Last Friday saw the start of the 2019 winter season for the National Park's Fell Top Assessor, and their newest recruit Wes Hunter, joined colleagues Jon Bennett and Zac Poulton as they kicked off their daily ascent of Helvellyn to bring the popular 'boots on the ground' reports for outdoor enthusiasts.
Wes Hunter, Zac Poulton, and Jon Bennett at the 2019 winter season launch
Wes can't wait to get started in his new role which will see him or one of his colleagues ascend to the summit of Helvellyn to take condition readings which, coupled with Met Office data, will provide the Lake District's walkers and climbers with advice on how to summit safely. The team does this each day between now and April including Christmas and New Year's Day.
We're back! :) Magical day on #Helvellyn for the start of the #felltopassessors season Blue skys & sunshine :) Terrain still widely frozen in the shade but dry rock on #stridingedge #summitsafely #lakeswinter @Hardwear_Eu @petzl @lasportivatwitt @JulboEyewear @lyonequipment pic.twitter.com/fbM1ppzoOE— Fell Top Assessors (@LakesWeather) December 1, 2019
Throughout the season the team also gives invaluable insights into their recommended equipment and safety skills and provides details of how you can join them for a winter skills course.
It feels surreal to be wearing the iconic fell top assessor uniform and I'm sure I can learn lots from Jon and Zac. I know how vital our daily reports are as I've used them myself in the past. I'd encourage anyone thinking of venturing out onto the fells during the winter months to have a look at our readings, but also to remember to be prepared, have a backup plan and remember to #summitsafely. And no matter how experienced you are, please remember that turning back is sometimes the wisest decision you can make if conditions worsen. The fells will always be there another day.
Now in its 32nd year the Lake District National Park's team of Fell Top Assessor provides this invaluable safety service daily. The team, who is sponsored by Mountain Hardware, Julbo, La Sportiva and Petzl, also provides small group and one-to-one winter skills courses to ensure people are as prepared as they can be for the fells during the winter.
Zac Poulton's also looking forward to another season as a fell top assessor. He says:
It's been a quick year. The best bits from last year were the proper winter days with lots of spindrift blowing around and evidence of heavy snow. The days where I had to use all of my skills and experience to stay safe and have a real battle with the elements are always the most memorable."Jon Bennett, now in his 12th season as a National Park Fell Top Assessor will during this year hit the heady heights of his 600th assent of Helvellyn. He said: "My favorite shift from last year was a day I was walking along Striding Edge in the sun with a Brocken Spectre on Red Tarn for company. Spectacular!
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