Day Ice!

Went up to Shoulthwaite Gill this morning, with the intention of having a look at it and soloing it if it looked reasonable.

Unfortunatley, I managed to get up a bit too early for me to engage my brain, and ended up parking on the wrong side of the hill (prior preparation prevents something something…). No matter though, it was another stunning morning and a walk through the trees and view of Helvellyn and Thirlmere from a different perspective was fantastic.

Morning over Thirlmere
Morning over Thirlmere

It did mean I was at the bottom of the route later than planned however and, as suspected, there was another party ahead of me. They politely offered for me to nip in ahead, but I politely declined (because I wanted to see how they got on before committing to the solo!).

Shoulthwaite Gill, a truly stonking route - and it's in the Lakes!
Shoulthwaite Gill, a truly stonking route - and it's in the Lakes!

‘Mike’ made steady progress, finding decent gear difficult to find and getting a bit spooked by the hollow ice and the water running behind, but made the top without incident. Another pair had joined the queue by now, so ‘Wes’ decided not to lead it for himself and just follow Mike up it, to speed things along a bit. He offered me the other rope to tie into…

If no one was about, I probably would have gone for the solo, and probably would have got up it without the obvious unpleasant negative, but if someone offers you a rope, you may as well, eh?!

To be honest, I’m glad fate dealt me a late arrival and the offer of a top rope, as it meant I could concentrate on enjoying the route rather than worrying too much about being careful. Stonking route, probably more solid than it sounded and looked, and great fun.

Thanking my new found friends, I headed back up and over the unnescessary hill between me and the car and made for Launchy Gill.

The start of Launchy Gill was a bit disappointing, as the lower section wasn’t fully frozen, and a number of large pools preventing further progress up the gill meant a scramble back out and around to the next section.

However, after a little mixed step started to make life more interesting, a couple of chaps sorting gear in front of me suggested the next section might be more to my liking. Sure enough…

Launchy Gill, the main event

Dispatching the centre of the fall through the middle, trying to avoid knocking whole sections off and the very wet stuff on the left (the worse kind of ice – unfrozen!) I was grinning at the top of it.

I’d got chatting to Justin just before this section, and he followed me up. We moved up the gill and ’round to the final steepening, which was a little shorter than the previous, but a little more brittle, requiring a more delicate and balanced approach. Superb stuff.

Launchy Gill, 'second' step

More of the same tomorrow hopefully, but careful choice required to avoid the weekend crowds…

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