As is tradition in HSX, Easter can me only one thing… Three days of fun in the Lakes District!
The Nepal 2013 team decided to take this opportunity to join HSX out on the Fells to brush up on their navagation skills, practice some unexcepted winter mountaineering and ultimately a spot of team bonding!
Friday 29th March – Day 1
We arrived at Great Tower at 1 in the morning after a fairly uneventful, but very long, journey. Luckily for us we had an awesome mixed tape to listen to. Straight off to bed so we were fresh for an early start.
In the morning we split into our three patrols, kitted up in the winter boots and adjusted our crampons (just incase). The aim was for the Nepal team was to lead both in navigation and looking after the group.
We set off from the car park to summit Little Man, taking note of tick features and reading contours the whole way. We had to practice kicking in steps, a technique we learned in the Cairngorms, as there was lots of snow under foot. We summited Little Man, all 865m of it, and then dropped into the saddle as was very windy on top. After fighting with the group shelter we were finally settled inside to put on more layers and have a bite to eat (where some of us got a bit too excited and ate all of our lunch!)
We then headed up Skiddaw where the view from the top was beautiful, but flipping freezing, so we did not stay for very long. On the way down we met up with the other patrols and walked out as a team as we had heard that Lhotse’s route was full of unconsolidated snowdrift up to your waist!!!
We then headed into Keswick for a well earned hot chocolate and for some quality shopping time.
After a de-brief of the day it was announced Bloc had kindly sent us all a pair of sunglasses each, que a fight for the mirror to admire ourselves. And the news did not stop there. It has now been confirmed that we are one of the seven finalists for the Light my Fire adventure blog. This not only means that we get to write on their website we get to have lots of their great kit which will be a great help for our expedition.
After a bit of free time we headed over to the slab to practice our bouldering. This was a great challenge to practice our skills of transferring our weight on steep rocky inclines.
After a delicious dinner (we love the cooks) we started to prepare for the next day out on the mountains.
Saturday 30th March – Day 2
We started the day at Hartsop. We then walked up Pastino Beck Valley whilst practising some micronavigation. The conditions started off with some thin snowfall as we walked. As we passed Raven Crag the clouds started to come down the valley. Having stopped briefly for a snack, we started our ascent from Threshthwaite Cove to Threshthwaite Mouth. The snow was powdery and unconsolidated, which made the ascent more challenging.
As we reached the saddle we felt the wind begin to bite. From the saddle we could see our next destination, Thornthwaite Crag, enveloped in cloud. As we climbed towards the top we chased away the cloud, leaving clear view as we arrived on the summit. At the top we paused for a lunch break and rewarded ourselves with Ribena.
After Lunch we started making our way to the trip point on High Street at 828m above sea level. Up on the plateau walking through the snow was similar to Russian roulette, with some steps on solid snow and the next disappointing, up to your knees or higher in snow. Crossing the plateau we met up with the Nupste team who were taking the same route as us, but in the other direction.On a descent from the trip point on the way towards The Knott, Joe, our leader was demonstrating how to run downhill through the snow when his foot got caught and he faceplanted with …ummm… elegance! After we finished laughing with him we continued our way up to the summit of The Knott (739m).
We then began our descent through thick snow, doing a few ice axe arrests halfway down… which is much faster than walking and loads more fun. We found that Haveswater lake was frozen and it took a large rock to break through. Then we continued down the rest of the valley to arrive back at the car park.
That night we were treated to a lovely dinner followed up with delicious gateau.
Sunday 31st March – Day 3
We woke at 7am HSX time, had breakfast and prepared for the day ahead. The advance group left earlier to set up the climbs at Bowderstone Crag in Borrowdale. On arrival, we played the bean warm up game (involving throwing many interesting shapes representing ‘chilli beans’ and ‘jelly beans’ etc.). This was highly entertaining and limbered us up nicely for the climbs.
We rotated between the three climbs and all had a go at the quarry abseil round the corner. The abseil itself was around 30m in height and going over the edge was quite scary for most. There was also a mini cave at the bottom where we couldn’t place our feet against the cliff so had to abseil freely.
After our amazing morning we all went to the Bowderstone; finding out that the reason why they built stairs up to the top was due to tourists frequently getting stuck on the top and having to phone mountain rescue! This was an eye opener for a lot of us because we didn’t realise how much upper body strength was needed for bouldering. We also discovered a place underneath the rock where you could link hands with someone on the other side; much to the amazement of the tourists…
After our quest, we returned to our kingdom for a mighty banquet of Spaghetti Bolognese! Later in the evening Smudge taught us how to use the Petrol stoves and we learnt that they are highly effective and work well at altitude. Everybody finished the day by packing their bags for the return journey and got into bed ready for a day of travel the next morning back to the South Coast.