Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Buttermere and Blackbeck part two

After a reasonable rest we proceeded up towards Haystacks. As we went, we pondered the concept of being 'experienced', prompted in part by my thoughts from the night before, but also thanks to a comment made by a chap we met by Blacksail who had described us as 'experts', having talked to us for ten minutes! Although, clearly I'm not an experienced tarp user(!), and despite the fact that we feel like enthusiastic amateurs we decided that we could have grounds to consider ourselves reasonably experienced in the outdoors- we could be put down anywhere in Britain with a few pieces of kit and get ourselves to somewhere else in a good state. To the extent where maybe we're fooling ourselves. There are massive gaps in our knowledge-edible plants, avalanche awareness, contour reading. And to people who are more experienced we'd probably seem pretty naive. We have put in a good few years wild camping now, however, and we do have a few skills to rub together. It's a nice feeling to look back and see how far we've come. It's all been self taught as well. We haven't done guided walks and haven't sat in a classroom.Which also feels right. Of course the internet has been invaluable, but there does seem to be an ethic of getting out there and just experiencing it within the whole community. A nice change from the 'managed risk' which is so prevalent these days. It's a nice walk up to Haystacks from Blacksail. Steep, with some potential hands-on and worthwhile views all the way up. It's an atmospheric summit as well. On the way down to Blackbeck there were plenty of decent pitches although there was a lot of waterlogged ground. It would be well worth anther visit. We saw another set of campers on a precipitous pitch across the way but at Blackbeck Tarn we had the spot to ourselves. We pitched and had enough light for a wander round, a bit of scrambling practice and a relax. We went to bed fairly early as we were both a bit knackered.
This was the first time I'd had a proper chance to test out my theoretical sleep system, using insulated clothing to boost my sleeping bag. As the minim ultra can just about fit in a cargo pocket on a pair of army trousers, this was a bit of a gamble. The day had been fairly warm and sunny however so I didn't think it was too much of a test. I woke up a fair few times during the night. There was a big moon, and as I had only zipped the bug net on my bivvy I was able to look out at the moonlit landscape. This is what bivvying is supposed to be all about and I was very pleased with the Titanium Goat Bivvy. I've felt very claustrophobic and short of breath in other bivvies I've tried-I didn't feel this at all. In the morning I was a little disappointed with the sleep system. Although I had been really toasty for most of the night, I had felt a very slight chill at about six. Because it had been a warm night, I thought there was no way I could use the system at seriously cold temperatures. That disappointment lasted until I realised that there must have been a serious temperature drop during the night. There was a fair frost, Blackbeck tarn had begun to freeze over- the ice had proceeded about a foot from the shore all the way round. Smaller tarns had frozen completely. Of course I hadn't brought a thermometer with me, but various opinions put the temperature at between -5 and -10. Up until -5 will be good enough for me-that's around the temperature range I normally encounter.We packed up quickly and got going. Martyn wanted to catch the football and I anted to see my family. Of course, the weather was the best of the entire weekend. So it goes....


Anonymous said...

A slight chill at 6 suggests you have the sleep system about right. In any case, that's not a bad time to start brewing tea.

Your tarp looks small. I guess you can easily adjust it to give a wind break when necessary but you are making me feel decadent for preferring a tarp which not only reaches the ground at the sides but also has beaks.

Learning by pushing the boundaries is what Hamish Brown called Sinning With Our Eyes Open. I think I've said before that it is interesting to read about your misdeeds. If not, I'll say it here.

minimalgear said...

'sinning with your eyes open' is a great quote.I suppose bailing to the car is like a next step back garden test. The tarp is bigger than the a-frame pitch would suggest, but I have been experimenting with different pitches- The addition of some extra guys makes a much more enclosing half pyramid pitch possible and the lifter loop which you can't see on the pictures here makes for a reasonable interior space. I think I'll favour that pitch next time, taking more account of slope and wind direction!