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Ben Nevis mountain track

Ben Nevis mountain track

Postby Myth » Mon May 26, 2008 7:54 pm

Route description: Ben Nevis by the Mountain Path

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis

Date walked: 26/05/2008

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Late Spring 2007 - two families: four adults, four children, and a dog on the way up...

It was an opportunity to get a quick jaunt into the hills, and tick off the "biggest" for the kids. We'd studied the weather, and were - we thought - reasonably well equipped with hill trousers, food, hats gloves, coats etc.in rucksacks in spite of starting from the car park in t-shirts. The same could NOT be said for the majority of the folks we saw on the hill - jeans lightweight trainers, shorts and t-shirts (and an adult sized pink baby-grow!) were standard fare.

The view from the car park is quite impressive, gazing along the side of the mountain, and looking up at the huge zigzags... well I'm sure it is normally, but the big zigs and zags were all firmly in cloud - forcast was to clear, and we're good navigators, with maps and compasses so onwards! The initial part of the climb along the side of the hill is fairly uninteresting, and it goes on and on. The light relief was watching the people - we passed LOADS, and saw loads coming down (not having summited), and I was giving marks out of ten for prepardness and summitability. Very few "Perfect Tens" - and they *all* overtook our party!

Once the path swings left and round the shoulder up towards the middle lochan (several tents - hardy souls), you get a wonderful view of the remaining high path (through cloud in our case), and as we passed the water fall, there were crowds grabbing a drink and kibitzing... we refilled and moved on fast - no "10s" waiting there. From the waterfall it's not long before you're on the big zig zags, and we paused for lunch and kit-up here just below the cloud. As soon as we stopped we got cold, even with the extra layers... lunch was hurried, and we pressed on.

From the top of the zigzags the path is not particularly distint - in fair conditions you can follow the line of large cairns, but we had restricted views, and used compasses between them looming out of the cloud, and fading behind us to ensure we avoided the drops. We heard *many* kids and young people in this area whinging about the cold, the effort, and etc.. Very, very cold, and the wind chill was getting extreme.

At the summit it was freezing and blowing a gale. We were all extremely cold in spite of our clothing, and our pictures show a vague representation of someone on the summit cairn... could have been anyone! We'd planed things to do, possibly even going north, but didn't - I recognised the onset of hypothermia in *me* and wanted everyone off the summit NOW, and pushed off without really thinking - our two family groups split into four pairs of Adult/child, with the kids in the wind shadow of the adults as we navigated carefully off the plateau. We were well spaced out, going at the pace of "our" child, and it was only as we dropped back out of the cloud we re-grouped at the base of the zip-zags that we did a nose count, and I realised how confused I'd been. The count came up one nose short - the four legged one!

We'd seen him on the top at the photo call - but didn't know if he was still up, had gone over the edge, made a new friend, or had gone down ahead of us - he's a tart and will go with anyone... By now we were all chilled, tired and a long way down from the top, with four kids who still needed to be down a few hundred metres for comfort. None of the adults were fit to re-acsend and retreat on the off-chance of finding the dog - we decided to carry on down, but asked several "serious" looking climbers still on their ascent to watch out for him, and gave out a contact number. It was a very subdued party when we got back to the car and found no dog waiting, and we went for a meal in the restaurant close to the hostel (well worth a visit) while I started planning a return trip the next day. Thankfully, tart that he was he'd gone with someone else, and our message got to his new companions, who duely rang us - the re-union was exceedingly noisy (he nearly caused them to crash when he saw us!) and they were re-assured that it was a mistake...

I will *never* forget this walk, and have learned a serious lesson about how fast I lose my common sense.

Added to which, it's not really a great hill. It's a great big hill, and I'm sure the views would be stunning - but in our group of climbing friends (about 6 couples and a few singles) we've all been there at least once, and only one midsummer night and one winter climb got to see any view - the rest had varying degrees of whiteout.
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Re: Ben Nevis mountain track

Postby canisp » Mon May 26, 2008 11:10 pm

by Myth on Mon May 26, 2008 6:54 pm

Enjoyed your description of the route, and glad there was a happy ending :D , a day to remember.
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