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Ben by the back way

Ben by the back way


Postby lordyosch » Tue May 06, 2014 10:26 pm

Route description: Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete

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

Date walked: 03/05/2014

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 19 km

Ascent: 1500m

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I'd never been up Ben Nevis before and fancied trying something more challenging than the tourist path, sorry mountain track.

The weather conditions were perfect, no wind and some sunshine.
I parked at the visitor centre car park in Glen Nevis and set off along the riverbank. I was a little apprehensive about the conditions as I was traveling solo.
Having no one to chat to and feeling surprisingly fit I made the lochan in no time. There were a few other people on the path up to this point but when I turned left I was alone.

A short while later I was turning into the valley between between Ben Nevis and CMD. My first views of the north face, a view that has adorned my living room wall in poster form for over a decade!

The cliffs were towering above me, looking really good with a fair amount of snow clinging to them. Opposite was the route. The steep wall leading to the ridge part snow, part loose rock and boulders.

I sat for a while enjoying the view and took my first drink of water. Pretty much the whole litre. I refilled the bottle from the pipe at the CIC hut and decided on a line up to the ridge.
I chose a route which was part rock and part snow. When the rocks got tiresome I got the ice axe out and kicked steps up the snow.

After what seemed like an eternity I made the ridge and took in the magnificence of the surroundings. I was there, looking at the view on my living room wall, but for real.

The axe away again I set off along the ridge towards Carn Mor Dearg. The ridge was clear of snow and the rock perfectly dry. I was glad of the still air, it is a long drop off the ridge.

Towards the summit of CMD I stopped for an early lunch of pitta breads and primula cheese. Proper gourmet!

Looking back I could see another half dozen walkers on the ridge, ably the only people if seen in hours. Scrambling over the rocks, peering down into coire leis -again pleased it was dry and still.

At the end of the scramble is the final climb up to the summit. There is a vague path but I ignored it, opting for a direct route. It's a tiring climb, stepping up, onto and over boulders. Eventually it occurred to me that the view ahead contained more sky than rocks. The summit! I was almost there! Elated I pressed on, quicker now, my goal in sight.

Ascending to the plateau I was greeted with the view of the trig point, the observatory and the crowds. There were about forty people milling about the top. One appeared to have carried a fridge up there!

I enjoyed a celebratory chocolate bar, a drink and took a few photos before setting off again.

I'd already prepared my map with the official bearings and distances for getting off safely. They weren't needed as visibility was perfect but I followed them anyway, just to see how they went.

As the plateau gave way to McLean's Steep I stayed on the snow, keeping away from the zigzags. I stepped, skidded and slid down the snow almost all the way back to the lochan! I think this must have saved me at least an hour on the descent.

When there was no more snow I joined the trail and the crowds and made good time back to the car. All in all it took 8hrs10minutes. I couldn't believe it, i'd expected to be out for a few hours more.

It was a fantastic day out, probably the most ascent in a single uk hillwalking day i'd ever done!

I drove back into fort William and celebrated with a quiet pint in the grog and gruel!
lordyosch
Mountain Walker
 
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