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Overnight traverse of the CMD Arete

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:59 pm
by smalltounboy
I initially planned to do the Carn Mor Dearg arete in summer 2013 but bottled out, instead I choose to summit the Ben via the pony track along with the flip-flop and wellies brigade.

Feeling thoroughly disappointed with the experience I vowed to return to the Ben the scenic way.

My hillwalking had been starting earlier and earlier in the morning to the point where the first 1500ft was usually undertaken in the dark and the summit reached in time for the sunrise.

I'd became pretty adept to climbing by head torch, even finding it helpful as it cut out the distractions caught by my peripheral vision, allowing me to concentrate on the immediate area being traversed.

With this in mind and the summer solstice quickly approaching I set about planning my return to the Ben, my initial plan was to catch the last train to Fort William and set of up Carn Mor Dearg straight away but this soon changed when other members of my mountaineering club asked to join me.

Myself and Stewart (our club chairman) drove up by car to the North Face carpark, fellow club member Mike had arrived earlier and had set off from the youth hostel at Glen Nevis with a plan to rendezvous at the summit of Carn Mor Dearg at 1am.

track (1).gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We set of at 10pm fighting the midges and gained altitude fairly quickly reaching Carn Dearg Meadhonach by midnight with a spectacular view of Fort William and Caol
Fort William in the simmer dim

We'd managed to get to Carn Dearg Meadhonach without using the head torches as there was still enough low light to safety walk without them reaching Carn Mor Dearg and Mike just before 1am.
Mike at Carn Mor Dearg

After a bite to eat we realised that the light levels had by now dropped too low so decided to start the ridge with the head torches, intermittent breaks in the clag occasionally lifted the visibility and light levels sufficiently to see the route ahead. The temperature on the ridge was about 2°C with a steady 20mph wind.
Arete from Carn Mor Dearg

The North Face of the Ben just visible in the simmer dim

By 2:30am the light levels were lifting more and more but the demanding terrain meant we still required the extra light of the head torches.
Mike and Stewart

By 4:30am we had reached the base of the Ben and with sun now up (somewhere) we could see the route we had just walked
The Arete from the base of the Ben

The start of the climb up the Ben

We summited the Ben half an hour later to find it completely desolate
An empty Ben plateau

The end of a great Friday night out in Lochaber

We made our way to the emergency refuge and had a celebratory dram, still not quite believing what we'd just completed
Celebrating with a dram

By 5:30am the first walkers of the day were reaching the summit from the pony track with a look of surprise and disappointment they realised that they weren't there first.

We left the top just as the rain started, feeling sorry for the soaked charity walkers chugging their way up that never ending boring pony track............I only hope the same disappointment I had inspires them to one day return to the Ben and climb it via Carn Mor Dearg

Re: Overnight traverse of the CMD Arete

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:26 pm
by mrssanta
That looked like a great adventure

Re: Overnight traverse of the CMD Arete

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:34 pm
by old danensian
Now that looks like the best way to do the Ben - I've still to do the Aonachs and have thought about doing the same by staying up there late and getting across to the Ben via CMD

Those moody photos really make the report.

Well done


Re: Overnight traverse of the CMD Arete

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:37 pm
by smalltounboy
mrssanta wrote:That looked like a great adventure

Thanks, it was, one I'll remember for a long time to come

Re: Overnight traverse of the CMD Arete

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:55 pm
by Beaner001
Nice one, that's rectified your experience on the Pony Track alright :clap: think I'll stick to a daylight traverse tho :lol: :lol: