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Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Ledge Route & CMD Arete


Postby gman » Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:21 pm

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

Date walked: 25/03/2015

Time taken: 8.4 hours

Distance: 18 km

Ascent: 1620m

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North Face car park was almost full when I got there at 9ish, then on the path to the CIC hut I met Andy from the Lakes MRT who was going to have a look at some routes on the Ben. By the time we got to the CIC hut he decided to go for Ledge Route too, which was handy for me since I've never done any routes on the north face before and having a mountain rescue team member for company is a wee bit reassuring.

At the CIC hut the view left is Tower Ridge.
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Straight ahead there's the Comb and Number 2 Gully top leftish (my plan B) and Moonlight Gully Buttress at the far right.
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Looking right it's Moonlight Gully Buttress again with Carn Dearg Buttress on its right. Number 5 Gully runs between these 2 buttresses and is the start of Ledge Route. It's also an avalanche blackspot and there was debris below it.
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Approaching Number 5 Gully, team ahead getting roped up for Ledge Route.
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Started up the gully, the route soon branches off to the right along a ledge.
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On the right branch, team behind are in Number 5 Gully.
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Then turn left and straight up on a narrow gully.
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At the top of the Gully Andy heard a Sea King (on possibly its last callout), we could see a group below Tower Ridge who had released a flare. The helicopter came in and winched a casualty out, later found out he'd been on Italian Climb (snowy gully above the helicopter) and broke his ankle.
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Turned right at the top of the narrow gully and followed another snow ledge which leads to the ridge.
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Start of the ridge, there were a couple ahead of us who were roped up & moving together.
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They offered to let us past but Andy recommended staying behind at the narrow part of the ridge as the rope between them could be dangerous for us.
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This is looking down to the Gangway, a narrow ridge with a steep drop on the left (on the right from above) then a downclimb. This looked pretty scary in photos I'd seen but there's actually a gully on the right as you go up (ie not much drop) and the downclimb was easy in today's conditions.
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Passed the 2 others where the ridge widened, there's someone on the last ridge to the summit higher up.
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More pics of the ridge, great route in excellent condition and fantastic weather :D .
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Final snowy ridge to the top.
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Great views at the top, the approaching climber warned of a crevasse above Number 5 Gully.
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Wasn't sure what to do next, had thought about descending Number 4 gully. Wandered round & had a look at the gully tops.
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Great conditions today.
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Looking back to Ledge Route.
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Climbers doing the harder stuff, plenty of ice still on the Ben.
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Ledge route close up, can just about make out the steps in the snow showing the route.
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Summit.
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Decided to head back via the arete.
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Mamores.
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On the arete.
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Dropped camera in the snow so got some interesting snowflake lens effects :lol: .
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North Face of the Ben, Carn Dearg Buttress on the right.
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Been doing some easy winter climbs this year, doesn't get much better than this :D .
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby malky_c » Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:03 pm

That looked spectacular in perfect conditions 8) . This is my favourite circuit on the Ben, but only ever done it in summer (or almost summer) conditions. One day I'd love to do it in the winter, although I might be slightly wary of the Ledge Route part of it.
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby gman » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:58 pm

It was pretty easy yesterday but I was talking to someone a couple of weeks ago who descended Ledge Route after a higher grade climb and had a nightmare lower down as there wasn't much snow. I was making a beeline for number 2 Gully if it looked remotely dodgy, fortunately didn't have to :D .
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby wilkiemurray » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:10 pm

looks amazing gman- got this one on the tick list soon too.... very jealous :)

ATB

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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby Beaner001 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:48 pm

Aye gman that looks great, well done and great pics :clap:
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby Fife Flyer » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:24 pm

Fantastic stuff, great photo's :clap: :clap:

On my list - but once all the white stuff is away, looks pretty scary on the ridge :lol:
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby mgmt! » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:40 pm

well done gman, nice report and pictures, i descended part of ledge route last Saturday after doing boomers requiem, had a bit of a moment when the last of the snow on the curtain slid off behind me, but was ok , lots of avalanche debris towards the cic hut
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby Collaciotach » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:00 pm

Aye your hardy a bhalaich :clap: :clap:
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Mar 27, 2015 11:06 pm

Wow - simply spectacular :clap: :clap: :clap: - Pics and report.

On my list for this year, but it won't be with the white stuff, unfortunately...
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby hopper68 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:35 am

Fantastic, we done a slightly different route last Saturday. We started from Glen Nevis walked to the CIC hut ,climbed CMD to the summit and walked the Arete and up Ben Nevis. Our descent was down the tourists route.
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby Tomsie » Mon Mar 30, 2015 12:44 pm

Looked a good day out, also good you had someone to join you, even better an mrt member
The other winter climbs, have you a list/route book your picking from?
Hope to do this or another north face route through the summer.
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Mar 30, 2015 12:54 pm

Fantastic!
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:04 am

That looked great!
Must make a point of getting up the Ben in good conditions... quite fancy that route up - thanks for some inspiration
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby gman » Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:09 am

Tomsie wrote:Looked a good day out, also good you had someone to join you, even better an mrt member
The other winter climbs, have you a list/route book your picking from?
Hope to do this or another north face route through the summer.


I got the SMC book 'Scottish Winter Climbs' last year, it's ideal with photos showing the routes, grades & descriptions etc. Also have a few websites bookmarked, like http://scottishwinterroutes.com/. And I check UKC to see what's been climbed recently (ie it's in condition) and what style it has been climbed, so I know Ledge Route is a Grade II that most people climb solo whereas Dorsal Arete is a Grade II that people get roped up for (& I should avoid! :lol: )
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Re: Ledge Route & CMD Arete

Postby BoyVertiginous » Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:26 am

Promised myself next time I do the Ben, it'd be via the CMD Arete however, your route has swayed me (and still get to return via CMD). The pics tell a great story.
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