/ Best time slot for Ben Nevis and surroundings

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L gobbler - on 22 Nov 2017
Hi there
We plan to go winter mixed climbing around Ben Nevis in Winter '18 for about a week doing guided intermediate routes.
Now we are unsure what the best time slot would be. I've been told the conditions were inconsistent the last seasons but since we're traveling to Scotland from outside the UK, we do wanna aim for the dates commonly known for being good for mixed climbing. We don't mind harsh weather.

What would you guys recommend?

Thanks a lot in advance & cheers
Mal Grey - on 22 Nov 2017
In reply to gobbler:

Sadly, it ain't as simple as that, who knows when the good weeks will be this year.

Others may disagree, but I feel that on average, there's been more snow later in the last few years (March/early April). However, there have also been lots of thaws at all sorts of times, so for mixed its really difficult. I guess you could just take the view that its always going to have some "mixed" climbing. When its properly frozen is tough to judge!



Michael Gordon - on 22 Nov 2017
In reply to gobbler:

Ben Nevis is probably the most reliable venue here so I wouldn't worry too much about finding conditions. For mixed climbing any time Jan/Feb is a likely bet, with Feb usually having better weather (once into March/April the buttresses are often drier and ice more the order of the day).
Misha - on 22 Nov 2017
In reply to gobbler:
I’d opt for second half of Feb but keep away from the crowded half term week (not sure when that is but some time in Feb!).
pass and peak - on 23 Nov 2017
In reply to gobbler:

If your going guided, then its probably going to be when ever you can get a guide! By now most MIC's and Guides will be booked up for the busy holiday periods and most weekends between Jan to end of March. Best get contacting some now and they can give you the low down, try to contact ones based in the west highlands first, or at least ones who know the Ben well, as they will have the best chance of getting something done even in poor conditions. Hope the weathers good for you/all of us this year and enjoy your trip!

M
planetmarshall on 23 Nov 2017
In reply to Misha:

> I’d opt for second half of Feb but keep away from the crowded half term week (not sure when that is but some time in Feb!).

Half term is two weeks, as local authorities can decide which of the two weeks in the middle of February they can take. For example in Birmingham it's the 19th-23rd, whereas for York it's the 12th-16th.
James Jackson on 23 Nov 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

They are all over the shop in Scotland too, with holidays at different times to England as well. Pick your local council!:

https://publicholidays.co.uk/school-holidays/scotland/
Misha - on 23 Nov 2017
In reply to James Jackson:

Fair point. Wouldn’t worry about half term that much anyway, it’s not like I’m the ski resorts. Just a few more climbers (teachers) having time off. Certainly tends to be busier in Feb than Jan but that’s more a reflection of more reliable conditions and longer days. Still, apart from a handful of classics you shouldn’t have a problem getting onto routes and a guide will know hidden gems in out of the way places if it’s really busy.
L gobbler - on 23 Nov 2017
In reply to pass and peak:

Thanks everybody for the feedback, highly appreciated.
We have a guide we like for the week of the 19th March. We'd prefer earlier in the month but it sounds like mid March is still good for mixed climbing around Fort William. Maybe spend February in the alps, which are at our doorsteps.
CurlyStevo - on 23 Nov 2017
In reply to gobbler:
Can I ask what sort of experience do you have with winter climbing / ice climbing already? Mid to late March is getting a bit late for mixed climbing and is typically ice climbing time of year high on the Ben.

That said the ridge routes on the Ben will probably be doable in mostly neve conditions but with some mixed climbing,

If you specifically want buttress climbing on snowed up rock (with some neve / ice / frozen turf) then normaly mid jan to late feb is the most reliable time and normally the Cairngorms is the best bet. The most reliable time for getting anything done in winter conditions is probably Mid feb to April on Ben Nevis, but partially as there is normally a build up of snow and ice which is resistant to thaw, which is why neve and ice climbing is often later in the season.
Post edited at 23:20
Michael Gordon - on 24 Nov 2017
In reply to CurlyStevo:

>
> That said the ridge routes on the Ben will probably be doable in mostly neve conditions but with some mixed climbing,
>

Yes, if hiring a guide it seems likely that's the sort of grade one might be looking at. I would tend to call them mountaineering routes rather than 'mixed' but I guess technically they are.
CurlyStevo - on 24 Nov 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

I just thought it seemed a bit odd for someone inexperience to travel from Switzerland to Scotland to winter climb easy routes. I was wondering if he was actually an experienced climber that wanted specifically to mixed climb in Scotland.

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