I have a chance to have a go at a short day of winter climbing on Friday and I am willing to drive all the way up to the lakes (from Cambridge) to get on some easy grade I routes by myself, as I missed all other opportunities this year. It looks like there could be a chance of a re-freeze below summit levels starting from Tonight to Friday.
From what I can see on social media conditions reports and in here , it looks like no climbing has been done recently on that side of Helvellyn so, before I decide, I would like to ask for a general opinion and may be feedback from recent visits:
Does anyone know if there is enough snow in the brown cove gullies to give a chance of good conditions for Friday morning? Are there any cornices that have not collapsed in the thaw and are at risk?
We were going to head up for the weekend just gone and the rain came and high temps killed much of what was there last Friday. I can't imagine there will be much to climb on there as many of those areas are off limits for climbers due to the alpine plants being damaged if the snowpack and turf isn't frozen. Sometimes Nethermost cove gully can retain some heavy snow but I'd be surprised after the warm days we've had. That gully is also a potential avalanche gully if there's remaining snow at the top thawing fast. Good luck.
Because the ground has not frozen at all this year in the Lakes, anything less than a solid layer of neve will be unstable. The slightest temperature rise last week on Friday afternoon was seeing ice falling off warm rocks and thin snow cover leading to guddling axes around in unfrozen soil (PS does anyone know how to get alpine saxifrage out of the crevices of my axes?). For example, we happily plodded up Window Gully but when we reached the end, were faced with the conditions described and had to take a detour.
Brown Cove is not very high and only popular for its very short walk in. Red Tarn and Great End are more reliable but I would be very surprised if you found decent climbing on any of the crags. Sorry to bring bad news.
I climbed Central gully on Brown Cove Crags last Thursday night, before the weekend thaw and to be honest there were a couple of thin areas even then so I doubt there will be enough to call it complete his weekend even with a re-freeze. On the bright side though, if the forecast is good for the weekend then you could just go walking, do some ridges and get some time out in the hills.
> Brown Cove is not very high and only popular for its very short walk in. Red Tarn and Great End are more reliable
I've just been studying the OS maps to see if that was true - I'm not super convinced, at least as far as Great End vs Brown Cove. The cliff base of both seems to be rather similar - about 750. My experience is that just being a bit further inland the Helvellyn range seems to be a wee bit colder than Scafell.
On Red Tarn vs Brown Cove I totally agree, the Red Tarn crags start at about the height of the top of Brown Cove Crags.
I would suggest to mauraman that if he does go to have a look he walks up to Brown Cove, walk under the crag and find any of the gullies with continuous snow in it and go up on to the top that way (if none are in acceptable condition, you can just walk up the slope left of the crag), then go on towards Helvellyn, drop down Swirral Edge and do one of the grade Is on Red Tarn Face. If none are on conditions there you can always do Striding Edge which is always nice and looks like it may well have some snow on it this weekend.
I had a good day two years ago when I did Left Buttress (II) on BCC, over to Helvellyn, down Swirral Edge (I), up Gully 1 (II), back over to BCC, down Right Parallel Gully (I), up Central Gully (I/II). Another time the snow in the gullies on BCC wasn't so great but enough to go up, then over to Red Tarn Face where it was much better firm snow. So its easy to check BCC on the way to Red Tarn.
To clarify, are you talking about Brown Cove or Browncove Crags ?
Brown cove Crags, the one you approach from the swirls car park
OK i see, thought it was worth clarifying we are all talking about the same thing, it's just that your thread title was Brown Cove, that's over the other side between Lower Man and Helvellyn.
I looked down Broad Gully on Saturday and there was a fair bit in there but I can't imagine there is anything much left now given how warm and wet it has been.
I wasn't aware that there is another crag, with almost the same name, so near by!
Your suggestion seems to be the best bet to get something done, Noted!
Thanks to All for your Imput so far,
If anyone else has seen the state of the gullies recently or have any useful tips, could you please keep posting?
Brown cove crags are the Bram Crag Quarry of lakes winter climbing, lacking in quality and popular for all the wrong reasons.
From what I saw of them yesterday driving through to Keswick, I wouldn't bother driving the 30 mins from home to have a look, certainly not from Cambridge.
Last Friday was the day for winter climbing in the lakes, it has gone now sadly.
> I wasn't aware that there is another crag, with almost the same name, so near by!
There isn't really another crag, just a corrie called called Brown Cove which doesn't have any climbing worth speaking of in it.
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