Helvellyn via Gully2 + St Sunday Crag

Wainwrights: Dollywaggon Pike, Helvellyn, St Sunday Crag
Hewitts: Dollywaggon Pike, Helvellyn, St Sunday Crag

Date walked: 24/03/2018

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 17.4km

Ascent: 1316m

Had a great day on Saturday 24th March, sneaking in a snow climb on the Red Tarn face of Helvellyn before all the snow disappears in the Lakes. The weather was perfect so we wandered along to Dollywaggon Pike then round to St Sunday Crag.

Karl and me set off from Glenridding at 9.00am and walked up to Red Tarn using the path on the south side of Glenridding Beck.


Beck viewed from the footbridge

Where the ground levels off in the cove containing Red Tarn, we got a good view of the face of Helvellyn with our intended route running up the middle of it.

Red Tarn face of Helvellyn

The line of Gully2

A frozen Red Tarn below Helvellyn

We walked around the north side of the tarn to the foot of the gully. Two other chaps were already at the foot of gully1 to the right. We put on our crampons and made any final adjustments of hats, gloves, sunglasses, layers etc. Axes in hand, we set off up the slopes, heading for the point where the line of snow narrows between the buttresses. The snow was a bit on the soft side but held our weight and good kicks made for secure steps. The slope was easy going for quite a way. Meanwhile the other two chaps had traversed in below us and were following us up our gully; that is until we looked down again from a bit higher and they'd vanished! Oh well.

The slope gradually steepened as we got near to the narrows. Fortunately the snow was also getting firmer. Picks of the axes going in now, placements were secure. A bit further up was the narrowest part of the gully, with a couple of small rocks sticking out of the snow. These were good spikes which made useful though unnecessary handholds. A couple of steps to the right led to a tongue of thick, solid ice only thinly coated with snow. This gave 20 feet of superb climbing on crampon tips with the axe picks sinking in only an inch at most, and led over a slight bulge to the upper snow slopes. Here the snow was softer again and some of the axe placements dragged, but with some bashing it was always possible find more secure placements.

Point and shoot down the gully. Well I wasn't going to turn round was I?

From below it had appeared there might be a cornice at the top and that this could be avoided by a traverse to the right. But as the sunlit rim came into sight we could see there wasn't much of a cornice at all and we could go straight up. Topping out was pretty easy. What a great climb! :D

Karl topping out from the gully

We were looking right at the cross-walls shelter just below the summit of Helvellyn. So a few steps later we were sat down in the sunshine enjoying coffee, sandwiches and superb views. There was barely a breath of wind and it was warm. We sat there for ages.

Catstycam from Helvellyn

A quick visit to the summit then off southwards for Dollywaggon Pike. We weren't bothered about bagging every top in sight so we by-passed the actual summit of Nethermost Pike.

Cornice round the summit ridge of Helvellyn

Crowds at the top

Striding Edge from Helvellyn summit

Thirlmere and central fells

Along the way a group of paragliders passed silently overhead and gradually disappeared towards Morecambe Bay.


Dollywaggon Pike

Great views from Dollywaggon Pike.

St Sunday Crag from Dollywaggon Pike

High Crag from Dollywaggon Pike

Then down the zig-zaggy path to Grisedale Tarn. Pretty warm by now so down to base-layers for the rising traverse up to St Sunday Crag.

Grisedale Tarn


Cofa Pike and Fairfield from the ridge of St Sunday Crag

Always seems further than you think to the top of St Sunday - several false summits.

Red Screes, Dove Crag, Hart Crag from St Sunday Crag

Lovely afternoon light.

Helvellyn from St Sunday Crag

West from St Sunday Crag

High Street range from St Sunday Crag


Great walk, great climb, great weather, great day. All rounded off nicely with a pint of Tirril Original in the Ratcher's Tavern! :D

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Comments: 4

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Comments: 11
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Hewitts: Blencathra
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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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Hewitts: High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike (Buttermere)
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Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Birkhouse Moor, Catstyecam, Helvellyn
Hewitts: Catstyecam, Helvellyn
Date walked: 25/11/2017
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Ascent: 971m
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Views: 444


User avatar
Location: Cumbria
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Clachaig Inn
Mountain: An Teallach
Place: Loch Coruisk
Gear: Marmot Windshirt
Ideal day out: A round of summits with some scrambling thrown in.
Ambition: Complete the Munros

Munros: 233
Corbetts: 11
Grahams: 10
Donalds: 34
Wainwrights: 214
Hewitts: 156
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