Friday, 15 April 2016

55mph Winds End Attempt On Skiddaw Via Ullock Pike

With a one week window to make our attempt on Skiddaw, decisions had to be made over which day offered the best forecast. Unfortunately last week showed mainly rain and snow for the Lake District, all bar Monday.

The MET office among others showed poor to good visibility and cloudy but no rain nor snow. Sounds good, all bar the 40mph plus winds and 55mph gusts...pfft whats a little wind anyway, I've experienced 30mph in an exposed area before. Sooo, we made the 3 hour trip filled with enthusiasm and excitement both of which were short lived.

Planned Route Up Skiddaw Via Ullock Pike

Starting point - Turn off A591 just before Bassenthwaite to Small car park.
Planned distance - 9 miles
Planned time - 5 to 7 hours
Planned highest point - 931mtrs
Difficulty - Tough going, some tough climbs, scrambling and hard terrain.
Wainwrights included - Ullock Pike, Carl Side, Long Side and Skiddaw

Below is the route we should have taken. Red shows how far we got before turning back, blue represents the planned walk.

Leaving home at 5.30am we arrived in the Lakes around 8.30 and set straight out from a small car park near Bassenthwaite. Following the public bridleway it was obvious early on the wind was much worse than I'd imagined and the mountain was covered in hill fog.

After ascending the last bit of good, grassy terrain Longside Edge came into view, what we could make of it at least. With every step the wind seemed to hit a new crescendo and those beautiful views disappeared behind a thick blanket of mist.

A glance down from Longside Edge was about the last clear view we'd have. This was little more than 40 minutes in.

5 minutes later and Phil was covered in hill fog, struggling to stay upright even with the aid of sticks. You can see the poor chap leaning forward pushing on below. This was just 200 meters away from Ullock Pike, not that either of us realized, who would in these conditions!

A few hundred meters on and we could make out the faint shape of a summit marker...this was of course Ullock Pike summit 692 meters high, we assumed so and despite my eagerness for a photo I value my GoPro more in a pocket than halfway down Longside Edge.

The image above shows me marching on toward Long Side summit. Every now and then we found cover while turning a corner or making a steep scramble, though these were rare and short lived. The wind increased and as we passed over the peak shown below those 55mph gusts really hit home.

Phil was literally on his hands and knees, I had to lean at an angle to stay upright and we both just laughed. This was ridiculous, there was no way this ascent could continue without someone getting hurt or losing my GoPro! Priorities, right.

Dejected and largely disappointed we made tracks back. Below is the way back down Longside Edge. Weird how long the path felt heading back compared the ascent we'd just done less than an hour ago. Thoughts of how we could salvage a wasted day entered my mind.

Now we have chalk and cheese, on the left a stormy view back from where we came and to the right the calm leaving Longside Edge. As we walked I continuously bugged Phil about how to salvage the afternoon and where we could go.

Phil loves Buttermere and I am obsessed with bagging Wainwrights, not hard to guess where we'd next post will be about the walk near Buttermere to reach Rannderdale Knotts summit. As always I'd appreciate any social media shares and please feel free to join the discussion below.
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