Lake District Winter Conditions Monitoring

This page provides temperature data live and direct from two of the Lake District’s most reliable winter crags – Great End and Helvellyn. The aim is to provide accurate information to winter climbers about current and historical temperatures to allow better decision- making before heading out for a winter climbing day in the Lakes.

Why monitor conditions?

The cold and wet conditions which make the Lake District’s winter crags sought after venues for winter climbers also provide sanctuary for rare Arctic-alpine plants, with the inaccessible location preventing sheep grazing. The turf these plants live in is easily damaged by ice tools if not fully frozen; even a single ascent in marginal conditions could irreparably damage the plant or habitat. But in well frozen conditions, the turf won’t be damaged by climbers – good news for plants and climbers too, given loss of turf can quickly change a route from steady to a desperate grovel.

How it works

Two sets of temperature probes have been placed in the Lake District – one near the base of Great End and the other near the base of crags on the Red Tarn Face of Helvellyn, These take readings at hourly intervals and transmit to base stations in Seathwaite and Glenridding respectively (via a repeater station on Birkhouse Moor in the case of Helvellyn) which upload the data to this webpage.

We stress that this is not a definitive system – it will not give a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to whether conditions are good for climbing. Small differences from the effect of weather on different areas of the crag may mean the measurement site shows frozen turf when the turf on the crag (or part of the crag) is not, or vice versa. Likewise, weather can affect similar crags even a small distance away differently. There are many variables which contribute to bringing routes into condition and the data below should simply be used as a guide for climbers to make their own, more informed decisions about likely on-crag conditions.

Essential supplement

The information on the graph below should always be used alongside the Lake District White Guide. This contains vital information on which routes to avoid in marginal conditions with easy-to-understand colour topos and other useful information to aid planning for winter climbers. It is also available as a free hard copy from the BMC shop or various climbing walls and retailers.

Some other resources which can be used in conjunction with the monitoring data to help build a picture of likely conditions are:

Lake District Weatherline
Mountain Weather Information Service for the Lake District
Met Office Mountain Forecast for the Lake District

Interested in learning more about how to assess conditions for winter climbing? Read How to judge winter climbing conditions

Watch our winter skills video playlist on BMC TV: