refreeze these areas of saturated snow which will then require crampons and an ice axe to safely cross. The Helvellyn plateau is generally clear and the remaining ice and hard snow that was evident on many of the paths from the compression by walkers feet has softened and is an easily avoided hazard. Temperatures on the summits were just above freezing with a lot of moisture in the air so full winter clothing should still be carried as there is a real risk of developing hypothermia if you are stationary for a any period of time.
11th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 2.8 -2.1 10.8 7.1 S The thaw continues at all levels; around 1pm, it was plus 3 degrees and starting to rain on the summit. Large areas of the fells up to and including summit level are now free from snow. That said, above 700m significant patches of snow remain and especially so above 800m. Where undisturbed, these were mostly wet and thawing; however on popular routes, where the snow has been compacted, there remains hard snow and ice which is both treacherous and will take longer to thaw. Microspikes could be useful here. In addition, in sheltered spots and hollows drifts capable of swallowing a 55cm ice axe can still be found, although such depth is the exception. Exposed routes above the snowline of 700m, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, require extreme care. The crest of Striding Edge was mostly wet, slippery rock whereas there was more snow on Swirral. Both exits still have banks of unavoidable snow which has been compacted in places. It would only take a marginal drop in temperature for the soft snow and water to turn back into hard snow and ice making such routes far more treacherous. Hence it remains essential for anyone tackling such exposed routes above the snow line to carry ice axe and crampons, especially when descending. Indeed the Fell Top Assessor used an ice axe to descend Swirral on Friday. Full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. Owing to the summit temperature being so close to freezing, those venturing above the snowline must be prepared to encounter more ice and hard snow than experienced and described on Friday. Climbers: Given the soft nature of the snowpack and the ground not being frozen, routes are not in condition.
10th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 0.3 -9.7 50.2 37.2 SW A challenging day on the hill with poor visibility and rain on the summits. The main feature of today was the strong and gusty wind. From a dead calm to 50mph+ gusts in a few seconds, enough to knock you off balance, usually at the most inopportune moment! The slow thaw continues at all heights with patchy snow starting at around 500m and the cover increasing with altitude. From 700m most slopes had a good covering. Generally the snow pack is soft and wet however where it has been compressed by walkers feet it is hard and icy and proving more resistant to the thaw. The easiest routes on Striding and Swirral Edges are still predominately on this hard icy snow so they are a far more serious proposition than other conditions on the mountain might suggest. An ice axe coupled with microspikes as a minimum or preferably crampons are essential kit for anyone tackling these classic mountaineering routes or indeed any other steeper terrain. Descending the ridges was also a lot trickier than the climb today. The Helvellyn plateau is still looking pretty white with only a few rocks protruding. Underfoot you will find a mixture of ice, rime and wind scoured snow. There were still some good rime ice formations above 900m and small cornices and flutings have developed along the top of the east face. Visibility was less than 10m and coupled with the snow cover made navigation very tricky. Full winter clothing and equipment are currently required on the Lake District fells. Temperatures around freezing with a wet snowpack and strong winds are the perfect recipe for hypothermia. Above 700m it's recommended that everyone carries an ice axe and microspikes or crampons as a small drop in temperature will quickly refreeze the saturated snowpack giving serious and committing conditions. Climbers: Soft snow, turf and a freezing level above the summits mean there are currently no routes in condition :(
9th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -0.4 -7.4 14.5 13.3 SW Ground conditions were similar to Tuesday albeit with less snow below 750m and more ice above 850m as the summit temperature was marginally below freezing. Insignificant patches of snow can be found above 500m and these increase in size and frequency to the main snow line which is between 700m and 750m depending upon aspect. Snow depth rises with altitude to reach an approximate average of around 5cm at 900m; however the actual depth encountered varies considerably from little on exposed areas, such as parts of the summit plateau, to drifts in hollows and sheltered aspects deep enough to swallow a 70cm ice axe although such depth is the exception. Where undisturbed, especially below 850m, the snowpack is mainly soft and wet. However on popular routes, where the snow has been compacted, there is hard snow and ice making conditions treacherous, especially in descent. Ice axe and crampons or micro spikes depending upon the snow’s depth and inclination of any slope will be useful here. With the summit temperature marginally below freezing, there were patches of ice and harder snow above 850m. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are in mixed winter condition with their crests consisting of a mixture of bare rock, soft snow, ice and hard snow. To the sides of both crests and on the edges’ exits the snow depth is deeper, again with harder snow and ice where it has been compacted. It is strongly recommended that such routes are currently only attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering including crampons and especially an ice axe. People were again today successfully negotiating the edges without such equipment but a simple slip could be extremely serious; the other point to note is that it was far easier climbing the exits to the ridges without crampons than it was to descend them; another reason it is critical why such equipment must be carried. Many experienced walkers read these reports, so please pass on your wisdom to fellow walkers heading for exposed routes above the snowline without being properly equipped – they will thank you for it! Full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. Climbers: Given the soft nature of the snowpack and the ground not being frozen, routes are not in condition.
8th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit 0.7 -6.4 18.2 15.6 WSW There is a slow daytime thaw at all levels; it was just above freezing with a very light drizzle on the summit. Above 700m fresh snow fell overnight adding only 1 to 2 cm to existing accumulations. Insignificant patches of snow can be found above 450m and these increase in frequency to the main snow line around 650m to 700m. Snow depth rises with altitude to reach an approximate average of around 5cm at 900m; however the actual depth encountered varies considerably from little on exposed areas, such as parts of the summit plateau, to drifts in hollows and sheltered aspects deep enough to swallow a 70cm ice axe although such depth is the exception. Where undisturbed, the snowpack is mainly soft and wet. However on popular routes, where the snow has been compacted, there is hard snow and ice making conditions treacherous, especially in descent. Ice axe and crampons or micro spikes depending upon the snow’s depth and steepness of any slope will be useful here. With the summit temperature only marginally above freezing, it would only take a slight drop in temperature for conditions on Wednesday to be far icier than experienced on Tuesday. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges are in mixed winter condition with a mainly thin layer of fresh wet snow sometimes overlying an even thinner layer of compacted older snow and ice along their crests. To the sides of both crests and on the edges’ exits the snow depth is deeper, again with harder snow and ice where it has been compacted. It is strongly recommended that such routes are currently only attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering including crampons and especially an ice axe. People were again today successfully negotiating the edges without such equipment but a simple slip could be extremely serious; the other point to note is that it was far easier climbing the exits to the ridges without crampons than it was to descend them; another reason it is critical why such equipment must be carried. Many experienced walkers read these reports, so please pass on your wisdom to fellow walkers heading for exposed routes above the snowline without being properly equipped – they will thank you for it! Full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. Climbers: Given the soft nature of the snowpack and the thaw, routes are not in condition.
7th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -2.1 -9.1 16.3 11.9 NNE The following report comes with a health warning in that snow is expected at altitude (initially at 400m) overnight and early on Tuesday so walkers out on Tuesday should expect to encounter different conditions experienced and described on Monday. The main snow line commences between 600 to 650m with patches of snow from 400m. Depth rises with altitude with a general covering of around 4cm at 900m; however the actual depth encountered varies with drifts in hollows and sheltered aspects deep enough to swallow a 70cm ice axe although such depth is the exception. Where undisturbed, the snow pack’s composition is soft, sometimes with a crust making for relatively easy going where it is not deep. However, on popular routes the snow has been compacted making conditions treacherous, especially in descent. Ice axe and crampons or micro spikes depending upon the snow’s depth and steepness of the slope will be useful here. On Tuesday, such icy paths may be covered by a layer of fresh snow adding to difficulties. Some windslab (unstable layer of snow) was present on steep slopes, mainly N and E facing, although not exclusively so. Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges are in mixed winter condition with a mainly thin layer of compacted snow and ice along Striding’s crest and a slightly thicker one along Swirral's. It is strongly recommended that such routes are only attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering including crampons and especially an ice axe. People were today successfully negotiating the edges without such equipment but a simple slip could be extremely serious; the other point to note is that it was far easier climbing the exits to the ridges without crampons than it was to descend them; another reason why it is critical why such equipment must be carried. Many experienced walkers read these reports, so please pass on your wisdom to fellow walkers heading for exposed routes above the snowline without being properly equipped – they will thank you for it! Full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. This is not just for safety, but also for enjoyment as the magnificent summit panorama today with awesome cloud inversion and memorable Brocken Spectres made it a place to linger and savour – which you certainly would not be able to do without a few extra warm layers!
6th Dec 2020 Catstye Cam summit -0.7 -4.8 11.3 10.0 NNE A cloudy day in the higher fells and feeling relatively mild in light NE winds. The snow line has retreated up to roughly 600m and above this, the snow is sugary and granular. Drifts are knee-deep in many places and paths at mid-altitude are also very icy where the snow has been compressed and refrozen.The summit of Helvellyn was not observed today, however, it is expected that conditions are not dissimilar to yesterday. The summit is relatively well scoured but still presents a mosaic of large areas of snow and frozen ground. Many north and east-facing scarp slopes have also been scoured and as a result, there are no significant cornices around corrie rims although wind slab is present in these locations as well as on ridge flanks.Swirral and Striding edge are both in full winter condition but have a fairly lean cover of snow along their crests which makes travel along these routes difficult.Warm and waterproof winter clothing including hat and gloves, and equipment including mountaineering boots, ice axe, crampons, map, compass, and a headtorch are essential.For the climbers: Due to the NE winds we've experienced in the last few days, many of the scarp slopes which several routes finish up have very little snow cover and turf is not properly frozen. Please avoid climbing in these locations to avoid damaging the rare arcticalpine plant species that grow in these locations.
5th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -1.2 -7.2 10.6 9.7 NE A fine day in the Lakes with light NW winds. The freezing level today was around 500-600m, below which the ground is relatively snow-free. Above this, the fresh snow that fell yesterday has started to consolidate into granular sugary snow (the result of a rise in temperature and rain yesterday evening) and is still knee-deep in many places. The paths at mid-altitude are also very icy where the snow has been compressed and refrozen. The summit plateau is relatively well scoured but still presents a mosaic of large areas of snow and frozen ground. Many north and east-facing scarp slopes have also been scoured and as a result, there are no significant cornices around corrie rims although wind slab is present in these locations as well as on ridge flanks. Swirral and Striding edge are both in full winter condition but have a fairly lean cover of snow along their crests which makes travel along these routes difficult. Anyone venturing out tomorrow should anticipate challenging conditions with reduced visibility and severe wind chill. Good navigation skills will be required for safe travel in the high fells. Warm and waterproof winter clothing including hat and gloves, and equipment including mountaineering boots, ice axe, crampons, map, compass and goggles, and a headtorch are essential. For the climbers: Due to the NE winds we've experienced in the last few days, many of the scarp slopes which several routes finish up have very little snow cover and turf is not properly frozen. Please avoid climbing in these locations to avoid damaging the rare arctic/alpine plant species that grow in these locations.
4th Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -1.4 -10.8 29.8 20.2 NNE Winter arrived in earnest today with around 3 inches of snow down to valley level on the Thirlmere side of Helvellyn this morning. Knee deep drifts of snow were encountered frequently on the way up, burying the path over large areas. NE winds have scoured the summit plateau, exposing the paths in places, however, these areas are a minority which makes navigation and route finding very difficult, especially without goggles. No significant cornices were seen (snow overhangs caused by the wind) around corrie rims above Brown Cove/Red Tarn, however, there are areas of unstable snow (windslab) in these locations and on ridge flanks. The freezing level rose through the day and was at around 600m by midday. The snow below this height was becoming quite wet and any drop in temperature overnight will produce ice on the paths. Anyone venturing out tomorrow should anticipate very challenging conditions with reduced visibility and severe wind chill. Good navigation skills will be required for safe travel in the high fells. Warm and waterproof winter clothing including hat and gloves, and equipment including mountaineering boots, ice axe, crampons, map, compass and goggles, and a headtorch are essential. For the climbers: The turf is largely unfrozen and due to the NW winds we've experienced in the last few days, many of the scarp slopes which several routes finish up have almost no snow cover and are essentially just exposed grass. Please avoid climbing in these locations to avoid damaging the rare arctic/alpine plant species that grow in these locations.
3rd Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -1.5 -5.7 6.4 4.9 NNE 2-3 inches of fresh snow has fallen overnight and through the day today on relatively light NW through NE winds. The freezing level was down to approximately 500m and remained fairly constant throughout the day (although it was snowing down to roughly 300m). Some drifting has occurred with the largest (knee deep) accumulations of snow to be found in sheltered dips and hollows on the summit plateau and around east facing corrie rims with cornices beginning to form. This snow is soft and unstable and should be avoided. The light winds mean that ridge crests are still covered in soft unconsolidated show directly onto rock making progress difficult and potentially dangerous. Winds are forecast to increase significantly with further snowfall expected. Anyone venturing out tomorrow should anticipate very challenging conditions with reduced visibility and severe wind chill. Good navigation skills will be required for safe travel in the high fells. Warm and waterproof winter clothing including hat and gloves, and equipment including mountaineering boots, ice axe, crampons, map, compass and goggles and a headtorch are essential.
2nd Dec 2020 High Crag summit 0.6 -6.8 21.1 18.0 NW A relatively dry day with cloud lifting to around summit level by late morning. The temperature on the tops was just above freezing but feeling colder in areas exposed to the moderate - fresh NW winds. With snow in the forecast (potentially down to lower slopes) overnight and tomorrow morning, full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots, and equipment are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. Visibility tomorrow could be significantly reduced in any snow showers so a map and compass and good navigation skills may be required for safe travel. The freezing level tomorrow is also forecast to be around 400-500m so walkers should expect to encounter ice on the paths above this height.
1st Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -0.1 -6.8 19.5 12.4 N The Fell Top Assessors of Zac, Wes and Jon are now back at work and will be reporting on ground conditions until Easter 2021. It was a great day to be out on the fells today, although not if you like winter conditions as the snow has yet to arrive. The only sign of winter was in the form of isolated patches of thin ice on paths above 600m. Aside from this, many paths were dry with Striding Edge consisting of bare, dry rock. Despite the virtual lack of underfoot winter conditions, it was cold out with a summit temperature of zero and windchill of minus 7 degrees. Thus full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. This is not just for safety, but also for enjoyment as the magnificent summit panorama today made it a place to linger and savour – which you certainly would not be able to do without a few extra warm layers!
1st Dec 2020 Helvellyn summit -0.1 -6.8 19.5 12.4 N The Fell Top Assessors of Zac, Wes and Jon are now back at work and will be reporting on ground conditions until Easter 2021. It was a great day to be out on the fells today, although not if you like winter conditions as the snow has yet to arrive. The only sign of winter was in the form of isolated patches of thin ice on paths above 600m. Aside from this, many paths were dry with Striding Edge consisting of bare, dry rock. Despite the virtual lack of underfoot winter conditions, it was cold out with a summit temperature of zero and windchill of minus 7 degrees. Thus full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), mountain boots and equipment are all essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. This is not just for safety, but also for enjoyment as the magnificent summit panorama today made it a place to linger and savour – which you certainly would not be able to do without a few extra warm layers!
30th Nov 2020 Helvellyn summit Our Fell Top Assessors start the 2020-2021 winter season tomorrow! Daily reports from the top of Helvellyn in the heart of the Lake District National Park, from Jon, Wes and Zac.