The students on the Certificate in Outdoor Leadership Couirse at West Highland College were down to do a two day MTB expedition today and tomorrow. However, snow cover down to sea level, a temperature well below zero at sea level and ice forming everywhere it was decided that we should reconsider. So, instead, we made use of the exceptionally cold weather right now and started their winter walking training. This being the first day out walking in winter there was an element of faff before we got going. However, the team were on it and we got out to walk up Creag Dubh next to Roy Bridge pretty soon.
The snow covering everywhere down to sea level and we had a bit more last night. It's not that deep, th egrass and heather are sticking out the top of it still and the ground is not frozen underneath until you get up to about 600m. So we had a nice wade through soft snow on soft turf most of the way up to the top where we found the most expansive views of the glens and peaks in their winter coat. We put on the crampons and went for a stomp around, spotted some wind blown snow and discussed signs to se on the journey that there might be wind slab building, and generally looked after ourselves in the very cold weather.
The cold weather has of course been growing ice in all the drainage lines such as Beinn Udlaidh, Eilde Gorge, The Organ Pipes and gullies such as Waterfall Gully and Garadh Gully on Ben Nevis. The climbs are not fat by any standard but there is ice climbing to be enjoyed and we have a few more days of cold weather to enjoy yet to come.
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.