I have had a couple of contrasting days on Ben Nevis recently working for Lochaber Guides. Today I took Odette and Jo-ann up Ledge route in what was to be a very wet and windy day. We made good time into the CIC Hut before having to use crampons and axes on the approach to the start of the route. We then managed to stay on (very greasy) rock right up until just after the crux step where crampons were again required. The march over the plateau was a bit of a battle and required compass and map to keep us right. At times the mist and snow gave almost white out conditions which unfortunately made Jo-ann to anxious to continue, we got to within 10 minutes of the summit before turning on our heels and heading back down the track. Even though Odette was disappointed as the day marked her 40th Birthday it was the right decision for Jo-ann, we were even treated to some dramatic views as the cloud swept over the plateau – there are still some huge cornices to be wary of!
In terms of weather last Monday was a completely different story as I walked Kay and Kurk up the main path. They were over visiting from Singapore and although they didn’t make the summit they did make the stone circle for what turned out to be a lovely spring day on Ben Nevis.
As per the norm there were a few folk wandering around the plateau today with little in the way of suitable equipment and most crying the same sentence – ‘which way is the summit?’ Its still nowhere near summer condition, my advice to aspiring Ben Nevis walkers would be to show caution and not to get themselves into serious trouble.