29 April 2019, Mont Blanc & Matterhorn Training Weekend – Scottish West Highlands

Late spring snow conditions exist around Lochaber with many of the lower hills now snow free and even the higher sunnier slopes almost completely stripped of snow after a lean winter this year.   The North Face of Ben Nevis still has some good complete gully lines however and our Mont Blanc & Matterhorn training teams completed a good haul of classic mountaineering routes including ascents of Number 4 Gully & Ledge Route on the North Face of Ben Nevis, with various teams also bagging the summit even completing a traverse of the mountain via the superb Carn Mor Dearg Arete. 

The ascent of Number 4 Gully on the north face of Ben Nevis. Great sustained snow climbing training. Photo Mike Brownlow.

Snow conditions are lean on all but the highest and shadiest gullies and couloirs, but with slightly cooler temperatures, the ascent of Number 4 Gully was enjoyable with a good track in almost continuous snow above the Ciste Lochain.  There was only a tiny cornice on No.4 which was passed easily.  The top of No.3 Gully was thinner & steeper as usual but still with an old track.   A few teams were skiing up in the Ciste also with tracks seen on the lower slopes of No 2 & 3 Gullies with some reasonable turns on spring snow. 

Lee & Liam enjoying the brilliant scrambling and north face atmosphere on Ben Nevis. Photo Alan Kimber

Ledge Route was mainly rocky and there was limited snow on the approach up No. 5 Gully and likewise on the descent from the summit and continuation around to Carn Mor Dearg.   What a great outing for our teams including the fine training blend of a big physical mountain day with rocky scrambling and steep snow slopes.  The guests will certainly be better prepared for this summers Mont Blanc & Matterhorn programmes after these routes. 

Mont Blanc Training Team On The Summit Of Ben Nevis – In The Cloud! Photo Mike Brownlow.

Sunday was a finer clearer day and we enjoyed the magical views around Glencoe, down Glen Etive to the West, across Rannoch Moor to the East and north to the superb long scramble of the Aonach Eagach and further north to the distinctive bulky Nevis plateau with the striking profile of the Carn Mor Dearg arete alongside.   It was clear there was little snow left in Glencoe and our teams enjoyed lighter packs having left crampons and axes in the car!  The Aonach Eagach was a great finale to the course for Hannah, Carl and Clare and numerous teams enjoyed the brilliant sustained scrambling and moderate rock climbing on the Buchaille Etive Mor super classic ‘Curved Ridge’. 

Great positions scrambling high on Curved Ridge, Glencoe

There were also teams climbing Agag’s Groove & January Jigsaw on the Rannoch Wall, which looked mainly dry albeit a wee bit damp in places.  A magnificent position and Eagles eyrie outlook over the moors to the radically modernised Kingshouse Hotel where we wrapped up the course with a celebratory drink. 

A great position rock climbing on the Rannoch Wall…Agag’s Groove, V.Diff

Good luck to those continuing their training towards planned ascents of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn with us this summer.  For those wanting to add further quality mountain training to their build up and enjoy some quality scrambling & in Snowdonia, we have places available on both our late May and October Mont Blanc Training Weekends in Llanberis.

We have also just added the dates for these West Highlands Mont Blanc & Matterhorn training courses for 2020….

Mont Blanc Training Course Team on the summit of Buchaille Etive Mor after an ascent of Curved Ridge. Ben Nevis on the right.
A couple of sociable evenings in Fort William at Garrison West & Spice Curry House

A thoroughly enjoyable weekend in good company!

Phil Horton.

Thanks for great weekend. Hannah and Graeme were both great guides so thanks to both of them too. So good to be in Scotland.
Andy & Andy enjoying the high quality scrambling on Curved Ridge on our Mont Blanc training course.

Many of our guests stay at the excellent and very good value Calluna bunkhouse in Fort William.  They also provide mountaineering equipment hire and we gave our evening lecture there.