Saturday, April 9, 2011
Day 4 : OMG not doing that again!
14km! Easy! Well yes but . . . There a little thing called Helvellyn at 950m in the middle and then there the dreaded/thrilling/not to be repeated Striding Edge between the top and safety.
The day started off easily but soon turned into a really steep, long pull up Great Tongue to about 450m followed by a simple 45 mins or so contouring round to Grisdale Tarn. But then things changed and got serious! Easy route down the valley to cows, sheep and Patterdale or tougher route into you know where. Forget the cows and sheep!
So up Dollywaggon it was! Straight up a steep zig-zag path to 858m and one of those "what the he'll am I doing?" moments when faced with drops with no end at the top. So with shaken confidence it was on to High Crag at 884m (oddly not so scary because the summit was s bit in from the scary drop) and then downwards them upwards to get to Helvellyn summit at 950m. The weather was perfect and everyone was in T-shirts which is quite bizarre!
But the really bizarre thing is that Striding Edge was so far below the summit as to look like a separate peak! How to get there? Guess! You know when you get tooth top of the roller coaster at the theme park and still can't see the bottom? That's the feeling! Over the edge! Slowly! Almost on my bum! Little by little down a truly horrible scramble/climb with drops down to the bottom of Nethermost Cove (580m) 400m below. Practically vertically below. Oh dear! Oh deary dear! That was not nice.
And once descended about 200m with heart in mouth you are faced with the prospect of getting along/over Striding Edge. It's a ridge of shattered rock about as wide as a car at it's summit, a small car, and it undulates for 1/4 mile with near vertical drops of 250m on either side. And sometimes to surmount those undulations you have to climb. Not walk. Not scramble. Climb. All out, four limbs in different directions, hanging on and dreading a slip, climb! For pinnacle after pinnacle, drop after drop it goes on until eventually you reach the end and can walk normally again. If your trembling legs will let you!
From there on, it's a normal and gradual descent onto Patterdale and the end of a very scary day.