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Friday, 31 October 2014

Climbing Helvellyn is all in a day’s work for fell top assessor

The weather has been affecting everyone over the past week – but none more so than Cumbria’s new ‘man at the top’.

Jason Taylor photo
Jason Taylor

In his first week as the county’s fell top assessor, Jason Taylor has faced 1m snow drifts, avalanche risks and temperatures of minus 16C, not to mention a summit cornice showing signs of cracking on top of 950m Helvellyn.

Jason, who treks up the Lake District’s third highest peak every other day during the winter, says it’s all in a day’s work and described Arctic conditions in his first week as “just amazing”.

He – and colleague Jon Bennett who he alternates with – checks the conditions on the fell for Weatherline – a phone and online service to guide the county’s 12 million visitors every year.

In seven days, the pair almost climb the equivalent of Everest.

Jason, 34, is a mountain expert with his own guiding company in the Lake District and has travelled from Bhutan to Bangladesh and Iran to India.

He said that while the Lake District peaks look beautiful when covered with snow, conditions underfoot are treacherous.

“Only those with full winter equipment and a lot of experience should be venturing on them,” he said.

“To have Arctic conditions in my first week is just amazing, but there is a big sting in the tail.

“Mountains are very dangerous places right now. Unless you have the right experience, don’t go there.

“And if you do, be properly equipped and have the humility to know when to turn back.”

Originally from Halifax, Jason is about to move to Newbiggin-on-Lune and said his experience as a mountain leader and navigation trainer means he has vast knowledge of mountaineering.

“I’ve lead climbs in full winter conditions across the Lake District and Scotland and got a big interest in weather patterns, particularly their effects in the mountains,” he added.

“Fell top assessing is the perfect job for me.

“I love everything to do with the great outdoors – walking, climbing, cycling and, running.

Weatherline is on 0844 8462444 and at www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/weatherline.

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