Friday 5 December 2008

Trip Report: Lingmel & Scafell Pike – Day One

It was my turn to drive so I headed over to get Paul at around 6.30am. We’d both managed to catch the terrible cold doing the rounds at work but we’d decided to brave it with plenty of cold and flu pills. We stopped off for a full English breakfast to clog the arteries at a service station and finally arrived at Wasdale Head at just before 11. The drive deeper into the valley had revealed that the Gods had answered our prayers for snow on the tops and at this point I’d forgotten about my hideous cold!

north_wast_water_fells Yewbarrow, Great Gable & Lingmel from shore of Wast Water

We drove down to the Barn Door gear shop next to the Wasdale Head Inn as neither of us could resist the lure of a gear shop! We bought some spare batteries for the head torches and Paul finally gave in to the merits of Exped dry bags! We made our way back to the parking bay opposite the entrance to the Wasdale Head NT campsite for the starting point of the trip. As we made our final preparations at the car we were treated to some sleet but this was short lived and the sun made an appearance through the frequent openings in the cloud cover. It was looking good weather-wise and I was like a small boy itching to get into the snow.

I’d managed to resist bringing cider and had chosen my Marmot Precip over my Patagonia water-proof so my pack was a gem to put on. I set up my walking poles and we set off past the campsite and up Lingmel Gill.


Middle Fell & Wast Water from Lingmel Gill

The temperature was fairly cool and the slight breeze coming off the mountain made it chilly when not moving. The anticipation of the snow above was almost too much to bear but hunger took over and we stopped just off the track to take on fuel. Paul mustn’t have been as hungry as me because he decided to burn half of his noodles to the bottom of his one-trick Jetboil. Utter glee is all I feel when I hear that familiar sound of Spork on carbonised food! I presented him with a small cut-off from a scouring pad I’d brought as a gift and as we cleaned up it began to snow.

snow_for_lunch Snow for Lunch

The Montane Featherlite Smock was a new item in my pack and it was worth every penny. Normally I would have worn my Marmot Precip over my base and/or midlayer to stop the wind or rain but the Featherlite was perfect and the Precip didn’t make it out of the bag, even in the snow. A highly recommended piece of kit. The walking poles took a bit of getting used to but I quickly found my flow and I could feel them taking some of the pressure of my pathetic knees. I think I was a convert by the time we had reached the snowline!

The cloud cleared as the afternoon went on and we couldn’t help but stop (at what felt like every 100m) to take a photo as the clouds did a runner and the blue sky was left to pick up the pieces.


Me at Hollow Stones

Our progress wasn’t particularly slow but starting late meant there was some dynamic, real-time, micro route management to be done! We consulted the map and decided that we’d pitch on Lingmel, take advantage of the good forecast and make for Scafell Pike for sunrise. This meant we could explore Lingmel Crag and Col and enjoy the snow after we’d pitched.

I’d left the winter boots at home and was a little concerned my feet would get wet in the snow. I’d decided not buy to the Integral Designs Shortie gaiters as I wasn’t convinced I’d need them – fortunately my trial shoes performed perfectly and my trousers kept the snow out in the deeper sections.

We cleared the snow from a relatively flat spot and pitched at around 3.30pm. As we pitched we heard voices and a family of walkers made a bee line for us from the lower western slope of Scafell Pike. They were lost and wanted to make their way back to Wasdale Head. Two of the lads were German and they were excited to practice their English. They all expressed the fact that Paul and I were mad for camping this high and left us with a Christian magazine! They’ll recruit anywhere those guys – you’re not even safe at 800m! I suppose it was better then them rocking up at the tent with brief cases on Sunday morning though!


Sunset from the pitch

It was now getting cold and we had to cook. It was time for the Montane Anti-Freeze to make an appearance and it stole the show. It was perfect for milling about around the camp, cooking and just taking in the views. Another great piece of kit and the pack size and weight is fantastic. The wind picked up as the sun was setting and I had a chance to use my new windscreen in anger. Quite simply it worked a treat and made a huge difference to boil times. Paul’s Jetboil struggled a bit despite his heat exchanger and I think he realised he could do with a screen. I settled down to my beef bourguignon with rice as the sun went down behind the tent.

It’s true, winter nights are long when wild camping and Paul are had exhausted all conversation, reviewed all pictures and were in our sleeping bags for bed at about 7.30! Life inside the sleeping bag was good but outside it was freezing! We had some snow at about 12.30am which woke me and I just had to have a look. Luckily it was only a short shower and the wind had dropped, because the fly sheet wasn’t set up for any drifting snow storms! All in this was a great first day and Scafell was the target next morning……


baz carter said...

Nice one Marcus. Glad to see the kit choices are paying dividends. I had to chuckle when you joked about brief case bearing walkers on a sunday morning :)

John Hee said...

Another convert for the Montane Featherlite Smock

Its amazing the no of uses it has to

baz carter said...

fine piece of kit. works well under a lightweight waterproof like the Precip - I know coz that's the combo I use.

Martin Rye said...

Great that. Montane is great kit. I got my first Terra trousers from the Barn Door. Lasted years.

The photos are great. Where next?

Marcus said...

Thanks guys.

I was really pleased with the all of the kit I took on this trip and I think I'm getting it almost spot on. I've put some gaiters on my Christmas list and a stove from Minibulldesign but that's pretty much it. Not sure where next but really want to get one in around January. Might head on over to Ullswater way but its all up for grabs at the minute.