I parked at Dunmail Raise on a day which wasn't as good as forecast. A bit grey and you couldn't see the higher fells. For a change I decided not to climb alongside Raise Beck but to cross the beck and climb over Reggle Knott and skirt Willie Wife Moor to meet the wall which leads to the famous iron post (marked on the OS Map) near the summit of Dollywaggon Pike. We met the snowline half way up the wall and by the time we reached the Dollywaggon summit there was a cover of about 4 inches of fresh snow above sheet ice. Crampons were virtually essential for safety - the odd person didn't wear them but moving around was tricky without them.
I have no idea whether I reached the summit cairn of Nethermost Pike - there are so many to choose from in mist! The small tablet marking the landing of an aircraft on Helvellyn summit told me that the summit shelter was near and seconds later it (and a large crowd of people) appeared out of the mist. I settled down to feed Polly and myself and was on my second cup of hot chocolate when up popped Alan Hinkes. His voice is fairly recognisable and I looked up and saw the "Challenge 8000" logo on the arm of his jacket and knew it was him. I presume he and his party had climbed Striding Edge and whilst I continued with lunch he launched himself over the east face to check out the route he and his party would use in descent. Straight down as best I could see - I suppose to him it is small beer after all he has done - but I was well impressed with it as a descent route. Unfortunately it was on the wrong side of the mountain so I didn't follow! ;-)
Instead we took the Wythburn path and I was able to take my crampons off at the foot of the zig zags. Then down to the forest and up the forest road and over Birkside Gill from where it was only a quarter of a mile back to the car. A really enjoyable day IF you were properly equipped. 4 hours of walking plus half an hour's lunch. No views once we reached the snow but the mist added a little atmosphere to the traverse of the ridge.
A word on equipment: I wore crampons for virtually all the trip above the snowline. I carried an ice axe but preferred to use the walking poles in the conditions. In my 'sac I carried all the usual stuff I take on walks plus a 2 man (1 man 1 dog!) bothy shelter, a reflective survival sac, a head torch, ski goggles (not used), sun glasses (not used), spare gloves and spare hat, two buffs, mobile phone, first aid kit. High winter walking takes more planning but your life could depend on it!
A full album is available on Webshots http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/562104223Saktkw.