Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
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.

Ben Nevis - A Ledge too far!

Ben Nevis - A Ledge too far!

Postby jwramsay » Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:47 pm

Date walked: 14/09/2013

1 person thinks this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Having previously completed Curved Ridge, Aonach Eagach and Forcan Ridge, I fancied a challenge ...

Peter and I had high hopes of obtaining the summit of Ben Nevis via the North Face scramble known as "Ledge Route" on Saturday 14th September 2013. Parking in the North Face carpark at Torlundy, we were 2 hours to the entrance of Gully number 5 on the North Face. This is at the top of the scree pile that extends all the way down to the CIC hut,

On entering the Gully things started to go astray. First mistake - not having a helmet. Scree all over the place means loose rocks bouncing downwards to the unsuspecting climber below! We then missed the right hand turn and scrambled up Gully 5.

Then clag and rain moved in and the rocks became horribly slippy - arghh.

We looked back and realised that we'd missed the actual ledge we should have gone up - complete will the lovely wet sloping slab at the top.

Our main objective at this point was to retreat safely to the start of the ledge route. We had to remove our backpacks to descramble the Gully 5 and whilst lowering them down Peter's water bottle fell out and down the hill, being decapitated too. Thank goodness that was not our heads!

Eventually we made it down to the bit where we should have headed right and up. We mused over the happenings over a cup of coffee and decided that the slippy slab was not for us, due to its proximity to the cliffs, so made the decision to retreat down and just enjoy the views of the North Face and take lots of photos and video instead.

The clag cleared and the sun came out briefly and we met two walkers heading fro Ledge Route. One of them had done it before and assured us that the slab was the only difficult part of the walk, but we'd made our minds up and wished them all the best. By the time we neared the CIC hut lower down the slopes, we could see they'd reached the top of that section and were already quite high up.

We soaked up the moody views of the North face of The Ben for an hour or so, before heading back along the path to the North Face carpark. At the style, just before the trees, we met a local guy who'd went up the Castle Ridge and down the Ledge route. He said we could have avoided the slab by going via Moonlight buttress, so if we go up there again, that sounds like a plan!

I've already got Ben Nevis and CMD ticked off, so didn't miss out on adding to my tally, I felt a little disappointed in failing on the Ledge Route, but we both made it back down safely and had a great day out.

The Coire Leis, Carn Morn Dearg to the Left, North Face to the right:

Gully Number 5 from the CIC Hut, with the arrow pointing to where Peter managed to scramble to. The Ledge is to the right before this point!!

Looking up the Ledge from Gully 5 - notice the very wet sloping slab and cliffs directly to the right of it.

The cliffs below the wet sloping slab:

Climbers approaching CMD, photo taken from 2500 feet up, in Gully 5 - like a trail of ants!

A look back down the scree face to the CIC hut, with the summit of Carn Mor Dearg towering above:

Peter revels in the photographic opportunities that the North Face provides, arrow pointing to our failure point:

On the way back to the North Face carpark, we have our tea at the table with the lovely views:

Youtube video
Last edited by jwramsay on Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
Mountain Walker
Posts: 304
Munros:109   Corbetts:8
Grahams:4   Donalds:3
Joined: Oct 11, 2010
Location: Wishaw

Re: Ben Nevis - A Ledge too far!

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:05 pm

Ach if in doubt leave it out .... always the next time :D
User avatar
Mountain Walker
Posts: 1843
Munros:282   Corbetts:193
Grahams:36   Donalds:10
Sub 2000:23   
Joined: Aug 8, 2011
Location: Gaidhealtachd an Iar

Re: Ben Nevis - A Ledge too far!

Postby simon-b » Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:50 pm

It sounds like you made a wise tactical retreat, JW. At least you had a good day with some fine views.
User avatar
Munro compleatist
Posts: 2108
Munros:282   Corbetts:30
Grahams:7   Donalds:12
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:155
Wainwrights:214   Islands:4
Joined: Jan 2, 2012
Location: Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Re: Ben Nevis - A Ledge too far!

Postby Peter913 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:04 pm

Nice shots there my reports up too

Posts: 113
Joined: Jan 6, 2011

Re: Ben Nevis - A Ledge too far!

Postby Daz284 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:05 pm

Great vid - inspiring :)
Posts: 1
Munros:247   Corbetts:13
Joined: Oct 15, 2011

Re: Ben Nevis - A Ledge too far!

Postby meangarry » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:41 pm

Looks like a cracking day out anyway! Definately going onto the to do list. :)
User avatar
Posts: 398
Munros:27   Corbetts:19
Grahams:15   Donalds:60
Sub 2000:5   Hewitts:16
Joined: Mar 24, 2012

1 person thinks this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 50 guests