How hard is Striding Edge?
QI’d like to tackle Striding Edge on my next visit to the Lakes, but I don’t know if I’m up to it. Just how tough is it? John Banks, Cirencester
Striding Edge has a very narrow rock crest that requires the use of hands as well as feet to negotiate. But there’s also a lower level path, just off the crest, that offers an easier, less exposed option. If you follow the crest of Striding Edge (towards Helvellyn) you will first encounter a narrowing arête. This involves a bit of rock hopping and sideways moves to get around blocks. As you progress, drops open up on both sides. Further along, gaps and steps intersect the ridge and you’ll need to use your hands to get past these obstacles. There are lots of opportunities at this mid section to join the easier lower side path. If you stick to the crest you’ll come to a terminal tower where the ridge connects to Helvellyn at a col. You need to gain this col, which involves a tricky down climb via a short groove on the side of the tower. There are big holds for both hands and feet, but some of them are unsighted to start with: once you commit to the descent, the hold sequence becomes clear. From the col an exposed but straightforward path leads up the summit slopes of Helvellyn. One other thing to note with all grades of scramble is that they are graded for dry and calm conditions. Wet or snow-covered rock, winds and rain will add to the grade, making them hazardous.