Another year, another haul of photos. The below are amongst the best of the 5,000 or so photos I took this year. It was a year of great achievements:
- 690,000 feet of ascent in the year (though I did make it to 704,000 feet in the 365 days to 18 December)
- 100 ascents of Orrest Head in the Lake District
- My 50th ascent of Helvellyn
- My first backcountry camping trip. I got a taste for it, and I'll be back!
It was however also a painful year. Over the year I suffered tendonitis in my left ankle, right ankle, left foot and left knee. Finally to cap it off I also had a bad fall in December which I probably should have had stitches for. Fingers crossed I will have better luck in 2010...
I started the year in style. Whilst most people were recovering from their hangovers I was on the road at 05:50 to drive to Scotland. The air was clear, and it was a spectacular day. I spent four days up in Scotland including some great photos - but it was cold. It was interesting trying to eat chips from newspaper whilst your hands won't stop shaking!
The Northwest Highlands
On the third I took the train out to Corrour Station - the only station in the United Kingdom without a road. I headed up to the hills on the south side of Loch Ossian, then ran back along the track to the station. I arrived 15 minutes before the train. If I'd missed it I would have been sat out in the cold for six hours!
Me and Ben Alder
The rest of the month gave further interesting walking on snow - including my first experience with Verglas. This is the form of frozen snow you just can't walk on. I'd forgotten my crampons and had to glissade down sections of the hillside. Very dangerous!
At the beginning of February there was significant snowfall in the south east of England. I headed down to work in London but couldn't work as they closed my office building! Some people hadn't managed to get in from three miles away but I'd got down 280 miles from Cumbria! I spent the afternoon touring snowy London...
Snowmen on the Serpentine
The following weekend I got some great shots in snow above Wasdale. Unfortunately I had to turn around as blizzard conditions ensued up on Black Crag.
Red Pike Cornice
This was however the last good walking day for a while as I developed tendonitis in my left ankle. This took the best part of three weeks to really clear up...
March brought poor weather but nonetheless I had a weekend away in Snowdonia. No pictures though as it was so atrocious! What the month did bring was my first evening walk of the year - Wansfell for sunset.
Sunset from Wansfell
The next weekend was restful - only 10 hours on the hills on the Sunday! The following weekend I was over the north east to visit my sister. On the way I climbed Wild Boar Fell upon which I found a huge number of cairns - and a wind that could freeze you to death!
Cairns on Wild Boar Fell
Later in the month I snapped the following snow shots. The first of the Scafells and the second on White Combe in the Southern Uplands.
Snow on the Scafells
April brought a trip to Easter and the ritual of heading up to Scotland. There was still snow but I was able to get to some spectacular summits. Firstly a trip into Cairngorms to visit Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mhor. That ended in near disaster - a bridge was missing and I waded the river. I didn't realise it was waste deep! Got very wet and was lucky not to get carried away with the current...
The following day I went for one of the most ambitious walks I've done - Mam Sodhail and Carn Eige. The highest mountains north of the Great Glen. Snow abounded and I had to change routes to avoid a massive cornice below Mam Sodhail. I snapped the following picture of Carn Eige's East Ridge - an interesting walk to say the least!
Carn Eige's East Ridge
Since I was in condition I decided that the next weekend would include an attempt on the hardest of the Lake District's horseshoe walks - the Ennerdale Horseshoe. It took me 12 hours and 40 minutes but I did it - it was a miracles I didn't fall asleep on the drive back!
The following day I took a short jaunt up Helvellyn and got to see a rescue helicopter at close range - fortunately it was only training and not actually rescuing anyone. At one point it was no more than 20 feet overhead. Later in the year the crews demonstrated their skills, doing a "hot landing" on Striding Edge - i.e. landing on two wheels on a knife edged ridge. All credit to the crews who take real risks to help people on the hills.
Helicopter at close range
The first Bank Holiday in May brought me to Scotland again. The weather was generally inclement - and shockingly there was significant snowfall on the higher mountains. The picture of me doesn't do it justice, at worst I had three times as much - there was just no chance of getting a camera out in those conditions.
Fuar Tholl Me covered in snow
Later in the month I headed for Scotland again for a week. The full details are chronicled under the link below, but the best photo is included here - and I did climb it!
Trip Report: The Northwest Highlands Again
June was a fairly quiet month - mostly recovering from May's adventures. Towards the end I did however take a day scrambling all ove the Langdale Pikes - one or two near death experiences.
July was againa quiet month - though not for a good reason. I was suffering from Patella Tendonitis which meant any downhill was agony. The best I could manage was to a few short walks. I did however get to test out my new tent by spending the night on Hard Knott.
Sunset from Hard Knott
August brought my main summer holiday in the US. Again chronicled in the below trip report with the best pulled out here.
Leaving Kings Canyon
Trip Report: The Pacific Ranges
I had bought a house in August so wasn't out as much, I had work to do. What this actually meant was that I crammed two days of hiking into one - doing a sequence of huge walks on Saturday's, with stuff for the house. One day I took a huge loop over the Far Eastern Fells getting pictures of horses at close range - i.e. within about six feet!
Wild Horse on Harter Fell
October brought more huge walks, including another massive horseshoe - the Langdale Horsehoe. This day was over ten hours - from dawn to dusk. On the way I did however snap photos of Paragliders over the Langdale Pikes...
In November I decided that after five years in the Lake District I should visit Great Gable for Rememberance Sunday. I didn't participate in the service, but paid my respects - along with hundreds of other people.
Rememberance Sunday on Great Gable
Later in November brought terrible flooding to the Lake District. Below is the Windermere shoreline, though not at its highest. According to reports Windermere rose 4 feet, Ennerdale Water by 7 feet and Coniston by 12 feet...
Flooding in Ambleside
The month of December brought snow to the Lake District. Early in the month I snapped the below on the summit of Fairfield - I was navigating by GPS and compass, there wasn't even a way to determine up from down.
Whiteout on Fairfield
Later in the month there was just ice, but it was very slippery and dangerous all the same!
In late December there was significant snowfall across the UK - but the Lake District suffered badly. The earliest falls were a week before Christmas but my road is still three inches deep over two weeks later. On Christmas Day I headed out towards High Street given there was no possibility of getting my car out. I got as far as Garburn Pass but was defeated by waist deep snow.
Heavy Snow on the Coniston Fells
Unfortunately given the cold I hadn't noticed I was developing tendonitis in both my left foot and right ankle. I couldn't even put on shoes for three days - let alone hike at all. Not exactly a good end to the year...
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