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miller

Scotland

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Hello,

 

I was wondering if any of you have done any winter climbing in Scotland. Specifically, Ben Nevis area.

 

I'd like to know what it is like staying in Fort William - is it expensive, and do you need a car to get around and go climbing?

 

Thanks!

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haven't been myself but my roomie and a good friend have, i believe a car is very helpful. there is a hostel in the nevis area, so should be pretty cheap. bring a file, your tools will be dull. i borrowed my buddies tools after he returned they were so dull i could rub them on my cheek and not even get a scratch!

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Fort William is cheap. Although with the exchange rate, probably not so cheap just now. There's a lot of options from youth hostel to hotel and of course local B&Bs which are typically great. You can get around on the bus in the local area but a car is probably best.

 

Ben Nevis in Winter can be hairy. Don't underestimate conditions. I know it's not very high but the weather can change quick in there.

 

I'm going home next Friday for 10 days. When are you going?

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I was thinking about heading there for the last half of February. Is that a good time to go for the ice/mixed alpine routes?

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Hi, I grew up in Scotland and started climbing there and have experience of routes on Ben Nevis having climbed some of the classics, although it has been quite some time since I last climbed there.

If you want to call me on my cell at ( 206)730-2432 I would be happy to give you what knowledge I have.

smile.gif

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I was thinking about heading there for the last half of February. Is that a good time to go for the ice/mixed alpine routes?

 

Yes. It should be fine then.

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I agree with Jgowans. I've seen reports of fatalities (exposure and falling) in winter.

 

Fort William is at sea level. The "start" for climbs of Ben Nevis don't start much higher than that, so it's basically a 4,000-ft climb. In cold, windy winter conditions, it can be an interminable slog. The mountain is very alpine for a sub-5,000-ft peak--especially the east side. It's very similar to a N. Cascades peak, really.

 

I climbed Ben Nevis in May 1997. I went up via Carn Mor Dearg on the east side of Corrie na Ciste (the vale below Nevis' east cliffs), looped around the horseshoe-shaped vale, then up the bouldery backside (southside)...to hordes of people at the summit. Carn Mor Dearg (4,000 ft) sees little traffic and provides an excellent view of the east side of Big Ben:

36539.jpg

The normal west side route sees lots of people and is well-cairned. In normal conditions it is easy, if a tad boring. In winter I can't say. There's not much steep terrain on that side.

 

The Carn Mor Dearg loop trip starts a little east of Fort William on A82. Drive toward the little hamlet of Torlundy (but not all the way to Torlundy). I started near a fenced in compound (some sort of business with a large yard and warehouse near the mouth of the stream emanating from the Corrie na Ciste). It took me about 3 hours to reach Carn Mor Dearg (some bogs to negotiate to mount the ridge) then another hour or two to circle around to Big Ben's summit. I descended the easy route but cut back right (east) on Big Ben's north side to get to the Corrie na Ciste, taking the trail there back to my car. If you're more experienced at alpine climbing in winter, you may find this route more to your liking than the boring slog up the punter route.

 

See the Ben Nevis page on Summitpost for winter pictures, et al.

 

Also, be sure to venture over to Corpach across the loch from Fort William for a good view of Ben Nevis (if the ever-present Scottish clouds are on holiday):

36543.jpg

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You can get a flight from London to Zurich for about $100 and then climb in the Alps. I heard that there is good climbing there.

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Swaterfall: he didn't ask about the Alps. He asked about Scotland--specifically Ben Nevis. smirk.gif

 

Miller: I forgot to add a note about transportation.

The train network in the UK is really quite good. My mother--who is English--uses them all the time when she is frequently over there. There is a train line through Fort William, so if your only goal was Ben Nevis, you should be able to take the train. The sightseeing alone on it through Glen Coe (east end) and the Highlands would be great. I'm not sure on fares but it would be quite a bit less expensive than renting a car. If you are then in Fort William with no car (only your two feet for transportation), it is not really that far from town to the base of the peak. Maybe a mile or two, though there is a short approach road for the punter (west side) route. You could walk it or try and arrange a ride. Taxi? Farmer John's tractor?

 

However, if you want to see more varied country and don't want to be encumbered by train routes and schedules and hassles, then renting a car might be more to your liking. In 1997 I rented a small car. For three weeks of time I think I spent about $500 but was able to travel anywhere I liked because of it. Gas is expensive, though. It was maybe 4 times as expensive as in America (1997 prices; the conversion rate has changed since then). But the country is smaller, so it won't be as big a hit in the wallet. Also, you'll have to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road.

 

For lodging, hostels will work but you will also find that B&Bs are cheap in February. They inflate their prices for the summer months when most Europeans are on 'oliday. I was pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive reasonably clean and respectable B&Bs were in May. All that said, more of them will be closed for winter, so you may have to look around more. B&Bs out in the country will more likely be closed than ones in cities. I'm sure plenty of B&Bs will be available in Fort William.

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