Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis ice

Just when you were thinking of dry rock and sea stacs. Thanks to Paddy Cave who continues to drive north to enjoy quiet ice on Nevis. Alpine training. Bivvy beneath your chosen climb and climb by torch-light into the dawn.

From Paddy:…..Good to catch up with you and a few shots for your blog/fb etc attached from today and yesterday. See the narrows on Point 5, looks complete but the photo doesn’t show the water pouring!? A good freeze ‘might’ have it OK but who knows, would need a closer look. Other routes look better anyway, Hadrian’s/Smiths/Scoop/Indicator as you mentioned..

Cheers, Paddy

A Ben post

I got hooked this morning by a Facebook post on incidents on the Ben Nevis Mountain Track, especially over an early Easter with tons of snow and possible bad visibility. Not being able to resist, here it is again:

 

Enhance the height and location of cairns. Since the debate on poles in ’96 a lot has been improved, even against the wishes of a small minority, who are mostly members of agencies like JMT and MCoS. Ben Nevis is a special case and will always be so. No amount of advertising of dangerous conditions will stop ill-prepared folk trying to climb the highest lump in the UK. The majority of those trying this weekend, will not even have heard or seen the media blast from well-meaning people trying to avoid more deaths. Short of putting the Gendarmes at the foot of the mountain on all sides to STOP ANYONE CLIMBING the peak, there is diddly-squat we can do about it. This debate and deaths have been going on for far too long, so just get the job done properly. Frankly I believe the JMT took on the wrong chunk of mountain and should hand it over to another owner/agency who have safety in mind over conservation philosophy. JMT do a good job, but need to leave their morals behind in the glen on Ben Nevis please. I was a member of the Nevis Partnership for many years and left disheartened when they went against their original idea of joining up the ‘path to nowhere’. It took many years of wrangling between them and the Lochaber MRT and myself and others, to even consider putting the current set of half-buried cairns 50metres apart. Once again many are well-meaning individuals, but unfortunately their mountain morals fall apart in the face of deaths on the UK’s highest peak. I still have a note from a prominent MCoS member saying…”If they cannot navigate they deserve to die and a few deaths are a small price to pay for a pristine mountain”…This person is still a big pal of mine and respected throughout the outdoor and educational world. We had been having a ‘dram’ at the time and I doubt if he truly meant the comment with any real malice or forethought. However, I do believe this attitude does still exist and we all need to stamp it out ASAP. We still have time this weekend to pay local guides and instructors to PATROL the hill in order to try and avoid incidents.

Be Avalanche Aware

Be avalanche aware folks. Lots of snow and strong winds about at the moment. If it calms down towards Easter a lot of slides might be triggered by the unwary. Ice climbing on Ben Nevis is very good at the minute, BUT, approaches and exits from routes are seriuosly effected by avalanche hazard.

Tower Scoop and Smith’s Route

More of the good climbing on Ben Nevis last week. Check out Tower Scoop and Smith’s Route. Yesterday was very good and teams were out in Glen Coe on Twisting and S.C. – N.C. Gullies, reporting good conditions. Today is more unsettled and snow is falling below 600 metres. Avalanche accident on Ben Nevis yesterday so be aware.

BIG thaw

A BIG thaw is taking place, but not shifting too many routes. Tonight might make a difference, with 91mm of rain forecast for Glen Coe. LOTS of debris below all major gullies today. Cornice collapse is a serious and deadly hazard at the moment. These photos were taken today (6.3.15). The one shot of climbing is a blast from the past from Greg Care on Mega Route X. We have it so easy these days with fancy gear. Check out the curved picks and also the spare axe carried.

Ben Nevis weather

The next week’s weather

Weather

This link shows an ongoing struggle between warm and cold air over UK for the next ten days, with the cold possibly edging it. When the high pressure can dominate and bring easterly quarter breezes, the ice climbing should be okay. Fingers crossed! Monsoon weather over the next few days though.

Mega Route X

Had a great day out yesterday with Spike Sellers and Adele Pennington on Mega Route X. The weather was not the best but we gained shelter from the wind at least, although the spindrift proved a nuisance! With the easterly aspect and so much snow and wind, we tested the slopes on a rope on both approach and descent for potential avalanche risks. Today (2nd March) another two teams at least climbed the route. One of the teams were hit by an avalanche on the approach slopes, which had come from above in the Central Trident area. It did not trigger the slope they were on though, thankfully. No injuries though, as far as I know.  The route has been kicked around a lot and the thin ice curtain at the start of the crux moves on the first pitch could do with some more freezing material, although it is still possible to climb. Yesterday the ice was very good and first time placements most of the way. Thanks for leading the first pitch Spike and for the video footage

Challenging conditions

Recent days have seen loads of action on Ben Nevis, with plenty of big routes being climbed. As predicted a couple of months ago this winter is proving to be superb for ice climbing. The avalanche hazard is continually changing, so NEVER be complacent when choosing your lines to climb. Pockets of danger are EVER PRESENT. The CIC Hut has seen a steady stream of good foreign climbers, many led by mountain guides. They come back time and time again to sample what is special about Scottish climbing and in particular Ben Nevis. Check this video by Serge Bazin to confirm how masochistic all climbers are when it comes to enjoyment. Mild and wet weather last night may have effected some of the lower routes, but colder winds are again incoming. Be well:)

High avalanche risk

Considerable amounts of snow have fallen, driven in by gales from a westerly quarter, in the last few days since the thaw. The avalanche risk has risen accordingly, so stay clear of anything you are not sure about or has appeared on the SAIS reports for the area you intend visiting. Yesterday was a pretty good day and the Shroud had some action according to Adam Hughes. Well done guys. Above that route is a large basin of snow, so maybe not a great route to go on just now. Another team actually battled up Observatory Gully yesterday and reported Smith’s Route in very good condition. Once again don’t bother, unless you have some form of suicidal tendency in the current conditions! We have a few spare beds at Calluna this week, where we are accommodating the University of Central Lancashire on a winter skills week, run by Adele Pennington

uclan

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