A Short Winter Climb to Revive Jaded Spirits
After a night out in Penrith and with winter still having its icy grip on the Lake District; what better way to take advantage of a low pressure day than to grab a quick trip up one of the classic little ice climbs around Thirlmere. I couldn’t track down anyone to come out to play, so it had to be something fairly easy going and quick to access. This was clearly the excuse I needed to have a look at Launchy Ghyll. This is one of those under rated mini classics that I’ve been meaning to get round to for years, but had always been tempted by higher places.
Launchy Ghyll is rated grade III but is one of those amenable climbs that lulls you into thinking it will be perfectly OK for a quick morning solo. As Launchy is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) access can be a little delicate. However the guys who look after the United Utilities land, upon which the climb sits, seem to have become more pro-active about managing access. Over the weekend while the freeze was only just beginning to bite properly, there were signs up asking climbers not to go and scratch about. This is basically because when the turf and assorted exotic vegetables aren’t fully frozen, they are very easy to damage or destroy. On top of which – winter climbing on unfrozen stuff is crap!
By Tuesday evening the enviro cops had posted a note on the ukclimbing winter climbing blog that the ghyll and its surroundings were sufficiently frozen for sport to commence.
This morning, Wednesday, I was able to wander up virtually the whole length of the ghyll on ice with just a few spots where the pools looked as if they threatened a careless ice walker with a dip above the underpants line.
There was a surprising amount of water flowing over the ice in places, boding well for further build up as the cold temperatures continue.
Even though they’re a bit obviously camera phone snaps, I’ve included a few photos of the ghyll to show today’s conditions.
Some of the ice in easier angle sections was friable and threatened the careless climber with a good dunking!
In places there was quite fat ice. Quite a few teams active today including Jan from Derwent Hill Outdoor Centre and her mates who are the main suspects in the photos.