Brockengespenst beyond Tower Ridge

A day which started with temperatures as low as I have ever known them in the Dales (-18c)...
...and a fine few of the lakeland fells at dawn, enroute to Crag Hill(839m) at the head of Coledale, to the west of Keswick.
Rising dramatically and directly up the north east flank of Crag Hill, Tower Ridge (named by Wainwright), may not hold the same place in climbing lore as its bigger bother north of the border, yet it does offer a fine lower grade route, that sees little attention from the maddening crowds elsewhere in the lakes.
The approach is gentle enough, following Coledale beck towards the old mines...
...soon climbing and giving a striking view of Skiddaw. Seen here is the prominent south west arete of Skiddaw Little Man, another esotoric lakeland gem despite its position beneath one of the best known and popular of the Cumbrian fells.
Having worked slowly up the broad base of the ridge, we paused to assess the ground above, and decide on the gear required.
The snow cover was suprisingly sparse, although the ground was frozen hard, which made it difficult to decide whether crampons were more of a hindrance than help; Mike proceeded without whilst I happily front pointed on what ice there was, twisting the points into cracks and wrinkles in the rock elsewhere.
In bright sun we emerged above the freezing mist, and sat awhile, absorbing the scene, looking down on the junction of paths beneath Grassmoor...
...and across to the fluted ridge lines of Gasgale Crags.
Moving down towards Coledale Hause, the strong low sun now directly behind and with the mists rising out of the valley below, a broken spectre (from the German: Brockengespenst) forms above Force Crag.
A superb mountain day; about as good as it gets on the lakeland fells.

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