I heard of Ben Nevis when I was searching for the highest points in Europe. Being a 1,344 m summit I expected to be a piece of cake, especially in May when the sun is shining all over the Europe.
So I started with my friend the easy normal route by a rapid ascent at about 9:45 am. The weather was just perfect, some clouds covering the peak above 600-700m without any sign of rain. The weather forecast was telling something about a kind of snow above 800m, but we didn't believe it too much.
We continued the route that was quite crowded for a Sunday morning...I thought that people will prefer to have a quiet and peacefully family lunch in front of the warm chimney.
In this part we paid attention to the steeper, rockier slopes in a wide zigzag and there were some parts where we slipped easy. But my friend was in good form and made some sprints on the way.
We continued to climb and we were approaching the clouds, but no sign of the summit. We took a break to take some picture of the Lochan Meall An T-suidhe
and before entering the cloudy part of the path, a beautiful view over the Loch Eil.
After 2h30 of walk we pass the clouds and the surprise was there...the snow...a lot of snow and windy weather. The temperature was chill, but we didn't need gloves. We were equipped for spring-summer conditions and the advance was becoming difficult and we slipped plenty of times.
Unfortunately, at some point we lost on the track because the visibility was getting worse and we weren't able to see more than 15m in front of us. Luckily, we saw people getting down, some giving up due to the bad visibility and poor weather conditions, others who reached the top were getting down rapidly. But we were determined and we looked for people marks in the snow which were disappearing rapidly due to the winded snow.
Finally, after 3h30 hours and struggle into the snow we were able to reach the meteorological station with a couple of other trekkers. The coffee and some chocolate bars were well deserved.
We enjoyed the moment for 15 minutes to make some pictures, but it was impossible to see anything around and quite dangerous to approach the massive cliffs because we were afraid of cornices of overhanging snow which could collapse if we stepped on them.
On the returning route (the same as the ascent) we lost again with another group, but we were able to return to the normal route by hearing some trekkers who were going up.
The clouds were climbing up and we continued the descent without any pause till the end.
After 5h40 we were back at Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis.
Fortunately, that day, nobody died, but 2 months prior to our ascent a walker lost his life on Ben Nevis.
It is an easy summit for those with experience...there are a lot of children climbing it, but respect the mountain, the weather conditions and go prepared.
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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.