Helvellyn Assessors celebrate ‘White Friday’ winter season launch

Published on: 29 Nov 2019

The LAke Districts three Fell Top Assessors at teh launch of teh IWnter season 2019

While many people are looking for today’s Black Friday deals, the Lake District’s three Fell Top Assessors are hoping for some of the white stuff.

At the 2019 winter season launch today (29 Nov), the National Park’s newest Fell Top Assessor, 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 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.

The Fell Top Assessor’s reports are published daily on wwww.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk and the Assessors also use @lakesweather on Twitter to communicate with their 13,000 followers. 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.

Wes says: “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!”

Our photo shows the Lake District National Park’s newest Fell Top Assessor, Wes Hunter, with fellow Fell Top Assessors Zac Poulton and Jon Bennett at the 2019 winter season launch.

Fell Top Facts

  • The three fell top assessors will be working alternate shifts to make the walk 950m up Helvellyn every day during the winter, including Christmas day
  • In addition to being lucky enough to take in the breath-taking views every day, the assessors brave the rain, snow and wind chill as low as - 23°C to record temperature, snow depth, wind speed, underfoot conditions and assess risks, including potential avalanches.
  • The  online and phone service helps protect 19 million visitors and locals from conditions that can change rapidly and fatally on the fells.
  • Although Helvellyn is not the highest peak in the Lakes, it was selected as it is the most popular fell and has a large east facing headwall that retains the snow and ice.
  • Assessors’ reports are combined with Met Office mountain forecasts to give the fullest possible picture.

Weatherline is also available by phone, on 0844 846 2444 (calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company's access charge)

There are a maximum of 6 spaces on each winter skills course and dates are limited so book now to secure your place. If you’d prefer a one to one session then this can be arranged for £250. Or it’s £325 for two people to have a private session with an assessor. Vouchers are available and make fantastic Christmas presents.

Follow the Fell Top Assessors on lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk or you can find out more about the winter skills courses here

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