Nethermost East ridge in winter
by Pointless Parasite » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:39 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Arnison Crag, Birks, Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike, St Sunday Crag
Hewitts included on this walk: Dollywaggon Pike, St Sunday Crag
Date walked: 20/01/2018
Time taken: 5
Distance: 15.4 km2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
First view of the NE ridge. Not looking too promising
East ridge from Grisedale by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
The lower part of the ridge was under knee deep snow. Luckily, two other climbers had broken trail for me, which made things much easier.
East ridge lower section by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
View back down Grisedale as the sun started to come out:
Place fell by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Once I'd got up the lower section I could see the trail-breakers up ahead on the steep upper section of the NE ridge. They seemed to be struggling. Every time I looked up they seemed to have hardly moved. After a while it became clear they were down climbing, facing in. Looking up from below I couldn't understand what the problem was. It seemed like a fairly simple climb up mixed snow and rocks. When I finally met them, the told me they had retreated after reaching a tricky section up above. They were well-equipped, competent looking climbers, although the younger of the two was on his first climb with crampons. I had little reason to suspect I would fare any better but decided to have a look.
East ridge upper section from below by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
The slope steepened noticeably and became increasingly exposed. Any slip from here would result in an unstoppable, tumbling fall down a steep, bumpy slope and down the rocky section below . The snow didn't feel good. My foot holds did not feel at all secure and I was almost entirely reliant on ice axe belays for safety. Eventually I reached the other climbers' high point and it was immediately obvious what the problem was. There was a steep section in between two rock outcrops - the kind you need to haul yourself up over. In itself, it wouldn't be too difficult. The problem was the increasing exposure. Any slip from here would result in a long fall that would likely to be fatal. I started up, slowly, digging the shaft of my ice axe down as deep as I could. It felt like it would take my weight, but the problem was that every time I moved up, I needed to remove the axe and rely on dodgy foot holds . This is the first time I've ever needed two axes. The other two climbers had descended safely and were looking up at me. I was getting the collywobbles but there was no use worrying about it. The only was out was to keep going.
After a while, I managed to get myself up the worst bit, after which the gradient decreased a little and led onto a slope of solid ice and then snow. Up ahead the terrain became much rockier. Once I was up among the rocks it would get a lot easier and I was able to quickly reach the top of the tricky section. From now on, the ridge was much less exposed. I could slip without falling all the way back down the mountain. After an easy scramble up jagged rocks I was up:
East ridge near top by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
St Sunday from NE ridge by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
East ridge looking down by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
East ridge top by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
From the top of Nethermost, it was easy going from now on. The weather was starting to become really incredible as well:
Nethermost summit 2 by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Hell Vellyn - glad I wasn't up there:
Helvellyn summit by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Nethermost summit by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
High crag by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
High crag 2 by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Cornices by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Great rigg from Dollywaggon by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Dollywaggon descent by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Grisedale tarn by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
The route up St Sunday was under deep snow, making for slow going:
St Sunday summit ridge by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
St Sunday summit ridge 2 by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
St Sunday summit ridge 3 by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Fairfield from St Sunday by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Nethermost from St Sunday by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
The flat summit of St Sunday would be easy to get lost on in poor visibility:
St Sunday summit by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
The descent down to Birks was through more deep snow after the final rocky section of St Sunday:
Birks by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
I wanted to climb Arnison Crag as well. When I first saw it from Birks I laughed out loud, it just looked so small:
Arnison by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
It was awful. Relentless knee deep snow all the way. I finally reached the summit as it started to get dark. The summit is on a little iced-up rocky outcrop. I downclimbed it with my ice axe in one hand and a sandwich in the other.
Arnison summit by the pointless parasite, on Flickr
Back down to the bus stop with 20 minutes to spare
our_route.gpx Open full screen NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts
by johnkaysleftleg » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:47 pm
by Broggy1 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:31 pm
That NE Ridge is really excellent (and avoids the touristy/popular bits of the Helvellyn range).
To do it in winter conditions must have been special (albeit hairy).
by trailmasher » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:42 pm
by dav2930 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:13 pm
by Mal Grey » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:55 pm
Some great photos too!
by Pointless Parasite » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:55 am
And yes the snow was not great. I met a group of climbers on St Sunday who had just finished the Pinnacle Ridge route. One of them said that the snow lower down was 'like dust'. There didn't seem to be much risk of avalanche but my footholds did not feel at all secure. This week is going to be pretty warm so there's a good chance it will melt anyway.