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Winter skills course: an alpine Helvellyn traverse


The ‘office’ has been looking mighty fine today! Helen from Manchester joined me for a refresher of some winter skills and a walk around the Helvellyn edges.

Helen is off trekking to over 6000m in Equador so wanted to make sure she was okay on her feet before committing to this challenge.

Things have been pretty warm recently in the Lakes – Striding Edge is a dry scramble now, but is amazing on a day like this. Helen was keen to look at some scrambling and movement skills though, so Striding Edge worked really well for us. The views were worth the journey alone.

After completing the edge, we negotiated some steep snow to gain the summit plateau and take a look at the cornices, which are currently large, drooping, cracked and several have collapsed. We often talk to our clients about the risk of cornices, but actually seeing them like this with 3 foot cracks running the length of the plateau really helps to drive things home.

After lunch on the summit, it was time to really focus on those winter skills and descend a very wintery Swirral Edge. This meant looking at techniques such as facing in to the slope and daggering, combined with some step cutting and very careful footwork to ensure that we didn’t become one of the many accident statistics of Swirral Edge in winter.

Great work Helen.

The climbing on the east face is starting to show the affect of the thaw, but the gullies on the east face are mostly complete though and the steep ski descents look amazing.

A amazing day on the hill. Thanks Helen.


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Descending Swirral Edge


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Cracks in the summit cornice on Helvellyn’s east face


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The east face of Helvellyn from Striding Edge

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