My girlfriend at the time was heading up to Dingwall, so we decided we'd combine the trip up north with a short stopover in Fort William and a climb of the country's tallest peak. We arrived at the visitor centre car park mid morning, and after a quick change into our walking gear we joined the already busy trail. The first section was pretty unspectacular, notable only for a brief spell of cold rain which hit us just as we were approaching the halfway lochan. we had a short stop for coffee and sandwiches in the lee of some boulders, then hit out for the summit. the climb up the zig zag tourist path was every bit as monotonous as I'd been led to believe, and we kept passing (and being passed by) the same groups of climbers. The weather was quite clear though, and with each switchback the view got better and better, whether looking south over the Mamores (hard to believe they were all Munros too, as we kept getting higher and higher above them!) and also west over Loch Eil. We encountered the first snowfields as the track levelled off, and soon the clouds came down too. The clouds came and went as we stayed about forty five minutes or so at the top. The views alternated between a few hundred yards and spectacular sights in whatever direction we looked. The ridge of Carn Mor Dearg looked amazing, - that's the route I originally wanted to take!! We could hear the ice melting and breaking into the gullies of the North Corrie, so sensibly we didn't venture too near the edge.
The route back down was just a reversal of the ascent, notable only for being overtaken by a trio of mountain bikers (The World Mountain Bike Championship was on at the time) and also for people still coming up - even though it was about 6pm and we were nearly at the bottom again.
A lovely pub meal with a drink or 3 in Fort William, then back to the visitor centre where we pitched our tent with about a dozen other groups (The camp site up the road was full)
All in all, a rather good day out, and we were lucky to have good clear weather for the most part on a mountain that simply MUST be climbed, if only to say you've done it.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.