Group: Ferg, Graham, Alan & Mal
Weather: Lying dry powder snow thigh deep in drifts but with a general covering of several inches; very still; visibility varying from perfect to near whiteout
Where: Helvellyn Ridge from Thirlmere side, Lake District
|Moon Over Sticks Pass
We left Stannah at about 10:30 in cold, still and quite overcast conditions. The day always had the promise of some good views as the picture to the north towards Skiddaw and Blencathra was one of clearing skies.
Sticks Pass is a real slog either up or down and today we were quite slow with winter gear faff consuming too much time! There was virtually nobody around – which I quite like but was nevertheless surprising given the promise of such good conditions. The trudge through deep snow in places up to the “crossroads” at the head of the pass seemed to take ages and we all agreed was quite tiring in these conditions.
A right turn at the “crossroads” saw the cloud clear for just a few minutes & we could see the summit of Raise (the only peak in this range I’ve not visited before). There was a frantic scramble for cameras at this point but I need to come clean and say that everything I took was rubbish! Hence, can’t share this one with you! We did, however, spy for the first time for any of us the Raise ski tow. Before we got chance to begin the ascent towards the top the cloud had dropped again and visibility was pretty poor.
The main path which broadly follows the summit ridge across the Dodds and Helvellyn etc passes just below the Raise cairn and we deviated off to the East in order “bag” Raise. I’ve often heard this section to the North of Helvellyn described as “boring”, however, under these conditions and at only just shy of 3,000′ it felt like a good mountain to me. We were even rewarded with a short improvement in visibility for our visit.
We began our descent, off-piste of course, aiming for Brund Gill and within minutes were back into low cloud and the loss of any potential views out across Thirlmere. The snow in the area at the head of the gill was the deepest we saw all day with Alan disappearing waist deep at one point.
In clearing skies we reached the lower slopes, still with an ample snow covering and headed back across an impressively frozen Fisherplace Gill to Sticks Pass to conclude the day in the clearest conditions we’d seen! The scene back up the valley towards Blencathra was a bit special!
Approximate route map below: about 5 miles & 2,450′ of ascent
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