Every winter for the past few years I have spent a week or two wardening the Alex Macintyre hut for the BMC. This year I've been inundated with friends come an join me for different bits of it. On Sunday Archie came up and yesterday we embarked on the Ring of Steall. The Ring of Steall is a 12km route taking in 4 Munros (peaks over 3000ft) starting and ending in Glen Nevis. Early on in the day you have to cross the 'Devils Ridge'.
I'd done bits of this route before in winter 10 years ago, including the devils ridge and thought nothing of it. Yesterday was a good reminder that in winter, conditions are everything. There was a lot of snow up high and while last time we skipped along the ridge slightly disappointed this time we were gripped on an horrendously steep edge on brittle ice with a soft snow top wishing we'd brought two axes each. A slip from here would have been un-stoppable. This 20m section took an age and left us both with aching left arms, due to (over) gripping the axe. We were now 5 hours into the walk and had only gone 5 km, this was when the cloud came in. The rest of the day was a bit quicker only slowed down during periods of complete white out when we had to inch along the ridge trying to work out which side of the fine peak of wind sculpted snow would be safest to walk on.
We got back to the car after 9 and a half hours of, at times, pretty extreme ridge walking, for a grade I.
If you would like to learn more about winter mountaineering or to be taken on a walk like this (or maybe something a bit less challenging), visit our winter skills and expeditions page.