by gman » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:37 am
Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis
Date walked: 01/09/2017
Time taken: 7 hours
Distance: 18 km
Ascent: 1662m9 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).
Decided to have a go at this after seeing Damon Ritchie's TR video on YouTube, it's also in Dan Bailey's Mountain Ridges book and his description is an article on UKC so lots of route info available online (there was rockfall in Tower Gap a couple of years ago and some pics show a wide ledge to step down onto but this has now gone).
Douglas Boulder from just after the CIC, I'm taking East Gully on the left to bypass the boulder. I was here last Sat but bailed out halfway up East Gully as it was too wet/slimy. It's also easy to miss the gully as it's rockier on the left side, route starts up a greasy corner.
Branch off here for East Gully, top of D Boulder just visible.
Then steep scree leads to the gully, which is wet & loose in places and there had been recent rockfall - I had a helmet on just in case.
Met a couple last Sat who were taking a groove onto the ridge further up than the gully, apparently it's easier but would miss out the tricky chimney out of Douglas Gap. There are sections of North Buttress harder than this chimney and it's sometimes described as the crux of the route, was a bit damp but it's very juggy and all the holds are there.
Descent of Douglas Boulder to the gap looks difficult.
Well, that was easy and I'm on Tower Ridge! Next it's a scrambly section leading up to the Little Tower, variations possible and the one I took actually felt like the hardest thing on the ridge.
Approaching the Little Tower.
Nice scrambling on the tower.
Had a look at the Ledge Route bypass path which avoids the slab at the bottom.
Slabs & crampon scratches on the way up the tower.
Next, there's a 'long flattish section' leading to the Great Tower which would be bypassed by the eastern traverse. Apparently a long flattish section is fairly short because I soon saw this hard looking lump ahead, so I thought this might in fact be the Little Tower? Fortunately it wasn't and I didn't have to climb it. There aren't many walking breaks on the ridge, and I noticed I was getting exhausted with all the steep scrambling so I decided to take more rest stops to conserve energy (and composure).
Scramble to the steep headwall then the eastern traverse bypass path on the left.
Path leads to a crossroads: cave on the right leads to the Great Tower. The wall on the right was dripping water but the left wall has all the holds and was dry.
Or it's possible to continue the traverse path and escape off the ridge. This would miss out the Great Tower and Tower Gap.
Top of the cave looking back down:
Scramble up to the Great Tower, a series of ledges with some steep moves.
Then the ridge narrows leading to...TOWER GAP!
I'd seen pics & videos of the gap and it looked like a steep, awkward descent to a block with huge exposure on all sides. I knew the moves by heart but could still feel the tension building as I got closer. A guide on North Buttress last month told me to loop 3m of rope around the boulder as an additional handhold so I brought some accessory cord for this - bit of a faff though and I didn't need it. you can see where the foothold on the left is from above as it projects out a bit, left foot on this and handholds on the ledge above it...look over shoulder to check right foot is heading to the block...transfer weight to right foot & get both feet on the block...hug the boulder above to regain balance...job done! Er, half done - very exposed step to the other side then ascend the block on good holds.
Not hard if you've done the homework but the difficulty is keeping calm with the exposure. You can also hear voices on the tourist path from here as it's close to the summit which is a bit surreal.
Final steep wall
Avoided by a ledge to the right
And Tower Ridge is done, wee cairn at the top then tourist path to the summit.
Cleared at the top so got a pic of the ridge.
Descended Ledge Route
Met a climber belaying above the slab, said it was pretty dodgy so I took the bypass path to CIC hut instead.
TR is graded Diff as a climb which I've never done before so I was a bit worried about it, it's not really much harder technically than a Grade 3 scramble but it's a very long route with a lot of exposure. I've done a little bouldering so I looked at it as a series of very easy boulder problems (which I can solo no problem) rather than a Difficult Climb. Best scramble I've done on the mainland.
by dav2930 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:52 pm
Great report and photos too, shows the route really well, very useful for TR aspirants. It's a route I've had on my to-do list for years but it always seems to be raining on the Ben!
by gman » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:44 am
by PeteR » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:09 am
by gaffr » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:43 am
Also very good training to descend the easier routes as preparation when in other areas, if that is where you want to tread, when a walk off is not available.
by gman » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:27 pm
PeteR wrote:Looks absolutely superb I say this in the knowledge I have no intention of ever attempting anything like this myself
I remember saying something similar!
gaffr wrote:Also very good training to descend the easier routes as preparation when in other areas, if that is where you want to tread, when a walk off is not available.
Think the gap might be easier in descent? Plenty of good holds on the route which was reassuring in case a retreat was needed.
by Coop » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:32 pm
Fantastic; well in
by Mal Grey » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:15 pm
by onsen » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:18 am
via my tablets screen, I'm sure it's much more impressive in person.
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by LeithySuburbs » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:27 am
by gman » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:46 pm
LeithySuburbs wrote:One of the few "classic" scrambles I have left to do on the mainland
You won't be disappointed, I'm keeping an eye on the weather for a return.
by past my sell by date » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:16 pm
Yes it was descended by the Hopkinsons family - 4 of whom later tragically fell to their death on the Petit Dent de Vesuvi
Nice pics. I did it in "spring" conditions. The Eastern traverse was clear of snow but the "hole" wasn't and there was a very short Ice pitch at the top. Bold route to solo - exposure at Tower gap is considerable. Well done