Extensive survey work is taking place on Ben Nevis between Monday 10 and Friday 14 August. This is the second stage of an ambitious three-year multi-agency botanical and geological survey of the North Face of the mountain managed by the Nevis Landscape Partnership. Climbers and walkers are being asked to avoid the affected areas.
Roped survey teams will be working across the entire north face of the mountain, generally in the vile dank recesses that plants love but summer climbers shun.
Due to a risk of rockfall below the working areas, the team have asked that members of the public avoid the areas directly below the cliffs on the north of the mountain between Carn Dearg, Coire na Ciste, the summit cairn and Coire Leis.
The team will be using fixed rope anchors along the edge of the summit plateau, and for the safety of those working on the cliffs below they ask that any ropes or anchor points are avoided.
Normal access to and from the summit via the Mountain Track and access to the CIC Hut from the North Face car park will not be affected.
For more info contact the Nevis Landscape Partnership. Staff at the Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis will also be able to advise on areas to avoid during the survey week, and team members will be on hand on the summit to advise and answer any questions people may have about the survey.
But what's it all in aid of?
Before this project kicked off in August 2014 none of the more inaccessible crannies of the north face had ever before been surveyed for botany. The first recorded ascent of Ben Nevis may have been by an Eighteenth Century botanist, but there are still likely to be things to discover about the mountain's flora today.
Some of the arctic/alpine greenery hidden away in dark corners of the crags are relics from the last ice age, found here at the southern limit of their range. The survey aims to find out what exactly is growing up there.
Its geology is another aspect of the mountain still not fully understood. Ben Nevis is generally believed to be an ancient collapsed caldera, but a closer and more systematic survey of its geology could still throw up some surprises.
'The results were amazing' say the Nevis Landscape Partnership, of last year's survey, 'and will carry on this year when the survey resumes in summer with the same expert team & hopefully more new discoveries.'
- Here's a great film on last year's survey work, by Dave Macleod: