To say the weather has been unsettled in the past week is an understatement. We are quite used to some freeze thaw cycles moving through the west coast of Scotland but the range of these cycles has been really quite notable. Last Saturday of course set a record for the rainfall in Cumbria. We did not get as much as there but it did rain heavily to the summits washing away much of the fresh snow. The snow came back again on Sunday but was washed away again on Monday and Tuesday with heavy rain to the tops. The snow is currently back with us, in fact it is falling to low levels (300m) and it is freezing on the tops. This time it might continue to do so for a few days and into early next week.
The weekend looks calmer and colder than it has been recently so we might get two reasonable days for climbing. However there will be lots of soft fresh snow falling tomorrow (with plenty of graupel in it) and the wet older snow underneath was saturated and will take a day or two to freeze. On the crags there is lots of water falling down the drainage lines and the seeps and cracks. If it stays cold this will freeze but I'm not convinced there will be much ice formed by the weekend, despite the attractive looking white lines on the crags. Turf and blocks will not be perfectly frozen either for mixed climbing. Altogether it will be distinctly "early season" conditions I think! Take several pairs of gloves.
The great ridges will be nice but quite tricky with fresh snow on rocks. They are probably the best routes to consider at the weekend. The big gullies will have lots of fresh soft snow in them making them avalanche prone and impractical anyway. My guess is that the harder mixed routes will not be completely frozen and there will not be much nice ice to climb.
Let's hope it stays cold for more than a day or two before the next big thaw so that climbing conditions can improve.
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