The abseil posts have been removed from Ben Nevis. Photo: Alan Kimber

The abseil posts have been removed from Ben Nevis. Photo: Alan Kimber

The charity that owns most of the summit of Britain’s highest mountain has explained why it removed a series of posts that helped walkers and climbers navigate routes off the hill.

The decision to remove abseil posts from the summit of Ben Nevis was taken after a six-month public consultation.

The John Muir Trust has now removed the posts above Coire Leis and a vandalised one at the top of Number Four Gully and said it will replace them with more durable stone cairns.

The trust’s head of communications Susan Wright said: “The trust has a presumption against new structures on the summit and aims, through a consultation process, to remove structures that are deemed to no longer have a use, other than those that have a cultural heritage value, such as the ruins of the observatory.

“However, the trust recognises the importance of certain structures as winter navigational aids, and in determining what should happen to them looks to follow advice from organisations with appropriate expertise such as the Mountaineering Council of Scotland.”

The consultation, which ended on 30 April, proposed removing the Coire Leis posts and replacing the top one with a marker cairn, but to keep the Number Four Gully post.

Ms Wright said the JMT received 45 responses from climbers, club representatives and mountain guides.

Only two of the respondents did not want the Number Four Gully post retained; and 21 of the 27 people who had a view were in favour of replacing the top Coire Leis post with a cairn.

Ms Wright said: “Following the consultation, we worked with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland to decide the best course of action.

“Upon inspection of the Number Four Gully marker, it was decided that a cairn would be preferable to the existing marker post.

“The marker has previously been vandalised and is unstable. It was also agreed that the Coire Leis post would be replaced with a two-metre high cairn.

“The trust and MCofS relies on the help of volunteers to undertake this sort of work. A window of good weather at the end of May allowed MCofS to mobilise a group of volunteers and some members of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team to remove the Coire Leis posts.

“The Number Four Gully marker was removed at the same time.

The Nevis cairns will replace the removed posts to aid navigation in winter

The Nevis cairns will replace the removed posts to aid navigation in winter

“The Number Four Gully marker will be re-instated as a 1.5m cairn with ‘No 4’ incised on the cap stone.

“This will make the marker stable and less prone to vandalism and maintenance in the future. Work will begin to build the cairns as soon as possible over the next couple of months.”

Mike Daniels, head of land at the trust said: “We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation on marker posts on Ben Nevis, and also the Mountaineering Council of Scotland for their help and expertise in this matter and for organising their volunteers at such short notice.

“We’re confident that the action taken and the measures proposed are in line with the responses we received and will meet the needs of all those who use and enjoy the Ben throughout the year.”

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