This week a sudden stratospheric warming disrupted our usual weather patterns. It brought exceptionally cold and dry air from Russia, and some great opportunities for ‘chasing the ephemeral’.
Dan and Rob were keen to take advantage of conditions as soon as possible and headed to Kinder to check out the Downfall on Sunday. They found the lower section ‘in’ but with much of the top section not fully formed had to head off route to finish. Fortunately some photographers from the Peak District Photography Facebook Group were there to capture the action. Huge thanks to Helen Gant for letting us share them here.
The usually dry air meant that the Peak got a fine dump of powder snow. Skiers recently returned from Arosa were keen to play. Andy ski toured around Comb’s Moss and Ross explored Grin Low while Dave and I practised skinning on Sir William Hill.
As Storm Emma met the Beast from the East conditions got gnarly, cutting Buxton off on Thursday evening. With plans for a winter climbing trip to Wales left in tatters by scouring 70mph winds and deep drifts, we decided to get our fix locally instead.
On Saturday Alan, Dave, Rob, James, Adrian and I headed over to Mam Tor, hoping to climb Blue John Rib (III). Super keen Alan and Rob roped up and got on the rib immediately. The rest of us decided to solo Mam Tor gully (I) to warm up and check out conditions. Beneath the veneer of snow and ice was as Alan described it, an unconsolidated pile of ‘kitty litter’. Alan and Rob decided against finishing Blue John Rib and after the sketchy top out of our solo I was relieved when we decided to leave Mam Tor for Back Tor.
The drive up Mam Nick road was the most perilous part of the day, with a near miss with an out of control taxi. After a brisk walk in into the fog we found Back Tor Gully (II). We climbed it in 2 pitches to prevent rope drag as the top belay was a fence post quite a distance from the tip of the climb. Bomber turf on the first pitch was followed by brilliant – but far too short – mixed climbing. We rounded off our grand day out with Black Sheep and Dalwhinnie in the Rambler Inn.