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Difficulty of Ben Nevis for older person

Difficulty of Ben Nevis for older person

Postby Bananabella » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:22 pm

Hi everyone! I realise this is a bit of a strange question, and the answer is most likely 'are you crazy?', but: my dad is a physically fit and keen walking 56 year old, but he's been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. We're planning a holiday to Scotland and he's DESPERATE to climb Ben Nevis - he drops hints about it all of time. He's definitely fit enough, but the problem is he is struggling with hand-eye co-ordination. We went to Iceland earlier in the year and he was okay with all of our walking, but he really can't go near steep edges just in case. So, could anyone advise me as to whether there are steep edges along the Ben Nevis path, or is it wide the whole way? (We'd be going very soon, or after next Spring if he's still able, to avoid the worst of the weather).

And, if the answer is 'yes you are definitely crazy', does anyone have any tips for good but safe climbs we could go on? Especially ones that would give him a real sense of achievement? Ideally not too remote, as we're travelling up from Essex and don't have the longest amount of time for the holiday. But now it sounds like I'm trying to get someone else to plan our holiday... Anyway, thanks so much for anyone who's read this whole post!
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Re: Difficulty of Ben Nevis for older person

Postby Coop » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:14 pm

Take your time and he'll do ok. Go up the " tourist path" with him.
There's room for two abreast on the lower section where someone could stay on his outside.
Take care on reaching the summit if the mist is down as you may veer towards the edge of one of the corries
I'd go up from May onwards with him. Most of the snow should have gone by then and you may get a good view on a clear day.

Ps I'm a couple of years younger and most summits I reach give me a sense of achievement

Ops. Have do ok at this thread


Every one has something good in it's own way. If I was to pick one out if the 10 it would be Buachille etive beag
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Re: Difficulty of Ben Nevis for older person

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:46 pm

One thing to be aware of with Ben Nevis is that you are looking at a probable eight hour day and although it is all on a good path, the path is a serious of steps so your Dad will need to be concentrating on almost every step especially on the way down. If he does find this too tiring there is. no escape route.
Cairngorm is an easier option, and whilst the summit is still above 4000ft with great views it starts much higher up so there is much less ascent and although the path is not as good as Ben Nevis it is still much better than many of the easier Munro's. You also have the advantage of being able to take the train down if it all proves too much.
I hope you have a great time what ever you choose.
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Re: Difficulty of Ben Nevis for older person

Postby Sunset tripper » Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:43 pm

Go for Ben Nevis but do your research and make sure you have everything you need and pick a day with good weather. Spring is probably too early as the top part of the path will be covered in snow. I would suggest june at the earliest but better july or august.
All the best. :D
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Re: Difficulty of Ben Nevis for older person

Postby Sgurr » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:19 pm

Did it for the first time aged 57 and subsequently twice via the Carn Mor Dearg arrete.. It's not so much the "older person" aspect as the "early onset alzheimers". Could you take advice about how likely this is to progress so that he reverts to thinking you are a child and he is the only one with any judgement? That would pose more of a problem. since there are places you could come to a sticky end if you wandered too far off the path.
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Re: Difficulty of Ben Nevis for older person

Postby Cairngormwanderer » Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:59 pm

Can't help with advice on the Alzheimers aspect, but good general info on going up Ben Nevis can be found here - https://www.mountaineering.scot/activities/hillwalking/ben-nevis
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Re: Difficulty of Ben Nevis for older person

Postby Veryhappybunny » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:12 pm

There are steep edges near the path when it is crossing the plateau - and if the mist comes down careful navigation is needed as this link http://ben-nevis.com/images/navigation/nevis_aerial.jpg shows.

Given the length of the day, as someone whose father had dementia I would be concerned you were putting yourself in a difficult position, albeit for good motives. However I guess everyone is different and your father may be less affected than mine was.

Whatever you decide it may be worth having a plan B. The Ben is reputedly only cloud free one day in six, on average and I have spent a number of visits to Fort William in Nevissport cafe as the rain ran down the windows and the Ben was clagged in before i got a clear day.

Would you have time to see how things go on a less committing hill first? Even one such as Aonach Mor, where you could take a gondola down if you need to.

Good luck, whatever you do.
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Re: Difficulty of Ben Nevis for older person

Postby fofoma » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:05 pm

I did the Ben last year at the tender age of 57...even on the tourist path it is a long slog and in places the path is eroded due to the hundreds of feet that tramp up it. I fell on the way back down on but thankfully all I hurt was my dignity.

It is also extremely busy which may make your Dad a bit anxious if he is anything like my late FIL was when he was suffering from Alzheimers.

We recently did the Cairnwell Three at Glenshee - you start off at about 600m so a good high start and then you can choose to come down on the chairlift if it is running...which may sound like cheating but was a great relief to my aged knees. :lol:

You won't get total solitude up there and it is a bit scarred by the ski runs etc but you do manage to get away from it all climbing Carn a'Gheoidh and the views are always nice.
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