Monday, 19 December 2011


It seems I missed all the blue skies and sunshine at the weekend. Unfortunately Mike from the USA only had today free to get up Ben Nevis. So we set off in the icy streets of Fort William into rain at low levels and at 600m snowfall which continued all day. The cloud was down to 700m or lower. All this fresh snowfall on top of an already unconsolidated snow pack gave an High Category 4 avalanche risk today. I'd not been up to The Ben via the NW shoulder of Carn Dearg for many years so we had a look at getting up onto the summit  that way. It's just  steep scree and boulder terrain in summer conditions so only really pleasant in winter. Lower down there were plenty of boulders and rocks poking through the snow pack were it had been windblown but above 800m the windslab areas were becoming bigger and the rocks for 'islands of safety' were becoming rarer. So I decided to cut across to the Red Burn and we headed up on the lip of the gully. The depth of soft snow was up to knee level in places and quite tiring. We saw no one all day (surprise, surprise). We headed back don the zig zags, which are just an open snow slope, so anyone contemplating heading up the 'easy way' the next few days then be prepared for plenty of shin deep soft snow and making good use of your map and compass! Not the most memorable of winter days today and with the battery on my camera packing in from the word go it just typified the day, hence no photos, sorry.  But all good fun!

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