The winter season of 2017/18 has been exceptional, with plenty opportunities for quality mountain days and photography. Although a few trips have been an effort for nothing, but at least four of the trips this season have provided me with some great portfolio work.
I have always loved winter in the mountains, I find it much better to walk in to keep me cool and of course the scenery just takes on a completely different feel altogether. Helvellyn is one of those areas in winter, it is a very popular mountain range in summer when it comes alive with tourists. Whereas in winter, you will find hardcore mountaineers in the gullies with ropes, axes and crampons pulling themselves up routes considered near impossible in other weather. Already having two trips ion this mountain range to reach the summit for winter, I had been thwarted either by low mist or high winds whipping up the deep snow. The morning of the 31st December 2017 was a very different experience, and the conditions delivered without stopping all morning.
The route in was taken from Thirlmere, hiking from Wythburn the route is an immediate climb to the summit of Helvellyn (949m), taking about 90 minutes. Steep in parts, very icy underfoot and deep snow drifts in places. A few others climbed today to enjoy the sunrise from the summit and seemed that everyone had the same idea with the weather window showing favourable conditions. In my opinion the best part of the day on a mountain is sunrise except maybe for sunset, coming a close second. For our own safety, we packed Ice axes and Crampons along with our winter clothing with the mountains being in full winter condition, and they were definitely required on the way down where parts of the decline were in solid ice conditions. If you are considering going into the mountains during winter to experience the magnificent sights they offer, whether to enjoy the winter conditions or to get your own photos the please do understand that without experience and knowledge of mountains in winter it can be a dangerous place. It is important that you know how to navigate to a good standard with maps and compass as well as digital technology, you should know how to use winter equipment such as crampons and ice axes and take some training if you can. Especially if you consider routes such as Striding Edge or Swirral Edge, where many a person has sadly met their end from a slip or fall, having the basic skills will save mountain rescue a job and possibly your life.
Cornices forming near Helvellyn summit, having been carved in the wind provided me with some great foreground interest to the image.
Whilst wandering around the summit, I could see across the Borrowdale fells and across to Bowfell and Scafell, I fired off a few images on our way down to the care and on for breakfast.