On the longest day of the year we woke to see fresh snow on the summit of Ben Nevis and down to about 1200m. Anyone up on top early to see the sunrise might have had quite a chilly time. High pressure is building out to the west so we have NW winds blowing on to Scotland. This means cold and wet conditions which brought us snow over night. Thankfully the clouds cleared this morning and we had a dry but still cold day on top.
The five new Trainee Volunteer Rangers (David, Cameron, Andrew, Scott and Jake) and I went up to the north side of Ben Nevis. This is a great oportunity for me to tell them just how amazing a place it is! We talked about the climbing history such as the hardest ice climb in the worl one hundred years was Green Gully on Ben Nevis climbed by Harrold Raeburn. It remained the hardest ice climb in the world for nearly thirty years. Currently the hardest trad winter climb in the world is on Ben Nevis. It's called Anubis and was first climbed by Dave MacLeod. Today we had a bit of snow in Number Five Gully which had formed some nice arches and undercut shapes for us to scramble underneath.
The scramble itself was dry and snow free. The wild flowers in the first couple of ledges are spectacular. Globe flowers, moss campion, sibaldia, rose root, dwarf cudweed, thrift and many others make a meadow (well, kind of) that you walk through after leaving Number Five Gully. The botany on Ben Nevis includes some of the rarest alpine/arctic flowers, grasses and sedges found in the UK. From the top of Carn Dearg we navigated to the top of Number Four Gully where the starwort mouse ear is in flower. We didn't go down into Number Four Gully to check out the saxifrages there but I'm sure they are doing fine.
Lots of people were walking to the top in shorts and light shirts. Down in the glen it was nice and warm in the sunshine but as soon as you get high on Ben Nevis the temperature is much lower (only just above freezing in the shade today) and the windchill makes it feel really quite cold. Don't get caught out up there over the next few days thinking it will be warm because the sun is shining. It's cold on top!
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.