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Snow warning issued over England's highest peak

Posted 5 December 2012
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Snow warning issued over England's highest peak
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Climbing England's highest mountain is no easy task at the best of times, so doing it in winter when snow and ice are about, the light is poor and the wind is biting is obviously going to be a tough challenge.

Despite this, it seems, some have been willing to take on the peak without being properly equipped. While thermal clothing can keep out the cold, crampons are important for grip and walking boots suited for winter will also help.

The problems this can cause have been highlighted by Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team after its latest callout on Sunday (December 2nd). The team was called out to help by police after they received a call from a couple who had made it up the mountain, but had got into difficulty on hard snow and were stuck on a ledge between the main descent path and Pikes Crag.

Having used the troubled walkers' phone to locate them, a party of rescuers already on the mountain went to help. They then used a climbing rope and ice axes to cut steps into the snow to enable the couple to reach safety.

Reflecting on the incident, the Wasdale team said on its website: "Please note that the snow high on Scafell Pike is firm at the moment. Winter boots, axe and crampons are advisable."

At 3,210 ft, the sheer altitude of Scafell Pike makes it more likely than most peaks to be covered in snow and experience very cold weather. But it is also worth noting that its terrain is difficult at any time, with steep slopes and boulder fields around the summit, the latter being particularly true if approaching the top via Broad Crag to the east.

With the daylight hours being short, the best route up Scafell Pike is from Wasdale on the west side, with the Langdale and Corridor (Borrowdale) routes taking up more time to ascend and descend.

Eskdale is the longest of all routes, with a long walk through the upper valley before the ground becomes very steep. That walk may be left until summer, but for anyone climbing the highest peaks in England in winter, the rescue of December 2nd is the latest example of why being equipped well matters so much.ADNFCR-2803-ID-801500863-ADNFCR