Following the recent avalanches on Ben Nevis, the Scottish government have taken the unprecedented step of issuing a temporary ban on climbers wishing to attempt routes on the infamous North-East face. A parliament spokesman said they had taken advice from the Lochaber Mountain Rescue team who had voiced major safety concerns about the current state of the snowpack. He also stressed that the ban is initially for this weekend only and will be reviewed on Monday based on the weather conditions.
Although all routes on the North-East face will be off limits, walkers will still be permitted to climb Ben Nevis via either the tourist path, Carn Mor Dearg arete or Coire Leis.
Police officers from Fort William are planning to use the CIC hut as a base for the weekend and, weather permitting, will patrol in small groups at the bottom of the main gulleys. Police Sergeant William Rogers said they didn't expect any trouble but were prepared to escort climbers off the mountain if they ignored the ban.
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) has reported the weekend avalanche risk as Category 3 (the worst possible) as several melt-freeze cycles followed by the recent humid conditions has created a moist, unstable snowpack.
Double avalanche on Ben Nevis -
A double avalanche hit Ben Nevis on Wednesday.
In the first incident, a pair of climbers were swept 250 feet down Gardyloo Gully. One sustained multiple leg fractures while the other escaped unhurt. The injured man was taken to the CIC hut by Lochaber Mountain Rescue before being airlifted to hospital.
Shortly after the first avalanche, the rescue team were called to another, this time in No2 Gully, where two climbers had to be taken to hospital.
There was a similar avalanche in No 2 Gully at the beginning of February where two groups of climbers escaped uninjured. Remember to check the latest avalanche forecast before setting off...
There is a related thread over at ukweatherworld.co.uk.
Met Office withdraw Mountaincall - Monday, March 27, 2006
The Met Office are to end their fax/phone mountain weather service due to lack of demand.
Mountaincall delivers 2 forecasts per day for 4 regions (West Highlands, East Highlands, Snowdonia and the Lake District) to those willing to pay the premium rate call charges. The growing popularity of the free service from the Mountain Weather Information Service appears to be the main reason for the downturn in the number of mountaineers using Mountaincall.
The service will end on Friday 28 April 2006.
New Functionality - Sunday, March 26, 2006
Recently, the site has been somewhat neglected due to the decent weather. As the weekend forecast was predicting clag, we thought it was time to add some new functionality:
Ok, it doesn't sound like much but somehow it took the entire weekend to implement! Oh, and we also uploaded our new merchant's entire list of prices. Just noticed they are doing a good deal on the Berghaus Explorers (£56).
Photo by G. Kennedy
Buachaille has Itchy Feet ! - Wednesday, March 22, 2006
We're delighted to now be displaying prices from Itchy Feet - a travel gear company founded and run by outdoor enthusiasts Nancy and John Coppock. Their first store was opened in Bath over 7 years ago and they have since opened another in London as well as dedicating more resources to their online operation - ItchyFeet.com. When you visit the website, it's obvious they supply customers with a more personal service than the bigger outdoor companies. Also, it's great to buy gear from people who actually use the equipment themselves!
Itchy Feet stock a wide range of brands including some of the harder to find top names such as Mountain Hardware, Patagonia, Icebreaker and La Sportiva. In addition to this, they also cover the usual suspects - North Face, Salomon, Scarpa, Berghaus etc.
A few deals that caught our eye today:
Ladies Berghaus Heated Gilet - £199.99 down to £150.00
Mountain Hardwear Velocity Pants - £119.99 down to £89.99
Patagonia Puffski Jacket - £229.99 down to £160.01
Ladies Patagonia R4 Jacket - £189.99 down to £150.00
Weekend in Fort William - Monday, March 06, 2006
A late start on Saturday meant that plans to do Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis were abandoned in favour of a wander up to the CIC hut then the Carn Mor Dearg arete. The snow was good but unfortunately when we reached the ridge the clouds were down and there was a fair amount of spindrift. We toyed with the idea continuing on to Ben Nevis but instead decided to cut down to Glen Nevis by traversing Allt Coire Giubhsachan. The 7km walk up to the Glen Nevis hostel was accelerated by thoughts of a drying room and Abrosia Rice! On reflection, we should have picked a hill further south as the poorer weather appeared to start north of Glen Nevis. When driving through Tyndrum and Glencoe in the morning, the conditions were much better.
On Sunday, we left the hostel early and picked up the West Highland Way track running south to Kinlochleven. About 0.5km after the sign for Dun Deardail, we hopped over a fence and slogged up to Sgorr Chalum. The sky was blue and the views were already opening up nicely towards Ardgour. The route from here up to Mullach nan Coirean is quite rough and due to the abundance of snow, progress up to the main ridge was fairly slow. From the summit, views of the Glencoe hills were particularly impressive - Bidean nam Bian was looking even chunkier than usual! The ridge towards Meall a Chaorainn looked too good to resist, so we continued west to this second summit before descending NW to pick up the single track road back to Fort William. It seems a pity that most people climbing Mullach nan Coirean do so with Stob Ban and not Meall a Chaorainn - it's a quality little hill.
Photos by I. Martin
More snow on the way - Thursday, March 02, 2006
Just received the following "snow alert" from ski-scotland.com
I'm sure you're aware of the recent snowfall Scotland has been enjoying. In particular the Scottish mountain resorts are reveling in the wintry conditions. All the resorts are open for business and the conditions are the best they have been, check www.ski-scotland.com for daily centre updates.
This is a great start to March - long may it continue...
Good Conditions in Glencoe -
Conditions have been pretty good for the past few weeks and the cold weather is set to continue. Even the ski centres at Glencoe and Ben Nevis are open for business with more snow on the way. Below are a few photos from my trip last week (Monday 20th - Wednesday 22nd):
Photos by I. Martin