BB1004 : Leave It To The Professionals!

Thursday 28th January 2010

It should have been a beautiful winter’s day spent on Mellbreak reducing the Wainwright count.  However, Bryan opted saying that it was a long drive to do a hill that he had done three times in the last twelve months.  What he really meant was that he wanted to get into the snow and made arrangements with his running pal, Steve, to go up Fairfield.

Then, as the forecasters rapidly back-pedalled on their predictions, now alluding to ferocious winds and snow closing in the mid afternoon, Tony opted out, preferring the warmth of a pub crawl.  Stan and I thought maybe Bryan was right and decided to join him and Steve.

Neither Stan nor Bryan wanted a long walk, anyway, as they are both entered for the Long Distance Walkers' Association's 24 mile That’s Lyth epic (see BB1005) on Sunday. This was just to be a little loosener.

We parked at the top of Dunmail Raise and I remembered my own advice from last week (and from BB0908 when we had been in similar territory and conditions) to open the hand warmers before I set off.  I was a little surprised that the ones that came out of the bag were not the excellent Karrimor hand warmers as used on BB1003 but the White Rock Hand Hot pack similar to those I had used but not enthused on BB0908.

Even with warm hands, the pack was not easy to open and as we set off up Raise Beck, I had to keep telling myself how wise I had been to open them early as they would eventually warm up.

Raise Beck

Steel Fell

It was still bright at this stage and there was a good view of the ridiculously steep path up to Steel Fell.

For a while, I was in the lead but then I discovered that I had lost a glove.  Stan arrived and I asked him what was holding up Bryan and Steve.  He said that they had found a glove and were lodging in a prominent place so that if the owner passed back that way he could find it.  I passed back that way and did indeed find it just where they had placed it. Thanks, guys.  That disproves my theory on BB0939 : The Mystery of the Missing Glove, that you only lose gloves when you stop!

I should add that the reason I lost the glove is that I had taken them off in order to knead the hand warmers to try and get them to work.  They were still not performing.

Before long, a man with his dogs caught us up and passed us.  On another day, I might have given chase but this was supposed to be an easy, relaxed outing so I never gave it a thought.  Good job!  “You know who that was?” said Bryan, reverently.  “Haven’t a clue,” I replied.  “It’s the legendary Phil Clark- mountain marathon fell runner extraordinaire; the man who once held the record for completing more Munros in a day than anyone.”

Stan, who briefly engaged him in conversation, asked if he was doing “That’s Lyth” this year.  “No,” he replied “I have a problem with my Achilles tendon” and so saying, shot off into the distance.  Stan added that “That man can walk faster than I can run.”

So it’s a good job that I didn’t offer a challenge, even with his bad foot!

Reaching Snow

And more snow!

Fairfield across Grisedale Tarn

There was less snow than expected, a lot had thawed in the last few days, but we soon ran into patches of it.  By the time we reached Grisedale Tarn, it was quite extensive.

Dollywagon Pike across Grisedale Tarn


We briefly paused to consider the options, then decided to stick with Plan A and attack Fairfield.   As we climbed, it was bitterly cold and the hand warmers still refused to generate more than a minor trickle of heat.  There was an Arctic wind and occasional gusts could seriously affect your balance.  Crampons were donned and they made a huge difference on the frozen sheets.  

When we reached the top, we were amazed to find four people up there without crampons but not amazed that they were having extreme difficulty keeping upright!

Fairfield summit

Bryan examines Cofa Pike

We searched the summit area for somewhere out of the wind to have lunch but failed. There was some talk of descending by Cofa Pike but I was relieved when it was ruled to be too dangerous- it scares me even in good weather.  Instead, we decided to retreat back to Grisedale Hause.

Grisedale Tarn from  Fairfield

Microspikes Rule OK!

The descent was fun.  My Microspikes were providing good grip on quite steep slopes so, with the ice axe providing a third point of contact, remarkable progress could be made.  If only the hand warmers had been living up to their name, everything would have been perfect.

Back at Grisedale Tarn

Down at the Hause we ran into two men who had decided to turn back.  “We’re not equipped for those sort of conditions”, they said wisely, “We’ll leave it to the professionals!” with which they gave us a look full of respect.

Professionals!!  It’s amazing what an ice axe in your hand can do for your image!!!

Behind the wall, snow holes were dug for seats and we enjoyed lunch out of the wind.  

Comitibus: Grisedale Hause

There was a brief discussion as to what to do next.  

Seat Sandal was mentioned as a possibility but we opted to finish early, returning down by Raise Beck where there were some pretty snow bridges, and back to the car.

It had only been just over five miles but felt rather more- tough conditions!  

I am just glad I am not doing That’s Lyth.  

This year, I am leaving it to the professionals!

Snow bridges

Don, 28th January 2010


Equipment report:

White Rock Hand Warmers:  
Absolute rubbish.  Next to no heat generated. Waste of money.

Kahtoola Microspikes:  
Excellent- nearly as good as full crampons in today’s conditions and so easy to put on and off, even with cold hands.


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Thursday 28th January 2010


5.1 miles

Height climbed:

2,273 feet



Other Features:

Grisedale Tarn


Bryan, Don, Stan, Steve


If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB1004.

Steve G advises: "For those who like to look at your meanderings but use Tracklogs or other software then your logs can be converted using the freeware utility GPS Babel."

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!


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BOOT boys

This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

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2010 Outings

BB1001 :
The Most Perfect
 Winter Day
Thursday 7th January

BB1002 :
 Potter Fell
Thursday 14th January

BB1003 :
A Snowy Equipment Test

Thursday 21st January

BB1004 :
Leave It To The Professionals

Thursday 28th January

BB1005 :
That's A Lyth Record
Sunday 31st January 

BB1006 :
Reasons To Be Cheerful
One, Two, Three
Thursday 11th February

BB1007 :
Can You See Clearly Now?
Thursday 18th February

BB1008 :
In Memory Of
Thomas Williamson
Thursday 25th February

BB1009 :
Almost a Mountaineer!
Wednessday 3rd March

BB1010 :
The Beginning Of The End
Thursday 11th March

BB1011 :
The Free Men on Tuesday
Tuesday 16th March

BB1012 :
We'll Get Them In Singles,
Thursday 25th March

BB1013 :
The Fools on the Hill
Thursday 1st April




BSB2010 :
boys in Zillertal
Saturday 30th January
to Saturday 6th February





Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.



To download a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys click on Wainwrights

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!