I’ve had a few shortish walks on the hills and moors over the past few weeks but nothing that could really be called a ‘proper’ walk / hike. And the annual ‘Snowdon in the Snow‘ date looms so I wanted to get some leg-stretching in. The recent snowy conditions were perfect timing for myself and son Joe to hit the hills
We basically took the same route as my last post – up the Wessenden Valley in Marsden and onto the Swellands area (home of two adjoining reservoirs) and describing a big loop back down in to Marsden. But what a difference the snow made.. it took us an hour or two longer than last time and was pretty tough going in parts. Both of us had ice spikes on which made a big difference in places!
Score : 5 out of 5 for grip
5 out of 5 for ease of use / fitting
4 out of 5 for snow accumulation underneath.
(score posted after a snowy / icy trip up Snowdon).
I’m heading up Snowdon at the weekend so I thought some snow spikes would be prudent.
I’m not a proper / climb K2 kinda mountaineer, definitely a hiker but the conditions on Snowdon at this time of year can be tough, treacherous even.
Snowdon last year was okay without crampons / spikes but in hindsight I didn’t know that and should have had a pair stowed away in case.
I fell down a mountain once via icy slopes.. don’t want to do it again thanks
So I wanted to be better prepped this year but I didn’t think it was worth getting hard-core crampons that wouldn’t get much use at other times.
I asked around and the Hillsound Trail Crampons (spikes) looked a good solution (and thanks to @JeffreyBowman for the tip).
I did look at some “micro spikes” options (Grivel, Pogu) but I judged that for Snowdon and the possible snowfalls and / or ice, micro spikes could be a bit too, well, micro.
Anyway, we just had some decent snow on the moors around me, so this Sunday was the time to give them a testing. And to try getting them on and off – without being at the top of a mountain
Firstly, they fold away really well, don’t weigh much at all and will go with ease into my rucksack. They don’t come with a stow bag though, which is a shame. The spikes look like they may quickly rip through the (spare) old poncho bag I had to hand.
Getting them on: They’re really easy to fit on, the rubber upper section stretches nicely around your boot with easy to grip tabs (even with gloves on) and the velcro top strap kept them firmly secured.
The paths on the tops were pretty icy in parts but they gave me good grip. And I gave myself the added ‘stress test’ conditions of going up and down some steep snowy slopes, with the dog pulling ahead in her usual unpredictable fashion.
There’s nothing like 18Kg of excitable sheep-sniffing dog to test the digging-in ability of any boot or spikes! And there were a lot of sheep hidden in the shadows of some of the steep valleys..
My only niggle is that one of my boot soles got partly balled up with hard ice after trudging through some deeper snow for a while. I needed to stop and clear it off a couple of times. It could have been that I hadn’t ensured the rubber upper support was as taught as it should have been but it was a bit disconcerting to have it clog up. Everything else about them was great though. They could make the difference between getting to the summit / trig point on Snowdon or not.
More info on the spikes here : http://hillsound.com/2products/crampons_overview.php
I bought mine from Amazon as it was the easiest option (with my account all set up) and only a couple of £ either way (at £49) on costs compared to other sites.
- Sensible Crampons (becomingoutdoorsy.com)
I set off on a newly planned out a walk a week ago and had to abandon it. And I did the same today – but clocked up about 9 miles of snow fest fun in the attempt.
Along the way we flushed out about 30 Grouse (they didn’t half grumble about it), 1 beautiful winter-coated Hare and lost the route under 3 inches of snow. And scored free sausages for the dog from the very welcome snack van (and very kind lady) on the home straight.
(local people – the snack van is the one on the A635 .. I didn’t really want to use the road but it was the shortest way from White Moss to an exit point and back down from the moors via Wessenden Valley.. and free sausages for the dog.. can’t be bad)
The route I wanted to take was from Marsden across the moors to Black Hill (in neighbouring Peak District. It’s about a 12 mike round trip with some great views (when the cloud doest descend like it did today).
What I actually did was about 9 miles given that the low cloud, sleet, hail and snow mixed flurries made it slow going in places. And I lost the path and had to peat bog scramble for a bit – but didn’t lose my total bearings (thanks to GPS ).
And Brodie Dog still needs to be given some recuperation time (see last post) so I didn’t want to over do it. It was a great hike though and walking on virgin snow for about 3 hours was great.. I only saw one other set of boot prints the whole time.
Anyway – the weather was challenging .. I think it stayed quite nice down in the valley but up on ‘the tops’ it was, err, pretty grim.
But the silence you get with snow and no traffic for miles is truly lovely. And whan the Hare broke cover about 5 yards from us and bounded away like a furry firecracker it was a true ‘wow’ moment. My arm has just about recovered from the dog forgetting she was on the retractable lead and wanting to chasing after it. ouch.
Finally , I’ve been growing a winter beard – kind of as part of the ’decembeard’ charity movement (a bit like Movember but with about 5% of the participants I think). Every day I keep hold off it , I donate some money to a regional homeless charity I support. It kind of looks the part up in the snowy wilds .
In my head I was chasing down deer with my wolf companion.. or somesuch.
But Wolfy got sausages not deer and I think even they were pork not even venison.. didn’t have the heart to tell her
- I can use my phone / GPS thing in bad weather! The Hiking Geek post (halfwayhike.wordpress.com)
- The Pennine Way: Edale to Marsden (jonmaiden.wordpress.com)
- Britain hit by snow and sleet (telegraph.co.uk)
- Postcard from a walk not taken (halfwayhike.wordpress.com)