Mountain Journeys

Scafell Pike Guided Walks – 5 reasons to hire a qualified guide

#scafell-pike-guided-walks

Scafell Pike Guided Walks - crossing Lingmell Gill

 

Scafell Pike Guided Walks - 5 reasons to hire a guide

Yesterday we were out guiding on Scafell Pike. As we also run the Climb Scafell website this is a common day out for us that we really enjoy.

My client for the day works outdoors and was well used to poor weather and harsh environments, he was also physically very fit. All good attributes that come in very useful when walking up mountains here in the Lake District.

The weather was poor, but the forecast showed we would likely see an improvement by mid-morning. We set off from Wasdale Head shortly after 9am and by 9.30am our view was limited to around 30m, with thick mist surrounding us. The rain was constant and a light breeze was soon to accelerate.

Mike was keen to explore a quiet route so we turned towards Mickledore. By now the weather was so poor and the rain so incessant, waterfalls were thundering down the crags of Scafell and we could occasionally make these out. I explained that as we approached the col of Mickledore the wind speed would increase quite dramatically and we should prepare for this. The rain was mostly horizontal and giving us both a decent facial.

The scene, the environment, the wildness of it all was simply magnificent. Mike was clearly loving it. We found a sheltered spot near Mickledore and took a moment to observe the outline of the mighty East Buttress of Scafell. This was only just visible, but was somehow still able to make its presence felt.

We continued on to the summit plateau of Scafell Pike, visibility still very poor. Whilst I had (and always carry) map and compass with me, due to our extensive knowledge of the mountain, these stayed in the bag. But for anyone not familiar with the mountain, this was micro-navigation time with likely some uncertainty.

At the summit we paused for a quick snack, drink, and photo. Due to the poor weather and intense cold we couldn’t stay longer. Forecasted temperatures in the wind were -5 to -10’C!! Thankfully we were fully kitted out with good waterproofs, hats, gloves and plenty of spares. I always carry an emergency shelter too, just in case as these are life-saving pieces of equipment.

Then it was time to descend. The quick route via Lingmell Col and we did dispatch this rapidly. Even though we had loads of layers of clothing on, the cold was now uncomfortable. To our astonishment, we passed numerous people who were clearly quite poorly equipped for the conditions, some very likely already soaked to the skin due to lack of waterproofs. This is utter madness, but sadly all too common. If walking up Scafell Pike at any time of year, go well prepared for all weather conditions. If walking in winter time, go extra prepared. If unsure, seek help.

As we descended further a beautiful view over Wast Water brightened our rather soggy day. This is all we needed and made for a fitting end to our walk on Scafell Pike. The National Trust kiosk was open back at base, so we enjoyed a hot cup of tea before heading off home.

All in all a grand day out in the mountains. Weather like this is what makes us feel alive, I love it.

Why Hire a Guide? Hiring a guide isn’t for everyone, but for many there are benefits to be gained and we think it is worth considering. Here are 5 of those benefits:

1) A guide takes care of the route planning

2) Will navigate safely through the varied terrain. On Scafell Pike in particular the terrain can be very challenging to navigate - see photos

3) Our guides always carry safety equipment including a First Aid Kit and Storm Shelter as a minimum

4) Will show points of interest and share knowledge throughout the day

5) We do our best to keep you up to date on progress, what's coming next, and how much further to go

 

Here's a few Ideas for what to pack / wear when on the UK mountains:

Waterproof jacket - ideally with taped seams. A lightweight cagoule isn’t enough to keep out prolonged rain.

Waterproof over-trousers - as above.

Lightweight / quick drying walking trousers. Not jeans, ever! 

Fleece jacket / top. This extra layer is essential for keeping warm during rest periods and descending.

Fast drying ‘sports’ t-shirt or similar. As a base layer.

Hat and gloves - at least 1 set per person. During the cooler months go for 2 sets per person. Never think of these as optional, they make a massive difference.

Hiking boots with ankle support - these should be well fitting and in good condition (but not your first time wearing them) with plenty of tread depth.

Food and water - a minimum of 1 litre of water per person. Easy to digest snacks, sweets, a sandwich.

Personal medical supplies - if you have a medical condition that requires prescription medication, take it with you.

 

#mickledore-scafell-pike

Scafell Pike Guided Walks - through the mist towards Eskdale from Mickledore

 

#scafell-pike-summit

Scafell Pike Guided Walks - summit of Scafell Pike

 

What to do if you need help and are out in the mountains:

So you’ve done all the planning, gone well prepared, have map & compass etc. But luck wasn’t on your side and you need help. Firstly, are there fellow hill-walkers nearby who may be in a position to help? If so ask them.

If not, you are going to need to make a call to the emergency services. How to do this:

Dial 999 - ask for Police - once through to Police control ask for Mountain Rescue.

Answer all questions the Mountain Rescue team have as clearly and calmly as possible. Listen carefully to any instructions they give you and follow these. Remember, their aim is to help you, they have your best interests in mind. Be polite to them at all times. It may be that they are able to rectify a problem without sending a team out to you. Or it may be they do send team members to meet you on the hill. Whatever is decided, please follow their instructions to the letter. This will lead to the best possible outcome for you and your party.

When you are safely off the mountain, consider making a donation to the mountain rescue team who came to help. They are not funded by taxation, they are funded solely by donations. Team members are all volunteers, many have regular work commitments and families. Give generously so they can keep on doing the amazing work they do.

Check out the Adventure Smart website for more useful info

Thanks for reading. If you'd like to hire a guide for a Lake District walk or other mountain based activities here in the Lakes please do get in touch.

Mark

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