/ Ski approach for Scottish winter climbs

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adam 24 - on 22 Mar 2013
Hi, I wanted to ask a hypothetical question i'm curious about. Is possible / practical to ski the approaches for Scottish winter climbs. Eg some of the Ben Nevis classics?

I've heard lot's of people talk about the long walk-ins for Scottish climbs, but never heard any mention of people skiing the approaches. Just wondered if there was a specific reason(s) this wouldn't work.

Thanks
RKernan - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to adam 24:

The standard approach to the Ben is up a path from the north face car park - skis wouldn't be any advantage. Could be a fun way to get back down No.4 or no. 5 gully after a climb though!

Same in Glencoe - steep stepped path. I've seen people approaching routes in the Cairngorms on ski though, depends a lot on the snow conditions.
Gael Force - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to adam 24: The specific reason is usual lack of snow on the approach, or poor condition of the snow which spoils what on the face of it seems a good idea.
Doug on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to RKernan: I've skied into some Cairngorm routes, buts its rarely been a real advantage and on some occasions we've skied in but had to walk much of the way back as the snow had melted (especially when skiing into Braerichach & staying in the bothy. In general, good skiing conditions low down mean that the climbings probably not so great & vice versa (although clearly there will be exceptions)
Tim Chappell - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to adam 24:


Logistics... you then have to climb with skis on your back, and ski boots on your feet. Or after your climb you have to come back to where you geared up.

Not always insuperable problems, but very often awkward ones that make it more trouble than it's worth.

Also, for half the typical Scottish winter on e.g. the Ben, especially late on (like from now till May), the snow/ ice is fantastic on the route but it only starts at about CIC Hut level. So you'd be carrying ski kit + climbing kit up to the CIC, gearing up with your skis, skinning up to the start of the climb, climbing, returning to your skis, skiing down to the CIC, de-gearing, walking out. That's a lot of faff for five/ten minutes on the planks.
Michael Gordon - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to adam 24:

I recall the Yearsley/Bass team skied into Foinaven for a new line a few years ago with great success.
adam 24 - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to adam 24: Thanks, very helpful info. I'd guessed it might be one or more of these factors. I've only climbed in the Cairngorms in Scotland where a ski approach did look viable. Interesting to know that it would be less practical on the Ben.
JCurrie - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to adam 24:
Cycling up Glen Einich and skiing up Braeriach is a good way of approaching the climbs. Gear up at the top of the crag means that the only disadvantage is climbing in ski boots. Not a huge problem for most of the routes thereabouts.
Jase
James Edwards - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to adam 24:
I have skied into the loch Avon climbs several times; in certain conditions it Is very efficient. Leave the kit at the top of the cliff, descend down an easy gully and pick up at the top.
James e
Chad123 - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to adam 24: we skied into hells lum once, climbed the chancer and skied home via lurchers, we took three screws and one skinny rope to save weight for skiing, so ice climbing was exciting and bags still felt a bit heavy for skiing. In conclusion much more fun to do one or the other. saying that I reckon aonach beag ice routes combined with a back corries run to finish like summit gully would be a great day out, with the easiest winter approach in Scotland......
James Edwards - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Chad123: I also used the ski climb ski strategy on Royal Pardon. I forgot as it was about 15 years ago!
Chad123 - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to adam 24:

old timer! ;-)
JCurrie - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to James Edwards:
Did Royal Pardon last weekend and spent the walk in wishing I'd taken my skis.
Spent the walk out glad I never had them in a total white out, mind.
J
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Simon Yearsley - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon: yes Michael, Malcolm and I skied into Foinhaven to do The Long March. We specifically chose skis because a) it's a long flatish approach, b) the route we went to do needed a good plastering of snow so by association the approach would be snowy, c) we knew we could leave the skis at the base of the crag and collect on the way out, d) the last time went in to the crag on bikes it snowed loads and pushing them out was a real pain, e) it felt like it would be good craic and f) our snowmobiles were broken. Ignore f. .

Neither Malcolm and I are good skiers, and we ended up skinning up the final steep approach to Lord Reay's Seat .... and skinning downhill from it as well (shows how scared we were of the skiing and how pants we were). We used alpine touring skis with our normal winter boots.

I think there are few places in scotland where one could guarantee that skis would be an advantage, but in my view its always worth considering and maybe thinking a but outside the box.

Snow shoes though..... now there's another interesting thread...

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