Well, as usual everyone’s been getting very excited, and it seems that the cold weather has indeed brought Kinder Downfall into some kind of condition. So Hamish and I headed up last night for a look around…
After leaving Nottingham at 7pm, we set off from Snake Pass under a clear sky with a full moon. The temperature had been below freezing since Nottingham, and was -7C all the way from Ladybower. Headtorches weren’t needed until we reached the Downfall, where there were already three parties climbing and another arriving at the same time as us. The ‘Direct Route‘ up the main waterfall wasn’t quite in, although the icicle was nearly reaching the floor. As a result, everyone was doing either the ‘Downfall Climb‘ or ‘Central Direct‘; we plumped for the latter because Hamish likes taking the hard way up things. :)
It was actually a really nice route – a little hacked up just through sheer traffic, but very enjoyable nonetheless. Everything went fine until just below the top. The UKC route description says “traverse leftwards, normally past a large icicle runner, then up a short vertical ice wall or corner to finish.“. Rather than go past the runner, Hamish made the executive decision to lead up it instead, and had to search around a bit for foot placements. I’ll give anything a go with a rope on, but just when I thought I’d got my feet up past the worst of it, my right axe popped and I was suddenly back down on the ledge. Worse still, the axe took a lob all the way to the bottom!
I therefore followed the route as per the easier UKC description up to the top of the corner, until I could converse with Hamish, at which point I was lowered down to retrieve the fallen axe. He carried on and added another little icefall to finish off his night, and we met up again on the main path. The walk back to the car did drag, despite the clear night and lovely conditions, but we eventually made it back and returned to Nottingham about 04:15. Nice.