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Perfect Winter Conditions on Striding Edge & Helvellyn

PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:27 pm
by Photogra Scotica
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive about attempting the classic Helvellyn ridges in winter conditions, my recent mountain experience amounting to a saunter up Skiddaw the previous day. But we were ambitious and the conditions looked good, so off we went.

ImageHelvellyn from Striding Edge, Winter by Gregor Sinclair, on Flickr

The ascent from Glenridding up Birkhouse Moor is straightforward and well-paved, and provides a fantastic view back down into the valley and over Ullswater. As it was such a lovely day, there were a fair share of casual walkers and their dogs enjoying the sun and scenery, most of which turned back at the snowline.

ImageStriding Edge, Winter by Gregor Sinclair, on Flickr

Upon hitting the top of Birkhouse, the view across the ridges and Red Tarn towards Helvellyn is revealed all at once, and what an incredible view it is. We quickly reached the start of Striding Edge and donned our microspikes. The journey across the ridge is brief and simple but satisfying, with consistently stunning views across neighbouring fells. Though it was a busy day (fellow hikers included the local weather man, a family with their 4-year-old and a Channel 4 TV crew), we never found ourselves ‘queueing’ which I can imagine happens in the summer.

ImageStriding Edge from Helvellyn, Winter by Gregor Sinclair, on Flickr

There is a final steep section up to the edge of the summit, but the exhilaration of the ridge and the promise of more fine views makes this a short effort. The summit plateau’s satisfyingly smooth crescent shape is a fitting climax to the day, and provides a clear vantage to work out your route of descent, which in this case was down Swirral and back to Glenridding.

ImageHelvellyn Summit, Winter by Gregor Sinclair, on Flickr

This inevitability was the only real difficulty of the day - not only is the initial descent steep and slippery, but we quickly found that due to there being less ‘traffic’ here our spikes became clogged up with powder and thus more of a hindrance than a convenience. Luckily, this ridge is much shorter than its neighbour and after a little four-legged clambering we found ourselves back on the path. From here the route back is deceptively lengthy as it winds round the north side of Birkhouse, which gives ample time to reflect on what must be one of the best mountain routes in England.

Re: Perfect Winter Conditions on Striding Edge & Helvellyn

PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:57 pm
by dav2930
Great report and photos. Last winter was disappointing in terms of the white stuff but you clearly picked one of the better days here. Agreed that this is one of the best mountain routes in England - I'd say it's the best winter circuit. :clap: