This was my first opportunity to tackle Bow Fell - the 'queen' of Great Langdale - in snowy conditions, and, despite some setbacks, it turned out to be an interesting and (mostly) rewarding outing!
Ascent was by The Band to its intersection with the Three Tarns 'hause', and then on from there to the summit. The going up The Band was increasingly full of snow and ice, but fortunately the former was never too deep, and the latter, thanks to my trusty pair of 'spider' semi-crampons, not too slippery.
However, soon after arriving at Three Tarns, cloud came down over the summit area, and thus the remainder of the ascent was heavy going, to say the least of it. What made matters worse was that the snow was so deep from this point on right up to the top that the path was completely obscured, and also there were no footprints to follow. Fortunately my little dog Sooty was light enough not to sink into the snow most of the time (unlike me!), and so I didn't have to carry him too much, and there was sufficient visibility to pick out a likely-looking line of ascent.
On arrival at the summit I had hoped to locate the path to Ore Gap and to descend by it to Angle Tarn and thereby down Rossett Gill and back along Mickleden. At this point, however, I discovered to my horror that I had mistakenly brought the wrong map of the area with me - indeed, it ended just where Bow Fell began! And although I nevertheless tried several times, the poor visibility and lack of any footprints made by earlier walkers (largely because of the iciness of the surfaces?) made it impossible to check far enough ahead to be sure that I was taking the right turn for the intended line of descent, vs. risking ending up in, e.g., Wrynose Bottom (i.e., pretty much the opposite of where I wanted to go), or making an all too precipitous exit down (the aptly-named) Hanging Knotts!
Being also short of time, I therefore decided to swallow my pride and slog it back up from the part of the summit area where I had descended to and retrace my steps back over and down once more to Three Tarns and thence on to The Band again. During this passage I should have noticed the cloud was beginning to lift a little, but was so cold and fed up I didn't pay sufficient attention. And, of course, therefore, having walked just enough of the path down The Band to make going back up again seem like too much effort, Sod's Law of Lake District fell-walking swung into operation, i.e., the skies quickly cleared and the summit was once again bathed in bright sunshine!
Anyway, the day as a whole was nevertheless very far from a write-off, as:
i) both Sooty and I lived to tell the tale(!)Just didn't quite manage to find time to also build a snowman on the top!
ii) there were very fine views of the snow-clad Langdale Pikes to the north and south of The Band all the way up and down again, and
iii) I did at least make it up to the Three Tarns area in time to admire the impressive panorama of the Scafell range in full winter garb.
P.S. For views from the summit, albeit in rather different weather, click here.
(Distance: 6.5 miles / 10.5 km. Ascent: 2780 ft. / 847 m. Highest point (Bow Fell): 2959 ft. / 902 m.)
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