Scottish winter climbing is world renowned for its adventure and quality of experience. Nowhere is it better than on Ben Nevis. So popular and well known is Ben Nevis, that climbers from all parts of the globe can be heard calling to each other while enjoying the unique style of climbing found here. The traditional approach to climbing is strongly maintained and the history of the climbs is well remembered. Modern ice climbing was developed here and that heritage adds greatly to the modern day climbing experience.
Harold Raeburn made the first ascent of Green Gully just over one hundred years ago which remained the hardest ice climb in the world for early 30 years. In his expedition report he apologised for not being able to climb the main objective, Comb Buttress, and being forced to go for the lesser objective of the gully running up its side. He was a man very far ahead of his time and his ice axe plays a significant role in the Scottish Mountaineering Club to this day.
In the winter of 1960 Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith completed the most significant week of climbing ever achieved in Scotland. Orion Direct, Smith's Route, Minus Two Gully and the first single day and free ascent of Point Five Gully were amongst the seven climbs they completed on consecutive days. All of this was achieved with a single ice axe each and crampons with no front points. Jimmy Marshall is renowned as the master of climbing ice by step cutting and was the main driver behind the amazing week of first ascents he made in 1960 with Robin Smith, often referred to as
"The Pinnacle" of the step cutting era.
Ten years later in 1970 Yvon Chouinard made a brief visit which was to trigger a change that would revolutionise winter climbing. Using prototype curved ice hammers he made some very fast ascents demonstrating how to climb ice by direct aid, hanging off the pick itself embedded in the ice. Comparing techniques with John Cunningham, Hamish MacInnes and many others, modern ice climbing was born.
That year Hamish MacInnes developed "The Terrordactyl", a short, all metal ice tool with a steeply dropped pick. The "Terror" and Chouinard's ice hammer dominated the forefront of international ice climbing for several years. Eventually these two designs were combined to create the banana pick which is still the basis for modern ice tool design. Today, nearly fifty years on from The Terrordactyl, we are still using the same techniques. It's no exaggeration to say that modern ice climbing technique was developed in Lochaber and Hamish MacIness was at the forefront of this.
Currently, the hardest naturally protected winter mixed climb in the world is on Ben Nevis - Anubis, climbed by Dave MacLeod. Ben Nevis has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years and is now again at the forefront of winter climbing. By continuing to be the venue for cutting edge climbs with the style of climbing and protection we’ve used for over one hundred years, Ben Nevis is setting a worldwide standard for climbing and continues to produce some of the finest climbers in the world. Our style of adventurous climbing is now seeing a resurgence in other countries and our ethos of mountaineering is worth defending.
The last few days of mild weather has stripped away a lot of the snow cover that we had, but the cold weather has finally returned!
John booked to do CMD Arete and he could not have picked a better day for it. The snow had returned to give the mountains a fresh dusting, the winds were calm and the high clouds cleared away to beautiful sunshine.
After reaching the summit of Carn Mor Dearg we were joined by two snow buntings who proceeded to follow us along the ridge for a bit before they gave up scrounging for food and left us too it. With the fresh snowfall and a fair amount of rime, progress along the ridge is not swift and care should be taken, but the final climb up onto the summit of Ben Nevis was aided by the odd patch of neve which had survived the thaw.
We had a sunny Ben Nevis summit to ourselves which is a very rare treat, then descended the zig-zags. Down to about 1000 metres there is plenty of firm snow and below that it was very icy and slippery - probably the hardest part of the day!
It looks like another stunning day tomorrow so enjoy it if you're getting out there!
If the rest of the winter carries on like this I'll be made up! I've had two days out now, both in amazing weather, cold, clear and calm. If anything, today was even better than Wednesday last week, made better again by climbing with Cathy. We went for NE Buttress on Ben Nevis, a total classic and the route that dominates the skyline as you walk up the Allt a'Mhuilinn. There's no problem finding this route, it's the really obvious ridge reaching up into the sky right in front of you!
It has stayed really cold but there has been no fresh snow fall. Where there is some watwr dripping down the cliffs it has been freezing into cascade ice. In fact there is a lot of it on the path just below the CIC Hut from the water pipe splashes. Waterfall Gully would just about go I think and there is a significant amount of ice on the higher pitches of Gemini. The Lower Carn Dearg Cascades could be good for some low level ice climbing action as well.
With no thaw freeze to transform the snow into snow-ice, it is soft and useless for climbing on. NE Buttress was quite tricky as a result with some very tenuous sections. It is better (easier anyway) with some snow-ice in the grooves and corners but Cathy is a mixed master climber and we made very good progress moving together for long sections and throwing in a few pitches at the hard sections. There is a hard pitch below the Man Trap, a very tenuous wall with slopy ledges, very poor hooks and no protection. A bit of solid snow-ice transforms it into a wee pull over but today it was quite challenging. The Man Trap was fine though since the cracks are free of ice, and the Forty Foot Corner was quite hard.
All day long we were treated to the most stunning vista of mountains from Schiehallion to Skye, Ben Wyvis to Ben Cruachan. The Cairngorms obviously have a lot more snow than we do on the west coast and Glen Coe does not have that much at all. The mixed climbing on Ben Nevis is very good though with a nice coating of rime that makes everything white but it easy to clear away. Take care though, with no snow-ice some of the blocks are not held in place at all. We might get a bit of consolidation later this week as the temperature rises slightly. It's not looking like a mega thaw by any means though, the trend is still pretty cold.
What a wonderful day we had in Scotland today. A ridge of high pressure brought calm, cold and sunny weather after a really good freeze. I was keen to see what's been happening on the crags so I went for a wee wander up Tower Ridge to have a look. It looked amazing!
It has been cold now for three weeks and the ground is pretty well frozen. The Halfway Lochan has ice right over it, the ground is quite well frozen all the way down to 300m and the bits of turf on the crags seem to be frozen too. The compacted snow on the path is hard and icy so it would be worth having crampons if you are walking up. There is ice forming in the usual drainage lines with a spring above, such as Waterfall Gully, Compression Cracks and the Lower Cascades underneath Carn Dearg Buttress. None of these is fat enough to climb yet though.
The snow is a bit crusty and walking is heavy going in places. There are a few very small patches of old hard snow but most of it is dry and not very helpful. The wind has been blowing from the north west so the tops of the big gullies are scoured, with no snow in them at all. However, the buttresses are all very well rimed up and frozen. The rime is dry and easy to clear away as well, and the cracks do not have ice in them, so mixed climbing is very good right now. All the steep routes on Number Three Gully Buttress and Creag Coire na Ciste looked brilliant.
On Tower Ridge, the snow is not very helpful and it covers up all the useful bits of rock, so the climbing is quite tricky. Normal early season conditions! If you know the route well you should get on fine, otherwise it will be a slow climb. My boot prints from today might help though! And when the weather is as nice as it was today, there's no real rush! Cold weather is forecast to stay with us right into next week. It's been a great start to the winter, getting the ground really well frozen before too much snow comes. We're now ready for snow and some storms with thaw freeze cycles to build some lovely snow-ice.
Last year I described the different types of ice climb we enjoy in Scotland, and what is required for them to form. As it turned out, very little ice formed last year at all! So, this time, let's look at mixed climbs. We've already had the first few ascents of mixed climbs of this winter. Here's what to look out for when it gets cold again.
Mixed climbing has always been pursued in Scotland but it has become more popular in the last couple of decades. Whereas in ice climbing there is a limit to how hard it gets due to the nature of how ice forms, in mixed climbing there is virtually no limit. What is possibly the hardest naturally protected winter climb in the world is found on Ben Nevis; Anubis, climbed by Dave MacLeod and repeated twice since. Greg Boswell McInnes made the third ascent in 2019, a particularly poor winter for climbing. This illustrates the attraction of mixed climbing, that good climbing conditions can form quickly and there is ample opportunity for a challenging climb!
In the same way as with ice climbing, judging the nature of the climbing conditions is a tricky job and one that demands dedication, time and many attempts, both successful and unsuccessful. Once you know what to look for and how the recent weather affects the climbs, you will be able to make better decisions.
Mixed climbs need to be white and frozen to be in generally acceptable condition. Dry tooling is not acceptable on Scottish crags away from some low level training crags. In the mountains, the crag needs to be be wintry in appearance, white with snow or rime and frozen. This is the ethical approach that has developed over many years and is peculiar to Scotland. Many foreign climbers are baffled by these restrictions, but we abide by them to maintain the quality of experience and so that we are all playing by the same rules. Waiting until the crag is properly frozen also protects turf from excessive damage.
Different types of mixed climbs might be termed snowed up rock climbs, turfy mixed climbs or true mixed climbs on which a mixture of rock, turf, snow and ice is experienced. All of these types of route need to be well frozen to give good climbing.
Snowed Up Rock Climbs.
Snowed up rock climbs can freeze first due to being mostly made of solid rock. Even so, blocks, chockstones and flakes need to be frozen in place, and this takes a couple of weeks of sub-zero conditions at the start of the winter. They often make a good choice for the first climbs of the winter season because they are first to freeze, don’t require any thaw freeze cycles and can offer reasonable protection.
“Snowed up rock climb” is actually an unhelpful name for this style of climb. It is rime that is more effective at making the climb white and that will provide better climbing conditions. Rime is a type of ice crystal that grows on any surface exposed to humid air being blown onto it in a sub-zero temperature. It is often seen on fence posts and, perhaps confusingly, grows into the wind. So, you need a wind blowing cloud on to the crag and the temperature to be below zero. No snow fall is required at all. After a westerly gale, choose a crag that faces west and has been in the cloud.
The best conditions in which I’ve climbed snowed up rock have included really well frozen rocks and a light rime of a couple of centimetres that is easily brushed away to reveal (hopefully) cracks and ledges underneath. The crag was totally white at the start of the day but the climbs were brushed free of rime by climbers on various routes.
Delicate dry rime can fall off the crag in a strong wind and is likely to fall off in very dry, cold air. This means that the crag can be white one day but black the next day despite the temperature staying below zero. Once the crag is out of the cloud the rime will start to deteriorate. Sunshine will also strip rime from the rocks faster than you can climb them!
However, rime can grow to be a metre deep and turns very icy if it experiences thaw freeze cycles. The summit observatory ruins on Ben Nevis often have incredibly thick rime ice all over them in March that has built up over the previous three or four months and survived many thaw freeze cycles. This is not good to find if you want to climb the rock underneath. In thick, icy rime, it can be a monumental struggle to clear the rime off the rocks for the whole pitch.
Thaw freeze cycles will also create dribbles of water that run into cracks and refreeze. Iced up cracks are a problem; finding pick placements can be very hard and uncovering protection incredibly tiring. Snowed up rock climbs are best early in the season when the cracks are still clear of ice and the rime is light and fluffy.
Snow fall can also make a crag white in appearance. Cold, dry snow will not stick to the rocks. It will pile up on ledges making the crag look white from above but not from below. If the snow is a bit wet (this happens when the temperature is at or not far below freezing) it can stick to the rocks and make the whole crag go white. This wet snow can also freeze into an unhelpful icy crust which is hard to clear from the rocks when you are climbing.
Some snow on the ledges is very often a helpful thing to have on all mixed climbs, including snowed up mixed routes, especially once this snow has transformed into solid snow ice after a freeze thaw cycle.
Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor, Crest Route on Stob Coire nan Lochan, Slab Route and Gargoyle Wall on Ben Nevis are all excellent snowed up rock climbs.
Turfy Mixed Climbs.
Turf freezes slowly. Small tufts of turf freeze first and freeze most quickly when they are exposed to a cold wind. Wind chill affects the crag in the same way as it affects us when we are exposed to the wind. Big patches of turf can take many weeks to freeze properly but can be damaged or even completely removed from the crag if they are climbed over before they are frozen.
However, once properly frozen, turf will stay frozen through some quite substantial periods of thaw. It will hold water in a thaw which will dribble down below the turf and freeze into ice of one sort or another in the refreeze. So, turfy mixed climbs can become really quite icy over the course of the winter. There is nothing more satisfying than placing a pick in a solid, icy lump of turf!
Turf commonly holds snow on top of it which is transformed into snow ice with thaw freeze cycles. So, turfy mixed climbs quite often turn into true mixed climbs over the course of a good winter, with a mixture of turf, rock, ice and snow ice.
Turfy mixed climbs, like any mixed climbs, should look wintry and white. Rime and snow should cover the rocks. There is an argument that only the turf needs to be frozen and icy, that the rocks don’t need to be white as well since they are not used for the climbing. This is mostly the case on sandstone crags found in the far North West and is also a matter of opinion. It would be easier to say that all mixed climbs need to be white and wintry in appearance with the rocks covered in rime or snow.
Morwind is a very good turfy mixed climb on Aonach Mor which changes in character to a true mixed climb and can actually form so much snow ice that you don’t need to use the rock at all. Thompsons Route on Ben Nevis is the same but it requires some snow ice to be formed before it is fun to climb whereas Morwind is good fun as a turfy mixed climb with no snow ice. Taliballan on Stob Coire nan Laoigh is a wonderful turfy mixed climb that turns into a brilliant true mixed climb with varying amounts of ice and snow ice depending on the nature of the storms of the winter.
True Mixed Climbs.
Those routes that demand a specific combination of snowed up rock, frozen turf and ice of various kinds are true mixed climbs. Being so specific in nature and requiring the perfect combination of factors in the weather over the course of a couple of months, these are highly sought after climbs.
Gemini and The Shield Direct on Ben Nevis are perhaps the best examples. The first few pitches are on steep ice formed by melting snow patches above providing water to freeze into cascade ice. This is followed by a mixture of snowed up rock, snow ice and little bits of turf in the upper pitches.
So, now you know what is required to form good mixed climbing conditions, hopefully you will have more success in finding them. You still need to know or to assess the nature of each climb (if it is a snowed up rock route, turfy or true mixed climb) to determine whether it will be a good choice on any given day of climbing. For the moment, you'll need to work this out by yourself.
After the October holidays it was very nice to come back to some snowy mountains in Scotland. It turned cold on Friday morning and we were treated to a light cover of snow on the tops above 600m. It has stayed cold and we had further snow yesterday but today stayed mostly dry and it was less windy. Sunshine burst through the clouds and lit up the brilliant colours of the mountain sides, topped with a bright white sprinkling of snow. It was a beautiful day today and I got to enjoy it with Hannah, Katie and Katie on the Pink Rib of Beinn a'Chrualaste.
This lovely little scramble was perfect for little legs today. The two Katies are quite young so this was a perfect size of objective. We just went up the scramble without going to the summit of the corbett so we had time for a hot chocolate in the Kingshouse Hotel afterwards. The autumn is such a good time of year on crisp, bright days like today. Scrambling is a fantastic way to enjoy these days too. And getting our young people out spending quality time in nature and the big wild landscape is super important.
There’s a book I’d like you to read. It’s called “In Praise of Walking” by Shane O’Mara. Don’t be put off by the evangelical sounding title; it’s a fascinating read, very well referenced and backed up by scientific research, all about the astounding benefits of going for a walk.
For example, it describes a study on an Italian man who walked 1300km of the Via Alpina, along the line of the Alps, over three months. Along the way he recorded a wide range of physiological markers through taking blood and other means. There were positive changes in virtually every single measured area of his functioning including a drop on body mass index of 10%, a reduction of measured body fat as a percentage of total weight of about one quarter, a 75% decrease in triglycerides thought to underlie some forms of heart and cardiovascular disease and an increase in production in heart loving fats called high-density lipoproteins. Other studies have shown that this was not a one-off case, it works for everyone. The message is, if you need to lose weight, go for a really, really long walk, over a few weeks, ideally through nature.
To me, this was no surprise, but one other thing really jumped out at me from this book. It’s about the idea that the natural environment has profound restorative effects on our wellbeing. “Attention Restoration Theory” tells us that the human experience of the natural world markedly assists in maintaining and fostering a strong sense of subjective wellbeing.
Modern day life in our urban, man-made environments, increases mental fatigue, stress and anxiety. Restoration of feelings of calm, relaxation, revitalisation and refreshment can be achieved by spending time in a natural environment. For it to be most effective, a natural environment should have three critical elements;
Removal from Normal Life
I’ve often said to people, hillwalking and mountaineering are like meditation. We are removed physically and mentally from our every day lives. We get so involved in the moment, in the activity and its demands on us, that we very often forget all about our normal worries and anxieties. The more we are challenged by the activity, the less cognitive bandwidth we have for anything else. It’s only when we get back home that we remember about the outstanding bills, the anxiety caused by our work or any number of things that cause our mental fatigue.
Fascinating Sensory Elements
It’s really obvious that our mountains are full of astounding visual and sensory elements that are fascinating, beautiful, full of wonder and surprising. Over the last few years I have increased my knowledge of the natural environment massively, especially through projects such as The North Face Survey on Ben Nevis. It’s also clear to me that there is a never-ending supply of new knowledge to gain, new insights to understand and new things to see. This understanding of the very small things in our landscape makes my enjoyment of the vast scale of the landscape even more rewarding.
It Should Be Expansive
By exploring the mountains that surround us in Scotland we get to feel the immense scale of the landscape, the power of the weather, and the never-ending nature of wildness, that can give us a proper sense of scale. In a blizzard on a summit with numb fingers and an unrelenting wind, when we have to take a bearing on our compass to walk off safely there is nobody else we can turn to, nobody else we can blame if we get it wrong, and no sympathy in the weather or the landscape. It is a good reminder that each of us is not at the centre of things with the world revolving around us. We need to learn some humility and to take responsibility for ourselves. This is surely the expansive nature of the experience that is required to make its restorative effects most profound.
This is why I am passionate about spending time on our mountains. It maintains our physical health, it restores our mental health and it can have a profound influence on our spiritual well-being. It can counter the self-centred focus that modern day life has on us all. In these days of global climate change, an obesity epidemic, mental ill health and disconnectedness from nature, one solution is simple.
Go for a walk, preferably a long one and immerse yourself in nature!
Last week Sally and I had the pleasure of passing five new Summer Mountain Leaders, qualifying them to lead people in the mountains of the UK, to inspire them, educate them and to look after them. Dan, Holly, Andrew, Isla and Jamie did a great job all week of demonstrating all the skills required by Mountain Training to become mountain leaders. We're delighted to have this new crop of leaders and we know they will carry on to do a brilliant job.
The first day was all about managing accidents and incidents, mountain rescue and improvised rescue, medical conditions, hypothermia and water hazards. It was a nice day and we were very happy to go for a wade in the river Nevis after a few hours of walking! The water is quite warm at this time of year so it was not too uncomfortable at all. There are skills you need to cross streams safely and you can give a lot of support to your group as well.
Next up we had a leadership day in Glencoe on which we covered leadership in many different types of terrain, including route choice and safeguarding people in steep and broken ground. We went in towards Coire nan Lochan but crossed the stream to go up underneath Barn Wall and into the small coire between Barn Wall and Far Eastern Buttress. Here we got a rope out for the candidates to demonstrate their emergency ropework to safeguard people down a longer section of steep, scrambling type terrain. Afterwards we went to the summit of Aonach Dubh before heading back to the path and back to base to prepare for the expedition.
These five day assessments have a three day expedition in them. It's so nice to spend three days out in wild places, walking up beautiful peaks, especially at this time of year with the autumn colours coming out. This time we went to the two Easain munros next tio Loch Treig. We started from Fersit and walked over both peaks before going down to find a nice camp site bove the Lairig Leacach bothy. After dinner we spent some hours walking around in heavy rain and mist, on a very dark night, finding small contour features by pacing and following compass bearings. It was quite intense!
Next day we took down the tents and went to walk up Meall Mor, Meall a'Bhuiridh and Stob Ban before returning to the bothy to cook dinner and to camp close by. This area feels so far away from anywhere! There is no sign of anything man made at all, just seemingly endless mountains filled with the sound of the stags roaring at each other in the rut.
The candidates planned the final day of walking to get us back to the van at a set time and to include a nioce route to get there. We went over Cnap Cruin, a lovely wee hill, and got back right on time. Well done to all five new mountain leaders, Sally and I had a lovely week with you all and we wish you every success in the futre.
It's been a bit wet recently and tricky to work out which the drier days will be. Today I think Justin and I got it right. We were due to try Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis yesterday but the forecast for today was slightly better. Then the forecast changed for the worse and it looked like we would get a wet day today. As it turned out, we got really quite a nice day. You just have to give it go anyway and hope for the best sometimes.
We put on waterproofs right at the start but the walk in along the Allt a'Mhuilinn was quite dry and we had some great views of the clouds lifting off the summit. The ridge was sparkling in a little sunshine as we climbed out of Douglas Gap and there was blue sky above. A bank of cloud rolled up into Coire na Ciste as we climbed The Little Tower and this marked the start of the change of wind direction from south westerly to northerly. By the time we got to the top the temperature was dropping and the north wind was picking up quickly.
So, of course, we got sunshine on the way down! We were ready for anything though, including snow, and we got a whole mixture. Tower Ridge is always great though and we had a fantastic climb, Justin's first time on Ben Nevis and a brilliant way to reach the top.
It's strange how big lumps of rock and ice can generate such strong emotions within us. The Matterhorn is a world icon, a mountain that inspires, dominates and entices us despite its threatening scale and presence towering over Zermatt and the Hornli Hut. It's a real mountain but still just a lump of rock and ice. Climbing it will no longer mark you down in history but the personal journey that takes you there is an emotional roller coaster, full of highs and lows of equal scale to the mountain. This is exactly how it was for Marc and I am delighted to have been able to help him achieve one of his big ambitions.
Marc and his wife Helen climbed Mont Blanc many years ago with me. We had pretty tough weather on the day and they both did a great job of reaching the summit. Marc has been to many adventurous parts of the world and is an experienced trekker. Climbing the Matterhron was a step up from what he normally takes on though and we needed to do some training and acclimatisation before the big climb.
Our first day out of Zermatt was up to the Kleine Matterhorn. We walked across the south side of the Breithorn to the foot of the SW Ridge of Pollux. We were both feeling great, despite the sudden exposure to the altitude of 3800m. Often this is really quite a big impact on people but we were both getting on fine so we decided to climb Pollux. The scrambling on the SW Ridge is really nice and there is a short section with fixed chains to get round a steep tower. A narrow snow crest leads up to the summit, a snowy top surounded by the giant Zermatt peaks. With one 4000m peak done on the first day we were very happy when we got down to the wonderful Guides d'Ayas Hut for the night.
For our second day we went for Castor, a slightly higher peak, this time climbed all on snow and ice with a beautiful narrow crest at the top. An early start got us to the top before the sun got round to our side to soften the snow. There was an icy section on the way up that was quite delicate on the way back down and we were grateful to be past this before the snow got soggy in the afternoon heat. It has been a very warm summer in the Alps and the glaciers and faces are showing little snow cover left now at the end of the summer season. Walking around the glaciers, even at this high altitude, was nerve wracking going over narrow and thin snow bridges over enormous crevasses.
The icy conditions heled us to decide to take on the full Breithorn Traverse for our last day of training. It is possible to start the traverse half way along but it looked easier to get on to the end of the ridge at Roccia Nera. Doing the first half of the traverse adds another 2 hours to the day but we'd had a nice early start and the weather was perfect. Narrow snow crests are interspersed with interesting rocky peaks with steep abseils along the ridge. Once we got to the more popular half traverse it was all on rock for a long way with beautiful scrambling on great rock in a super spectacular place. We got to the top of the Breithorn feeling great and feeling ready for The Matterhorn.
It's important to build in rest days to your Alpine programme. Marc and I went down to Zermatt for lots of food and a very good night's sleep at the Youth Hostel. If you want to find clean and simple accommodation with all the facilities you need and a very good breakfast, plus an amazing view of The Matterhorn, the Youth Hostel is hard to beat. After a night here and a gentle amble up to the Hornli Hut we were in the right place at the right time for our climb.
The hut was only half full so it was not too busy at the start of the climb. There was also a staggered start so the Zermatt Guides could get ahead and the rest of us were not left standing at the first steep section waiting for 10 or 15 minutes. Even so, Marc and I felt the pressure and headed off a bit too fast in the first hour. It's so easy to get caught up in the rush and push too hard. We settled to a nice pace for us and enjoyed a spectacular sunrise just before we got to the Solvay Hut for a rest and a bite to eat.
We put on our crampons at the foot of the fixed ropes and managed to get past all the racing snakes already on their way down without too much fuss. The snow cover was just right and the weather was perfect with no wind at all and a little warm sunshine through the high level cloud to keep us warm but not too hot. We got to the summit and shared the moment with a group of French guides and climbers who were just as delighted to be there as we were. Sometimes everything does come together very nicely and this is how it was for Marc and me this time. The weather, climbing conditions, training and acclimatisation all came together at the same time to give us a brilliant climb and a very important summit for us. Well done Marc, great climbing.
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.