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It's a dreich day! Translation: it's a cold, damp, miserable Scottish day.

Scottish winter climbing isn't known for sunny, calm days with perfect visibility. Rather, 'full Scottish conditions' -- wind, sideways rain (or sleet, graupel, and snow), raw cold, and complete white-out fogs are far more common...supposedly.

In our ten days in Scotland, we experienced weather that I repeatedly said reminded me of winter days in Colorado or Utah; sunny, mild, and perfect. One day on Ben Nevis I even got sunburned, overheated, and dehydrated, things that RARELY happen for me! Disclaimer: we also experienced a few days of brutal Scottish conditions -- dreich days -- but those were to be expected.

Though Ben Nevis and the surrounding Northern Highlands are having their worst year for ice formation in 40 years, we still succeeded in finding fun ridge and snow gully climbs. Three summits of Ben Nevis via three different routes, plus lots of good whiskey, great partners, and excellent Scottish hospitality made for a trip to remember and a place I'll soon return.

Hover over photo for details.

Ledge Route, North Face, Ben Nevis.  We brought hexes and were determined to place them.  Don't worry, this was placed for decorative purposes only!

Anne points out lines on the North Face.  CIC hut in the background, along with the classic Tower Ridge and Orion Face.

Summit, Ben Nevis (1344m).  A windless day but no visibility.

Anya and Kris at Ice Factor, Scotland's National Ice Climbing Centre

Scotland is known for massively long approaches to climbs.  Except here, Aonoch Mor, which allows gondola access and a short 1.5 hour walk to the climbs.  Unfortunately when we arrived on top, the winds and lack of visibility made it unreasonable to blindly descend into our climb.  So we turned around and walked back down.

Learning to drive on the left hand side of the road was by far the hardest and most stressful part of the trip!

Anne and Anya at the beginning of the Ledge Route on Ben Nevis.

No Scottish climbing trip would be complete without a trip to the famous Claichaig Inn and pub!

Kris on the summit of Ben Nevis.  Though she really wanted to summit via an ice route on the North Face, this was still a pretty good consolation prize.  Also, Kris is 78 years old and one of the most amazing people I know!

Look closely.  Climbers on Raeburn's Arete at Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glencoe.

A super fun, easy snow gully at Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glencoe.

I guess this is what they mean by 'full Scottish conditions'?  Summit, Ben Nevis.

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