Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A night in the snow.

I've just got back from the first proper walk of the 2009 season. Me, Jim and Paul went bravely off for the night hike and it turned out to be one of the most unforgettable things I've ever done. The original hike was supposed to take place last year, but for one reason or another It couldn't happen. It was put back and eventually resurfaced ready to go last weekend.
One of the advantages was that It was a nearly full moon and this would help us navigate..
What I hadn't counted on was some of the most persistent snow in decades. Snow that in places could be measured in feet - not inches. Combined with the (nearly) full moon it looked incredible, watching tiny pencil lead thin trains winding through the valley, cars just a speck below. All three of us felt lucky to have been there, The chances of there being a heavy snowfall on a weekend with full moon... well it's just not very likely to happen again any time soon. The snow was great fun, and every now and then, one of us would put a foot wrong, and end up knee deep in snow.
(there were people coming off the hill that had ice axes and crampons before we left camp - these were not needed on the hill, In fact the most heart stopping part of the whole walk was on a small access road we christened 'the ice road'.. It started off compacted snow, then as it descended into the valley, it just became sheet ice. it was the only place any of us had a proper spill, so i suppose I must remember to pack crampons the next time i have to walk on icy roads).
The highlight? at the top of chapel gate, surrounded with what looked like Arctic tundra. Maybe having one of the busiest hills in England entirely to ourselves. Maybe it was just Jim's face as he looked back at Rushup edge from the top of Mam Tor and realised what he had just come over.
The walk was rounded off with a few pints in the nags and chip buttys.. Although I had to explain what a chip butty was to the bar staff?!.
The tent was cosy enough as I have a small tent heater, but we did wake up in the morning with frost on the sleeping bags. The kettle took bloody ages to boil as it was full of ice as well.
Oh, It was bloody cold, have I mentioned that?