Ascent by starlight, descent by daylight / by Tristan Tinn

 

It's not often the stars align so to speak; a number of factors made this outing so spectacular:

  • A free schedule for the group, uncommon these days
  • Clear skies throughout the night and into the early hours
  • No moon
  • The Lake District well and truly in the grips of winter - none of this warm wet winter rubbish

Despite the 4am alarm, the perfect conditions more than compensated for lack of sleep. Luckily with no snow overnight meant Kirkstone Pass was clear, despite a few patches of ice.

We left Greenside mines at 05:20 - presumably plenty of time to summit Helvellyn before sunrise at 08:17.

The route we chose was the long way round, albeit the safer option. The car park was without doubt the most treacherous part of the trip, an ice rink to say the least! We soon got underway by starlight, as our eyes adjusted were able to really appreciate the lakeland dark skies. 

 Making slow progress through deep snow, beneath the stars

Making slow progress through deep snow, beneath the stars

 Looking up Brown Cove with Catstycam on the left

Looking up Brown Cove with Catstycam on the left

 Night turns to day over Catstycam

Night turns to day over Catstycam

 Daylight begins to eat away at the stars on the eastern horizon

Daylight begins to eat away at the stars on the eastern horizon

 Helvellyn summit is visible in a fresh white cloak, as the last few stars cling to the sky

Helvellyn summit is visible in a fresh white cloak, as the last few stars cling to the sky


As we reached the top of the ridge between Raise and Lower Man the glow was intense and most of the stars had disappeared. The snow on the top was crusty and windblown which made for better progress. In contrast to the knee deep drifts we'd battled through so far - occasionally your foot would still suddenly disappear through the crust.


 The group pauses on textured ground before ascending Lower Man

The group pauses on textured ground before ascending Lower Man

 Pete pauses to admire the colour painting the skies above the summit

Pete pauses to admire the colour painting the skies above the summit

 Upon reaching the summit of Lower Man, albeit feeling pushed for time (now 08:05) the views were fantastic!  

Upon reaching the summit of Lower Man, albeit feeling pushed for time (now 08:05) the views were fantastic!  


I decided to make a gamble and dash to the main summit. Risking being on the backside of the peak when the sun broke the horizon, the pressure was on!


 Just in the nick of time I made it to the exit of Swirral Edge

Just in the nick of time I made it to the exit of Swirral Edge

 A strong shadow was cast on Swirral Edge by the rising sun

A strong shadow was cast on Swirral Edge by the rising sun

 Early morning light eccentuates Striding Edge

Early morning light eccentuates Striding Edge


 After an intense 30 minutes of light the sun rose behind the cloud base and the magic was over. We made our descent along Swirral

After an intense 30 minutes of light the sun rose behind the cloud base and the magic was over. We made our descent along Swirral

 A love of the mountains brings varied interests together

A love of the mountains brings varied interests together

 A lone figure tackles the winter conditions

A lone figure tackles the winter conditions


I hope you have enjoyed the journey, until next time! Feel free to share this blog post and please leave any comments below.