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The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs


Postby Mountainlove » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:23 am

Route description: Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Beag (Nevis Range), Aonach Mor, Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg

Date walked: 09/08/2012

Time taken: 10.15 hours

Distance: 14.5 km

Ascent: 2002m

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Age 23 in June 1998 I climbed my first Munro – Ben Nevis. Back then I was hardly what you can call a hill walker. Like many others I was dragged up the Ben and shamefully I have to admit, I could not really see the fun of climbing this huge thing.

I had asked a friend back then how long it would take to climb the Ben and as an answer I got it should not take longer than 2.5h…back then I did not realize my friend thought about Ben Lomond …argh :shock: :shock:

The walk itself I remember it as really hard and never ending…2.5 hours passed and still no top in sight…not surprisingly for a non hill walker. Back then I compared it to a gruelling 4 hour step aerobic session. By the time I reached the top I was walking through deep snow and due to bad clothing I was freezing cold – and miserable! Hardly a glorious start to hill walking. :? :?

8 hours later I decided that I would never climb Ben Nevis again. The pain in my legs was agonizing and lasted for days and 14 years would pass before I would even consider climbing up Ben Nevis again. :D

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1998 on the way up

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1998 at the top...a rather young me


I don’t think I would have ever climbed Ben Nevis again, if it would not have been for a talk about the Carn Mor Dearg , or CMD. Until that time I somehow managed to ignore the fact that there were Munros next to Ben Nevis. :lol: :lol:

But the CMD intrigued me and looking at my Memory Map software it was soon clear that the arête to Carn Mor Dearg, could not be done without the Ben. Unfortunately Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag seemed also too close to be ignored. Mulling over the map, I decided that the most logical option to climb the Munros, would be from Glen Nevis – straight up to the Ben, along the arête to CMD, up the saddle between Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag and down Aonach Beag back to the car. :D

The distance seemed ridiculously short, but I also knew it would be a hard climb as it was steep and I would do 4 of the highest Munros.

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A few more weeks passed until last weekend, when I took a long weekend off work, to head up north…(taking advantage of the lovely weather)
Marco had decided to join me, even though he thought the route was completely mad, but he told me he would probably just do 1 or 2 Munros and then meet me at the car.

When we stopped at the second car park, it was jam packed with only some small grassy areas left to park on. Getting ready I looked up and decided to head up straight from the car. When I told Marco my plan he just looked up and requested some pain killers. :shock: :lol: :shock:

Crossing the road we had to fight our way through huge ferns, which was challenging but fun (in my eyes). By the time we reached the open fields and looked back towards the car park, we noticed a crowd had gathered to watch us. Guess we caused confusion amongst the people hehe. 8) 8) The walk after passing the fern was not as bad as I had though. A mix between heather and long grass and not that steep (did worse) . Keeping the burn to our left, we climbed up, but after half an hour Marco was close to dying and I have to admit I felt rather light headed as well…time to take a rest and take it more easy. Well the walk in was about 3 metres….I guess not efficient enough to be called a warm up. :roll:

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Fighting through ferns at the start of the walk

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Looking back down the worst part

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Having a rest


After a short rest we felt better and about 1.5 hours later the hillside levelled out to large flattish area and we realized that we were surrounded by hundreds of Blueberry bushes. Time for some fresh Blueberries for lunch! :D :D From the cauldron (as I called the flat area) you have 2 options up the hill. You can either walk towards the left or right. I opted for the right and even though it looks easy, it was longer than I thought. We ended up at the cairn, which indicates the start of the CMD and taking some pictures we debated if we should climb the last bit up the Ben. It seemed a waste not to, so we headed up and by that time, we also met the first hill walkers of the day. The last bit of the climb was rocky but straight forward and we soon reached the top.

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Looking down to the distance bottom...from the the couldron area

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The flattish couldron area

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The last bit of the path before the boulders started

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Me close to the top...14 years later


Retracing my steps from 14 years ago was quite special and funnily enough I remembered the top far bigger. Looking around we were joined by lots of other people….including a group of 5 Students with a full bottle of Whisky :shock: …which in the period of about half an hour they seemed to demolished quite happily.

We left after having some food and went down the same way we came up. A word of warning…it is easy to get lost at that bit! I was surprised when I saw the arête, as I had imagined it longer and worse than it actually was. It is not really a scramble…more an exposed walk and I enjoyed it a lot. When we reached Carn Mor Dearg the Ben was hidden in clouds and I saw my first broken spectre this year.

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The start of the arete

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On the arete

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Broken spectre


From the second Munro the walk down CMD seemed quite easy at the start, but is one of the worst I have done. Loose boulders and rocks litter the steep path and it seemed to take forever and was getting even steeper close to the bottom. Knackered we stopped and Marco decided to head back down the valley to the car.

I cant really say that I was looking forward to climb another 2 Munros, but I did not really wanted to give up my plan…after all they were so close! There is a small path to the top which I followed and even though I was tired, the climb was fun and not as bad as I though (a mere 500 metres in height) :shock: :D

When I reached the saddle between Aoanach Mor and Aoanch Beag I looked back towards the Ben and was presented with one of the most amazing views I had so far.
Taking lots of pictures I walked on and soon reached Aonach Mor. Not a very impressive top, but an easy walk in comparison to what I just have done. I only stayed for a few minutes and returned the same path to climb Aonach Beag which was equally easy.

The views from there were spectacular and the sunset (by the time it was 21:00 hours) was lovely and highlighted all the mountains around me. By that time I was reminded again why I hill walk…where else do you get views like that!?

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Ben Nevis just popping out of the clouds

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Sunset above the clouds


The deep shadows in the valley reminded me about the time and I had to drag myself off the mountain top. There is a faint path at times, but in the approaching twilight I missed parts of it and took the most direct route down to Glen Nevis. By the time I reached flatter ground darkness was approaching quickly. The path also started to get boggy and missing a hole in the ground I fell and landed flat on my face :o :roll: – annoyed I got up (thankfully mo one saw my ungraceful fall) :lol: and realized it was time to put on the hear torch. For the first time since I stared walking, I had to use it and it felt like a new milestone accomplished. :clap:

Walking in the dark is pretty challenging, especially when you are alone. Finding the path was hard in the dark and by the time I reached the forest it was pitch black. :shock: Navigating a path which winds itself up and down the hillside over rocks and boulders was hard going and in my little circle of light I felt rather claustrophobic at times. When I finally reached the car at 22:30 I was more than happy to be back at civilisation.


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Darkness approaching in the valleys

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Sunset and the steep drops down Aonach Beag

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At 21:00h...lovely views towards the Mamores

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On the way back down
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Mountainlove
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby Sabbathstevie » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:38 pm

Very entertaining report! :clap: You are however, absolutely mental!
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby dogplodder » Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:33 pm

Love your reports ML and I just wouldn't expect you to do anything the easy way! :crazy:

Does Marco know what he's let himself in for hooking up with you? :lol:
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby monty » Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:53 pm

Excellent report ML. Mad as ever. Mind you I done something similar last July although having been up the Ben a few times before decided to give the Ben a miss and just head along the CMD arete. Oh, I did add the aonachs, oh and the Grey Corries :lol:

http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=13364
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby 147cjl » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:11 pm

well done ML, great report and some great pictures too :D and as always an original route :clap: . I'll try a similar route at some point except up the Coire Guibsachan onto bealach Cumhann
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby LeithySuburbs » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:20 pm

Great route/report/pics... blah blah blah :lol: :wink: . Hills are always great despite our impressions, but we sometimes are not :) .
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:37 pm

Sabbathstevie wrote:Very entertaining report! :clap: You are however, absolutely mental!

Lol a bit of madness is always good :D :D

dogplodder wrote:Love your reports ML and I just wouldn't expect you to do anything the easy way! :crazy:
Does Marco know what he's let himself in for hooking up with you? :lol:

Trust me I tried everything to convince him not to come along...but even though he still does not share my passion for the hills, he sees it as good excercise (in a mad kind of way) :roll:

monty wrote:Excellent report ML. Mad as ever. Mind you I done something similar last July although having been up the Ben a few times before decided to give the Ben a miss and just head along the CMD arete. Oh, I did add the aonachs, oh and the Grey Corries :lol:
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=13364


OMG the whole thing and the grey Corries! You are Superman indeed - my uttter respect :clap: :clap:

LeithySuburbs wrote:Great route/report/pics... blah blah blah :lol: :wink: . Hills are always great despite our impressions, but we sometimes are not :) .

Very true...although in the clag and heavy rain I do not really enjoy the hills...more the thought about a warm pub afterwards :lol:
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby kenny3760 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:19 pm

Great stuff there. Walking in the dark, still to do that, but hopefully I'll try it on something a bit easier first.
The arete looks very exposed from the picture, how wide is it?
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby soapy27 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:26 pm

Nice report and great photos :clap:
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:48 pm

147cjl wrote:well done ML, great report and some great pictures too :D and as always an original route :clap: . I'll try a similar route at some point except up the Coire Guibsachan onto bealach Cumhann


It is hard going but the arete is fun! You should be fine with your new confidence in heights :D :D

kenny3760 wrote:Great stuff there. Walking in the dark, still to do that, but hopefully I'll try it on something a bit easier first. The arete looks very exposed from the picture, how wide is it?


I did not really plan to walk in the dark that day, but always carry a head torch in my bag (just as well) Although I am not sure if I like it very much...The arete is pretty narrow in places (an arms lengh), but there is always a 'bypass' you can take if you dont feel confident enough.

soapy27 wrote:Nice report and great photos :clap:


Many thanks!!
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby gammy leg walker » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:07 pm

The title says it all............MAD. :lol:
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby malky_c » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:15 pm

Nothing mad about this - it looks like a really good route actually. I may well borrow it sometime :D . Impressive cloud effects and sunset too.

Mad would be going back up the pony path a second time :lol:
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby Mountainlove » Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:15 am

gammy leg walker wrote:The title says it all............MAD. :lol:


True but to complete all 4 its a good option :D

malky_c wrote:Nothing mad about this - it looks like a really good route actually. I may well borrow it sometime :D . Impressive cloud effects and sunset too.
Mad would be going back up the pony path a second time :lol:


I soo agree...dont thing I could do the pony path again...although the 'hillwalking' outfits you spot on top of Ben Nevis (specially the day I was up) were impressive...my favourite was a guy who looked like he just rolled off his surfboard and started to climb a mountain...I am still convinced he had swimming shorts on!! :lol:
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby mountain thyme » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:03 pm

monty wrote:Excellent report ML. Mad as ever. Mind you I done something similar last July although having been up the Ben a few times before decided to give the Ben a miss and just head along the CMD arete. Oh, I did add the aonachs, oh and the Grey Corries :lol:

http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=13364



Some nice pics ML.... and monty we got there before you ( just like the munros :D )...... and topped it off with a good nights sleep on the Ben :D


http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=11378
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Re: The mad way up Ben Nevis, CMD and Aonachs

Postby Alan S » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:11 pm

Nice one ML, me and Gammy were thinking of a similar route,but it doesnt involve the Ben and may include a cable car :lol:
Nice pics 8)
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