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!
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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.