Walkers' warning: it's still winter on top of Ben Nevis

Posted by Carey Davies on 04/06/2014
Snow on the summit of Ben Nevis

Walkers heading to Britain's highest mountain have been warned of a surprising amount of late-lying and potentially dangerous snow.

With summer now here and the longest day fast approaching, more and more people will be setting themselves up for the challenge of climbing Scotland’s highest mountain.

However winter is still lingering on the roof of Scotland.

While it may be T-shirt and shorts weather down in Fort William, up high it’s a very different story. Last winter Scotland experienced exceptionally high levels of snow fall in the mountains and, with mid-summer’s day approaching, a surprising amount of that snow still remains. This means anyone heading up Ben Nevis will be walking on snow covered terrain, in some places up to a metre in depth still.

Slip

Heather Morning, Mountain Safety Advisor with The BMC's Scottish sister body the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) advises those heading to climb Ben Nevis to be aware of the late lying snow beds and be cautious.

She said: “Walking on snow in summer can really add to your day out on the hill and be a lot of fun if the snow is relatively flat. However, be warned: if you take a slip and start to slide - is there a chance that slide could take you over the edge?” 

Heather added: “There are still large cornices (ledges of snow hanging over the edge of the cliff face) on Ben Nevis and many other Scottish Munros. Care should be taken to avoid these and stay on the rocky terrain – particularly in misty conditions when it might be difficult to see the edge.”

Tricky

The main tourist track up Ben Nevis from Glen Nevis is very well defined, but hill walkers should always be prepared with a map and compass. Across the summit plateau area where navigation can be more tricky, there is a line of large cairns to follow. Hill walkers are advised to follow the line of the cairns which will keep them out of danger and away from the corniced edges. 

Weather conditions may also change quite markedly between Fort William, at sea level, and the summit, at 1,334 metres (4,409 feet) and anyone considering making the ascent should check the weather forecast. Special forecasts for mountain conditions are available at the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) and an easy to understand graphic forecast specifically for Ben Nevis can be viewed here.

More information regarding navigation on Ben Nevis can be viewed on the MCofS website.

In addition a leaflet is available.  If you would like to get hold of one drop an email to Heather Morning.

 


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