I moved to Cumbria back in 2009 and was treated to a series of mind blowing winters, to the point that I just assumed it was always so. Mountain biking in the summer, snowboarding in the winter. A Yad Moss season ticket was a no brainer, and cheeky mid-week escapes to the slopes were common. But Cumbrian winters are fickle beasts, coming and going without a care to your winter sports obsessions, and as is always the way, things changed.
Children appeared on the scene, jobs became more demanding, and most importantly the winters weren’t as white. If there was snow you were at work, and if you weren’t working the snow was melting or it was too windy to be left exposed on a mountain side. This year, as Christmas came and went with nary a flurry, and the New Year was so bitterly cold but painfully dry, we feared that once again winter had passed us by. And then it started snowing, the English Ski Season was once again back in business… and I was working. Bugger. A bunch of review deadlines meant no snowy fun for me, and I focussed my mind on our upcoming trip to Samoëns.
It’s Snowing on Helvellyn
And then it snowed again, my diary was clear, and it was all too good an opportunity to miss. Children were dropped off at school, work emails were ignored, and we set off for Helvellyn, the site of many a riding adventure, only this time the van was loaded with boards not bikes.
From the Helvellyn Youth Hostel in Glenridding, rather than heading directly up Sticks Pass to the ski lift on Raise, we opted to stay on the familiar path towards Keppel Cove. For starters, the ski lift was closed, and secondly, this route would give us the opportunity to check out the snow conditions for the return journey.
Climbing towards the ridge, we started eyeing up potential lines – Brown Cove looked especially tempting – its untouched, virgin snow meant we could lay down some fresh tracks, but on the flip side we’d have been faced with a bit of a hike out once we reached the dam at the bottom and the gradient levelled off. As it was, the decision was made for us – on reaching the ridge, the bluebird conditions gave way to a howling wind that whipped spindrift up and around, battering our faces. If we wanted to carve down Brown Cove, we’d have been walking directly into this brutal onslaught for the best part of 30 minutes, so regretfully we turned north and climbed to Raise.
Hunkering down out of the wind, we stepped into our bindings and set off into the deep white unknown.
In spite of the occasional tuft of long grass poking through, the conditions were prime and the snow felt great. Like really great. As good as anything the Alps has to offer. With our boards strapped to our feet, the wind quickly became a distant memory and we were back to the bluebird conditions that had kept us company on the hike up.
Let me ask you – is there anything better than slicing your way through fresh snow, less than an hour away from your home, when everyone else is working? If there is, then I really need to hear about it.
- Dan’s board: Burton Custom X & Burton CO2 bindings
- Dan’s wearables: Volcom Goretex jacket, Dakine bag.
- James’ board: Burton Flying V, with Exile EST bindings
- James’ wearables: Vans Aura Boa boots. Jacket Berghaus Goretex Active Shell and Lowepro Whistler 350 camera bag.
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