Wintry Weather Forecast this weekend. The Three Peaks Events be aware. Summer Mountain Leaders?

I have had a few emails about the weekend forecast and the amount of snow still hanging about especially on Ben Nevis. This weekend in May is a popular time for groups to go up and climb the 3 Peaks for Charity many climb during the night or early morning when the temperature drops and the remaining snow becomes very icy. The longer daylight hours and the usually steady May weather will change this weekend bringing a wintry feel to the mountains. I have my own views on this and have seen so many groups on the hill at this time I would stay away from the mountain on this period. I did help a few groups in the past but it got a bit much as few arrived with any gear suitable for a winter day and in appropriate footwear. I only hold the Summer ML but have all the military Qualifications including winter Leader and Team Leader but found the Ben was not enjoyable with so many on the mountain. I also have huge experience of the mountain in over 40 years of hill walking and did carry insurance for a few years  but this was not for me. The litter on the Ben was awful and the race attitude of many barging past on a timescale was not my idea of a day in the mountains.

map ben nevis-001


Am I being elitists?

So much cash is raised for so many charities. I always carried a bag of rubbish of the hill at the end of the day but it made little impact on the Mess left.

I will always enjoy bringing a love of the a hill day to those who have never ventured into a mountain  environment and will gladly take people out but feel that at this time of year the Ben and other hills get violated by the numbers involved.  Yes they bring money into the area but many drive through the night and spend little in the area. How many give a donation to the local Lochaber MR team or for the upkeep of the footpath.

From My Blog on June 14 th 2012  “Another good organisation is the John Muir Trust (JMT) and they own several pieces of mountain land and try to carry on the great work of one of Scotland’s Finest, John Muir. The JMT own Ben Nevis and do their best with it and it is never easy to keep all factions who use the wild happy as we each are entitled to our view. One thing that has always upset me is the so many organisations use Ben Nevis for charity Events most are organised by companies who specialise in this field. At this time of year the Ben is full of people doing the “Three Peaks” and sponsored walks. This to me is wonderful and many who walk on the Ben in one of these Charity walks enjoy walking and the wild after such an event and it can be a another way of introducing people to the hills. Many participants are paying to these organisations for safety cover and organisation. I wonder how many of these organisations give something to the JMT who regularly clean up the mountain, maintain the path which is at times littered by plastic bottles and other rubbish. It is a sad state of affairs and a sad way to treat such a great mountain.”

Ben Nevis Summit

Ben Nevis Summit on a good day

MWIS Weather West Coast West Highlands –

All mountain areas of Britain from Saturday, 16 May, 2015
Cold for mid-May most of the next week, and perhaps beyond. Snow showers Scottish Highlands, sometimes higher tops. Temp at 1000 metres 1 degree

Westerly 40mph, gusts 55mph. Nearer
35mph Arran.
Westerly 40 to 50mph; slowly decreasing
through day toward 35mph, although may
not decrease Loch Lomond NP/Arran.
Arduous walking from exposed lower
slopes upward. Any mobility difficult on
higher areas. Significant wind chill..


Still bad weather about!

Still bad weather about!

Frequent snow; lightning
Sudden squally hail and snow showers;
often frequent or the precipitation almost
constant for an hour or two Lochaber
northwards. Risk thunder.

England and Wales. Upland winds near or at times on Scottish Highlands reaching gale force over the weekend, although next week, despite generally low pressure, upland winds will often be light.

From Lochaber Face book Page May 10 – ” After a few quite weeks things kicked off again yesterday with two rescues in one where two people descending Red burn slipped on the snow and slip very very long distances.(miles in their words!!!) Not having ice axes meant that they were trying to stop their slides with their hands which looked as if they had been through a mince grinder. Both suffered head injuries and multiple lacerations to hands, heads and other exposed parts of body. Both think that they had been knocked out at some point. We were assisted by Rescue 951 (new coastguard). A wee warning to walkers going up Ben Nevis, still lots of snow and when descending don’t be tempted to bum slide down the Red Burn as it is a very hard landing at bottom – stick to path.”

“There are, we are told, three types of glissade – standing, sitting, and uncontrolled – and they usually follow each in rapid succession.”

It churns my stomach when I see people bum sliding on dangerous ground, especially without an ice axe.”

From a local Guide  15 May 2015

“Local guiding companies have recently turned around huge groups they are organising at the Red Burn. If all leaders started making it clear this may happen, at the planning stage, it would make a lot of sense.”

Summer MLeaders from a guide  “Maybe worth mentioning the wintry weather forecast for this weekend and all of next week. We’re having problem trying to get over to some guiding and 3 peaks organisers as well as some of the leaders that the summer Mountain Leader qualification is not appropriate given the extent of old snow and the current forecast. Some leaders are feeling pressurised to continue out with their qualifications, insurance and remit if they turn back from the summit and other groups continue. Basically if they do not get to the summit they may not get further employment from some of the well known 3 Peaks companies. Apart from the safety risk, I think you really need to stress that their insurance and the employers, will be invalid out with Summer ML remit.”

(updated 18 February 2015)
Our vision1 is that connecting with nature and wild places will improve the health
and well-being of our nation, and people will be supported and encouraged to
make these connections – so reversing the current devaluing of wildness.
Areas of wild land (particularly the John Muir Trust’s properties on Ben Nevis and
Schiehallion) are increasingly being used by individuals and organisations for large
scale events to raise funds for, or awareness of, their causes.
While large scale events encourage mass participation and experience of wild land,
they can also cause damage to the quality of wild land and the enjoyment of
others. The Trust welcomes all visitors to its land, but does not actively encourage
large scale events.
If individuals or organisations are planning to hold events on Trust land we would
ask them to raise awareness of the John Muir Trust with their participants and / or
encourage them to make a donation. We would also ask them to encourage
participants to take part in conservation work such as the John Muir Trust
conservation work parties2
in recognition of the impact of the event on the land.
If events are taking place on Trust land then we suggest the following codes are
followed, to minimise the impact on wild land:
The Countryside Code or the Scottish Outdoor Access Code3
(outline of
relevant section follows),
The Institute of Fundraising Code of Fundraising Practice for outdoor UK

Any comments? Please share?

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Hill running and huge days!, Local area and events to see, mountain safety, Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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