“Don’t ask me to lose ’cause I’m born now to win and I’m building this mountain from outside within“ Des Farara of the band Devildriver on the track ‘The Mountain”
It’s the day after my disaster at the Windermere One Way swimming race (see previous blog post) and I’m still really annoyed about the whole situation. I spend quite some time discussing it with my mate Andy about how I was totally prepared for that race….just not the actions of others. That aside, we have planned to do Helvellyn today because the last time I was in the Lake District, me and my mates Rob and Bukey were defeated by high winds on the ascent of Helvellyn.
Not that we were overly surprised by the weather at the time but that weekend was wetter than an otters pocket. And the winds were so bad they were bending the trees at the foot of the mountains. We couldn’t get on top of Helvellyn because the wind was too strong to hold onto it. And even though it’s and easy scramble across the ridgeline it wasn’t worth it. I almost gave it a go but Rob’s common sense prevailed. And when we went to Scafell Pike the weather was even worse…well we made it but check out the below video!
The ridge line of Striding edge looms out of the fog like a prehistoric monster and though we can’t see more than about 20 meters in front, the exposure to the elements is obvious. It’s easy to traverse but you wouldn’t want to put a foot wrong in places. The scramble itself is classed as a grade one so as scrambles go it isn’t difficult unless you want to make it harder on yourself. It’s not a hard route but I can see how if we had tried it the last time I was here we could have easily have gotten blown clean off the top.
Though a nice sunny clear day would be great the fog lends the whole scene more of an adventurous feel and for a second it reminds me of the misty mountains from the hobbit. The fact I’m flying up this thing isn’t just from being annoyed with how the previous day went but because clearly all I needed was sleep and to know my support, which I didn’t get due to circumstance
Usually I’d be a bit more mindful of the height which is only emphasised by the fog, which flanks the sides of the ridge line making it look like a crooked blade with nothing below on either side. I’m enjoying the exposure though as after all the disaster of the day before a bit of fear and bagging a mountain that’s previously defeated me is on my list of priorities.
Clearly me and Andy are both barely bothered by the height as we are rambling total nonsense about foam strawberry sweets as we traverse close to the edge. We see the safer path below us and I cheerfully point out if we fell from this part we’d probably bounce right over it on our way to the bottom……Luckily the rock isn’t slippy up here like it is in Wales. At least that’s my opinion so don’t bank on it I’ve only been to the Lakes three times and only four times into the mountains!
Descending what’s known as ‘the chimney’ which is the most difficult part of the route which is a roughly seven meter climb down about half way through the route. For a few minutes we briefly glimpse red tarn through the fog. Apparently there’s fish in here but at the moment I’m pretty tired of anything to do with water. We then make our way up the other side which looks like fun!
There’s two guys behind us who seem a fair bit more flustered by the climb up than we are, it seems like they haven’t done a lot of this.Personally I’m loving it, even when Andy almost sends a large rock falling behind him in my general direction. Being the caring person I am I use the guys behind to give perspective to the photo I’m taking. I think I threw in a few words of encouragement too….they probably didn’t hear me mind you.
Helvellyn summit is not so great in the fog, in fact bar the trig point and the stark reminders of the fact that climbing up this ridge line is still dangerous is the plaque to one Robert Dixon who died here in 1858 from a fall.
Making our way down Helvellyn via Swirral Edge is far easier and quite similar to what we have just done. We make our way down past Red tarn and back towards what will inevitably be the pub. I can imagine this place is far better without the gloom but I doubt it would have felt so epic without the fog.