Ascent of Scafell Pike on 2018-04-01

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Karen Musser
Date:Sunday, April 1, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Scafell Pike
    Elevation:3209 ft / 978 m

Ascent Trip Report

We were lucky today. Yesterday my other 2k prom peak was horrible weather - 50 mph winds at the summit, snow, white was supposed to be similar and Karen wanted to get the England highpoint with me. So we purchased extra layers, and instead of doing the 10 mile Borrowdale approach from the north which was more exposed and risky we slid around the west side and did the shorter route from Wasdale. I selected a route that remained mostly between two mountains so the exposure to potential wind would be minimized. The weather reports were wrong! It was partly cloudy but the rain and snow and wind never came. 5 mph winds is all perhaps a gusts to 10 mph and even the summit was nice. This was a blessing for us. This route is much steeper than the longer Borrowdale route. But, with the potential inclement weather looming, it seemed like the safest way to make sure we bagged the peak. The most scary part of the hike was the 1 hour and 15 minute drive from Keswick to Wasdale Head. The tiny narrow roads wind around between sheep farms and are lined with historic rock walls that encroach upon the road. It is hard to see the next vehicle and the lanes area often only about 12 feet wide for 2 cars to pass. This is particularly tricky for drivers raised from the US attempting this from the opposite lanes one is used to and driving a stick shift car with the shifter on the left side of the wheel. After awhile I got the hang of it and it was exciting. There is no R/W in this part of England. the farmers put up their rock walls right to the edge of the roadways.

Our route - we took Lingmell Gill trail (along river) up through the protected valley between Lingmell peak and Scafell Peak. The trail merged with other trails and bifurcated again at elevation 530 meters. The trail to the right heading E/SE took a few hikers up to a steep talus area and snow climbing couloir that only people with technical gear (crampons, ice ax etc) were attempting. This route begins with a defined rock laid walking path (3 foot wide) but then gets technical soon. The path to the left is the main highway of laid rock ( much wider) that the majority of the hikers use (90% or more at this time of the year because of the technical snow to the East) and the path winds around the true summit's head. Whereas the path to the right heads between the technically gnarly face of Scafell peak and Scafell Pike (the highest point in England); the path to the left heads around the pike along Lingmell peak to the north and then has a gentle north facing approach to the actual summit.

That approach today was compacted snow and ice. The majority of the hikers did this snowy section in regular hiking boots but many people turned back because it was too slippery. We had microspikes with us, and were able to climb the gentle grade with ease as the boot hikers slipped and used rocks for stability. We saw the glissading down the slopes because much of the snow was too slippery for boots to walk down. The peak has outstanding views of the Irish Sea, many nice lakes, and of course the plentiful of peaks in the area. The peaks above 2500 feet were covered with snow and ice features and contrasted to the grassy slopes of lower areas covered with sheep. I do not like the volume of hikers on this route but the outstanding views, wide open country, excellent prominence, and country highpoint make this a very high rated climb for me.

On the way down, the small peak of Lingmell was tantalizing close and looked like some more good views. We scampered over to it and was not dissappointed with the extra credit hike.

One last note..............dogs everywhere on this ascent. Many cute puppies all the way to the top!

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2963 ft / 903 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Lucky! beautiful 40F little wind no rain
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2963 ft / 903 m
    Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Route:Wasdale Head but route see TR
    Start Trailhead:Wasdale car park near National Trust  246 ft / 74 m
Descent Statistics
    Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
Ascent Part of Trip: England-1

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Latrigg2018-03-30281 ft / 86 m
2Skiddaw2018-03-31 a2225 ft / 678 m
3Skiddaw-Little Man2018-03-31 b410 ft / 125 m
4Cat Bells2018-03-31 d1365 ft / 416 m
5Scafell Pike2018-04-01 a2963 ft / 903 m
6Lingmell2018-04-01 b327 ft / 100 m
8Whitbarrow2018-04-02585 ft / 178 m
Total Trip Gain: 8156 ft / 2486 m    Total Trip Loss: 455 ft / 138 m

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