Glen Nevis

Easter Meet

Saturday April 10th 1971

Members Present
Chas Murray, Jim Murray, Ian Cairns, Muir McKay, Jim Neill & four friends, Eric & Alasdair Scott

The writer did not arrive until midday, finding the club tents deserted in a luxurious campsite complete with hot water, showers, loos, shop, and all mod cons, including dolly birds in hot pants.
'Hot Pants' - photo provided for our younger members!
All this in the midst of a regular heatwave - a far cry from the days of arrival on boggy wasteland in darkness and sleet!

We explored the gorge up to Steall, investigated the monumental landslide en route, and lay in the sun soaking up the scenery all afternoon until the rest of the gang arrived. They had spent two days on the Mamores, the first from An Garbhanach to the Devil's Ridge and today from the Devil's Ridge to Stob Ban. Great tales were told of petrol tanks falling off cars in the Clyde Tunnel and precarious deeds in the gully splitting Stob Ban's N.E. face where the only things to roll down in the snow had fortunately been Easter eggs.

Sunday April 11th

A fair amount of cloud appeared to have ended the heat wave, but nonetheless most of the club were up at an astonishing hour in order to 'do' the big Ben. Jim N and his two friends had to be away early to Glasgow, while I argued that Alasdair at 8 years old would need a long time (actually it was me who needed a slow pace). Jim's party was away at 8 a.m. myself at 9 a.m. and even Chas was out of his pit by then. How could it fail to be a remarkable day?

Apart from a ringside seat for a battle between two gulls and a Raven, the plod up the tourist track was uneventful, and high on the infamous zig-zags the ascending parties joined forces more or less simultaneously with meeting Jim's party descending.
The Scotts, Murray Bros, & Ian Cairns
We were almost at the snow-line and cloud level and since Jim reported no view and a cold wind up top we promptly sat down for lunch there and then, and surveyed the motely hordes trogging past. There were the usual large numbers of accidents looking for somewhere to happen, clad in light clothes, shoes, plimsolls etc leavened by the very occasional bearer of an ice-axe. One young lady almost acquired an escort party, who were prepared to turn round and make for the summit a second time. Her bra-less condition may have encouraged such sacrifice, but Jim cruelly urged his mates in the opposite direction.

As it turned out the clouds cleared as they vanished downward, and they missed a day on the plateau that was about as perfect as one could wish for.
The top of Tower Ridge
The snow was soft for an inch or two on the surface, but hard below, and the whole summit lay under a heavenly blue sky all the time we were up, strolling about to admire the view that extended from Skye to Jura, the Cairngorms to the Pentland Hills: or just plain lying about in the sun frying. 
Ben Nevis Summit
People kept bobbing up out of gullies or off lower ridges to swell the mobs on top, and eventually we strolled off round the summit rim to Carn Dearg where we sat and contemplated that tremendous north face, draped in ice and snow and flashing in the sun against a blue sky. Only to the north was the view obscured by a layer of cloud below us. 
Eric & Alasdair on the summit
Chas sat in deep reverie with his feet dangling over No. 3 gully at a point where rocks broke the line of high sagging cornices and after half an hour broke the silence to pronounce it would 'go' tomorrow. 
Chas Murray & Tower Ridge
We looked at those tons of snow poised to fall and made skeptical noises, before dragging him away to excavate the refuge near the Carn Dearg summit.
Carn Dearg Refuge in 1971 - now removed
At about 5 p.m. thoughts of food and drink prompted a move glen-wards, and we enjoyed some good standing glissades down the Red Burn for a thousand feet or so. Young Alasdair enlivened the proceedings by trying a sitting glissade and converting it into a high speed stomach slide before being neatly fielded in the slips by Chas.
Ptarmigan flew off grackling disapproval at this careless behavior, and more soberly  we trotted down in the mellow evening sunshine to the already darkening glen.

Monday April 12th

Young Jim (and was it Tom?) were off at an ungodly hour to make the most of a pristine morning. Much later Alasdair and I lazed by the river, while Chas lay in bed muttering things about 'supposed to be a holiday' and 'b- noisy campsite'. Incredibly, only four hours later, Jim and Ian were back having knocked off the Devil's Ridge and glissaded the the summit coire of Sgurr a Mhaim (which was a perfect snow bowl)

Very sun-burnt bodies returned to Glasgow down the congested roads. Chas, Ian and Muir went off to 'have a look' at No. 3 gully but what became of them is not known at the time of writing.

There has, at least, been no word in the Express of 'avalanche on Ben Nevis'.

Eric Scott

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