Hart Crag in the snow

It’s been a while since I last posted, I have still been walking, but really struggled to find time to edit and sort through the images of my walks. Midway through planning a renovation on our house, whilst buying the house in question. It’s exciting times, just not much time for a lot else.

Winter has all but passed now, as I write this my legs are a little sore after yesterdays walk up High Street from Haweswater. However the snow has well and truly disappeared. Anything that is left is either a small cornice or a pile of slush.

However on the day I climbed Hart Crag it was a different story. The snow had been falling and had been through at least one freeze-thaw cycle, so there was a nice crunch and density to it. Setting off prepared for pretty much any eventuality I was feeling good, following my hike up Helvellyn some weeks earlier, my legs now recovered and enjoying the challenge once again. Full winter pack means a lot of weight, it means fatigue surprises you early on, for that I am really happy I have started walking with poles. I feel a lot of walkers fit into two camps, love poles and hate poles. I used to be in the latter, but my knees are happier if I am part of the former when I have a heavy bag on.

Climbing steadily from my car to Hartsop above How I could see Hart Crag looming in the distance, by perspective the largest thing in my visual field. Its summit would drift in and out of mist, which slowly condensed to fog the closer I got to the gully which I was to ascend. The ground was frozen, reflecting a feel of solid rock more than turf and earth. Climbing higher, pushing harder.

dove-crag-hart-crag

In winter ascents there is usually a time when you assess the situation and work out what equipment to use to make it safely to the summit, are crampons needed, will an axe suffice. In this instance, I was following in at least 1 persons footsteps, so I opted to leave my crampons off, but use my axe in case I slipped, using the kicked steps to allow me to ascend safely. The difficulty about these decisions is that once made are usually quite tricky to reverse. It is definitely much easier to attach crampons on a large flat area where your bag can be safely prevented from sliding down the hillside. I made it to the top, but it might have felt more secure with crampons, you live and learn.

Making the most of a fleeting glimpse down into the valley I pushed upwards to the summit.

ascent-hart-crag

From Hart Crag summit I pushed to Dove Crag. The wind was picking up and wind + dry snow = spindrift. With my goggles on as I walked into the wind plus my balaclava to protect my face from the elements. Passing a small group of people at about 1pm in the dip just following Hart Crag enquiring about the conditions further on, specifically Fairfield, I was little help but what information I had I offered.

I continued along the route to Dove Crag, tapping the summit cairn saying hello to another hiker and continuing my push along the high ground, handrailing a convenient wall.

Reaching my waypoint and about to turn toward Little Hart Crag I had noticed a couple standing still talking while I was checking my bearings. I shouted to see if they were ok, turns out they were discussing whether to push on or turn back. The couple, were a little underdressed for the weather, with minimal supplies. I don’t like to tell people what to do, which I didn’t. However, I suggested that given the route planned was the entire horseshoe of which they were about a quarter of the way into, with only 4 hours daylight left they would need head torches and to be proficient at 0 visibility navigation as the fog looked settled on the peaks. They decided to return another day, the mountains aren’t moving anytime soon.

As sods law always dictates, the fog lifted about 20 minutes after I saw them, and while I think it was the right decision to turn back, it would have been frustrating to see the summits cloud free looking back. It was the first time I had seen this all day.

Dove-crag-from-little-hart-crag

A fantastic day and another summit knocked off the list it was on toward High Hartsop Dodd, down the steep side and back towards the car for a warming drink, some chocolate and a long drive home.

Thanks for reading.