This has been received from the John Muir Trust. My own views are shown after this. If you wish to comment please contact John Muir Trust
John Muir Trust advocates a presumption against way-markers or poles and the removal of any remnant or new ones in consultation with MCofS and any other relevant bodies or individuals.
Abseil Sign and Posts
After discussion with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland Mountain Safety Advisor John Muir Trust has concluded that the Abseil posts on Ben Nevis are redundant and we cannot identify anyone that actually uses them as an anchor. The majority are in Coire Leis (not Trust ground) and are not upstanding. The top marker sign and post (on Trust land) are not in the most appropriate place for starting a descent BUT are used as a useful and much appreciated navigation marker by even experienced climbers.
John Muir Trust proposes to remove the top marker sign and post on the Trust land situated at the lip of Coire Leis. After initial discussion with MCofS Mountain Safety Advisor the Trust propose to replace this with a cairn similar to the navigation cairns on the summit of the mountain will a short distance away at the most appropriate location for descent so retaining a navigational aid. This location will be identified by an on site visit with John Muir Trust and the MCofS Mountain Safety Advisor.
In the May 2007 edition of MCofS magazine an article noted that the abseil posts would be removed and that MCofS supported this. We are proposing that further articles / publicity are generated to notify climbers of this work if it is agreed. If agreed, the work would be carried out during summer 2012 with volunteers on JMT work parties.
No 4 Gully Marker
No 4 Gully Flag is used both as a very important navigation aid and as an anchor from which a rope can be retrieved (i.e. pulled through from below without snagging on a rock to lower/abseil into the first steep part of No 4 Gully). As a navigation aid the Trust could replace this metal pole with a built cairn in keeping with the others on the mountain, however this would not be as useful as an anchor from which a rope could be retrieved.
It appears there is no obvious alternative. The John Muir Trust seeks the advice and comments of the MCofS and Lochaber Mountain Rescue to see if any alternatives emerge.
I spent a lot of time lobbying successfully for way markers (of any sort) on the plateau of Nevis and I feel that we now have useful cairns on both the summer and winter trails above 1100m. I would be happy for the metal sign at the top of the abseil posts to be replaced by a substantial cairn and all of the downhill metal posts below it to be taken away. The rotting alloy posts which are so useful in guiding folk down towards CMD Arete from the summit should not be moved, unless replaced by something more substantial in the way of large cairns. Personally I’d replace the posts with like for like. The reason the posts were put in place remains as relevant today as it was back in late 60’s. I find them very comforting and useful for navigating towards the CMD Arete when descending towards Coire Leis. The No4 Gully post is useful for abseiling in to the gully and should not be removed in my opinion. It also provides a traditional navigation point, which is enshrined in many guidebooks. Any alternative should consider the navigation issue before the abseil issue, as many mountaineers can now easily rig a secure roped back-up quickly in descent.