Information and photos of my mountaineering trips in Scotland,England and Wales:
Including hillwalking,scrambling and easy rock climbing.Also via ferrata, skiing and alpine trips in Europe.

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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Ben Nevis summit camp, 25th May 2013.

Finally a good weather window allowed, myself, Ian, Mark and Willy, the chance to camp on the summit of Britain's Highest mountain. We sweated our way up from the North Face car park, crossed the Allt A Mhuilinn at the top car park and headed up to the Halfway Lochan. From here we joined the crowds on the zig zags and onto the plateau. It was heavy going in the soft snow with the big packs. We even opted for crampons to get a better grip, whilst teenagers in jeans and trainers hurried past us! However a time of 3 hours and 40 minutes (3hr 20mins for Ian!), didn't seem too bad with a wardrobe on your back!  

Unlike last year, the ruins of the old observatory were visible, which meant we could get some shelter from the not too strong (but getting colder) wind. Don't know how many times we were asked whilst (and after) putting tents up, "Are you guys camping?".
Slowly, the summit cleared of day trippers and Three Peakers whilst we set about getting some hot food, again the shelter of the walls avoiding the need to cook indoors.
Willy, Ian and Mark preparing their dinner in the comparative luxury of the outdoor kitchen.
Tower Ridge looking mostly snow free, although Tower Gully was complete.
A closer view of the Eastern Traverse.
A lot quieter now on the summit as the cloud came in. Any chance of seeing the International Space Station pass overhead (at 0255, chances!) were out of the question now.
After some food we got a fire going deep in the corner of the ruins. Environmentalists, please note, we used the recycled paper logs you can get for gardens etc, placed on stones. They burn away to nothing and leave no trace (99p a log!). However the was some amount of rubbish up there, left by (I assume, maybe wrongly?), people who come here once, leave the empty champagne bottle, and go back to the city.   

We also met Phil, who was attempting to summit Ben Nevis as many times as possible in 24 hours for charity, and on his last "summit", around 11pm we saw his headtorch appear from the CMD end of the plateau. So we invited him over to get a heat from the fire, whilst he put on extra layers and had a wee dram. Then we sent him off back into the gloom for his final descent.  
Apologies to Phil for the rubbish pictures (digital cameras/fires/night time etc), but at least he can prove he was there! 

After a fairly decent sleep, only punctuated by going out for a pee at about 4am-ish, in my shorts to see a couple of 3 Peakers at the summit shelter, we awoke quite late to a not bad morning. Again the peace was broken by the troops of charity teams either starting or finishing their attempts.
We had several options for the descent; The Carn Mor Dearg Arete, Number 4 Gully, The Red Burn or the dreaded tourist path. As the CMD was mostly clear of snow, we opted to try Number 4 Gully. To save the faff factor, we kitted up with crampons, helmets and axes and followed the gully edges around to Number 4 Gully.
However, on arrival, after a closer inspection of the gully's edge. it seemed a bit dubious as to how stable the snow was just on the first 20 metres or so. There were some footprints from yesterday, but the mild temperatures, no rope and big packs made us change plan and go for The Red Burn.  
The Red Burn was broken in places, requiring some boulders to cross in crampons (always a pain), but it is far for more fun and quicker (?) than the path. Be warned though, at this time of year you may break through the stream below, but on the whole you could bum slide a lot of it - with care!
Willy coming down the last complete section of snow on the Red Burn.
A last view of the Ben, still shrouded in cloud as we headed back to the car.
Video of the guys cooking at the highest wild camp in Britain!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Any routes left in Schneachda? Jacobs Ladder, 12th May 2013.

Still a few routes left in condition in Schneachda, but the ones that are (some of the trident gullies) still have big cornices. Alladins Couloir is complete, so is Jacobs Ladder but the edge isn't (or Hidden chimney). Don't think the Mirror or Spiral are complete either, but with soft-ish snow too, they are probably worth avoiding?

Surprisingly the snow wasn't too bad in Jacob's.
Willy removing gear on the way up.
The snow did vary though on the way up and although the cornice was ok in the middle and not overhanging, it was quite soft and might have been different unroped!   
Ian, about to swim over the top of Jacobs Ladder.