/ Ben Nevis Winter Climbing Conditions 28 November 2012

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Mike Pescod - on 28 Nov 2012
The hills right along the west coast are covered in snow down to 600m and the ground is doing a good job of freezing solid. As this settled high pressure sets itself up over the Atlantic it will draw colder and drier air down from the Arctic over the next week. We should get less cloud and colder temperatures as a result.

The big grade I gullies have a reasonable cover of snow but as it's early season there is little ice climbing formed yet in the gullies. The classic ridges will be fun but more time consuming with soft snow and little usable neve.

There are very good climbing conditions on the higher crags of Ben Nevis for mixed climbs. Donald and Kenny climbed Darth Vader (VII,7) yesterday which was well rimed and perfectly white. This is a route that requires a good freeze for the first crack systems to be solid enough for nice climbing. On Monday, Knuckleduster saw a repeat by Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell. This is a monster climb to jump on straight out of the starting blocks this winter but this is a very strong team and Greg, having climbed the route before, was keen to straighten out the line into a Direct version.

Greg has a nice write up of the route and of the unstable snow conditions high on Ben Nevis.

The early season avalanche hazard is difficult to assess especially when we all need a reminder of what snow is and how it works. Have a look at the SAIS Report of 2011/2012 to get a head start.

We had a hard frost this morning and the cold settled conditions are set to stay with us for a week or so. It will be a good weekend to get out into the hills. Happy climbing!


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