As per usual I was sitting trawling the forecasts with hope of some more promising weather than its beem of late.
I knew I would be in for a cold and windy night whatever happened. I just needed it to be clear.
As usual the western Fells looked better so I would head for Coniston and my favourite café (The Meadowdore). I could treat myself to brunch before setting off. The full English is to die for..
I skipped from forecast to forecast – I use the Met Office one coupled with MWUK. Its £3.99 for the app and its very good!
Soon I was tucking in and refreshing the forecast using the wifi in the café.
It was looking pretty unpredictable! -4 – -6 with a strong North Easterly taking the wind chill to -16. It would be torture on the hands! I wasn’t quite as high as this but not far off.
I was still unsure of where to go so after I stuffed myself to the point of bursting I set off up the Coppermines Valley. I took the mine track towards Levers Water and my first decision had to be made! The short, sharp shock up the side of Levers Water Beck or the long zig zags up the miners track! I opted for the painful way! My pack would now feel heavier than usual! My thighs burned as I set of until they got used to the weight and exersion. It would soon be over then the next decision! Where the hell to go? The wind was firce as I got to the tarn.. I decided to try and stay out of it for as long as possible and headed along the side of the reservoir towards Swirl Hawse; here I would make a decision based on what the wind was doing and how the sky looked. The light was very flat at present and I wondered if I would end up taking my pack for a long walk and ending up back at the car in a couple of hours…
The going was ok underfoot. The usual bog was still boggy approaching Sam bottom.. I filled my Sawyer at the small beck that runs from the hawse, the water was icy on my skin and I was glad to get my gloves back on! I pushed my water bag down the stretchy pocket on my Exos, it was sticking out a little but I had other bits in it so I couldn’t get it down any further.. I only had my 1 liter bag as I thought there would be enough snow to melt providing I could get high enough.
As I got higher the ground became more frozen and I was soon in the snow line. It was at approx. 500m. The wind was becoming more constant with unsteadying gusts. I decided to head straight up the side of Black Sails to cut short the distance..this would prove to be an interesting decision! I plodded up slowly.. The snow turned to neve and even my Manta Pros were struggling to make much impression in the snow.. I looked sheepishly down between my legs and the many metres below me…I decided as I only had my poles with me my best option would be to traverse to the rock band to my right and scramble the last bit! The rock was freezing and had a covering of ice, but it was grippy and a better option than the steep neve! I felt a little foolish. If I’d have stuck to the path it would have been fine.
Soon I was on slightly better ground but as I got to a small plateau behind the summit I got the full force of the wind! It would be an interesting night if I stayed out! I bent down to re hook my trousers onto my boot…At that point my Sawyer water carrier broke free from its lashing and headed off down the neve at break neck speed. I looked longingly at it shooting off praying it would stop soon… Eventually it did..some 60 meters away..and only because it caught a previous walkers footprint! So, off I went to retrieve it! Bloody hell…I grumbled as I skulked off. I picked it up and positioned it more securely in my pocket and then retraced my steps back and beyond to the summit.. The wind was making it difficult to stay upright. I would need some shelter tonight if I was going to stay high. Bailing was still an option if I wasn’t happy 🙂
I scoured the summit but the wind found every nook and cranny. The summit cairn looked beautiful. The ice looked like a dragon! I hadn’t taken many pictures on the way up as the light was too flat.
I headed off the summit and down the ridge to see if I could find a spot. Eventually after much mooching I was happy. I fould a spot just below an outcrop of rock. It was pretty flat but I set to work digging myself a shallow grave so the bivvy wouldn’t slip. I had forgotten my foil sheet but had my foam mat to put under the Comfort Light to beef it up. Soon I was pretty sorted despite the bitter cold. The wind was raw butwouldn’t be out of my bag for long.. I had a quick wee then decided to get in my bag and get a brew on. I was thirsty. I attached my filter to my bag and decided I’d have a quick drink of water. I squeezed the bag and to my horror icy water squirted all over my cheek..ugh. I thought I had’nt screwed it on properly and so re did it and tried again, another soaking. I swore at it and then inspected it!!!! It would appear that somewhere between falling out of my pack and going on its little journey it had bust the top seem. Nevermind. I drank some of the water anyway and boiled up the rest.
Soon I was with a hot drink looking out over my favourite mountains. The sky wasn’t promising for a good sunset. You can’t win them all I thought to myself. I had decided I would stay anyway and hope for a clear night. I busied myself getting more water prepared. My hands were so cold out of my big gloves! Tonight, would be tough!!
I opted for my favourite Bla Band Meal – Wilderness Stew, it always goes down a treat, and of course some Wolfblass Merlot to wash it down. I left some hot water in the Jetboil to warm the wine 😊.. Dinner was served.
The night started to draw in and the lights in the valley twinkled. You could see all the red lights out to sea at the wind farm off the coastline of Barrow in Furness. The tell-tale red lights on the BAE building shone brightly on the peninsular. I laid back and gazed up. My Sea to Summit pillow tucked under my head offered me a lot of comfort… The clouds started to break and the stars came out one by one and made me smile. I pulled my Buff up gazed into the night sky. The winds whistled and moaned through the rocks and grass.. It was all good.
Now, unbeknown to me; or it may have slipped my mind , but it was Lunar Eclipse night! Sadly, it would definitely be clouded up by the time it was due to happen but I was hoping the moon would be awesome as it would be full.. It didn’t disappoint. I could sense its brightness behind Wetherlam as it crept over the ridge. It was magnificent. I got out of my bag and grabbed my camera and tripod. I wandered around in my Montane Bootees; they really are great for this kind of thing! I took a few shots but sadly the wind kept moving the tripod-blowing it over completely once! Luckily the camera survived!
I put it away and sat on an outcrop of rock for a while. The mountains looked alpine in the moon light, it was utterly stunning. I was glad I made the effort and ‘manned up’!
Despite still feeling quite warm I headed back to the comfort of my Western Mountaineering bag. I have fallen in love with it!!
My back pained me now and would need my painkillers soon so I put another brew on. I have been using the Nescafe sachets. The Vanilla Latte and Double Choca Mocha are very nice! I drank my chocolate and had my tablets. It would soon be sleep time. I had my usual routine of teeth, wee and wash. Brrrrrrrr! It was nippy. I was soon back in bed laying watching the moon and stars. I saw 2 shooting stars which was fab. I snuggled down and pulled my Buff up again so just my eyes were showing. I mustn’t fall asleep without putting my goggles on I thought…
Next thing it was 2am! My eyes felt puffy with the cold.. Damn it! I pulled my bivvy over my head and snuggled in again. The last thing I remember was hearing the wind howling..I awoke at 6.30am. It was overcast and snow threatened. It had put a but down through the night but not much. I was boggy eyed and looking forward to coffee. I rummaged through my sleeping bag to find my gas cartridge. It came out nice and warm and soon the snow was melting. The wind had abated a little so it was easier to use the stove. I decided I would just have my coffee and bail. The snow was falling steadily and there was going to be no dramatic sunrise. I drank up and prepared to put my frozen mantas on! Yuck! I was soon packed and ready to go. I took my LNT picture and popped my Kahtoolas on for the descent, they are great at keeping my upright!
On the way down I bumped into my mate from Coniston MRT. We had a good long chat before he headed up and I headed down. I took in some mines on the way down as usual and I was soon at the car. It had been a pretty good night, despite not being perfect it was good to get out!