Thursday, 15 December 2011


Going up beside The Red Burn
Nice views back to Lochan Meall an t-suidhe
A deserted Ben Nevis summit
Immidiately after The Red Burn crossing-an easy angled 'path' in Summer!
Yasuko and I had a very quiet and wintry ascent of Ben Nevis via the 'Tourist Route' today. It was anything but touristy. We saw no one on the way up. Setting off at 8am to enjoy the daylight hours we had some verglas on the lower steps of the path. It had been a cold night which we hoped would have firmed up the snow pack a wee bit. At Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe we hit the snowline with wonderful views behind us, out to the west there were layers of cloud in the glens, very atmospheric. The snow is well banked out across he Pony Track after the halfway point (The Red Burn). The snow was scoured on the left hand side of the Burn and well banked up on the right hand side with the high winds we've had recently. We chose to go directly up from here and stick to the scoured areas. This was Yusoko's first taste of winter and using axe and crampons so we did some on the hoof techniques which never fazed her. Unfortunately the snow was still hard going at 900m all the way to the rim of the North face and the cloud came in spoiling the views. No one had been along the plateau to the summit so we enjoyed virgin snow to the summit. We met a couple of guys who'd just come along the CMD arete. What a contrast to summer: peaceful, no litter louts, no graffiti, no tacky memorials. On the way down we had a brief snow shower and very poor vis. Yasuko couldn't believe this was the 'easy way' up to The Ben in summer conditions. We returned via the zig zags and noted a few folk had turned back quite low down on the hill. There was a party at 800m who were still heading up at 2.45pm! The last pic gives an idea of the snow at the moment, it's taken just after the red Burn crossing. This was a training day for Yasuko's planned ascent of Kilimanjaro in January, I think there will be far less snow on Kili!

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