© Craig Dubh Mountaineering 2018
+ 44 (0) 7738665418
Route: The Pony Track
Time: 8-12 hours
Meeting: Achintee, Fort William
Ben Nevis takes on a very different mantle in the winter. The hoardes of summer summitters disappear, and with good reason. The usually well distinguished, busily packed tourist track becomes covered in ice and snow, temperatures are harsh at best and on many winter days the wind is bitingly cold. To operate in this kind of environment you really have to have the right equipment and know how to use it. Many folk who ascend the Ben in summer in innapropriate footwear and clothing get away with it through luck. In winter, no such luck will prevail and it is essential that the decision to take on the UK's highest mountain, even by its usually benign Tourist Route, is not taken lightly.
The length of the route can also have a serious bearing on the success or failure of an attempt - if the route is covered in deep snow it will take much more effort to cover the distance. It is sound advice to ensure that you are fit and capable, as well as properly equipped, to take on such a task.
The summit plateaux in winter is a dangerous but exciting place to be. Navigation is an extremely important skill to have as you negotiate the yawning North Face and its multiple gullies, deeply corniced and threatening to swallow you up. Keeping on a safe bearing will get you to the summit cairn and shelter - which if you have completed the route in summer (recommended) you will notice are much closer to the ground because of the sheer volume of snow.
On some days, lucky ascentionists will be rewarded with glorious, snow capped views in all directions; light winds and crisp, consolidated snow. But more commonly you will be fighting the elements in a bid to grasp the summit in both hands and claim victory over the Ben!
The descent is just as long as the ascent, so be sure to have plenty of fluid and energy bars to keep you going with the thought of a warm hearth and a dram awaiting you at the bottom...
As with all guided days, the weather plays an important role in deciding if an ascent is safe or not. Your safety is paramount, and all measures will be taken to ensure you make it to the summit. However, if you don't then don't be downheartened - many a hardened party have been beaten back by the Ben. Remember, the mountain will be there another day - lets make sure you are too!
* For individuals or groups who have come recommended to me by another guide/instructor or who has previously attended a walk with me I can also offer the Carn Mor Dearg Arete as a potential option. Please contact me to discuss this.
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