Ha! Ben Nevis via the CMD arete
by Silverhill » Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:23 pm
Route description: Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete
Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg
Date walked: 31/05/2014
Time taken: 8.5 hours
Distance: 17.1 km
Ascent: 1544m5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Day two of my holiday.
Last year I failed to reach Ben Nevis twice in one day, first via the Carn Mor Dearg arête, then via the tourist path. Admittedly, the second attempt was a tad unrealistic (though valiant) given a self-imposed curfew and self-inflicted lack of sustenance. I had taken away two things from that trip. One: do not forget to eat. Two: do not go up from the CIC hut again.
So, today was the day to redeem myself and the weather was much better for it. Hurrah! I parked at the North Face car park at Torlundy. There were two other cars, but I had no illusions that it was going to be a quiet day. The route to the Allt a’ Mhuilinn is very well signposted, the path is in excellent condition and the woodland is very pretty. There are some strategically placed benches, so one can leisurely enjoy the views towards Loch Eil and beyond. I’m sure I could have spend a few pleasant hours just wandering in the wood, where it not for today’s mission. I must return another time.
Nearly out of the wood, this was the view!
I wasn’t worried about the cloud, the sun would most likely burn it off. It was going to be a good day!
Past the stile the path continued to be in good condition. Just as I was wondering when would be an opportune moment to leave the path, I spotted a small cairn and a faint trail striking off to the left. It was a bit boggy, but the path does improve higher up. When I looked back for the views, whilst munching a snack, 4 groups of other walkers had appeared. Two had followed me, two continued along the Allt a’ Mhuilinn. And someone was already coming down the hill, at 10.30am! I had a chat with the guy when our paths crossed. He had slept on the CMD arête to watch the sun rise! On a stretch of the bypass path which was of sleeping mat width! He confessed that he hadn’t slept that well….
Onwards. Once away from the bog the path kept to the west of the ridge, clinging to the slope, then zigzagging across scree more directly to Carn Dearg Meadhonach. This route isn’t a freewheeling alternative to the one from the CIC hut. It’s still a slog but a much more pleasant one, helped by the great views towards Ben Nevis!
From Carn Dearg Meadhonach the hard work was over. This was familiar territory. I recognised its east ridge, but without last year’s mist it looked much less convincingly like the back of a giant Stegosaurus. Only a short walk to Carn Mor Dearg. Anticipation building. Drum rolls. Trumpets. Ta da!
Of course the arête and Ben Nevis stole the show, but the views towards the Aonachs and the Mamores were equally great.
A few sandwiches, a chat with the other walkers on the summit and let the fun begin.
First slowly and carefully, but soon faster and more confidently I made my way down to the arête. And before I knew it I was hopping from rock to rock, surprised at my sure-footedness. Every year I’m intrigued by this phenomenon of ‘ongoing conditioning whilst absent from the hills’: for 50 weeks per year I’m not out walking in the hills on rough terrain, yet the moment I set foot on one, it feels like yesterday and I seem to have become better at it.
The CMD arête was fantastic. I made a point of sticking to the crest of the ridge, which was wider than expected, rather than going along the bypass path. It was never scary or exposed. There were frequent stops to enjoy the views and take pictures of the people behind me on the arete. Also, I didn’t want it to end! I waited for a few people to catch up. Had a chat with them. Walked. Took more pictures. Walked. Had a snack. Any opportunity to dawdle….
Just before the arête merges with the slopes of Ben Nevis, the rocks got too big for hopping, but were perfect for some easy scrambling. I was definitely going to make the most of the arête! At the marker post for the route down Coire Leis I spent some time chatting to the guys who had caught up on me earlier. Again dawdling, looking back along the arête and the walkers on it.
Sadly all good things come to an end and it was time for the final pull up Ben Nevis to a completely different world.
On the summit I chatted with a few people, took their pictures and ate a few more sandwiches. Then I walked towards the North East Buttress to have one last look at the CMD arête. A few climbers had just come up. I had a chat with them and took their pictures.
Alas, it was time for the descent via the tourist path.
At Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe I left the masses behind and followed the path north, past the lochan straight down the slope towards the Allt a’ Mhuilinn. Further down, roughly were the posts are, there is a faint vehicle track, which I followed on and off. It appeared that the track was going to become more substantial closer to the river. This fed my hope that it would cross the Allt a’ Mhuilinn at a ford. Which it did. Even better, the water was low and there were stepping stones. No need to take the boots off!
One last look at Ben Nevis and then through the lovely wood back to the car.
I’m so glad my attempts last year failed. What a great day, well worth the wait!
by gammy leg walker » Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:40 pm
by simon-b » Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:53 pm
by SecretSquirrel » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:29 pm
by tommyatr » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:48 pm
Probably the one I want to do most but will be on a perfect day.
by chompish » Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:26 am
A cracking walk
by Silverhill » Mon Sep 08, 2014 9:22 pm
gammy leg walker wrote:Cracking TR silverhill still got CMD to do but not sure I will ever set foot on the Ben again
Thanks gammy leg walker! I hope you get an equally good day for Carn Mor Dearg, so that at least you can enjoy the views towards Ben Nevis.
simon-b wrote:I'm glad it all worked out so well in the end, silverhill. That definitely did look a much better day than you'd have had if your first attempt had succeeded. Your route looks a nice alternative to doing that round from the visitor centre.
Thanks simon-b, it was definitely worth the wait! I did enjoy the tourist path last year (on the way up that is), but the ascent from the CIC hut was just horrendous. So yes, this was the perfect alternative!
SecretSquirrel wrote:Well done on returning and conquering the arete, it looked a great day. I've still got these to do, so its good to see an alternative route up to CMD.
Thanks SecretSquirrel! After last year’s failed attempts it was getting personal. I hope you’ll get a good day for them too!
tommyatr wrote:Cracking report and pics.always enjoy reading reports and looking at the pics in anticipation of doing this. Probably the one I want to do most but will be on a perfect day.
Thanks tommyatr! Definitely save it for a good day! I also enjoy reading reports as appetizers. It’s a great way to survive 50 weeks of non hill bagging.
chompish wrote:We took the same route up CMD but bivvy'd just before you hit the scree area. A cracking walk
It is chompish! I wondered how you’d got on with your bivvy on CMD arête, after reading your topic on the general discussion forum.
by Huff_n_Puff » Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:34 pm
by Sarah86 » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:57 am
by AnnieMacD » Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:57 pm
by Silverhill » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:04 pm
Huff_n_Puff wrote:Thanks for this - I hoping to do this route next year, unless I can think of a good reason to chicken out , your report is really encouraging. Love the photos of the arete.
Thanks Huff_n_Puff! If you were willing to do the Forcan Ridge, then you won’t have any problems with the arête. There is no need for scrambling and there is always the option of the bypass path where the arête narrows. Enjoy!
Sarah86 wrote:Wonderful report and you must be delighted to have completed the route after last year. Looks like you were rewarded with great views from the summit.
Thanks Sarah86! I had been looking forward to doing the arête for a long time and I loved every bit of it.
AnnieMacD wrote:Great read and photos. Well done, you, for going back and finishing it. If I ever do this I'll use your route!
Thanks AnnieMacD! It had become a bit of a mission after last year’s attempt. Strangely enough once on the arête I didn’t really want to finish it. Apparently what they say about having your cake and eat it, goes for an arête traverse as well. But there is always the next time! I hope you get a good day too!
by rockhopper » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:11 pm
Great photos and the views are so clear - cheers
by Silverhill » Wed Sep 10, 2014 5:27 pm
rockhopper wrote:Third time luck - that looked most enjoyable and well worth the wait.
Great photos and the views are so clear - cheers
Thanks rockhopper! Yes well worth the wait. I felt very lucky to also get the views!
by Johnny Corbett » Wed Sep 10, 2014 10:28 pm
by Silverhill » Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:06 pm