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Perfect weather for Ben Nevis

Perfect weather for Ben Nevis


Postby astrange4 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:44 pm

Route description: Ben Nevis by the Mountain Path

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis

Date walked: 03/06/2012

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 1344m

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As a preamble to this, i'll just give you a bit of background so that people can compare this report to their own expectations.
I've climbed a handful Munroes in the past, but hill-walking is not something I do regularly, so I'm by no means an avid hill-walker, although I do have a good level of general fitness. The 7.5 hours of the climb was broken up as follows :-
ASCENT - 4hrs 15 mins(including 20 minute stop for lunch and various stops along the way)
DESCENT - 2hrs 45 mins(not as many stops on the way down)
+ 30 mins actually at the summit.

A large group of us had this walk planned a few months in advance, so it was with great pleasure that on the Sunday morning of the climb the weather was fine, with just enough cloud cover to ensure the hot sun was kept at bay, but high enough to keep all peaks clear!!
Meeting up at the main Car Park we set off at 9.30am along with countless others parties of walkers. Heading up the first part of the track was steady going, with a few stops for breathers,water and photos. It was during this part of the walk that the sheer number of people on the mountain became apparent - there was a constant stream of people overtaking and being overtaken - we were even having to make way for people on the descent this early in the day!!
The various types of underfoot terrain in this first section were fine and the large stone steps were quite helpful in places.
DSCF0984.JPG


We reached the lochan after 1hr 45 mins and stopped for a bit of lunch. By this time our large group had naturally split up into smaller groups and each of them were making their own way up at their own pace.
The weather was still holding up nicely, which meant we could have a good rest and enjoy our lunch.

DSCF0920.JPG


Setting off again across the face of the mountain was steeper than expected, but good progress was made and it wasn't too long before we had reached the first of the switchbacks. Further up above us, we could see streams of people navigating the rest of the switchbacks which at least gave you an idea of how much was still to do!!
We encountered a few snow flurries at this point...only for a few minutes, but it does act as a reminder of how quickly the weather can change.
This part was a bit of a slog with the lack of a real solid base underfoot slowing progress a bit. As we got nearer to the summit, more and more people were encountered, so you really had to keep your head up to avoid bumping into other folk and to give everyone coming up behind you enough space.
After what seemed like more switchbacks than I'd seen on the map (!!) :wink: we reached the first big cairn. As the weather was still good at this point, we didn't really need it for navigation, but it was easy to see why it was necessary in bad weather. All of a sudden, the surrounding landscape was much more barren, very samey and could easily lead to disorientation if any cloud decided to roll in.

At this point though, we knew we were nearing the summit plateau and looking ahead the gradient definitely lessened, the path straightened out and gave us a good view of a large area of snow which still had to be negotiated before reaching the final plateau.
Climbing up this steep slope of snow was probably one of the hardest parts given the amount of people that had been up and down it and that it was deceptively steep - weary legs didn't help either!!
Was funny to see some people who couldn't be bothered with the walk down it and were sliding down toboggan-style on their stomachs!! :D

DSCF0961.JPG


Once the snow was negotiated, there was one final small climb to be completed before reaching the final summit plateau...best part of the climb.

DSCF0960.JPG


Finishing that final part and seeing the snow-covered plateau stretching out was a real feeling of achievement.
Here are some pictures from the summit.

DSCF0932.JPG

DSCF0933.JPG


Summary : Overall, it was probably what I expected. It is the highest mountain in the UK and so you should expect a fair old hike, but as long as you have the strength, stamina and above all, the mindset to keep going, you will get there no problem at all.
Also, as I've stated a couple of times already, I knew it would be busy with other walkers, but I had no idea there would be quite as many people up there. Maybe because it was combined with the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend and the weather was decent that it was busier than normal, but it's probably something to watch out for. Especially, if you're used to having the path to yourself with maybe half a dozen people.
If you've been putting it off for years like I have, get out there and do it. If the weather is fine, you should be able to reach the summit.

More photos here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanstrange/sets/72157630107382956/
Last edited by astrange4 on Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
astrange4
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Re: Perfect weather for Ben Nevis

Postby rockhopper » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:02 am

astrange4 wrote:...I knew it would be busy with other walkers, but I had no idea there would be quite as many people up there. Maybe because it was combined with the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend and the weather was decent that it was busier than normal, but it's probably something to watch out for....
Snap - was also up here on the same day and would agree that it was very busy - have never seen so many people on a hill in my life. Weather and views were good though which made all the difference - well done - cheers :D
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