Although now based in the Alps, I did start my skiing career in Scotland. It is easy to overlook the fact that there is some great skiing in Scotland, both lift served and in the Scottish backcountry. There are some legendary pistes whose names evoke some of my earliest skiing memories – Cairngorm’s White Lady, Glenshee’s Tiger or Nevis’s Goose Gully spring to mind, but this post is about skiing on Scotland’s highest mountain where there are no lifts in sight*.
The north face of Ben Nevis is well known as a climber’s playground for both summer and winter routes, but is less popular with skiers. Connoisseurs will know that the grade 1/2 gullies make for great skiing.
Back in 2005, the Scottish ski season finished early on the west coast after several days of torrential rain. When it stopped, the snowline had receded towards the summits. Neil Hayes and I headed up to the Ben for one last adventure of the season. We carried our skis to the CIC Hut and found the snowline just beyond. Number 4 Gully was full of hard but grippy snow – more like neve than spring snow, but quite skiable and reasonable to bootpack up. The gully was amenable and pleasant to ski, so we moved on to Number 3 – a little steeper and a bit tricky to enter but good once you were in. Then it was strap the skis to the rucksacks again for the walk out.
*Technically the Nevis Range ski lifts on Aonach Mor might be visible in the distance on a clear day, but it wasn’t clear on the day we took these photos.