You may or may not know that Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles and is normally the first mountain climbed when attempting the Three Peaks Challenge. In our 9 years experience of organising Three Peaks events we often notice that many participants are climbing a mountain for the very first time and as such, have no real frame of reference for what they are about to undertake.
Many participants in May/June are often surprised to find that the summit of Ben Nevis is still covered in snow! This isn’t unusual, in fact in 2014 there was still snow on the summit plateau in August following a very heavy winter. On average, the mountain is covered in snow for 7 months of the year, with around 5 metres on the summit during the winter.
Here are some interesting facts that may help to inform your understanding of the kind of environment you’ll be walking in during the Three Peaks Challenge:
- The summit of Ben Nevis is always just over 9 degrees colder than the base and this is before you factor in any windchill
- The mountain is covered with cloud around 355 days of the year, although statistically it’s clearest in April.
- Ben Nevis is battered by an average of 261 gales per year.
- The summit is drenched in 4.35 metres of rain per year, compared with only just over 2 metres in nearby Fort William. Incidentally, average annual rainfall for London is 60 cm!
This gives you some idea of the conditions you are likely to experience on Ben Nevis. the key is to be prepared to walk in wet and windy weather. This means being adequately prepared with waterproofs and warm clothing, with spare clothing carried in your rucksack. It may be the middle of summer when you climb but it’s not unusual to need to wear a hat and gloves on the summit.
A good source for accurate weather forecasts is http://www.mwis.org.uk/, selecting the West Highlands.
Finally, if you’d like to experience what Ben Nevis can throw at you before your challenge, why not sign up for one of our Three Peaks Challenge Training Courses or join us on one of our regular Ben Nevis Daywalks.