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/ Ben Nevis tourist path conditions and crampons

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devon_roadie - on 10 Apr 2018

First of all apologies if this is in the wrong section.

On Friday I'm heading up to Fort William for a weeks hiking. Having never done Ben Nevis before I would like to do it whilst up there, but due to the recent snow I wanted to check whether that's realistic or not.

Does anyone know what the current conditions are? I could leave Nevis until the end of next week if it would improve conditions enough to reach the summit without winter equipment.

Failing that, would it be a really bad idea hiring boots/crampons and ice axe if I've never used them before?

I've never done any winter walking but have done plenty of summer ridge routes like the Snowdon Horseshoe and the Ring of Steall.

Thanks in advance for any advice ????

Scott K - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

 

Check this out to get an idea. Looks like there is still a lot of snow around the Ben

https://www.facebook.com/HunterMountaineering/posts/1454470694656785

jonnie3430 - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

Watch these: Skills: walking and climbing in winter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLTodUXkQjZwxa2g6yfV21wLRXffbAdFxT

Pick a nice day early on, hire axes and crampons and go find some snow and practise what you've watched. If you think you're okay, then go for the Ben, if not, get more practise.

You could always post on here for a winter walking partner with a bit of experience to share. Or see if there is anyone practising for a winter ml who is looking for a crash test dummy.

tripehound - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

The Ben is in winter condition. Learn how to navigate safely from the summit. 

Are you aware that if you take a bearing from the summit for the descent path using the one inch map it will take you straight over the cornice above Gardyloo gully. ( the gully cuts deeply into the plateau). The tourist path is not passable without crampons in hard snow conditions.

Andy Johnson - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to tripehound:

> if you take a bearing from the summit for the descent path using the one inch map it will take you straight over the cornice above Gardyloo gully

To the OP: Just to be clear, any map will have the same problem. Take a look at https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmcNews/media/u_content/Image/old_site/nevis_bearing.jpg. You need to be able to navigate a dogleg route in bad visibility. See also http://ben-nevis.com/navigation/navigation.php.

devon_roadie - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

Thanks all. Really useful info! 

I think I'm going to leave the Ben towards the end of next week. Apparently yesterday people were able to summit without winter gear, albeit with some slipping and sliding.

And thanks for the info regarding bearings on the descent from the summit. I had already come across this info but still helpful cheers!

 

Kirill - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

Be aware that when a cornice collapses the break can be anywhere up to 5-10 metres "in-land". So that you could be even not on the cornice, just next to it, but still get dragged down. Basically stay well away from the edge. And enjoy!

jonnie3430 - on 10 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

> Thanks all. Really useful info! 

> I think I'm going to leave the Ben towards the end of next week. Apparently yesterday people were able to summit without winter gear, albeit with some slipping and sliding.

Just because they could, doesn't mean they should. The winter kit should be in the bag, even if it isn't used. Conditions can be fickle and it doesn't take much to change a slope to impassable. 

 

Billhook - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

Make sure you can:-

a.  Take a bearing off a map and follow it.

b.  Pace count 100m, 150m etc.,  with reasonable accuracy after accurately measuring the required distance from a map.

c.  Confidently take another bearing and walk that for a set distance etc., until you are on safe ground. etc., 

Because you may well find the summit is in thick cloud.  Might not be when you set off but may well become cloudy.  

Dave Kerr - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to tripehound:

>  using the one inch map.

Meanwhile, back in the present day...

 

petestack - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

> Apparently yesterday

Only a useful gauge for yesterday, not sometime next week.

> albeit with some slipping and sliding.

Potentially lethal!

 

CathS - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

I doubt that leaving it until the end of next week will make a significant difference to the amount of snow cover there is on the upper slopes.  It is several metres deep with a hard base, and will persist well into the summer.

While some people may have been able get away with it without winter gear in the soft spring snow conditions yesterday, it is frankly wreckless to even think about going up there without crampons and an ice axe at this time of year with the current snow cover.

All it would take is a drop in temperature and an overnight frost to turn the surface to concrete again and make walking without winter gear potentially lethal.  At best you could be lining yourself up for an unnecessary mountain rescue call-out.

Do what others have already said.  Get some winter walking gear and learn how to use it, or otherwise leave the peak until later in the summer when the snow has receded.

petestack - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to petestack:

First post on this thread to be 'disliked'... why?

Dave Kerr - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to petestack:

> First post on this thread to be 'disliked'... why?

I've just disliked all the other posts so you don't feel singled out. ;)

Post edited at 22:11
beeaanno - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to devon_roadie:

All you need as a pair of walking boots and a bottle of buck fast! No gloves needed either, taken 2 days at the top of the Ben! https://photos.app.goo.gl/KQGaWNMXYGf4IeGs1

petestack - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to Dave Kerr:

While I'll admit to finding that wryly amusing, I'd still rather you hadn't and hope you might consider un-disliking them again?


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