'Astonishing' snow depth on North Face of Ben Nevis

image copyrightHighland Mountain Company
image captionA climber in a red jacket is just visible in this photograph of the snow on Ben Nevis

Climbers have encountered deep snow on Britain's highest mountain while assisting in a scientific project on the peak.

It is not unusual for Ben Nevis to have coverings of snow all year.

However, snow expert Iain Cameron has described the depth of the white stuff on the mountain's North Face as "astonishing".

Photographs of the snow, which could be more than 15m deep in places, were taken by Highland Mountain Company.

The images were taken on Monday.

image copyrightHighland Mountain Company
image captionA climber and the snow on the North Face

The firm is assisting scientists who have reached the final week of a three-year programme to survey geology and also fauna and flora on the North Face of the Munro near Fort William.

On Twitter, Mr Cameron tweeted the Highland Mountain Company's photographs with the message: "Spot the climber.

"Utterly astonishing depth of snow yesterday on Ben Nevis. Possibly 15m+"

Mr Cameron, who studies, photographs and writes about snow, has previously investigated evidence of an avalanche thought to have occurred during the summer last year in a remote mountain range in the Highlands.

He also counts patches of snow that survive from one winter into the next.

image copyrightIain Cameron/Twitter
image captionIain Cameron's tweet about the snow on The North Face of Ben Nevis

Last year, Mr Cameron recorded 73 patches - the most for 21 years. He said the snow survived because of a cool spring and frequent snow showers until June.

The scientific team surveying the North Face on Ben Nevis have encountered snowy conditions before.

In 2014, they came across hazards common in arctic and alpine areas but described as "extremely unusual" in the UK during the summer.

While negotiating snowfields, they found compacted, dense, ice hard snow call neve.

Neve is the first stage in the formation of glaciers, the team said.

The team has also encountered sheets of snow weighing hundreds of tonnes and tunnels and fissures known as bergschrunds.

The large, deep cracks in the ice are found at the top of glaciers.

image copyrightIain Cameron
image captionIain Cameron in a snow tunnel in a large patch of snow last year

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