Whats Ben Nevis like in January?

Ben Nevis in January? Don't write off the early part of the year, despite the short days Ben Nevis in January can be a magic mountain adventure on Ben Nevis. We will look at what crampons and boots you need for Ben Nevis in Winter.

Wild Mountain Guides is often asked what Ben Nevis or Glencoe will be like in a specific time of the year. That can be hard to answer as we get a LOT of weather in the Scottish Highlands. However, this video shows what it can be like in January. We often get similar conditions in November and even in the late spring. What ever adventure you book with Wild Mountain Guides will keep in touch over the condition in the mountains and give you the very best day! 

If you have not done any winter walking we find clients get more from having a training day to get used to crampons and ice axes before they have a long hard day on a winter ascent of Ben Nevis. Richard from Edinburgh,  in the photo spend a day on Aonoch Mor, before heading over to Ben Nevis the next day to use his winter skills. This meant he could focus on climbing Ben Nevis rather than using his axes and crampons as he was already comfortable with them.

Ben Nevis in January

What crampons for Ben Nevis?

In January on Ben Nevis it is very likely you will need crampons.These strap to your boots and turn walking on ice and snow from a slippery worry to a real pleasure. Honestly, for some people after the summit of Ben Nevis the next best memory is moving easily on what seemed earlier impossible terrain.  Have a look at the grin on Jason’s face at 1.58 on the video!

So what crampons do you need for Ben Nevis?

We use 12 point mountaineering crampons as our ‘client crampons’ for winter ascents of Ben Nevis. On the main summit path to Ben Nevis you can use a 10 point crampon on the main track. But a 12 point gives your more versatility on steeper ground.  

Currently we use Decathlon 12 point crampons

, these are provided along with ice axes as part of the package when you book with Wild Mountain Guides. No need to hire or buy kit, but if you area going to buy kit why not ask us for advice or try ours out first? 

How do I fit the crampons to my boots?

crampons for Ben Nevis

You need to make sure you have at least B1, preferably B2 boots. Sounds confusing?  We have a very simple guide:There are four categories of mountaineering boots : B0, B1, B2 and B3.

B0 3 season boots and not designed for winter use. These boots will put a lot of strain on the crampon as they flex possibly leading to failure. 

B1 boots (sometimes referred to as 3-4 season boots). Stiffer but no specailist parts of the boots designed to fit crampons

B2 boots (sometimes referred to as 4-season boots) are most suited for walking on Scotland’s mountains in winter. These boots are described in detail below.

B3 technical boots are totally rigid and designed for winter-climbing. B3 boots will be fine for mountain-hiking in winter, they are very ridgid and quite heavy, therefore tiring on a long day’s hiking. Plus they are more expensive to buy. 


B1 Boots for Ben Nevis in Winter

Great for general winter mountain walking, B1 boots use a semi-stiffened mid-sole to take crampons . The heel is fairly flat, the lugs on the sole will be pronounced with wider spaced and there will be rubber protection at the front of the boot and possibly around the sides just above the sole, this is called a ‘rand’.  

B2 Boots will cost around £200 for a good pair – the boots shown are Scarpa SL Active and sell for around £260.

What boots for Ben Nevis in Winter

B2 Boots for Ben Nevis in Winter

B2 boots are also suitable for winter mountain-walking, but they can also be used on  alpine glaciers and mid-grade climbing. The soles of a B2 boots will have pronounced and wider-spaced lugs and the mid-sole will be nearly fully stiffened. The upper boot is often more insulated and more durable than a B1 boot. There should be a rubber rand around the boot to protect them and the ankle cuff will be higher,  both of which superior rprotection than a B1 boots.

You can  pay around £250-£300 for a good pair – the boots shown are Scarpa Manta Pro GTX for £300.

I use the Scarpa Manta for a lot of my winter mountaineering and walking and it is this type of boot that you are most likely to be offered a Fort William boot hire. 

B2 boots for Ben Nevis

Can I hire boots for Ben Nevis?

Yes, when you book your adventure of Ben Nevis we give you a list of places you can hire boots. Remember crampons and ice axes are part of your package, so no need to hire them. We suggest you try the boots on when you collect them as boots that don’t fit properly can ruin a great day out in the Scottish mountains. 

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