A skier in Summit Gully on Aonach Mòr. Photo: Ronaldcameron CC-BY-SA-4.0

A skier in Summit Gully on Aonach Mòr. Photo: Ronaldcameron CC-BY-SA-4.0

A backcountry skiing club has announced ambitious plans to build a mountain hut on the slopes of the UK’s eighth highest peak in Lochaber.

The building, on the flanks of Aonach Mòr, would be made available to mountaineers, the club said.

Inverness Backcountry Snowsports Club, which caters for ski-mountaineers, ski-tourers, Telemark-skiers and cross-country skiers as well as those practising snow-kiting, igloo-camping and splitboarding, said the proposed hut would have sleeping space for between eight and 12 people.

The plans are at an early stage, and the club said it is waiting until the Scottish Government publishes new guidelines on the building of huts and bothies.

Aonach Mòr the 1,221m (4,006ft) mountain east of Ben Nevis, is already home to the Nevis Range downhill skiing resort and mountain biking centre, and also has numerous winter climbing routes on both its western and eastern flanks. The Inverness club proposes to build the hut near the ‘Back Corries’, north-east of Coire an Lochain, about 200m from the base of the Braveheart chairlift.

The club said: “Various sites were considered, but on balance it seems that the most suitable venue for such a hut would be the east side of Aonach Mòr”

It said the site, 8km (5 miles) east of Fort William, is a spectacular mountain location with access to great skiing and mountaineering terrain; has a reliable snow-holding record between January and May and sometimes beyond; is outside of the special area of conservation and has access to intermediate, snow-reliable terrain across the valley from the Back Corries and the Nevis Range resort.

It also provides relative ease of access for repairs, maintenance and extraction through the winter, for anyone with the necessary skill level on skis.

The location, beside a small lochan, is 6km from the nearest road and is close enough to walk in and to evacuate people if ever necessary in all but most extreme weather, but far enough to significantly broaden recreational access possibilities. Navigation to and from the site is relatively simple in most conditions, it added.

Aonach Mòr provides numerous winter climbing routes. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Aonach Mòr provides numerous winter climbing routes. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Initially, the hut would be available for use by members of Snowsport Scotland affiliated clubs, Mountaineering Scotland members and clubs, guides and instructor-led groups and educational groups and youth-groups, seeking to give experience of the outdoors and of what it is to live in a low-impact way in natural surroundings, the Inverness club said.

The club said: “The Scottish Government has created a new class of building: huts and bothies, which are to be constructed according to the new guidance being prepared with assistance from Reforesting Scotland. The hut would be constructed to the latest standards.”

Users would be required to carry out their rubbish and toilets would need to be easy to maintain and environmentally friendly and the hut would have to withstand the severe weather expected 760m (2,493ft) up in the mountains.

More details of the plans are on the Inverness Backcountry Snowsports Club website.

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