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What To Pack For Tackling A Ben Nevis Climb In Springtime

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Britain, standing at 4,413ft (1,345 metres) above sea level. It attracts climbers and hikers from all over the world in all seasons, and with all levels of skill and experience, from complete amateurs to professional mountaineers. 

Springtime can be an especially popular time for mountain walking, as the worst of the winter snow and ice is easing, and the more humid summer weather is yet to arrive. The flora is bursting back into bud, and there is the opportunity to see some of Britain's rarest species in their natural habitat, such as pine martens, red squirrels, or even golden eagles.

Spring is a wonderful mountain walking season, but it’s also a time of transition, and this can make it more difficult to know what to take with you. If you are planning your first Ben Nevis walk this spring, here is a guide to packing to ensure that your adventure is as safe, comfortable and enjoyable as it can be.  

Layered clothing

Bear in mind that the temperature at the summit of Ben Nevis can be as much as 10°C colder than at the base, and the wind chill factor can add an extra -10°C on to this. Therefore even if you set off on a pleasant mild day at the base, it can still be very chilly on top! Snow can fall well into May and you could still encounter stretches of ice.

Layered clothing is the key to dealing with such fluctuations of temperature. It may be that as you set off on a bright day, a single layer of clothing is all you need, whilst at the summit you will need to be well wrapped up. 

Choose moisture-wicking fabrics that dry out quickly, rather than cotton, which takes a long time to dry and will make you feel chilled when the temperature drops. Wear a base layer, an insulating layer such as a fleece, and take a breathable waterproof and windproof jacket. Waterproof trousers that fit over your walking trousers are also useful.

You should also pack waterproof gloves, a scarf or neck gaiter, a warm hat and a peaked or brimmed hat to keep off the sun. Sunglasses are also useful for shade and UV protection for your eyes, and possibly even to shield against the glare from snow fields. You should also pack sunscreen and lip balm. 

Food and drink

Pack more than enough food for a whole day so that you have some spare, should the worst happen. Take filling and energy dense snacks such as dried fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate. You will need at least two litres of water and a flask for hot drinks.

Navigation tools

Plan your route in advance, and plot it on a physical OS map as well as a GPS device, if you plan to use one. GPS navigation is a useful tool, but it should always be backed up with a paper map in case the device should break or lose power. GPS tools do not provide safe guidance that will take into account the terrain, especially in bad weather. 

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