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Spring to winter March Update' 23


Bianca moving up Number 4 on Ben Nevis and getting a taste of Scottish Winter and its delights.

A change in the slightly early arrival of spring seems to be on the cards in the coming days. Although it has felt springlike I think it's important to remember that it's not actually spring and is still winter, at least for now. The temperatures are dropping as we enter March and with still a significant amount of snow still in place I am sure there is some more winter action to be had before April arrives. It's been a busy week or two with mix of skills and personal days in the mountains and visiting friends. A nice guided journey in the Cairngorms and a week on the West with a group of young people who certainly got a good week in with a big winter mountain day, scrambling on Gear Aonach and then rock climbing in Glencoe. Not your average trip for a group of youngsters and full credit to them for keeping up with it.

We have had some skills days in the Cairngorms where there seems to be a bit more snow on the ground than in the west at the moment. As I type this there is plenty falling with the avalanche forecast rising to considerable in the Cairngorms. There have been some great blue sky days with a settled high pressure over the Highlands over the last week or two giving indications that spring had arrived

We have had a great few days on the hill with Bianca and Rob who where out visiting from North Wales. I have known Bianca for many years since she was very young in fact. One memory which comes to mind was camping perhaps a decade ago with Bianca and her parents down on the banks of the Ewso Nyrro in Kenyas Laikipia. Nick her father who I have worked for for many years is the founder of Rift Valley Adventures. We spent the evening going round the campsite with a UV penlight looking for scorpions, Scorpions show up under a UV light, of which we found some, quite close to my tent I might add.

We hit the hills with a nice route up the Twin Ribs II and onto the Fiachaill Ridge to gain the Cairngorm plateau. A good introduction to Scottish winter climbing and scratching about on Cairngorm granite. We then headed to Ben Nevis which is in good shape despite a lean winter on the snow front. It seemed fitting that having done some Cairngorm granite that a gully would be the next thing to visit and headed to the Ben which hosts some of the best and aimed for Number 4 (video below). Jo was out with a friend also that day climbing a combo of Wendigo and Central gully on good ice. A grand outing in a grand setting, its an inspiring place the Northern side of Ben Nevis with its big ridges and deep gullies. It was a pretty wintry day with snow showers falling to sea level and plenty of spindrift blowing. We headed over to the summit which was very cold but gave good glimpses through to the Ardour hills, Mamores and Glen Coe. The season for the ill equipped seems to have begun already with quite a few people arriving at the snow level on the mountain track pondering whether their trainers would stick to the firm Neve. Leaving the Ben it was snowing to sea level and the hills getting whiter by the hour which is a good sight for pushing the season through March. This morning in Inverness its pretty white and cold and the Cairngorm ski road is on hold until cleared so a definite return to winter.

WILD PATH MOUNTAIN GUIDES NEWS

I have had a general tidy up, perhaps an early spring clean on the website and adjusted it hopefully to a cleaner format. There has been an addition which is the resource and online learning page which you can view here. Hopefully this will build over time with articles and instructional videos. I have put a few on there to get it started and shall post more as time goes on.

As mentioned the ill equipped season is about to begin on Ben Nevis, we are available for guided winter ascents to its summit. For those arriving in the Highlands its understandable looking up from Glen Nevis at the mountain track that an ascent to the summit would be a simple walk sticking to the track up and down. But what the eye doesn't see is the hard icy snow pack that starts at the top of the Zig Zags or lower. The summit area is riddled with traps for the unaware and a slip on hard icy snow would have serious consequences. We can offer a day trip to the summit with the necessary skills coached on the move to get you safely up and down. for further details have a look at our Ben Nevis Winter Page.

Jo descending off the summit area on Ben Nevis, no place for trainers at the moment or the ill equipped.

We are looking forward to the spring and have a full range of summer mountaineering instruction and guidance available click here for the summer menu.

Scrambling in February in Glencoe?? The climate is indeed changing



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