After reading endless reports and getting teased with amazing pictures in Trail magazine of Striding Edge i finally got my taste of this classic lake land climb.
Chris aka Darksky form the UKwalkingforum joined me on this walk. We had previously stayed the night at a cold Swirral camping bairn close to Glenridding, it was basic but well worth the £7 a night charge.
We set off early around 8:30 following the track up towards Red Tarn, our first glimpse of the Helvellyn range came when Catseye Cam popped its head over the hill line. Soon we were at Red Tarn and revelling in the amazing sight of a snow topped Helvellyn flanked on both sides by Striding Edge and Swirral Edge. After a quick brew sponsored by Jetboil we made the decision to tackle Striding Edge even though the wind was quite high.
We were soon up at the start of Striding Edge ridge and the adrenalin took over. We scrambled via the highest level possible all the way along the ridge. There were a few squeky bum moments but it was amazing. The drop on each side is quite severe and i can see why many people find major problems with this ridge in bad conditions. Luckily the ridge today was windy, with snow covering but manageable. I will have to get an ice axe and crampons for next time around as i can see why they are needed. We were soon at the chimney section and heading up towards Helvellyn summit, once on top the wind was immense, i got took off my feet a few times before reaching the cross shaped summit. Chris soon joined me and we took shelter and started trying to work out how to get down off the very windy summit. Swirral edge was totally out of the question, credit to the 3 lads who came up that route without and ice axe and crampons, the look of fear in the face as they reached the top struck home with just how dangerous this mountains can be. We decided on Plan B which was to head down from Lower man and head towards Whiteside before then take the path home towards Glenridding.
When we started to descend Lowerman i soon realised the wind was absolutely mad on this drop towards Whiteside. About 30 people were pinned to the floor for about 30 minutes. This is the first time i actually felt in danger on a walk. It seemed to take hours to get to Whiteside, drastically stumbling form one small cairn break to the next. When we eventually reached Whiteside we didn’t hang about long as we both wanted to get out of the frantic wind. We were soon below the wind level on the path heading home. We arrived at the camping bairn around 4pm and celebrated with some Jack Daniels. This was soon followed by a good drinking session at the Travellers rest, and i would recommend the mix grill to anyone brave enougth to challenge it.
A great weekend, my first Wainwright, first scramble and a moment of worry. Cheers Darksky for setting me up to Helvellyn, what a day.