Isaac Johnston, Thirlmere Resilience Project Officer for John Muir Trust, on how best to protect mountain environments when winter climbing.
The iconic Red Tarn basin below Helvellyn draws in mountaineers at all times of year. In the Summer, wild swimmers, walkers, and wild campers visit this beautiful part of the Lake District National Park. In the winter, Skiers, a few brave walkers, and ice climbers come to enjoy the challenging conditions that winter has to offer.
Resident species need to be extremely hardy to live in such conditions year-round. Nationally rare alpine flowers and montane willows like Alpine Saxifrage and Downy Willow call these crags home. The species assemblage is so special it has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. To help protect this rare flora, the British Mountaineering Council, Natural England, John Muir Trust, and Lake District National Park have worked in collaboration to install a temperature monitor on the crag. Winter climbing in the correct conditions doesn’t threaten these rare plants. However, climbing in partially frozen ground conditions can result in the underlying vegetation being damaged or destroyed. The temperature sensor enables user to check the climbing conditions before arriving at the crag. This helps keep them and the rare plants safe.
Downy Willow, Brown Cove Crags, Helvellyn.
We are grateful for all those that have utilised this service already and encourage anyone planning on visiting to do so too.
For more information, please visit: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/new-helvellyn-winter-conditions-monitoring-system
Helvellyn and Great End temperature sensors can be found here: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/lake-district-winter-conditions
Photos by Isaac Johnston and Richard Bailey.