Snowboarding in England is fickle. I have managed at least one powder day every year for the last 10 years but you have to work for it. Long drives, long walk ins and short runs, its a test of commitment that pays with some of the best days riding I’ve ever had but costs the skin on your feet, gauges in the base of your board and sideways glances on the train as you board with a stick strapped to your back.
The search for untouched lines of freshly fallen powder starts well before any threat of snow has been made. You find yourself checking lines whilst out cruising in the summer months. The criteria is steep, rock free hillsides preferably with a gully or something that will catch the snow and keep in there. The Peak District is perfect for this but, in the absence of any snow, this year we extended the boundary and drove north!
Google revealed an operational ski lift in the Lake District run entirely by volunteers, open to the public and, most importantly, an abundance of fresh fluffy white stuff. So we drove up to Glennridding, parked and began the walk in to a ‘resort’ marked on google maps.
Next to Helvellyn sits Raise, home to the Lake District Ski Club, the owners and operators of this secluded lift. Raise was chosen because it has the best snow conditions in the Lake District. In 1936 a group of keen skiers decided to run a lift on the the hillside, about an hour’s walk (more like 2 in fresh powder) from the last parking spot at the mines this lift is fairly isolated. The piste isn’t groomed in anyway but they have managed to clear most of the stones off the runs over the years.
Facilities are pretty limited but impressive considering where you are. There’s the millennium hut, a small hut with heating, tables and benches where you can recoup from the walk and a flushing toilet. Other than that it’s just you and the mountain.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of the lift is exploring the open hillside. The ‘marked’ runs are fun enough and certainly good for getting your legs back in but they will leave you thirsty for something longer. If you pick your lines carefully you can get a decent sized run on fresh powder that requires minimal walking. If you go with this attitude Raise is awesome, if you treat the place as an Alpine Resort you could be disappointed. Think backcountry but slightly less laborious and surrounded by a load of like minded people, the atmosphere is great!
As we have mentioned, the tow is run and maintained by volunteers and it requires a fair amount of work to keep up to it. If you can help in the summer months on one of their many ‘workdays’ then it would be hugely appreciated.