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Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:47 pm
by gman

ben nevis.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

50th & 51st Munros so picked something special, forecast didn't look too bad but it started raining at 10am and let up once for 5mins around 5pm. Also cloudy so didn't get any views, reluctant to risk camera in the wet anyway. Amazing day though :D

Left car park just before 9 (3 quid for parking), over wobbly bridge and onto path along river. Took a left alongside stone wall then followed mountain track cut into side of hill. This path is well maintained, guide says you can accidentally head up red burn but it's easy to see which is the intended path.
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Bit of snow higher up, had brought crampons & axe just in case but didn't think I'd need them.
ben nevis_25Apr2012_0008.jpg

Rain on now so camera stayed in its bag, this bag wasn't waterproof so I wrapped it in a freezer bag to keep rain out. Had route on GPS so left mountain track to go round for cmd ascent, GPS sent me on rough initial route but there's a proper path leaving the mountain track so I joined this. Had met 3 other walkers who continued to slog upwards as I departed for an easy walk round the back of the Ben :D .

Looked like a grassy hill till I turned the corner and saw cmd and North Face:
ben nevis_25Apr2012_0010.jpg

Path rocky in places, I did the vanilla route to CIC hut then up, but should have ascended cmd ridge earlier - the snow on it is hard going on steep ascent and there's less snow at the start of ridge.

Risked camera wrapped in freezer bag for a few snaps, CIC hut:
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North face:
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Looking over to Arete, clouds higher up so visibility would be a problem:
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Rocky route up, snow was soft further up but it gets knee deep and covers wet grass in places so was treacherous underfoot. Found a level boulder so stood on it to put crampons on and felt more confident, they stayed on till snowline on descent of Nevis.
ben nevis_25Apr2012_0024.jpg

Snow getting a bit icier further up, was tough going on steep ascent. Visibility also deteriorated so it's a shock when you suddenly get on to narrow ridge, careful not to keep going over cornice on other side :lol:

Continued on till I reached a cairn, assumed to be cmd, then down to arete. No visibility but easy to find route (plus GPS for backup). Started on arete, wasn't too scary as I couldn't see down or how much was ahead:
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Descending below cloud line, quite a drop:
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Bit of snow on the ridge, made some bits easier and others trickier with crampons. Could bypass to either side but was concerned snow was soft and wouldn't hold. No real problems though, just a bit scary. Then the cloud cleared and rest of the arete suddenly came into view, leading up to the Ben - awesome & dramatic. So risked wet camera again :D
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Further along, rain turned to snow up here but winds not too bad (yet!):
ben nevis_25Apr2012_0039.jpg

Arete was best ridge/scramble yet, plus snow so who needs views! :lol: Made it round to start ascending Nevis, wind strong here so had to sit down for a minute. Decided to take photo so got camera out of pack, when I did this an empty water bottle blew away - no big deal. Then the camera bag (& spare memory card etc) took flight never to be seen again :( . Wasn't using leash with ice axe and had dropped it on the arete but it luckily stuck in snow so you win some, you lose some :D Anyway, here's the pic:
ben nevis_25Apr2012_0042.jpg

Another really hard slog in the powdery snow to reach the plateau, near whiteout further up but could see rocks ahead so kept picking one as a target. Finally gradient eased off & reached top. Couldn't really see anything but GPS found the summit:
ben nevis_25Apr2012_0043.jpg

Wasn't sure if this was the top as trig point supposed to be on top of cairn, must have been buried in snow. Met 2 guys roped up on top. The WH report says you're supposed to be smug about doing the arete, but when I casually mentioned my achievement they countered with Tower Ridge which took the wind out of my sails a bit :D .

Couldn't see anything on top with cloud & snow so used GPS to find the track down, kept an eye on it and the edge of North face. There are a lot of cairns up here which may lead to track but it would be easy to get turned around and wander in circles.

Top of track buried in snow so went straight down instead of zig zags, eventually snow cleared so crampons off and wandered down. Met a couple heading up, snow had turned to rain further down and it was blustery so they were having a bit of discussion. I told them about conditions on top & thought they should have turned around as they didn't looked geared up for it. They kept going though, which is probably what I would have done too :D

Further down the rain took its 5min break so I got some views at last:
ben nevis_25Apr2012_0044.jpg

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Walk down seemed to take ages, but brilliant day overall :D

Re: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:46 pm
by kevsbald
Well done there. Great effort considering it wasn't the best of conditions - some nice atmospheric snaps in there.

Re: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:37 pm
by JohnJoe
Did this a few weeks back, and the visibility was even worse!

A good few metres visibility on the ridge.

Yes, there's a cairn on the the summer..... :D


Re: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:46 pm
by Fudgie
Well done gman, that was a fair old walk. The hills definitely look better in the snow.

Re: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:56 pm
by gman
JohnJoe wrote:Yes, there's a cairn on the the summer..... :D

Must be quite a bit of snow up there, and it won't be going anywhere for a while - saves you climbing the cairn though!
Fudgie wrote:Well done gman, that was a fair old walk. The hills definitely look better in the snow.

Cheers, legs still feeling it today. Arete in snow definitely worth doing & only 2hrs drive from Alexandria.

Re: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:04 pm
by Northguy
Thanks for the nice report.

We were in Glen Nevis @25/4 but reading your description I am glad we did not even try to reach the summit along the tourist path.

Re: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:31 am
by adamg
Great report! Really like the pictures you managed to take too. I did this with perfectly clear blue skies almost exactly a year ago. The arete was fantastic then but I want to go back and try it in the conditions you got, that looks much more impressive! :D