/ ben nevis in december?

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Seb Lee on 24 Dec 2012

ok so me and the missus are thinking about hiking up the ben via the pony trek route. she's done very little hillwalking, but is in good shape. i'm pretty fit and have been going for long coastal walks since i was a kid. i've done D.O.E silver and comfortable with a map and compass.

now the introduction's over...

i need advice on kit for her. some recommendations on some good trousers would be appreciated. I've got her the rab womens microlight for chrimbo, and she's got a hardshell, base and midlayers. just not sure on the trousers.

also, as i understand (from some light googling) wild camping is fine on the glen?

my only other thought is the weather in December. prepared for low cloud, snow and cold, but from what i gather, providing i don't get us lost, we should be fine?

Your valued opinions welcome.
Cheers Seb
Kevin Woods - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Seb Lee: Hey there

You're nearly out of time for December!

I don't usually give as much attention to bottoms as tops. In winter it's a pair of thermals I picked up for cheap, maybe a pair of trousers for extra warmth and Berghaus Deluge waterproofs over the tops - which in my experience have always been great. They seem to be popular as well. Get them in a short leg size though, I find the normal length wayy too long and I'm of pretty average proportions.

All in all as long as there's something waterproof on my legs I think more about my core, head and hands.

Camping in the glen: the no camping signs are there but get a secluded corner and you'll be fine in December. I'd only give it two thoughts in summer when I'm sure the residents have had their fair share of problems from irresponsible camping (this is a guess but not hard to imagine)

Navigation: long as you're aware of the navigational problems getting off the plateau in winter. In calm winter conditions it can be easy with a path beat into the snow. In bad conditions be really careful.

Have a good'yin
Lizzz on 24 Dec 2012 -
In reply to Seb Lee: No offence, but having done DofE silver and being comfortable with a map and compass are not actually anything like the same thing! I know this because I did DofE too, although admittedly you may have had a more thorough instructor/assessor.
Are you SURE that you can navigate yourself off the top of Ben Nevis in bad weather, because your missus isn't going to thank you if its dark, cold and wet and you're faffing about and/or panicing because you know you have to get it right or you're doomed (and if you don't get it right you are doomed)!

With that out of the way... try the decathlon outdoor type trousers. Mine seem reasonable enough and were cheaper that a lot of the alternatives.
tony on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Seb Lee:

One other thing to consider at this time of year is the limited daylight. There are less than 7 hours between sunrise and sunset at the moment, so make sure you make a decent start and don't get caught in the dark. Headtorches at this time of year are strongly advised.

And the most important thing - given the forecast for the next few days, you will almost certainly need to micronavigate off the top plateau in bad weather, so check out the essential bearings.

To be honest, the weather looks so rubbish I really wouldn't recommend this as an objective at the moment for someone who hasn't done much hillwalking - you're more likely to put her off.
Milesy - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Seb Lee:
> ok so me and the missus are thinking about hiking up the ben via the pony trek route.

I don't normally put people off plans or try and preach but it is not really a hike in winter and not to be underestimated, particularly in bad weather.

Map and compass great, but being able to navigate off the plateau in a white out with cornices overhanging cliffs and gullies is not an easy task. There can be many sets of misleading footprints in the snow which may or may not be leading to where climbers have been coming up the cliffs - this is from experience my first time on The Ben in winter I had map and compass and was following footprints on the right bearing and got complacent and ended up lost.

On a cold high pressure blue sky day navigation is unlikely to be a problem, but these conditions normally lend themself to more hard snow and ice on the path up meaning crampons and ice axe becomes more essential than when it is soft snow.
butteredfrog - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Milesy:

The new(ish) cairns have removed some of the challenge of getting off the summit in all but the very worst conditions.

To the op, keep an eye on the time and weather and you should be ok. (presuming a bit of winter hillwalking experience)

Cheers Adam

Kevin Woods - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Milesy: On this side of the New Year (and most of the time beyond) a walk up the Tourist Track would be tedious, cold, and very possibility frightening if the chips fall the wrong way and you're dodging the North Face and Five Finger Gully while you can't see five metres ahead, have 30 minutes of light left and chilling rapidly in an insane wind.

I would never wish to act like some authority pissing over someone else's plans, which is rubbish, but Nevis is a scary one and if you've limited mountain experience I wouldn't go near it. Anyway forgive if I'm underestimating you, I don't know what the silver award entails.

Btw there's tonnes of other mountains in the area that would be well suited to a December storm. Nevis is just the big-yin. You could poke your head up into the maelstrom instead of having a Nevis endurance-fest.
Kevin Woods - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to butteredfrog: Beat me to the link

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