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Carn Mor Dearg Traverse on Ben Nevis

Carn Mor Dearg Traverse on Ben Nevis

Postby Jezzer_60 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:39 pm

Route description: Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg

Date walked: 09/08/2011

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 14.9 km

Ascent: 1567m

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From the Campsite, a short walk of around half a mile up the Glen road took us to the footbridge opposite the Youth Hostel. The weather was clear though not too hot as we crossed the bridge over the River Nevis following the zig-zag path to join the wide path known as the Pony Track which gradually climbs along the hillside where there were grand views up Glen Nevis to the Mamores, with Stob Ban prominent. The valley of the Red Burn provided a spectacular backdrop as the path crosses a couple of footbridges over small streams. The path bent sharply to the left as the head of the valley was approached, and walkers are now obliged to avoid the short cut which has caused hillside erosion. So far we were amongst many walkers in a procession until we reached a broad bealach between Meall an t-Suidhe and Ben Nevis itselt. From here we were the only walkers who continued due north over the bealach as the rest of the procession continued on the tourist track up the series of steep zig-zags. From the bealach, we descended into the glen of the Allt a'Mhuillin. The rewards of taking this route was soon apparent as we were treated to dramatic views of the North Face of the Ben with its series of gullies and towers of rock. As we wound into the corrie, we dropped down the rough, heathery slopes to the burn, and from there made our way up the rough, red granite slopes to the summit of Carn Beag Dearg, the Little Red Hill (1010m). The ridge walk over to Carn Dearg Meachonach (1179) and on to Carn Mor Dearg (1220) (the Big Red Hill) offered dramatic views of the bulk Ben Nevis in its true splendour, and of the Aanoch Beag massif to the east. From the summit of Carn Mor Dearg, there were expansive views across toward central Scotland with such Munroes as the distinct cone shape of Schiehallion and even Ben Lawyers being evident. Towards the Glencoe region, the hulk of the highest mountain in Argyll Bidean nam Bian was visible as well as the Aanoch Eagach Ridge, and Munroes further afield such as Ben Starav at the head of Loch Etive. It was a truly magnificent view though the summit of the Ben itself was tantalisingly covered in mist. Was this the best view we would have? Continuing, the high-level exposed ridge connecting the summit with the north-east ridge of Ben Nevis required plenty of concentration and a cool head for heights. Mercifully it was not windy and clambering this high-level tightrope similar to the Crib Gough Ridge was particularly stimulating. However we never felt totally secure as the arete wound its way round in a curved sweep till it merged into the bulk of the Ben itself. Sadly the vague path we now followed rose into the mist. Making our way around the giant boulders, we reached the summit plateau but were not able to enjoy the views you would expect on Britain's highest mountain. Sitting inside the corrugating mountain shelter, we could hear the wind howling outside and a night spent in here might well be one to remember. Such symphonic poems as Mussorgsky's composition 'Night on the Bare Mountain' come to mind in this context. Wandering around amongst many walkers in mist on this plateau to see the innumerable cairns and memorial stones seemed a far cry from the ascending aerete walk. However the war memorial cairn on the summit is a feature worth seeing. The remains of the Observatory attract criticism, and we were not to sorry to leave the summit on the Pony Track as it descended out of the mist in a lunar type landscape and then zig-zagged down towards Lochan Meall an t'Suidhe. As Glen Nevis came back into view, we could reflect on a truly enjoyable walk.
Mountain shelter on the summit
View of the Ben
View of the Ben
View of the Ben

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