The Icy Adventures of Gripp Type-Thinne II
“The best snow and ice conditions in 20 years”, that’s what the man promised and that’s what we got. Well pretty much. It was a little misty and the view was restricted later in the day but the conditions underfoot were solid hard neve and just fantastic walking and climbing.
The path up from Patterdale, very familiar now, takes no time at all and stopping only to take the odd photograph the top of the ridge is reached at the Hole in the Wall within the hour. The hole is nowhere to be seen, it’s under about 10ft of had packed snow and only the very top of the ladder stile is to be seen.
We stop to put crampons on, Gripp looking very pleased he’d brought them this time. I swapped windproof fleece for another base layer and windproof jacket expecting the wind on the ridge itself to be bighting.
The conditions were fantastic, firm ice and snow making foot placements solid and confidence building, the wind not distracting at all except in one or two places. I even had time to stop and take photos of the mele along the ridge, for it had become obvious that there was quite a number of folk determined to take advantage of these conditions.
The last step down at the end of the ridge required some care, holds and ledges packed hard with ice and then the final pull up to the summit, seeking out steeper ice along the face to make it more interesting.
After a brief stop at the “shelter” made even more tenuous in that regard since all the snow packed into each and every corner had reduced it’s meagre effectiveness even further, we set off over the actual summit of Helvellyn to the cairn above Swirral Edge. The steep ice was firm enough to walk down a seemingly impossible slope to the easier ground along the ridge itself. This is no where near the edge that it’s bigger brother demonstrates at the other side of the corrie.