Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These Conditions Reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

I did two jobs in one today - I helped Ed and Cathal reach the summit of Ben Nevis and we helped the Lochaber MRT find a lone walker who had spent the night in the summit shelter. Ed and Cathal were on a quick stag trip to Scotland. They played golf at St. Andrews yesterday and came across ready for the walk up Ben Nevis today. As we were getting things together for the walk the rescue team call out for the missing person went out.

Fresh snow fell last night down to 500m or so and there was a good cover this morning. There was about 10 to 15cm of dry, soft powder in most places so the skiing must have been excellent. It was colder than it has been as well so the old snow was quite firm underneath. Unfortunately the visibility on the summit was very poor which is why the lone walker decided not to leave the summit shelter for fear of losing his way without a map and compass.

Walking off the hill was a good test of compass work! We could barely see the ground under our feet. Without a compass and the ability to use it there would be no chance of finding your way. The cairns above 1200m are buried and almost useless; you certainly can not rely on them to find the way. It's an excellent reminder of just how challenging the hills here can be and how good your mountaineering skills need to be even on quite a nice day like today.

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