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Tower Ridge, The Ben and CMD

Tower Ridge, The Ben and CMD


Postby Benaden887 » Mon Nov 29, 2021 11:10 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis, Càrn Mòr Dearg

Date walked: 24/08/1991

Time taken: 8.3 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 1600m

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Tower Ridge, The Ben and CMD. 17km 1600m 8.30h 24/08/1991
It`s a 3h+ drive, past Fort Bill for the open gates of a disused distillery to park, eat, then gear up. Pass railway and the golf club heading for the slopes, scrub and bogland of Coire Mhuillin. Our uphill path hugs the burn while ahead rises the two Carn Deargs sitting either side of our route - Guardians of a rockfilled amphitheatre. Having bought the book - 100 classic climbs, an done over a dozen routes Darren and I are here for Tower Ridge . The breakdown is, the Douglas Boulder or its Gap, a tricky chimney, the Little Tower, the Great Tower with finally Tower Gap itself to finish.. We walk the E side towards Coire Leis picking out Castle ridge, Ledge route and Centurion, all on my todo list. But first the CIC alpine hut for a looksee, impressive. Then onto the reason were here, the 200m Douglas Boulder. Aye right!
A grassy bay to the r of the Douglas Boulder sports tents and sees a multitude of young folk swarming all over our intended route wi ropes plus belayers on top calls for plan B
We climb over scree, rock to grass left of the boulder to reach the Douglas Gap where I swap boots for rockshoes. From its top, an easy 20m chimney gains the ridge proper and we`re away. The narrow crest starts off level before it steepens at a short overhanging wall. This is turned by a right leading ledge and some easy climbing gains a level section with two wee step downs, the second being the top of the Great Chimney. Ahead lies the Little Tower, though not a tower as such just a real steepening of the ridge. Climb this on the left edge over rock flakes then cross an awkward ledge leading r into a corner. The scramble up on good holds becomes an exposed steep climb at its top. Then easy rock leads to the foot of the Great Tower. The left edge overlooks Observatory Gully. The sheer rock drops on either sides of us, jist awesome. Next the Eastern Traverse, a grassy exposed ledge walks around the rockwall before a line leads up to a remarkable tunnel created by a massive fallen block. We walk thro this and back into daylight.( Following this route will take u to the bottom of Tower Gap but misses all the fun ) Climb the face, on steep rock with good holds gains the flat summit of the Great Tower and WOW, we are perched above rock that plunges downwards in all directions. Walk to the cairn and view the route we`d come then turn for the next section. A narrow uneven paved ridge leans towards a 3m Tower Gap. A sense that people on the higher ground beyond are watching is shrugged off. Pause at the edge then lower myself onto a block and peek into Glovers Chimney a winter route dropping down the face, before I step across the gap and climb out the other side, so easy. Watch as Darren does the same and with the climbing done, we sit in a quiet area below the general throng, for a break as I don my Sls again. A girl comes down and after introducing herself offered to take a photo of us both. That duly done, says she`d seen us do the ridge as she put it wi no gear dismissing the long sling I pulled out my sac. We found out she was a Mountain leader in the Lakes, Striding edge area and had in tow a German tourist wearing brogues. We gear up and swapping stories, walk the plateau viewing the metal box refuge hut sitting some six feet above the ground. On my 50th Munro and wi snow on the Ben, we could walk straight into it. The intention had been to return over Ledge Route, but instead we offered to take her over CMD to see what Our side (the sharp side of Nevis) looked like, and also find out what a real arête was. I then told her she was so lucky being Nevis is only clear for some 30 odd days of the year, this being one of them. Sold. It then involved telling her buddy, being he had on the wrong footwear, best to return down the way he`d come up. So, follow the ridge steeply down past the abseil posts great views of all the rock faces and Tower Ridge but as the route started to rise at its middle section. I saw a dogs head coming towards me. As I climbed to the centre cairn, so a mans head appeared and here we both paused. The dog, a Sheltie, was stuffed into his rucksack, its front paws resting on his shoulders and though we said hello in passing, it wasn't until I got home that realised the guy was Hamish Brown and I`d his “Mountain walk” book at home. Pause on Carn Mor Dearg. Views of the Ben, the Mamores, the two Aonochs and Darren points out the 400m Watershed descent route we took to do the pair across the glen. She`s suitably impressed, we passed over Meadhonach where followed a careful downhill walk to reach the coire floor. Here we parted company, our ML said goodbye, thanked us for the route an craick before crossing the burn to picked up the lochan path - we went for the car then home. So another tick and a good day. No rain or midges till the bogfest back to the car. We both did well ifn I did it again I think the rockshoes were overkill, but then we never did managed the Boulder.
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Benaden887
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Re: Tower Ridge, The Ben and CMD

Postby gaffr » Wed Dec 01, 2021 9:33 am

I used to hear of folks who used the distillery approach to the Ben but never went that way to reach the Allt a' Mhuilinn path.
When we first went to the Ben, in the 1960's, it was from what is now the Golf course and from there over the old narrow gauge rails to get onto the path now reachable from the car park accessed from the Torlundy area.
When I first saw the post I thought now that is early in the winter to reach Tower Ridge....however further into the Post I see that it all took place in summer :) It is a fine way to reach the Summit area in whatever the season. :)
The times when I have been there in December the easier grade gullies were the ways for us to reach the summit area. :)
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