Mountain Rescue Team
Firstly may I attract your attention by enclosing a
small donation to thank you for not having to rescue me on a recent
holiday. I had an enjoyable four days towards the end of August
when I was able to ascend Kirk Fell, Scafell, Illgill Head , Whinn Rigg, and
the Screes, and Scafell Pike. Each day brought at least one moment when I
thought the end was nigh!
On each occasion the cloud made navigation very
difficult even although I had with me the Ordnance survey Leisure map
1/25,000 scale, the Altos explorer guide map, a GPS and spare batteries, a
top range Silva compass, Mobile
Phone , etc. and have passed Sailing coastal navigation and am a Surveyor!
The first problem was that the GPS would not lock on to
the satellites possibly because of very heavy cloud cover, even at the top
of the routes. Secondly the compass did not appear to be reading accurately.
Another walker said that this was due to very high iron ore content in the rocks near the summit. This appeared
to be likely especially at Kirk fell because the scramble section at Kirk
fell crags was red with iron
From Scafell I intended to return via Long Green but
ended up going too far East, slipping some way down the wet grass and scree
eventually passing a wrecked aeroplane and emerging at How Beck
waterfall and returning to Wasdale via Eskdale , Wool Pack Inn, and Burnmoor
Tarn a bit later than intended. The problem appears to be due to the fact that when
aiming for the summit there is really only one way to go and that is
upwards. However having reached the summit there are 360 ways down, and a slight deviation in starting out can lead to a
large error quite quickly.
Is it correct about the magnetic deviation at the
summits, and would a digital/electronic compass be more accurate?. Are
there, or would it be possible to erect rock markers with North South East
and West markings so that compasses could be checked and directions taken
with reasonable accuracy?. The trig Point at Scafell Pike did not appear to
relate to the compass orientation at all. I was hoping to reach Broad Crag
and Glaramara by travelling NE from the summit but abandoned the idea when
all the cairns appeared to look the same whichever direction I set out!
Maybe a detailed summit plan would be a useful feature!
With reference to the Screes I was under the impression
that this would be a pleasant afternoon return stroll along the edge of the
lake after ascending Whin Rigg. Travelling from south to north the warning
notice near the pumping station/boat house did not really prepare me for the
difficulty of the large rock fall. I was not able to find the proper route
close to the Lake and went much too high hoping to circumnavigate the Rock
fall. Not much fun having hundredweight rocks sliding about. It must have taken an hour to traverse the
first rock fall, and I was getting very worried about the time factor in
case it became dark before I could reach Wasdale.(even although I had a head
torch). I would have been really worried if it had been
raining and slippery as well as being dark, instead of luckily being a warm sunny evening.
Eventually a more experienced Walker going in the
opposite direction said that I was much too high and should have followed
the red paint marks on the rocks. Which red marks? I was not aware of any
red marks! I did follow these on the subsequent easy sections. If the notices had stressed the potential difficulties
of the large rockfall/scree and referred to the red paint marks life would
have been much simpler and safer. (Editors note - WMRT carry out around
four rescues a year on this boulder field - hence the rescue boat)
I experienced a similar problem with route finding on
the Corridor Route descending from Scafell Pike at Gr. 218086 travelling NE
approx. Fortunately some kind soul had scratched Arrow heads to indicate the
route which is a bit scary because of the exposure near the gully. I am just wondering if there is some merit in painting
difficult part of the route with white or red marks to show the correct
way. I appreciate that this is turning the countryside into
a glorified motorway with signs everywhere, but surely safety at some
difficult spots is more important. I must say that Wasdale is a superb area
of Natural Beauty so too many signpost could be a problem, and may be self
defeating in attracting too many inexperienced visitors and causing parking
problems and erosion etc.
Lastly I am wondering whether a scrambling rope is
worth carrying for exposed scrambles, and if so if you can recommend a
publication giving practical advice on belays and the methods for using a
scrambling Rope without carrying about fifty pounds of nuts and friends etc.
eg using natural chockstones and gaps in the rocks etc.
I enjoyed reading your annual Yearbook, ample food for
thought there, and hope to
return to Wasdale soon, to scare myself to death yet again. This letter is
intended to be positive and constructive, but I do hope that I shall never
need your services personally!
name and address accompanied the letter)