Picture a ski resort in the most alpine area of England, sitting among the highest mountains.
Only with no chalets or chair-lifts to clutter the dramatic terrain. Replace the pine forest with huge ash trees, wrapping their roots around boulders that lie on low limestone ridges. No ski-hire shops. Just a vast, epic wild place to go and ski… This is Raise, home to the Lake District Ski Club.
The club was founded in 1936 after a team of experienced and enthusiastic skiers spent months looking for the perfect place to ski in the Lake District. Eventually Raise was chosen – a fell in the Lake District National Park which stands tall on the main spine of the Helvellyn range, between Ullswater and Thirlmere.
Today, the Lake District Ski Club operates a 360 metre button tow on Raise, dug out by hand at around 800m in a bowl serving a snow-holding gulley. There are up to nine distinct, ungroomed pistes available, depending on prevailing conditions; the longest piste is almost a mile along. The tow lift itself has been known to be buried by the snow almost to the top of the pylons as previous seasons have gone by. When conditions are right, Raise offers some serious skiing for an average of 60 days each winter season (November – April).
Raise makes for an unforgettable day out in good conditions, though not for the faint hearted. Skiing or snowboarding can be rough and ready. The runs are formed by naturally occurring parts of the mountain and maintained by nature alone.
If you plan to make the climb, don’t set off before reading the Lake District Ski Club’s safety advice. Chat to the friendly club committee members who operate the tow about the best first and last run of the day.