Have you seen the forecast – dry, sunny, warmish and no wind, though as you will see from the pictures it didn’t live up to its promise.This is the end of September in the Lakes. So I put into plan a trip I’ve been hatching all this variable summer. Friend Alan had been climbing here earlier in the year in poor conditions but still raved about the quality of the rock. Rod and I had never climbed at Little How Crag in 50 years of Lakeland exploration and this was the weekend to put things right. We managed to find our way up Walna Scar Road to the parking spot above the fell gate but were surprised by the sheer number of parked cars. We seemed to remember from our last trip to Dow Crag only a few rough parking places, today it was more like Asda’s carpark. Coniston Old Man must be inundated. The clouds were still low as we picked up the track leading to Levers Water and soon left the crowds behind. The whole area is full of mines, slate and copper, and numerous risky sites are fenced off. We passed the stream coming down from the high Small Water combe under Coniston Old Man and on through Boulder valley. Once level with Levers Water the misty clouds lifted partially to reveal our crag 300ft up the hillside. Despite being ‘fit’ from my recent Stubai Walk I found the last steep bit trying. Though soon we were unpacking at the base of a lovely sweep of rock which looked mainly dry. Geared up I set off on the start of Sunshine Arête despite the lack of sunshine – the first few feet seemed rather tricky for a Diff!
Photo – Andrew.Thompson
After that it was a romp up easy angled slabs on perfect rough rock.A traversing last pitch had me wandering upwards to find a belay. We had to scramble up a hundred feet more before we could access the steep descent gully. Whilst we were contemplating a slippy down climb into the gully we spotted an abseil point on a spike of rock – it looked fairly solid so we used it for a good section of the said gully.
Abseiling the slippy gully.
More down climbing and traversing brought us back to the sacs. Yachts laboured on Coniston Water far below and a few walkers descended Levers Hawse to our right. Refuelled Rod soon made quick progress up the immaculate rock of more interesting Thunder Slab HS with a direct finish. We used the same way off and called it a day, 5pm. The evenings walk back was a delight in the low sunshine. Trickles of backpackers went past us up to some lovely spots in the hills, I felt quite envious.
Wetherlam above Levers Water.
Nonetheless we were glad to arrive back at the car. Several other parties were coming down from Dow Crag and we contemplated on our more isolated venue. A couple of easy routes on perfect rock on a little visited crag but with a highly traditional feel.
If you have read my last few posts about the ‘Stubai Rucksack Route’ [Stubaier Höhenweg] you will realise how enjoyable hut to hut walking in Austria is. The area is so walker friendly – ease of access, good maps, signed and waymarked paths, superb alpine scenery, excellent friendly huts providing good food and drink, English spoken everywhere …… I have no reason to doubt that the other Austrian Alpine areas are as good, I will try somewhere different next year. There are many suitable guide books available Cicerone and Rother for starters. Just give it a try.
In my first post regarding preparations I discussed the problems my feet were causing. I’d gone out and bought a new pair of Hi-Tech Eurotrek boots, cheap and light. These proved comfortable from the first day and I had no further blister problems. They were more than adequate for the rough terrain and seemed waterproof. At the end of 10 days walking there was minimal sign of wear on the treads, though with previous pairs I’ve found this is their weak-point.
My other purchase was a cheap light Peter Storm waterproof jacket. We only had one afternoon of rain in the whole trip and the jacket was only worn then. It proved to be totally waterproof but suffered from mild breathability problems that I can live with. So £20 well spent though again I wonder about longer term durability. I will provide an update on both boots and jacket in three months.
Now back home after an excellent night in Innsbruck – recommend The Golden Krone Hotel and the the nearby Steiglbrau restaurant. Despite the palpable influx of immigrants into Austria and Germany our return rail travel went well, with time for a meal in Munich before a smooth Easyjet flight to Manchester. The evenings have become noticeably darker and the dry weather distinctly Autumnal. Where to next?
The sky is clear tonight with a large bright moon shining into my bedroom. Setting the alarm for 3am to hopefully view the moon’s eclipse.
PPS When in the Austrian Huts don’t forget — — or male or female.
Up to the Neue Regensburger Hut.
A quick down to start the day.
There was no change of mind so we were whisked down the hill in the ski lift and onto the valley bus to be dropped at Falbeson. We went straight to the Waldcafe for a coffee and information on the luggage lift to the Regensburger. The owner was the cable supervisor at this lower end and arranged for us to send up our sacks. Whilst sorting mine I realised that my waterproofs were missing, a phone call to the Dresdner and they were found in our room!! How could I be so stupid. I was preparing to go back up for them when the barman said he could arrange for them to be sent down on the ski lift, popped on the bus to here and he would send them up. I was doubtful if this would work but he reassured me and sent us on our way, no load on my back but a heavy load in my heart worrying about the waterproofs.
There was an initial steep zigzagging section up through the woods which just had to be taken steadily in the heat. Near the top I picked up a bright bandana meaning to leave it at the hut. There were lots of day walkers using the track and stopping at a delightful cafe in an alp halfway up – we did the same and enjoyed a fresh elderflower drink. We had views down the valley to the prominent Habicht and up to the Regensburger hut. The route then started to climb again in earnest up to the Hut perched on the edge of the cliff. The luggage box wound its way on the cable above us with our rucksacks and hopefully my waterproofs. On the way down was an attractive lass who enquired if we had seen a bandana and when I produced it from my pocket I was rewarded with hugs and kisses – the day was improving!
The hut was in a spectacular position on the edge and as the day was perfect the terrace was packed with diners and drinkers. Most went down to the valley later, though the hut remained busy with a lively crowd up for the weekend. Our sacks were there but no sign of my waterproofs yet, I thought the plan had backfired. We strolled up the valley towards the infamous col but it was too far to make out the conditions. The valley itself had many roches moutonnées and a silted in glacial lake. As we arrived back at the hut another delivery was coming up and this time there were my waterproofs, a celebratory drink followed.
The hut dog.
A packed boot room.
My waterproofs arriving.
Quite an eventful day. Thank you Waldcafe.