Wetherlam. Such a great Mountain. It truly is a favourite and it didn’t disappoint on Sunday night. The evening was promising clear skies and light winds. Perfect for the bivvy bag.
I finished work a little early and headed for the Coppermines valley.
The sky was blue and it felt like spring. The larks were singing amongst other birds and the air felt a little warmer than of late. I wasn’t fooled by this as the forecast at 900m was for temperatures feeling like -8C through the night. I had packed my brilliant Sherpas Vajra Primaloft Trousers-though I had forgotten my boots so the Salomon trainers would have to suffice! (there was no snow down and I used to wearing them all summer)
I set off via the old quarry track that leads to Hole Rake – this is pretty much the most direct route to the summit. Its boggy in places but follows the broad shoulder of the fell and takes in some great views of the Coniston Range on the way up. It’s also a steady climb as opposed to being really steep all the way so is a little easier on the knees and back!
I met some lovely people on my up. A couple who had just completed seven Wainwrights and were heading back to Thai Curry in their little cottage! What a great end to their day-they were buzzing from being out on such a beautiful day in the Lakes. I was feeling excited as I passed the last steep pull before the whaleback starts to level and the enjoyment really starts. I met another 2 guys on their way down, we chatted for several minutes and then said our goodbyes as they headed to the pub and I turned to the summit to find my little piece of heaven for the night.
It wasn’t long before I passed the last day walkers and I finally had the fells to myself.
About 4 metres from the summit there is a slab of rock which through the day acts as a comfortable seat for weary walkers or a bit of a shelter in stormy weather. To me it is a perfect sleeping platform! I slept there last summer and had it in my mind for a winter bivvy for a while now. Despite being exposed I wasn’t bothered as it wasn’t due to be windy.
The sunset was already promising to be a fantastic one and with Venus being close to the moon I was hoping for a perfect evening. It didn’t disappoint!
I set my groundsheet protector out and weighed down the corners with rocks!. Not that it was necessary….the weather forecast was correct. No wind!!!!!!
I packed sensibly and my mat and sleeping bag (thank god for the Terra Nova Laser 900 and Exped DownMat 7) were already rolled into the Terra Nova Apollo bivvy bag so I just had to uroll it all and pump my mat with the Exped schnozzle pump-great and simple piece of kit!
After I got set up I set about running around with coffee in one hand and tripod in the other! I wanted some of my silhouette shots as the sun was setting. I got some really nice ones.
On returning to my bag i noticed the frost was already forming. I was toastie!
Kit list: Sherpa Dorje Powerstretch tights, Patagonia Cap 4 top, Sherpa Vajra Vest, Patagonia Fitzroy Hoody, Sherpa Shankar Jacket, Sherpa Vajra Trousers and a Sherpa Beanie! I wear a Primaloft over my Down as a rule to stop the down getting damp in the cold night air!
I also take spare socks to change into so my feet are dry when I settle in to sleep.
I always take a sit mat too. These are so valuable. You can sit on them when cooking your dinner but also to lean your elbow on when lying in your bivvy cooking-makes things more comfy and stops moisture pushing through your layers! Simple but effective.
Speaking of simple! LWWF dinner as usual. I’m becoming a real creature of habit but this stuff is so tasty and whilst taking a little while to heat in the bag it is the best food I have come across!
After my dinner I warmed my wine and took a walk around with the camera again. The moons crescent was low in the sky with Venus shining brightly close by. I don’t have a brilliant camera and I’m not a great photographer but you can see in the pictures how visible they were!
Time for teeth cleaning and painkillers… Then my favourite part of the night. Snuggling into your big down bag. It was super frosty now and I was happy to have so many warm layers. My (Black Diamond Revolt) head torch shone out over the white rocks. I shivered as I got snuggled in, my nose was freezing! I pulled my Reversible Buff up over my face and laid looking into the inky sky. The stars were amazing as always and I watched for satellites before falling asleep.
Dawn came all too soon. The frost was thick! I keep all my spare kit in a roll to Sea to Summit dry bag-Including my trainers. It keeps the frost out of everything and your kit bone dry. My spare clothes go into my bag with me including phone and camera! For obvious reasons!
I sorted breakfast from my bag as I wasn’t ready to face the cold! My porridge chilled as I ate it.. Brrrrr. I made my second coffee whilst watching sunrise over the eastern Fells. It was deathly quiet. Perfect!
Sadly all bivvy’s must come to an end and the bike was calling!
I wriggled out and forced my feet into my trainers and stretched in the sunshine. Time to pack up. I shook the Apollo vigorously showering sparkling frost into the air and covering myself… It’s much quicker to pack after a bivvy and before I knew it I’d shouldered the Exos and was ready to set off down. The walk off was lovely. I returned the same way as I’d come as It is the easiest descent in trainers!!!
A few extra shots!