Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Ice-Climbing near Angle Tarn

A report from Graham on his trip to Langdale on Saturday with Mark and AndyC.

Having shunned an early start, we began the walk up Mickleden in Langdale with a fully pessimistic attitude. But as we neared the top of Rossett Gill the outlook suddenly appeared promising - as a selection of small but easy angled falls looked climbable. We continued up towards Angle Tarn on the premise that we could come back down to this if the higher icefalls weren't in nick.

We could just make out the shimmer of ice through the fog, so we traversed round to the back of the tarn where the lower icefall was. None of us had climbed water ice before, and this looked steep and also rather fragile in the not exactly sub-zero conditions, so Mark set up a top-rope for us to practice on.

We were all rather tentative on our first try (as Andy C shows in the clip above!), but on our second efforts we were already much more confident - Mark getting so aggressive that the ice had no choice but to fight back and give him a bloody nose.

We checked out the upper icefall but this looked halfway melted, so on top of being damp and unpleasant would no doubt have been foolish and dangerous. Instead we walked over to Angle Tarn Gully. It's a grade 1 snow gully if banked out with snow. On Saturday, thoough, there was no snow. Just a frozen stream of water down one side - albeit at a much more amenanable angle to that of the icefalls. We put the ropes away and started up the gully - taking the steeper sections direct or avoiding them by stepping onto the frozen turf to the right of the gully at our own discretion.

We emerged from the gully somewhere near the summit of Esk Pike - and after a few moments disorientation in the fog and encroaching darkness, we sensibly took a bearing, found the path, and started back down to the car.