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Ben Nevis Via CMD from North Face Car Park

Ben Nevis Via CMD from North Face Car Park


Postby Eazidoesit » Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:46 pm

Route description: Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete

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

Date walked: 21/07/2018

Time taken: 10 hours

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I was boasting when I said I was doing Ben Nevis at the weekend with my son Josh and immediately received a tip that the experience would be better if we did it via the CMD. I have to admit that I had never heard of this term before and this may provide you with some indication of my Highlands walking knowledge. Carn Mor Dearg - I couldn’t even pronounce it. We had completed “The Cobbler” the previous month and armed with the knowledge that I could carry a rucksack quite professionally and would not be walking in flip flops, (More on this later), then I readily accepted this gem of wisdom. And how right you were Fiona, BIG thank you for the advice!!

We arrived in Fort William at the Lochy Holiday Park on Thursday afternoon, squared away the tent and got our provisions sorted for the next days trek. We set the alarm for 6am Friday morning and were settled in for an early rise. It started raining just after I pulled the zip on my sleeping bag and didn’t stop all night. The only thing that changed was the intensity. It got worse. 6am arrived and I peered out of the tent to be greeted by a scene from Gorillas in the mist. The hill was nowhere to be seen, the rain was teaming down and the forecast was dense cloud, intermittent rain and a good dose of midges for the remainder of the day. There would be no CMD today.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg



The day wasn’t wasted though and avoiding a night of beer and live music in Fort William, on Friday night we repeated the preparation for our early rise on Saturday morning, sandwiches made, Camelback filled to its 3 ltr capacity, rucksacks packed and a wee prayer to the sun god. 6am Saturday and hooray, our prayers were answered, almost. The forecast said the sun god would be up and about around lunchtime for a short period. So, square sausage on the go, Josh stirring in the tent and the games afoot. Breakfasted and setting off to the North Face Car park we travelled a short distance to Torlundy and passed a single cyclist looking well suntanned and clearly enjoying the uphill part of his journey. I almost missed the turning to the car park and could have ended up at the Commando memorial at Spean Bridge as the signpost was partially hidden by the untrimmed foliage. But my brakes worked well, sorry to the caravan travelling behind me, and we left the tarmac for what the surface of the moon must look like, and followed a forestry commission trail for a few minutes before arriving at our parking space.

Having learnt the previous lessons from being assaulted by midges whilst pulling on boots and jackets as we got organised in the car park leading to Ben Arthur, there was no adjusting clothing, boots or hanging around this time. Parked, boot open, rucksack on, car locked and we were off at 0730 hrs prompt. We left at the same time as a small group of others and found ourselves on the least satisfying part of the entire day. Trudging uphill through a wet, rainy forest with no sight of our goal became demoralising. The track is well signposted however and although we had map and compass to hand, neither was required. A stop by a well positioned bench gave us a view of the clearing clouds over Fort William, and then it was gone again. A quick Jelly Baby and drink and we we off again, leaving the other behind. A signpost for Allt a'Mhuillin and CIC Hut confirmed we were on the right path.

Skirting the last remnant of treeline we crossed a stile and to our right was the Allt a'Mhuillin, with Ben Nevis over there also? Mist prevailed and the mystery of whether Ben Nevis was actually there remained for slightly longer. Carn Mor Dearg lay ahead and the well trodden path looked inviting and free of trees with the resident midge population now keeping to the gorse at ground level. The Walkhighlands walk description was proving accurate up until now and tells that eventually the path leads off onto a boggy route. Eventually is word that conjures up a long slog but in this case it comes quite quickly and we double checked with OS before taking the narrower pathway to our left. The mist was clearing at this stage and we saw for the first time the splendour of the rock face over on our right. We went from well defined path to soggy underneath and then sinking an inch at some points but otherwise the going was good. Half an hour later and we saw Loch Eil and Loch Linnhe as we caught our breath.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg


The ground was firmer here and looking ahead we knew there was something worthwhile just over the next ridge, or the next, or the next. Climbing steadily we left the moisture behind and could feel the sun. Rounding Carn Beag Dearg we had full on appreciation of the cliffs of Ben Nevis and snapped some great shots here. Then it was onwards to Carn Dearg Meadhonach. it’s steeper here but plodding on we reached Carn Mor Dearg. Sheltering by a small Cairn we had second breakfast and sat above the clouds looking North and catching glimpses of magnificent scenery. the stuff of tourist brochures, used to tempt American tourists from the US of A.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

Re energised we continued up to the start of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete and found a small group having lunch and preparing themselves for the most amazing scramble/walk. Politely we said hello as we continued on our own private journey. No day trippers or flip flops here. (More on that later). Again we had been told by the wise that there is no greater traverse than this anywhere in the world. A slight exaggeration but you get the picture.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

We were not disappointed and regular stops to take in a 360 degree view of the landscape leaves you in awe. The stones, boulders, rocks and occasional piece of green is achievable with great care at some parts and the bypass is always an option. However, we chose to climb, hop and negotiate what lay underfoot and were rewarded with wall to wall scenery.

It’s not all plain sailing and welcome as the short descents on the ridge were, the ascent to the summit requires your full concentration at all times.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

A photo opportunity before the final ascent provides an appreciation of your achievement with the curve of the Arete clearly visible.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/158480316@N03/shares/4uUj53
It then looks like a scramble and it surely is. Both hands are required and following a spirited 16 year old up with the end in sight is a great motivator. However, when that 16 year old stands on what must have been a ton of rock, that suddenly gives way like a gunshot, I was glad his mother was not with us. This reminded me of the dangers that walking in the highlands brings.

We then found an overhang, that looked very dramatic if you get the right angle on the camera, upon which to rest and have lunch.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

By now we could hear the tourists above and behind us exclaiming how dangerous it would be to descent to our position. As we enjoyed the best that the Scottish mountains had for us the mist appeared from the South and clung to the clouds below until a thick curtain appeared.

We arrived at the summit and were struck by the many who had come up the tourist track and were clambering over the points of interest including the observatory. We chose to head to the North Face where we stepped out onto a platform that presented us with the most amazing views of where we had come from.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

Then it was back to the crowds and we waited patiently to take the obligatory photo before heading back down.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

It took a moment to get our bearings and work out where we should go to begin our descent. By now the fog was thick and heavy and we started down.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

The endless line of traffic becomes annoying after the tranquility of the first stage of the trek.

We sympathised with the poor guy who had fallen and was in the care of the mountain rescue team members and cleared a path for the two brave souls carrying kit and a stretcher up the track. In the distance we heard the thump, thump, thump of rotors but could see nothing but mist. After an hour downhill avoiding those still ascending I was dumbfounded at the chap in flip flops struggling over the loose stones. It was then that I realised my own footwear was yet another casualty of the day. A hole an inch long had sliced the sole of my boots. The Arete takes no prisoners. I wonder if flipflop guy made the summit.

Thankfully we saw the zig-zags join a long path to the North passing Lochan Meall an t'Suidhe.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

There, the helicopter was on station, awaiting instructions from above and as we crossed the Red Burn and approached a junction, the rescue helicopter took off the collect its passenger.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

We left the main track behind along with the chatter of the masses and once again enjoyed all that the Scottish hills have to offer. Tranquility and a breathless scene that is priceless.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

The track stops abruptly by the edge of the water to become moorland and we crossed by some stones just submerged but big enough to keep our feet dry.

A heading NNE took us through deep gorse, peat and boggy ground until we could see Allt a'Mhuillin once again.
Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg

En route we were overflown by the rescue helicopter on their way back to collect the remainder of their crew?? We gave them the thumbs up as they flew overhead and hoped they are recognised for the courage they display everyday in this wilderness.

A quick fording of the river and downhill through that dammed Forrest once again. 1700 hrs and both safe and well. It was nice to get back to the car where I appreciated even more the advice from Fiona. The CMD is the only way to go!!
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Ben Nevis 2018.jpeg
Eazidoesit
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Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 13, 2018

Re: Ben Nevis Via CMD from North Face Car Park

Postby Sunset tripper » Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:10 pm

A great introduction to the munros. Looked like a cracking day. All the best :D
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Joined: Nov 3, 2013
Location: Inverness

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