Monday, 12 March 2012

An incredible cloud inversion on Ben Nevis (posted by James)

A cloud inversion on Ben Nevis today.

The winter that is now coming to an end has been a very good one for me. But there is no denying….the last few months have been very short on sunshine, to say the least.

Usually I cope fairly well with the lack of sun during the winter months, but in the last couple of weeks I've found myself craving Vitamin D. I needed a sunshine fix - and today I got it….with spectacular results.

Yesterday's weather forecast pointed towards the chance of that most special of things, a cloud inversion. I've seen a fair few since my time in Glencoe and they are always incredible experiences, but they are elusive and some people climb mountains their whole lives and never see one.

The Ben.

But I had a strong gut feeling last night as I packed my rucksack that today would be special. So at 5am I was walking the boggy path up towards the Carn Mor Dearg Arete to see what would happen.

A fine drizzle fell from the sky. A strong gust or two of wind would send a chill through my body, grey fog and low cloud billowed around me. In short it was a pretty grim morning, and I came close to turning around and not bothering. But past experience told me that such moments are exactly when its the most important that you do carry on.

Suddenly a hole appeared in the cloud. I could glimpse something shining in the distance….the cornices above Tower Gully on the Ben. The hole in the cloud closed, but it was coming, I could feel it.

The North East Buttress suddenly appears through a hole in the cloud...

And then, on the summit of Carn Dearg Meadhonach, it happened. I broke through the level of the cloud and Iwalked into heaven on Earth. The dawn sun cast a warm glow through the cloud below me, I looked behind and my "Brocken Spectre " was staring at me through the mist.

On Carn Dearg Meadhonach, realising what was about to happen.

The walk over the Carn Mor Dearg Arete is a very familiar one, but today I shall remember for a long time. My Brocken Spectre followed me the whole length of the Arete as the clouds poured over the ridge like candle smoke.

A "fog-bow" and a Brocken Spectre

Quite suddenly I was in the cloud again, only the occasional magnificent glimpse of the sunlit North face of the Ben to tempt me higher. But as I broke through the cloud a second time I could hardly believe my luck at what I thought was about to happen.

The Carn Mor Dearg Arete and the North face of Ben Nevis

I was correct. The cloud had risen slightly, leaving the summit of Ben Nevis the only peak in the Western Highlands that was still above the inversion.

I stood there in hot sunshine and under the clearest of skies, alone on the highest point in Britain as a sea of cloud billowed beneath me like waves. I was the only person in the West Highlands in the sunshine. Pure and utter magic.


1 comment:

  1. Great photos and what a special day.

    Thanks for sharing.