Final day of the survey….this year

Even though this is the end of the week and the last day of the surveying we are actually only 1/3 of the way through the project, with the other 2 weeks in the next 2 years.

Myself, Scot and Ian made our way up our usual commute to work via Ledge Route, picked up a 100m section of rope and made our way to Number 2 gully.  It quickly became apparent that the best anchor for the lower was the cairn on the Pony Track, so we got Andy to stand guard.

My job was to make sure that there were no loose blocks that could knock onto Ian when he went down after me to survey the area.  The blocks and rubble that I ended up knocking down were partly by design and mostly me just being there.  After about half an hour of watching big rocks fly down the gully the biggest challenge of the day was trying to climb back out the muddy gully without knocking more blocks onto me and the abseil rope.

It was then Ian’s turn and it was worth the effort.  A new area found of Highland Saxifrage and Tufted Saxifrage never before known.  What could lurk in the top of the other gullies will have to wait for next year.

With lots of places still to look at we have only just scrapped the surface.  With new discoveries of Alpine Saxifrage, new to the mountain and more than doubling the known numbers of areas holding other rare species on the mountain like the Tufted Saxifrage, Drooping Saxifrage and Wavy Meadow grass.  Not to mention a new, still evolving geological theory of how Ben Nevis was formed, there is still lots to be done.

More photos on my facebook page.

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund and The Highland Council.  It is also sponsored by Mammut.

Ian, a happy, muddy extreme botanist

Ian, a happy, muddy extreme botanist

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