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, 1 June 2014

Scottish snow conditions - 3rd Annual, "Not Quite Touching The Void", Ben Nevis summit camp - 31st May 2014.

All the essential kit required for an overnight camp on the summit of Ben Nevis!  

Jon and Willy, on the track up to the top, North Face car park. Once we'd crossed the Alt a Mhuilin by the wier, we headed crfoss country to the Half Way Lochan. 

Stunning views on the way up, especially over to the Ring of Steal. Note the arrows on the path. These were for the folks taking part in the Rat Race.  

Usual messy snow to cross near and around Gardyloo Gully and the summit.

Luckily, there was just enough snow in between the ruins to get the tent in and away from the passing hordes. Sadly the litter issue is a big problem. There are, jackets, trousers. pants(!), towels, beer cans, champagne bottles, plastic bottles etc everywhere. There were even 2 Asda carrier bags, that were full of rubbish, but thoughtfully tied shut, below the summit shelter. The inside of the shelter is also in a mess.    

On a brighter note, we watched a team of three cross Tower Gap on Tower Ridge: though they did seem to take an interesting line on the exit side of the gap! 

Climbers in Tower Gap. Note the sloping ramp on the left of the gap: the route they took. 

Occaisionally, runners from the Rat Race would arrive at the manned checkpoint at the summit cairn, but eventually, the place quietened down, so I went for a wander over to the North East Buttress end of the plateau.  

Looking back over the North Face from somewhere near the top of Observatory Ridge. 

Hardly any snow left on the CMD Arete, as seen from the top of the North East Buttress.

As the crowds disappeared, and the temperature dropped a little, we got a brief glimpse of a sunset in the distance. The clouds soon cam in though and we were once again alone in the mist. Apart from the guy at the checkpoint, who left at 11pm.  

After a reasonable night, with only a few noisy, excitable folks who'd made it to the top, we struck camp and headed for No 4 Gully. There is still a lot of snow all around the rim of the plateau and gullies to be aware of, especially in the gloomy conditions. No 3 Gully above.    

We had already put on crampons in the hope of descending No 4 Gully, but it was not to be. There was no actual cornice, but a vertical wall of snow, about 3/4 meters. Then a few crack, hole and bergshrund type features, making it too dodgy to attempt to belly flop down onto carrying large packs!     

A rope would've made all the difference in confidence. Once over the difficulties, it would've been straightforward down climbing until the angle eased off. It looked like I wasn't going to use my new DMM Raptors this time around?

The only remaining option was to bumslide the Red Burn, which still complete to just above the waterfall on the bend.

All good fun and much quicker than going down the zig zags.

The last part of the Red Burn down to the waterfall. Always entertaining sliding past the zig zags as peaople slog up, or down the path. 

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