They say things come in threes, and so it has been that the last three meets I’ve organised have been dominated by headline weather. The build up to these meets have been accompanied by weather discussions, weather excitement, and weather anxiety. In 2015 we had snow which led to some hairy drives to the Lake District, and last year there were flood warnings which invoked the very fresh memories of the floods that had devastated Glenridding just a couple of months previously. This year the weather was making the news again, and making us all wonder how the journey up north would be, what to pack, and what conditions we would find on the hill. Snow was predicted for much of the country and conditions for a Winter Weekend in Lakes were looking good. As the weather predictions fluctuated, the MWIS had Saturday down, unwavering, as an excellent-looking day: “chance of cloud-free summits”? – “almost certain”!  Excitement built, no one curtailed by the apparent risk of the very dramatic sounding ‘thunder snow’ … which did not sound like something I wanted to encounter on a mountain! Fortunately ‘thunder snow’ was predicted as most likely to occur in Wales, and for this weekend the MMC was heading to Patterdale in the Lake District. So far, so good. 
Saturday turned out to be the blindingly blue, sunny, snow-on-t’tops day promised. At breakfast, the MMC had never looked so motivated, so on-time, faff so far away. The ideas and groups amassed, again with amazing clarity, with most opting for a venture on Helvellyn along Striding Edge and Swirrel Edge – a great day for it, and literally on our doorstep too. First up, and first out the door, in yet but half-light, were David and Anna, in pursuit of whatever ice they could find for a winter climb.
They walked up to Red Tarn Cove “just to have a look”. They found an unfrozen tarn and frosty grass but little snow. Dense fog covered the face.  After a little exploration amongst frozen turf and frosty blocks they found ice at the bottom of Slab and Wall III where a nice little ice pitch rises up over a series of easy bulges to the base of a buttress. Ice screws were placed on lead and an ice screw belay made.  The second pitch took a narrow chimney corner, draped with icicles. The third pitch followed a ramp to a short curtain of ice which made pitch 4. A pleasant scramble to the summit – snow led direct to the summit. The cock-a-hoop pair descended Striding Edge in the gathering dusk and a 40 mph cross wind – “let’s go along the top!” shouted Anna. 
Simon, Chuck, Ian, Sarah, Philip, Stephen, Steve, Rick, Richard and Angela set out for Helvellyn via Striding Edge followed by Swirral Edge in various couplings and groupings, and found conditions quite benign for a wintry, snowy day in January. The winds were manageable, at their worst for a brief section of the descent down Swirral Edge.  Ice axes came in most useful on steeper sections of Striding Edge, where snow had collected in drifts.  The ice was not widespread enough for crampons, and was usually negotiable without great danger. There were spectacular views, and sunglasses, even glacier specs, were surprisingly welcome at times.  
Miriam, Michel and I (Caroline) fancied something less precipitous and which afforded chance to enjoy the views and the exemplary day. High Street could be achieved by walking ‘out the back’ of the hut and up onto the fell behind. The gradual incline, unpopulated route, and tea break and Angle Tarn made for a very pleasant ascent. None of us had glacier specs though! – and they would have been handy. Sun sun sun – hitting that white snow! Michael heroically continued until his injured foot could take no more; while Miriam and Caroline proceeded onwards, on to a windy High Street, returning via Pasture Beck, a valley that may not have seen the sun since October, so cold it was.  It was a beautiful walk and one I would do anytime again – although the wintry conditions up on the high shoulder of High Street gave it particular interest and magic. 
Stories were exchanged back at the hut (‘George Starkey’), which had a particularly convivial layout and atmosphere, and continued by the fire in the White Lion Hotel. With Saturday having been so good, with so many rewards, and Sunday looking a complete washout, everyone seemed content to leave it at that for the big stuff, and Sunday morning came with a lazier mood and a token, gentle, walk along Lake Ullswater in the drizzle before it was all-aboard for the journey home.