Friday, February 24, 2017

A Bessyboot Bimble & some Geology

Date: 24th Feb 2017
Start/Finish: Seatoller
Wainwrights: Rosthwaite Fell (Bessyboot)
Distance: 7 Miles
Height Gained: 2746 feet
Time Taken: 5 Hours

The route: Clockwise from Seatoller

This walk was about snatching the one fine day amongst a maelstrom of recent grim weather. Storm Doris struck yesterday and today was a lull before the wind and rain returned. A quick perusal of the 'outstanding Wainwrights' revealed a few stragglers that needed ticking off. Fleetwith Pike and Rosthwaite Fell were good candidates and the latter was closer. I wanted to be done and dusted my mid afternoon when the grim weather was forecast to return, so it was a 5am alarm for a 7:30 start.

I parked at Seatoller and headed up the path by Comb Gill, pausing by the waterfalls to take in the impressive scenery.

Comb Gill waterfalls

Looking back towards the 'Jaws of Borrowdale' and Derwent Water
 The path steepens as it climbs up towards Bessyboot (Rosthwaite Fell) and the views open up over towards the Seathwaite Fells which were all capped with snow.

Glaramara over 'The Combe'

Spectacular views from Bessyboot summit

Tarn at Leaves with Rosthwaite Cam beyond
From Bessyboot it's a pathless meander down to 'Tarn at Leaves' and then steeply up onto Rosthwaite Cam with a real scramble to get up onto the summit of the Cam itself.

Rosthwaite Cam views westwards to Dale Head and Seatoller far below ...

... and northwards towards Borrowdale ...

... and eastwards over to Ullscarf

Rosthwaite Cam views over 'The Combe' to Glaramara

For any budding Geologists 'The Combe' is one of the Lake Districts finest examples of a glacial hanging valley. It looks like a huge spoon has scooped a bowl shaped depression out of the side of Glaramara but it is of course formed by glacial erosion. Hanging valleys are formed when a smaller valley (which erodes more slowly) meets a larger glaciated valley (which erodes more quickly). The hanging valley is found perpendicular to and above the main valley and often forms spectacular waterfalls as streams from the overhanging valley spill into the main valley below. The waterfalls of Comb Gill are great example of this as they tumble downwards to feed into the River Derwent in the Borrowdale valley.

Steeps crags (truncated spurs) form the sides of hanging valleys and are perfectly illustrated here by Bessyboot and Thornythwaite Fell respectively.

Glaramara and the Borrowdale valley as seen from Grange Fell

My walk was essentially a horseshoe route circumventing The Combe. It's a great route to appreciate the geology of the region.

The Combe from the flanks of Glaramara

Zoomed in on Derwent Water

The steep crags of Glaramara

Looking back over to Bessyboot from the apex of the horseshoe route ...

... and over to Fleetwith Pike

The Borrowdale valley from Thornythwaite Fell

Looking over towards Green Gable et al

The Combe - Lakelands finest glacial hanging valley ...
... complete with waterfalls ...

,,, and spectacular views to the main Borrowdale valley below

 Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Taking the Boy up Bowfell (AKA the Eiger) via climbers traverse in winter

Video of the walk

Date: 3rd December 2016
Start/Finish: Old Dungeon Ghyll
Summits: Bowfell (2959 feet), Rossett Pike (2136 feet) [and the Eiger! 13,020 feet]
Distance: 9 miles
Elevation: 4076 feet
Time Taken: 6 hours

The Route : Clockwise from Old Dungeon Ghyll (far right)

It had been ages since I was last in the fells. Five months in fact. The main reasons were 1) getting a new job 2) having a child who needs driving to football-lots 3) bad weather whenever I planned a trip. Anyway, it was time make amends. My 9 year old was keen to get out for a hiking adventure and I had promised to take him up Bowfell. Stories of steep crags, exposed routes and stunning views had whetted his appetite and there was also the chance of some snow high up which added to the excitement. 

We parked up near the Old Dungeon Ghyll and headed off through Stool End Farm and up the Band. Patches of snow were visible higher up but the summit of Bowfell remained elusively under cloud. As he had managed Blencathra with ease in the summer I thought that the climbers traverse / great slab route would be good challenge for him, especially if there was a bit of snow around. However, as we didn't have axe's & spikes I was prepared to turn back or change routes if needed 
(I had checked the various web cams, weather forecasts and blogs and was satisfied that any snow/ice would be patchy and avoidable).

Stool End Farm

Oxendale Beck 

A friendly local

Pike O'Stickle

Looking back along the Great Langdale Valley

First patch of snow high up on the Band

We headed up the Band until leaving the main path to access climbers traverse (a detailed description of how to find the route is described here). At this point we encountered the first few patches of snow which the boy promptly jumped in, got his gloves soaking wet and his hands cold. No problem though. I has prepared for such eventualities and had a rucksack full of spare warm stuff. So on went the waterproof mitts and the conversation turned to famous mountaineers and epic alpine adventures. Before long his imagination was fired and we were embarking on the first ascent of the Eiger. He had great fun climbing up a steepish patch of snow using 2 poles and plenty of grit and determination. He felt like a real mountaineer and I was happy that the slope gradually levelled out at the bottom where there were no rocks to slide into if he slipped.  

Struggling up the the Eigers fiercesome north face !  

Up to his thighs on the 'Rote Fluh'

Kicking steps on the 'White Spider'

Having successfully conquered the Eiger we returned to Bowfell and made our way towards the climbers traverse. It was great to take my son along this narrow route which winds its way amongst some of Lakelands most spectacular rock scenery. The presence of a few snow patches added to the adventure. 

Climbers Traverse .....

..... or rather the Hinterstoisser Traverse!

Looking towards Bowfell Buttress

The water spout under Cambridge Crag

A hyperlapse video of climbers traverse

We stopped for a well earned rest and a bite to eat by the water spout at the bottom of Cambridge Crag before heading off for the final push up the steep boulder field by the famous Great Slab.

Views over Great Slab towards the Langdale Pikes

Scrambling up the boulder field

A misty Great Slab

From the top of Great Slab its just a short amble to the shattered summit of Bowfell. Unfortunately there were no views today so we didn't linger. Instead we headed quickly off towards Esk Pike but then got distracted by more large snow fields which just had to be walked over, slid down and jumped in.

Getting back below the cloud and about to 'bum slide' down this inviting slope

Views over to Esk Pike

How Exciting!?

By the time we had finished playing around it was clear that we wouldn't have enough daylight left to climb over Esk Pike and come back via Esk Hause as originally planned. Instead we took a short cut down to Angle Tarn at Ore Gap where even more large snow fields distracted us into further fun and frolics. By the time we bagged Rossett Pike and got down the Rossett Gill path it was going dark. Head torches were deployed for that last mile along the Cumbria Way back to the car. This made for a last bit of excitement before the end of a perfect lad & dad adventure.

Snowball action shot

The arty black and white shot of Angle Tarn

Bowfell summit now out of cloud ..... typical!

Trying to make a snow angel

Icing a limb threatening wound on Rossett Pike summit

Looking down Rossett Gill and back along the Great Langdale Valley

Next on the adventure radar .... The Matterhorn!