I have been waiting years for a chance to do winter ascents of the classic gully’s on Scafell’s North Face; and last Saturday I did both of them on the same day. Matt and I were the first team to arrive at the crag and when straight for Steep Ghyll a Classic grade V; we had to succeed as Matt’s Dad had climbed the route in the winter of 1969. Gaining the base of the crux pitch was fairly straight forward and I set off up the infamous chimney, this went easily; however the 40m groove above provided a large scare factor due to ice coating powder snow covering blank slabs. In the groove I only managed to find 3 crap pieces of gear and had one of the sections of ice collapse while I was on it, I only missed a long fall by having one of my axes placed just above the disintegrating section of ice.
Having thoroughly scared ourselves on Steep Ghyll, we descended Deep Ghyll and climbed Moss Ghyll. Moss Ghyll is an uber classic and one of the best Grade IV’s I have ever done. The climbing is continually interesting and sustained; I would recommend this route to everyone.
Sunday, I had a solo day, starting from Langdale I walked over to Great End and soloed 6 routes including all the classic III’s; at lunch time I escaped the crowds and walked back to Angle tarn, climbed angle tarn gully then dropped over to Cambridge Crags on Bowfell, however by this time the weather had deteriorated and I decided to go down. A great weekend with good winter conditions in the Lakes – something of a rarity.