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.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Comb is named after the horizontal, knife-edge crest joining the top of the buttress to the mountain. It's fantastically exposed and a bit mossy and loose as well so it is quite a memorable trip. Today we took a BBC team (Paul Diffley, Dougie Vipond and Rich Parker) along the crest to the top of the buttress for some filming and interviews for Landward.

Once the BBC crew had finished, Ian, Dave and I went down the line we rigged past Hesperides Ledge and into Comb Gully. This was a great place to be looking for plants as it turned out. Ian found Highland Saxifrage, Alpine Saxifrage and Tufted Saxifrage as well plenty of Alpine Speedwell, Sibaldia and Mouse Ears. The saxifrages are a very significant find. Before today they were only recorded in Number Four Gully and no records of Alpine Saxifrage existed on Ben Nevis apart from the one we found last week.

Ian was made up with his finds today and Roddy (geologist from Midland Valley) found some very important geological sites on the front face of The Comb near Don't Die of Ignorance. It is great playing a part in these discoveries and being able to make it all possible with the access we can provide. We're all learning so much from each other and have a great time too. The is a really cool project!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Day 4 of training for the North Face Survey was a very successful day. We made many records of Arctic and Starwort Mouse Ear, Alpine Speedwell and a great find of Alpine Meadow Grass by Will. We found the previously recorded Tufted, Drooping and Highland Saxifrage and the big result was recording Alpine Saxifrage on Ben Nevis, the first time this has been done, found by the botanist Ian.

The geologists were out too making all sorts of records and Donald found a new fault - Donald's Fault. It was great seeing the expert geologists and botanists work together to further each others knowledge. Tomorrow, the last day of training, we'll get the long ropes out and set up some big abseils. Fun, fun, fun.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Ben Nevis is an amazing place and I am learning in great detail more about just how amazing it is this week. After a planning day and two days of training for the North Face Survey my brain feels fit to burst with new information.

After winning the contract to manage a team of eight climbers for the survey we are now half way through the training. We have expert botanists and geologists showing us what to record and the technology for doing so most easily (a very handy new app from Midland Valley ) and we are supplying the access know how. The botany and geology is quite daunting but equally fascinating. The access is a brilliant mix of mountaineering light touch techniques with a scattering of MRT and IRATA techniques thrown in too. When was the last time you abseiled on 400m ropes down a loose wet cliff?

The survey is sponsored by Mammut who gave is 2.5km of rope, helmets and jackets and has been funded by SNH and Herritage Lottery Fund. The Nevis Landscape is managing the whole thing along with many other projects in a programme of work over the next five years. It has been great fun so far and the team can not wait to get properly stuck into it next week. The media are quite interested in it too -

Look out for it in The Times and on the BBC. Three separate BBC teams are coming up next week!