Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

12th December 2021

After a mild and damp day yesterday it was a bit cooler today with summit temperatures just below freezing. The shots below show the what is left after the thaw. However, the outlook is quite mild, so what we have in terms of snow cover is likely to reduce further before it significantly increases. Passing the CIC hut I saw a certain type of bird that caused some mischief in the area recently, and thought it was time to give people a warning.  Scroll down beyond the pictures from today and I will explain some more…

Aonach Mor this morning. 

Coire na Ciste.

The right hand side of Coire na Ciste

Around this time last year a new route was climbed on Ben Nevis. The first accensionists called this route Nevermore after a slightly unusual mountain hazard that they and various others experienced that day. This hazard has not gone away, in fact I saw one of them flying around today. The hazard is of course the local ravens, the name coming from Edger Allan Poe’s classic poem The Raven.

On the day that Nevermore was climbed I was climbing round the corner in the Number 3 Gully Buttress area. We had left our bags with beside those of another team in a common gearing up spot. While on the route the ravens, attracted by unguarded bags, swooped in and started basically throwing the bags about in an effort to check out what was inside. They succeeded in getting into both rucsacs (thankfully not scattering too much kit about the snow slope) and ate the remaining half of our packed lunches that we had left for after our route. To add insult to injury one of them did the toilet on my bag before flying off. My climbing partner was raging about the loss of his finest red pepper houmous sandwich, but actually we got off lightly given other peoples experiences. Below are a couple of quotes about other people’s experiences with the ravens, the latter is from earlier this season.

“Good route, but had a incident with the ravens: got back to the bags to find they had nabbed my biscuits! Emotionally I could deal with this, it’s not the first time ravens got the better of me… what I wasn’t prepared for is in getting the biscuits they totally destroyed my iPhone (I’d left it in the bag for fear of damaging it in the thrutchy chimney). “

“The crows are up to their usual antics this year, I’d advise against leaving bags at the bottom of routes (we lost a lot of kit in the fresh snow but fortunately found the rucksack with the car keys)”

With the potential for broken iphones or the car keys scattered in the snow as well as losing your favourite type of sandwiches, there is potentially a significant cost in having your bag attacked by the ravens. Be wary about leaving your rucsac at the base of the route, and if you do then I would be tempted to cover it in rocks if possible, or bury it the snow (but make sure you leave a marker so you can find it again). There are some hungry corvids about Ben Nevis, you have been warned!

The Crime Scene. In this picture from last year the prime suspect is seen at the crime scene showing a a lot of interest in a bag of red pepper houmous sandwiches. 

The prime suspect. Described as about 50cm long, dressed in black, very cunning and potentially dangerous in the presence of tasty sandwiches!

Comments on this post

  • That Guy from The Internet
    12th December 2021 3:37 pm

    What you need are some golden eagles to keep those miscreants at bay. We’ve got a couple who hang around our neck of the woods. P’raps we could lend you one? (…I’ll speak to Rory).

  • Dave MacLeod
    12th December 2021 6:11 pm

    They were up to their old tricks near our bags at the foot of Stormtrooper on Thursday. A few rime bombs and insults hurled in their general direction seemed to dissuade them.

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