A winter ascent of Britain’s highest mountain
Ben Nevis – 1,344m (4,408ft)
At 4,408ft (1344m) “The Ben” attracts far more snow than many, much higher, Alpine mountains, it is normal to find the massive summit triangulation post completely buried due to large deposits of snow each winter.
In the pictures below the 17ft high Summit Triangulation Point is shown on the left during “normal” autumn conditions and on the right during winter conditions. Note that only the top 3ft is protruding above the snow cap.
It must be stressed that a winter ascent of this major peak can not be approached as simply “a summer walk with snow”. It is vital that each participant is correctly equipped with all the paraphernalia of winter mountaineering. We will supply all equipment required i.e. Ice pick, Plastic Boots, Crampons, Rucksack, Waterproofs, Flask, etc. More importantly we will train you to use the specialised items.
This is a walk, there is no climbing involved. Winter mountaineering requires a certain amount of fitness although any normally active person should have no problems. We CAN NOT guarantee that you (or even the whole group) will reach the summit. We will start off with the intention of reaching the top but if, in the (non negotiable) opinion of the instructors, the weather or snow conditions means that it would be dangerous to continue, will we turn back. During 2003 all Winter Ascent groups reached the summit.
We start on Friday afternoon with a training session which it is essential that everyone attends.
Training on Friday afternoon will cover such things as navigation skills, rope work, emergency procedures etc.
The ascent will take place on Saturday, departure is on Sunday morning.
There is only so much we can achieve over a weekend such as this. So on the Winter Ascents we have a theme to the weekend. The theme this year will once again be navigation, this is an essential aspect of winter mountaineering. During last years events, on each of the three ascents we were involved in, there were extremely serious incidents (with other groups on the mountain) that were directly attributable to the “casualty’s” lack of navigation skills. Therefore we feel that this will be the most beneficial training we can offer over such a short period.
We have split the event down into a series of sections with each section being reliant on the others.
What do we want to achieve during the weekend?
1 We want to walk safely during winter conditions on Ben Nevis with the option of going all the way to the summit if conditions allow.
2 We want to achieve item 1 up the normal mountain track.
3 Even though the track will be under many feet of snow we still wish to follow it so as not to put ourselves in any danger from the surrounding cliffs.
To complete sections 1,2 and 3 we need to be able to navigate competently. This leads to the need for an aim; this being what we hope to achieve during the event, and an objective; this is what completing the aim will enable us to do.
Aim We want to learn to navigate
Objective To gain skills that will enable us to navigate competently on other hills and reach the summit of Ben Nevis.