If you haven't heard yet, there is an amazing depth of soft snow covering the mountains of Scotland right now. Yesterday some people were turned back from Ben Nevis at the Red Burn due to a big cornice running up and down the far side of the gully that holds the burn. With 50cm of windslab sitting on a 10cm thick layer of grauple in the slope underneath the cornice they decided not to try to bash a way through. Ben Nevis will always be there and it is best to come back on another day rather than push on regardless of the hazard in front of you. It's the first time I have heard of Ben Nevis being impossible due to the volume of snow and a cornice at the half way point but that's what is so fun about Scottish winters. You never know what you're going to get!
So instead of Ben Nevis we had two Abacus Mountain Guides teams walk up Beinn a'Chaorainn, a brilliant Munro just past Roy Bridge on the way to Laggan. The normal access is from Roughburn and the first top is climbed by a south west facing ridge. Since this ridge faces the wind we have had that brought all the recent snow we thought it would be well enough scoured to walk up. Once on the summit ridge the soft sbnow shopuld not be too heavy going as well. This worked out reasonably but there was still quite an element of trail breaking to get up to the tops. We are certainly earning our dinner these days. We'll all have very well trained legs by the end of the winter!
It was a breezy day with some cloud and a few showers but also some very nice clear spells to wenjoy the views. Tomorrow will be slightly warmer with a thaw to much higher levels than recently and with some light rain. This will settle the snow pack and firm it up slowly, especially when it cools down again next week, so that hopefully we will not need to do quite so much wading.
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.