Ben Nevis, Tower Ridge, A dream come true.
by mountainstar » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:36 am
Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis
Date walked: 16/10/2010
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Distance: 13 km
Ascent: 1382m2 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).
Sat 16th October 2010.
Weather. Sunny, calm, frost to start.
Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis….many years ago I looked down to this mammoth rocky spur leading down the north face and thinking, Wow! I’d like to do that …but no way by myself.
I even wrote to Trail magazine asking for them to fix it for me, when they used to do a monthly feature on “fix it for me” but like my daughter, who wrote to Jim, it never came to fruition (In the Clachaig about 5 years ago I saw Jimmy at the bar, and with a few beers too many, took a picture of him and said “this is for my daughter, being as you never fixed it for her!”)
Since that 1st time around 20 years ago, I have looked down at it many times, and thought that that dream would never come true.
In steps my friend Keith Harper, a canny Geordie who I have got to know over the years and countless times visiting the Clachaig (he’s up most weekends from his home in Stirling) I mentioned my dream to him earlier this year, and he kindly said he would guide me up (He is an experienced rock and ice climber)
After two earlier days pencilled in this summer called off due to poor weather, our next date when it could happen was the weekend of 15/17th Oct, and this time the weather forecast was perfect for the Sat 16th with high pressure sitting over the Highlands.
We left a frosty Glen Nevis at around about 9.30am, climbed the busy tourist track to leave the crowds at the Lochan by the pass, to drop to the CIC hut (680mt) below the towering cliffs of the north face.
We chatted here to a handful of others who were doing other routes as we had a break before the hard work ahead. (On such a perfect day I was surprised to see so few doing any north face routes that day….we only saw about 10 in total and only 2 others doing our route, who we would pass later that morning)
From the hut we walked up steadily through the rocks and boulders until we were at the foot of the Douglas gap, looking up it did look a bit daunting, with about 600 meters of rock scrambling ahead, Nevis’s summit looked a long way above. With a lot of hands on, we made our way up with increasing exposure, but fabulous all the same.
As we neared the top of the little tower we caught up with the only 2 others on our route, a guide and his female client who were roped up and taking there time up a tricky section, to save waiting Keith went off route to the left up a steep chimney, which turned out to be very difficult, being very greasy and with poor hand and foot holds, I could see even he was struggling, but having got up about 10 meters there was no way back down safely, so he struggled up another 10 meters until he disappeared out of sight to safer ground. He shouted that he would throw down the rope, I tied on and struggled up, really glad of the rope protection, no way could I have done it without a rope.
From there we were soon at the eastern traverse, a lovely narrow ledge that led across an otherwise sheer rock face. Another sporting section followed, the subterranean traverse….another steep & narrow chimney with a huge chuck stone at its head, with a small gap or hole to crawl through to reach the other side.
From there we scrambled up to the top of the Great Tower.
The great tower is an airy perch to view what we had done and were about to do…which was the famous Tower gap…A narrow ridge led to the gap.
The crux of getting across the gap was holding on tightly across the top or a large boulder, shuffling around that boulder and searching for the one foot hold that is somewhat out of sight, then quickly changing feet in that small hole and then stepping across on to some safer slabs, all this with a 1,000ft sheer drop below you! I managed this without a rope. Following that we roped up for a second time to get out of Tower Gap, with a steep rock climb ahead again with great exposure.
My hands were pretty cold by now, with wet & cold rock which changed to verglas as we got higher. From there more scrambling got us nearer to the top of the tower and warm sunshine.
At the top of the tower we shook hands with a “congratulations ” from Keith, and a “Thank you” from me.
We walked around the face rim to get more pictures, but never bothered going to the summit only meters away, with hundreds milling around like ants.
We returned down the tourist route, passing many other walkers (and I mean “walkers” loosely) who were still on there way up so late in the afternoon.
At least we looked apart from these “walkers” as we were still wearing our harness’s, even some guides who were leading a charity group stopped to talk and ask which route we had climbed, that felt good, in fact I said to Keith that I want a harness to wear just to walk the hills!!!
The views were great to the west and north as we walked back to glen Nevis.
So that was it, I had finally done Tower Ridge, and a few pints were had by all to celebrate later in the Clachaig.
Never mind Trail Magazine or Jim…Keith fixed it for me!
Watch the video here :-
by HighlandSC » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:55 am
Stood looking at it and watching a group come up with when I was up there last year (did tourist trail.... ).
Look closely just below centre and you can see a climber with a red jacket
by Alastair S » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:55 am
by Stretch » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:59 am
by magicdin » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:06 pm
by mountainstar » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:12 pm
by brpro26 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:10 pm
Tower Gap filled my pants with the brown stuff. Have stood below at the hut looking up and thinking how the fu*@ no way. Great report liked the video evidence.
by malky_c » Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:35 pm
by Keith Harper » Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:09 pm
by mgmt! » Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:36 pm
- Posts: 540
- Joined: Oct 18, 2010
by kw1980 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:44 pm
by walk aboot » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:49 pm
Now then, now then , thanks for sharing that 'Keith'll fix it' moment with us mountain star.
- mountain coward