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Anyone Climbed Scarfell Pike In March?

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I'm going early March this year and just wondering what weather to expect. Specifically what level of snow and ice would there be at/near the peak at this time of year?

We've got plenty of cold weather clothing and good boots but wont be equipped for alpine conditions. No ice axe or crampons or experience in winter climbing.

What are our chances of reaching the peak safely?

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I'm going early March this year and just wondering what weather to expect. Specifically what level of snow and ice would there be at/near the peak at this time of year?

We've got plenty of cold weather clothing and good boots but wont be equipped for alpine conditions. No ice axe or crampons or experience in winter climbing.

What are our chances of reaching the peak safely?

I've free-climbed, scrambled and hiked a lot in Snowdonia, New Zealand and America. Route finding is the biggest cause for concern. One minute you can see 5 miles and the next nothing! Don't rely on a GPS either. You need to know how to read a compass correctly and identify landmarks. Understanding declination is real handy too.

A walking axe (ice climbing axe looks cool but is a waste of time) and gaiters would be useful if it's muddy or thick snow. Crampons are okay so long as you know how to use them. Cross the points on a pair and you'll fall and kill yourself. Self-arresting on ice with an axe and crampons is not easy either. You need to turn onto your stomach and raise your knees. If the crampons bite in you can flip!

I'd try to find an experienced mountaineer, if you can. If you can't then at least take a gas cooker with you and each carry a torch, spare socks, fleece and first aid kit, phone and loads of food. I've come unstuck before and nearly been benighted. It happens. Best tip : get a thick tough polythene bag to put all your dry gear in. Pack covers are a waste of time and money. They usually end up floating away like a kite. In an emergency you can cut a hole in the bag and use it as additional weather protection.

All that said, have a blast and enjoy it. I usually end up taking the kitchen sink and it turns out to be a beautiful day. ;)

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Absolutely impossible to say what the weather will be like in March. It could require full-on winter equipment, it could be chucking it down with rain and howling gales, it could be T-shirt weather most of the way up (although in March I expect you'll be a bit chilly doing that if you stop for a while, no matter what). Wet is most likely.

There's not a lot of snow in the Lakes at the moment; only a few patches when I went up Blencathra on Saturday, and nothing difficult on Sharp Edge other than my hands getting chilly on the rock. Scafell Pike on the same day would've been absolutely fine, probably a bit breezy on the top but that's about it.

Sunday I stayed indoors - the weather was miserable. You've just got to play it by ear when you're there.

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It's mostly a well defined path, however very easy to become disoriented and come down the wrong side if the cloud comes in. Certainly not life threatening but a walk through the great moss reminds the offender to sharpen up their map reading skills for next time.

I would go equipped for a cold wind and a soaking rather than alpine and count your blessings if you can see the person in front of you.

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I'm going early March this year and just wondering what weather to expect. Specifically what level of snow and ice would there be at/near the peak at this time of year?

We've got plenty of cold weather clothing and good boots but wont be equipped for alpine conditions. No ice axe or crampons or experience in winter climbing.

What are our chances of reaching the peak safely?

If the forecast isn't good then don't do it. You'll be able to get an accurate forecast on the day.

If it's poor weather and you go up there anyway and need rescuing, personally I'd leave you to it, but doubtless the hardy mountain rescue folks will put themselves on the line for you.

Navigation is the main issue.

Great Gable has better views IMO by the way.

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If the forecast isn't good then don't do it. You'll be able to get an accurate forecast on the day.

If it's poor weather and you go up there anyway and need rescuing, personally I'd leave you to it, but doubtless the hardy mountain rescue folks will put themselves on the line for you.

Navigation is the main issue.

Great Gable has better views IMO by the way.

Thanks for all the tips. We are pretty sensible and won't go beyond our abilities. We've got good cold weather gear which we will take with us along with plenty of food plus the survival gear. I'm fine with map reading, i don't use GPS. (much more fun with map and compass) it's just snow and ice that I'm not used too but obviously we'll check the conditions on the day and stick to low level walks and pub if need be :)

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This reminds me of a thread ages ago - someone was gonna go camping in some dodgy outfit and we didn't know if they would make it back alive !! :lol:

I think they did though. Or maybe we just all forgot.

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This reminds me of a thread ages ago - someone was gonna go camping in some dodgy outfit and we didn't know if they would make it back alive !! :lol:

I think they did though. Or maybe we just all forgot.

Maybe they're still out there??

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Recommended equipment: good boots, waterproofs, 2.5" OS map & compass and Wainwright Four (The Southern Fells). The light can be phenomenal in Spring, from the summit of Scafell one clear March day I could see England, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and even Ireland in the distance. Striking scenery all the way if you ascend from Borrowdale. Enjoy!!

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Thanks for all the tips. We are pretty sensible and won't go beyond our abilities. We've got good cold weather gear which we will take with us along with plenty of food plus the survival gear. I'm fine with map reading, i don't use GPS. (much more fun with map and compass) it's just snow and ice that I'm not used too but obviously we'll check the conditions on the day and stick to low level walks and pub if need be :)

You sound like you'll be OK :)

Another couple of useful links

http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/weatherline/home/index.php

http://www.mwis.org.uk/

The first link gives daily summit conditions from Helvellyn, but there is a lot less snow / ice on Scafell Pike on most days.

You shouldn't really take an axe, and definitely not crampons, unless you know how to use then (ideally by taking a winter skills course).

In my experience most walkers who get into difficulties on snow and ice do so on descent - it's a lot easier / grippier going up than going down, something to remember if you do find yourself climbing above the snowline.

Have a great day.

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I havent climbed scarfell for years but I will warn you of one thing worth remembering especially on the way back down.

NEVER assume how deep snow is.

It can build up in areas between the rock and look like a snow a covered surface when there is nothing but a long fall and fresh air below it.

Throw a heavy rock into the snow to see if there is a bottom. If there is any doubt then find another route.

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I havent climbed scarfell for years but I will warn you of one thing worth remembering especially on the way back down.

NEVER assume how deep snow is.

It can build up in areas between the rock and look like a snow a covered surface when there is nothing but a long fall and fresh air below it.

Throw a heavy rock into the snow to see if there is a bottom. If there is any doubt then find another route.

Can't say I've ever heard that recommended before - what do you do if there are no heavy rocks around? Also, if you're crossing a snow field several km long, this would expend a lot of energy! And you might trigger an avalanche if you do this on steep ground.

It's important to keep a safe distance from crag edges though, to avoid falling through cornices, but these are not common on Scawfell Pike :rolleyes:

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Can't say I've ever heard that recommended before - what do you do if there are no heavy rocks around? Also, if you're crossing a snow field several km long, this would expend a lot of energy! And you might trigger an avalanche if you do this on steep ground.

I didnt do a good job of describing what I meant as I couldnt really think of the right words or way to describe it.

What I was talking about is when coming down. On one descent I was following what seemed like a natural path down scarfell, in what was basically a rivene or a 'v' shape in the mountain. I came to a point that was a step of about 4 foot down onto snow which then carried on down at a lesser gradient than I had been travelling at. There were high rock outcrops on either side of the ravine/snow.

Maybe gully would be a better word? travelling down a gully to a point where it widens between high outcrops and the gradient of the snow levels out so that you cant see past it any path below.

The snow had either been getting blown against the rock at the time it was falling or whatever but had got into the natural shelter in the rock, stuck and built up to look like solid ground. There was infact nothing but a very long drop below it. Scarfell was the first time that I had seen that, I have also seen in chamonix when climbing.

Not a common thing by any means but worth sticking in the back of your mind. Had I not heard about it from a very experienced climber and filed it away then I may have become a statistic years ago.

edit - to have another go with better words

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Anyway, the chances of their being lots of snow on Scafell Pike in March are probably fairly low, so I would plan on there not being any and if it turns out there is find something else to do that day if you're not up for it. As someone said earlier, strong wind and rain are the type of bad weather you're most likely to have to deal with, and it's always a possibility even on a day that starts out very nice.

Where are you starting from and where are you planning on going? If it's Borrowdale then up by the Corridor Route, down via Esk Hause is a very good walk, even though it's been spoiled by those road-building footpath "repair" fell-vandalising morons (like nearly every decent path in the Lakes).

If you're planning on getting over to Scafell as well (and that's a lot to do in one day, if coming from Borrowdale) be warned that last I heard various parts of Lords Rake have been disintegrating and it's pretty unstable.

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