It's a new dawn, it's a new day...and I'm feelin good!
by Jaxter » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:49 pm
Route description: Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete
Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg
Date walked: 01/04/2018
Time taken: 9.45 hours
Distance: 20.86 km
Ascent: 1714m25 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).
It’s amazing how difficult simple things are in the dark – even with a head torch it was impossible to see the barrier the route description said to head for, and in searching for this barrier I met Mike.
Barrier located we set off up the track, navigating easily along the forest tracks and breathing heavily as we already were heading uphill.
Soon enough the path joined the burn and we followed the Allt a’Mhuillin up the glen. We nearly took a wrong turning at the stile but fortunately we were now out of the trees and the moonlight was doing far more for visibility than head torches. We were starting to see the bulk of Nevis ahead.
Soon enough it was time to leave the path and head up pathless ground up towards Carn Beag Dearg. It was a brutal ascent and although the ground was mercifully frozen it was hard going over the heather and rocks. As it was still dark, stopping for a photo was not a valid excuse and although I had a few attempts, without a tripod they were all failures.
My best attempt - still pretty blurry :/
Soon enough we were into the snow which made walking much easier as it was largely nicely consolidated. The moonlight and the beginnings of daylight were also helping! We could see the lights of climbers heading towards gullies on the North face - hardcore
Back towards Fort William, Loch Linnhe & Loch Eil
Now we had fresh snow underfoot which was making walking harder. When I went flying on some unseen ice we decided it was time to get the crampons on – the forecast had suggested a temperature of -17 and didn’t my fingers know it as I fiddled with straps! The rings had actually frozen together
The North Face of Nevis
The photos really don’t tell the story of how incredible the experience had been up until now – walking up a mountain in the dark and seeing Ben Nevis slowly become visible was a really humbling experience and I felt extremely privileged to be able to witness it
We met the ridge before Carn Dearg Mheadhonach and looking ahead we could see some helpful cairns warning us away from the edge where there were surely massive cornices
Struggling to fit it all in
Our aching legs dragged us up the final ascent to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg and at last we could see the arete stretching out ahead of us
It was 6.40 and absolutely baltic and we were just in time for sunrise as we looked along the arete for any potential difficulties.
Looking back down the ridge of Carn Mor Dearg towards Fort William, Loch Eil & the Glenfinnan Hills
The sky starts to turn orange with the promise of dawn
The North Face starts to reflect some of that delicious orange glow
This would be my route if I was to continue on to the Aonachs – one for another time!
Nevis and the Arete
“Here comes the sun!”
Some Mamorey goodness – I love how striking these hills always look
Now able to see each other, my companion and I introduced ourselves Nutters eh
Mike enjoying the views
Wee panorama video
Sunrise bouncing off a mighty impressive sight!
I introduced my new friend to my bizarre summit ritual
The sun had now risen on Easter Day in the most spectacular of settings
However, -17 is mighty cold to stand around in despite the complete lack of wind and my camera was starting to freeze (as well as other, probably more important things, like my fingers and face )
We started heading towards the arete, although it was definitely worth pausing the look back at the light reflecting off the snow
Off we go then….
Although it was narrow there were no real problems – I found the worst section to be a rock stack early on that required stepping around. Blessed with longer limbs, Mike didn’t have any problems at all
The moon just dropping below the top of the North Face
It got a wee bit rockier ahead
A wee descent looked like it might be tricky but it caused no problems and we were on the home straight
I couldn’t stop looking at the North Face – it was so BIG!
The final section
Looking back – reminiscent of the Beinn a’ Bheithir ridge
Carn Mor Dearg
CMD arete with the Aonachs behind
More Mamores and beyond
Mamores with Glencoe behind
As we traversed the arete we had spotted the huge cornices on the side of the final ascent so we kept well away. It was very steep and there was quite a lot of loose snow as we dragged our tired bodies up the monster that is Ben Nevis.
As we climbed we joked about how early we’d have to be to be first on Nevis – as it turned out we were early enough! It was 8.35 as we reached the top and we were the only people there other than some very cold campers who I think we woke up
Looking back the way we’d come up
It was very cold but still mercifully calm and more layers were added so we could enjoy the amazing views
This one has me at a loss as it’s no Schiehallion!
There were several of these at the top – very tame and obviously used to lots of folk. Apparently it’s a snowbunting
Loch Eil & the Glenfinnan hills
Loch Lochy & the Loch Lochy hills
I think this is towards Glen Dessary & Knoydart
I like a challenge – axe required for this!
Everything was perfect – the visibility, the quietness, the conditions. I could’ve stayed there for hours if it hadn’t been so cold!
I could see pretty much everything South of Nevis
Beinn a’ Bheithir
I think that could be Cruachan in the background
Glencoe hills I think…
I’m pretty sure this be Mull
As we stood in awe of the scenery we were joined by the first person up the tourist path – he was good banter but had no crampons on
We stood around for as long as we could but soon we were starting to get cold. We decided to have a wander around the edge of Coire na Ciste for some more amazing views. It was so early it seemed a shame to go down yet
Looking back to the summit where more people had started arriving
The “motorway” with Loch Linnhe behind
The quick way doon
The sheer scale of everything was mind-boggling. Yes, it was the highest mountain in Britain but everything was just so impressive with the snow!
Looking at CMD and around Coire na Ciste
It was so nice to be able to explore the summit in such wonderful conditions. Knowing that we had stacks of daylight hours left, we had a wee look at the map. It looked like we should be able to get down by continuing down the ridge – it looked steep but nothing worse than we’d come down before. Why not?
So off we went, tracking well away from the corrie edge as a slip would send us over almost instantly. However….as we got further down it turned out that this was steeper and trickier than it had looked – the snow conditions weren’t quite hard enough or quite soft enough and after a while we looked at each other…
“What we need is more axes” said Mike He produced three, giving me his spare.
Stability ensured, we set about traversing around the hill until we met the tourist path. Looked like we would have to meet the masses afterall
“I know this is a bit nuts, but this is awesome!” I said. Clearly as nuts as me, Mike agreed
On less dicey ground we stopped for a breather. It was some view and as we were completely sheltered we were happy to sit and chill for a while
Loch Linnhe & Garbh Bheinn
This photo shows the gradient a bit better
Eventually it was time to get going so we wandered over towards the path where we met hunners of folk. As we were both still carrying 2 axes we looked like we knew what we were doing and were instantly inundated with questions about where to go
We enjoyed the views a little longer, warned folk to be careful (and not follow our footprints ) and set off down the zig zags. It was like walking past a conga line and so many people looked so unprepared we really hoped they weren’t going all the way
Eventually the crampons came off, as did most of our layers because it was absolutely roasting And yes, the axes went away too as we figured they were kind of overkill by now But I’m definitely buying a second one
We cut off at the lochan to head back towards the north face and there were mercifully fewer people this way.
This is what we’d been attempting to come down! A good lesson in the map and conditions not always agreeing
We cut down towards the burn across some bouncy grass and heather before finding an easy crossing point and reaching the path. From here it was an easy walk out.
Back at the car it was definitely time to lose more clothes and I was happy to find a pair of shorts and a sunhat in my car We parted company with a promise to do it again sometime (but only if we need 2 axes ) before Mike headed for home and I headed for Fort William to pick up a map I’d stupidly forgotten before finding one of my favourite camp spots to chill out.
Rum & Eigg
View from my bed
It could almost have been spring….
I was completely knackered so I had a nap for a couple of hours before waking up for some dinner and to enjoy the sun setting on a fabulous day that will live long in the memory
Room with a view
by Mal Grey » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:10 pm
The summit photos from CMD are wondrous.
That's one way to do with the "4000 foot grassy slope" as we referred to CMD; turn it into a 4000' snowy slope!
by Graeme D » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:25 pm
by arjh » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:28 pm
by malky_c » Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:11 pm
by dooterbang » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:17 am
As for "nuts"...merely good planning
by Sunset tripper » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:19 am
Probably some of the best pictures I've seen of the Ben & CMD.
I've stood on top of that shelter myself before but certainly not as gracefully as that.
- Posts: 1660
- Joined: Nov 3, 2013
- Location: Inverness
by onsen » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:36 am
You know how I feel
Scent of the pine
You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
Mighty effort, Jaxter...and a beautiful day to-boot.
- Mountain Walker
- Posts: 235
- Joined: Oct 10, 2012
- Location: The Great Southern Land, Australia
by past my sell by date » Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:31 pm
by weescotsman » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:34 pm
by Andymac75 » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:02 pm
Braver than me CMD intimidates me in the summer
My 'other' hill is looking very majestic.
I seen a guy standing on the Gardyloo cornice in early summer one year.
Will always remember his ignorance to his fate .
What a stunning day.
No rain clouds in FortW
- Posts: 101
- Joined: Feb 23, 2016
by Butch » Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:08 pm
by dogplodder » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:09 pm
by mrssanta » Sun Apr 22, 2018 2:12 pm
by hopper68 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 3:43 pm