Date of Incident
With a small group of friends I drove around to Wasdale Head to walk up onto the fell and approach Pillar via Black Sail pass. The majority of the group were keen hillwalkers but a couple were climbers and hoped to scramble onto High Man as this would be "better sport". Not having bothered helping with the navigating, it was to my chagrin that I realised too late that the summit of Pillar and Pillar Rock, with High Man and Low Man, were distinct entities and that approaching it would be rather problematic. This lead to our party dwelling on the summit of Pillar for longer than expected as I grumbled about my ruined day.
Meanwhile, the days brisk weather was about to get more exciting. The forecast had been for strong winds, mainly dry but with the risk of the odd heavy shower. An angry black cloud mass had appeared on the other side of Ennerdale, and looked to be heading towards Pillar. Still , the group tarried on the exposed summit. Only as it became apparent that the cloud contained hail and seemed to be discharging electricity did the group decide a hasty retreat was in order. The path home followed high ground, and as the storm followed us the lightning got closer and more violent. Eventually a panicked retreat down the steep hillside was required, resulting in some bumps and scrapes on rocks and a mildly sprained ankle. A ferocious hailstorm began and rocks in a nearby gully began to spark and explode. Further retreat was impossible due to the ground, and there was no option but to sit it out and hope for the best.
In due course the storm abated and passed on, and the chastened, bruised and soggy party made their way down safely to Wasdale.
On reflection, given the forecast the choice of an exposed summit with little in the way of low level escape options was rather foolish. Keeping a better eye on the weather may have helped an earlier escape to have been made before things got so serious.
Cuts, abrasions or other minor injury
Rescue Services Involved?
11 February 2020, 16:20:53
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