It may have been slow to arrive, but winter conditions have finally been enjoyed this season. Snow has fallen in Scotland, Snowdonia, and the Peak District. But one of the most enjoyable routes to be found, is Striding Edge in Winter. Here is how Lesley Johnson, who tackled the route onto Helvellyn for the first time in winter conditions recently, recalls the day.
I’m quite an experienced fell walker, I’ve done a lot of the Lake District ridges; but never in winter. After I had worked a night shift my partner, Iain Turner, picked me up at the end of my shift, and we drove straight to Patterdale.
We arrived about 7am and walked up to the ‘hole-in-the-wall’ at the start of Striding Edge, where we put on our crampons on. I felt nervous but excited at same time, and with ice-axe in my hand I began the walk onto Striding Edge. It was quite windy and there was a lot of snow whipped up by the various, winding shapes along the top. Using my ice-axe to find places for a foot hold, I was able to cross striding edge even though the wind was blowing fast.
I completely froze at one point as the wind blew snow in my face and I couldn’t see in front of me – a bit scary really! But Iain was guiding me all the way. There was deep snow on the step climb at the end, up onto Hellvlyn. I used my ice-axe to support me as I climbed. With me being small, the step ups were harder but my ice-axe was a great help as I climbed to the top.
It was great feeling and an achievement for my first winter climb. At the top of Helvellyn, I sat in shelter with Iain and watched others coming over. It was a special moment for me, and what made it even more special was that we were the first over that day. An amazing day and the greatest achievement that I have ever done.
Words and photograph credit to Lesley Johnson.