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rock climbing and mountaineering courses with alec roberts mic
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Ben Nevis in winter

A winter ascent of Ben Nevis is a challenge sought after by many walkers, climbers and mountaineers in the UK, and although in summer it can be nothing more than a long walk, in poor conditions or in winter it should be treated with respect; with changing weather and snow conditions along with short daylight hours, even the easiest way to the summit requires good mountaineering skills.

For an enjoyable and successful ascent it is best to be fully prepared for the Scottish winter environment - with an early start, good crampon technique, efficient movement and the right equipment all helping to give a truly memorable experience.

I have been lucky enough to ascend Ben Nevis in it's many different moods, often accompanied by clients who have shared with me the challenge and rewards this unique mountain adventure has to offer.

Itineraries usually follow a one or two day schedule:

Two day ascent: For those with limited mountain experience.

Day one is used as an introduction, with a kit check, an introduction to the terrain, a look at ice axe / cramponing skills and the style of mountaineering required for a winter ascent.

Day two has an early start, with the options of ascending via the path from Glen Nevis, the more challenging approach via the Allt a'Mhuilinn and Coire Leis, or via the Carn Mhor Dearg Arete, depending on ability and experience.

One day ascent: Suited to those with summer walking or climbing experience, with the added skills and equipment of winter added as the day progresses.

Route options would include the Glen Nevis path, the more challenging approach via the Allt a'Mhuilinn and Coire Leis, or via the Carn Mhor Dearg Arete, depending on ability and experience.

Most winter ascents take advantage of the best conditions in March, although good conditions can occur in other months ( from November to May ! ) - please see the calendar for scheduled trips; or drop me a line if you have suggestions of your own.
I can supply all technical equipment including boots, crampons, ice axe, harness, helmet - although you are welcome to bring your own.You have the option of joining an open group run at a maximum ratio of 1:4 or making a private booking where the ratio and itinerary is flexible.

Ben Nevis information

This trip is based on a one or two day itinerary, with an introductory first day for those of limited mountain experience. Local transport and all technical equipment is included in the course fee.

Transport links:

Our meeting point is in Fort William, and transport from here is included in the fee.

Trains to Fort William can be found at:
http://www.directrail.com/trains_to_fort_william.html
and coach travel to Fort William via:
http://www.nationalexpress.com
http://www.citylink.co.uk/index.php

Accommodation:

As a popular tourist destination, the Fort William area has many options for accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets including good campsites ( although camping in winter can be tough! ) chalets, bunkhouses, Youth Hostels, B&B’s, self catering cottages and hotels, all can be found on :

http://www.visitscotland.com/guide/where-to-stay/

After an introduction and kit check, we will use the first day to look at ice axe / crampon technique and moving on snow at a suitable venue ( often making use of the cable car on Aonach Mhor or the mountains of Glencoe )  An early night is recommended as day two involves an early start. We hope to be under way by first light, giving us every opportunity to complete the ascent and be off the mountain before darkness.

You will need:

Waterproof Jacket - full weight breathable model preferred
Base Layer
Light fleece top + warm fleece jacket or softshell or insulated jacket
Trousers and waterproof overtrousers or salopettes 
Hat or Balaclava - must fit under a helmet
Warm Ski Gloves – Spare pair just in case one gets wet and / or:
Spare Mittens - especially if you suffer from cold hands.
Socks – calf length, loop stitched with high wool content.
Gaiters
Ski goggles ( can be supplied )
Sunglasses
Suncream
Rucsac 30-35 litres
Waterbottle and / or thermos flask
Headtorch
Personal medications + blister kit
Camera
Packed lunch for the mountain days.

Technical equipment ( can be supplied at no extra cost )

Winter Mountaineering “B2 /B3” Boots – crampon compatible
Harness
Climbing Helmet
C2 / C3 Crampons (preferably with anti-balling plates)
Ice Axe / axes
Long sling + locking karabiner

If you already have any personal equipment, bring it along - this will help with familiarity with your gear and give us the opportunity to discuss the pro's and con's of different equipment.

Although I have Public Liability insurance to the value of £ 5M, you may wish to purchase personal accident, and travel insurance as you think necessary ! Packages which include insurance for climbing and other mountain activities are available from:
www.thebmc.co.uk

What is included:

Technical equipment – boots, ice axes, crampons.
I have a selection of other equipment available – Please let me know if you need anything else e.g rucsac etc. – especially if you are intending to buy any equipment for the course.
Boot hire is also available from :
http://www.ellis-brigham.com/fort-william.htm

The ‘Scottish Winter Mountains’ have an international reputation as an area of unique mountain environments, with their own challenges and rewards to the mountaineer, this expedition will hopefully give you an experience of these these beautiful and challenging mountains.

Recommended reading:

There are a great many sources of information for the topics covered on the trip, I would recommend the following:

Scotlands Winter Mountains – Martin Moran – ISBN 0715307940
Winterskills – Andy Cunnignham / Allen Fyffe – ISBN 0954151135
Chance in a million – Bob Barton / Blyth Wright – ISBN 0907521592
Winter climbing + by Neil Gresham / Ian Parnell – ISBN 9781873341964

or drop me a line if you have any queries: alec@guidedmountain.co.uk

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