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Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!


Postby johnscot55 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:05 pm

Route description: Ben Nevis by the Mountain Path

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis

Date walked: 25/08/2019

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 1352m

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Now I know for most readers of this forum this climb would be slightly less appealing than a visit to the dentist for root canal treatment, but grandson Matthew wanted to tick the iconic mountain of his "to do" list and as his Mum was not allowing us to go by his preferred route of the CMD arete, he very reluctantly accepted that we would look for a day to do the mountain path. And as the schools have returned after the summer break, it meant a weekend date was the only option. Sunday the 25th, had a fabulous weather forecast, but also meant that an already busy route was likely to be mobbed. I had previously done Ben Nevis some 19 years before with my wife Cathie on our 20th wedding anniversary (I know how to show a woman a good time), but that was pretty much a one off in those days. I was not particularly "into" hillwalking, it was just a "let's climb Ben Nevis" thing. So my reward for a crowded day on a fairly uninspiring route would be Matthew's new "bag".
Leaving from the central belt and arriving just before 8.30am at the visitor centre carpark, I was dismayed to find it already full, but on a second circuit managed to squeeze it on to a bit of ground near the entrance. By the time we were organised, it was 9am when we set off, along with a fair percentage of my estimate of 10 million who would be climbing today :lol:.
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So that's where it is!
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Matthew and Ring of Steall with Stob Ban prominent.

There is not a lot to say about the ascent other than to say after a short break near the halfway lochan, Matthew, who is supposed to be in my care, sped up, and I couldn't keep up with him.
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Halfway (not quite) Lochan.
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Mountain Path.
And despite me signalling him to wait for me, he was soon out of sight. I also stopped to help a gent whose son had stumbled and cut his hand (I had plasters and antiseptic wipes). So I fell further behind. I kept expecting to find him sitting on a rock having a rest, waiting for me, but no. Now, there was a charity walk taking place whose many participants were wearing orange tops. Members of Mountain Rescue were stationed at a few points, ostensibly to assist them. I asked a couple of them if and when they might have seen a young boy, but as he was also wearing an orange t-shirt, I guess he didn't really stand out. I was becoming really annoyed with him for not staying with me. Not too worried due to the volume of people around, but definitely wishing he was by my side. I knew his Mum and Gran would not be too pleased if they knew we weren't together. I was tiring as I approached the summit and taking frequent breathers, so falling even further behind. By the time I reached the summit after just a few minutes shy of 4hrs, I had not seen Matthew for around 2hrs :shock:. I scanned the summit. Despite many falling by the wayside on the ascent, I estimate at least 3 million walkers had made it to the summit :lol:. Where was he?
20190825_141703.jpg
There was more people on the summit than in Fort William.

To my relief I heard shouts of "grandad, grandad" and my eyes fell on a smiling Matthew waving his walking pole at me. My annoyance slipped away, I was just glad to see him. Although I did tell him to make sure that "that" never happened again under any circumstances. We high fived and congratulated each other. It was Munro No.21 for Matthew. It transpired that he reckoned he had been on the summit for around half an hour and was already rested and had eaten his summit lunch. I was neither rested or refueled so we found a spot for me to do both both while Matthew went to wait in a QUEUE to get some trig point cairn pics :crazy:.
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Waiting in line.

Rested a bit, and food and drink taken, I joined Matthew in the queue when he was near the front. Luckily the chap in front of us was the man I had helped with the plasters on the ascent and we agreed to take pics of each other from below the cairn.
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Summit cairn selfie.
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Matthew at summit cairn.
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Me and Matthew at summit cairn.

There then was a visit to the shelter and a general look round the summit.
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Matthew at memorial for war fallen.
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Matthew at the emergency shelter. Saltire pic 1.
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Matthew at the emergency shelter. Saltire pic 2.
There was people sunbathing, others snoozing, some having a picnic. I'm guessing this was about as clear and warm a day as you could get on Nevis's summit, although it was pretty hazy in the distance. Matthew looked at the CMD arete and opined that coming that way wouldn't have been a problem :roll:.
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CMD arete.

We went to take some views of the north face.
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Summit View 1.
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Summit View 2.

After an hour a quarter on the summit we began the long trek back down, passing two of the impressive but scary gullies.
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Gardyloo Gully.
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Tower Gully (I think). Please correct me if I'm wrong.
I took a few more pictures on the descent because Matthew hadn't been with me for a lot of the ascent :roll:.
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Matthew, a bit of Fort William, Caol, Banavie and Corpach
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On a descent break.
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Loch Linnhe becomes Loch Eil.
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Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe sits below Meall an t-Suidhe.
Continuing the long slog down we stopped at the Red Burn to replenish our water, on what was becoming, as we lost height, an increasingly hot afternoon. About 45mins before the car park we passed another small burn and I splashed my head and face to cool down, then took off Matthew's baseball cap and soaked in the cold water and plonked it back on his head. BOY! WAS HE MIFFED :-x. I had agreed to take him for a McDonald's in Fort William when we were finished and a soggy baseball cap on his head was going to do nothing for his hairstyle and his public image. We arrived back in the carpark around 5.30pm and Matthew immediately rushed to the toilet to check his hair in a mirror :lol:.
To be honest, I wouldn't have chosen to do this walk for myself, but did it for Matthew. Maybe one day when he is older(but I am too old) he will come and summit via the Arete. Yes, it was mobbed. Yes it's not the most interesting climb. Yes, it was hot. But I can't say it was unenjoyable. And there are the summit views and it is "THE BEN".
By the time I had dropped Matthew off then got myself home it was after 9pm. It had been a long day. For the first time I'd finished a walk with a bloody sock from a burst blister on my toe, I'd had to jump out the car twice on the way home to stretch cramping muscles in my accelerator leg, in short I was kn#####ed. But then I realised that Tuesday was free, and, unbelievably, well to me anyway, 24 hours later I was searching for hills to climb the following day. I settled for Glen Lyon and "bagged" Stuchd an Lochain and Meall Buidhe. Not the hardest Munros, but perfect for me on the day. During the climbs I met 4 people, a man, a young girl and a couple. A bit different from a couple of day before :D. I think I'll have a rest now!!!!
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Re: Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Postby katyhills » Fri Aug 30, 2019 4:19 pm

What a lovely report - full of good humour as well as some great photos :D
Well done to 'the lad' as well, but I can only begin to imagine your fear when you lost him. Bad enough in a shopping centre or something, but it's a bit different on a hill - even one as over populated as Nevis. :shock:
I hope he understands, but I suppose he felt he was fine with so many people around. :)
Had to laugh about his primping and preening at McDonalds :lol:
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Re: Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Postby rodderss » Fri Aug 30, 2019 4:38 pm

Must of passed you on Sunday. Incredible amount of people on it.
My wife had to wait 50 minutes at the top for me.Just as well it was roasting.

Never queued to touch the cairn though, maybe means I actually didn't do it.

As you did I also thoroughly enjoyed it, apart from the short cut we took on the way down to miss the first lot of zig zags.that was steep and very slippery on the loose rocks.

Great pictures ,cmd arête definitely not for me.Matthew must have no fear .
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Re: Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Postby Raynor » Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:39 pm

A good read. I suppose you have to balance the good with the bad. Great to get views from the top but always means it will be mobbed. I know people who are into double figures of ascents of ben nevis and are yet to get any sort of summit views :lol:
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Re: Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Postby johnscot55 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:57 pm

rodderss wrote:As you did I also thoroughly enjoyed it, apart from the short cut we took on the way down to miss the first lot of zig zags.that was steep and very slippery on the loose rocks.

Great pictures ,cmd arête definitely not for me.Matthew must have no fear .

We also took the shortcut you mentioned. Matthew wanted to come off the main path and have some fun :lol:. As for the arete, the worry is that his ambition may be greater than his present experience. Trouble is there is only one way to find out.
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Re: Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Postby Sunset tripper » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:57 pm

Great stuff John. Nothing wrong with your choice of route, I've done it a few times and it's always entertaining. I doubt if the two of you would have any problem with the CMD arete. I agree with you it is important you stick together, doesn't matter how old you both are.
All the best. :D
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Re: Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Postby Harpmonk » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:31 am

Haha! My buddy and I summitted The Ben via Coire Leis, CMD and the CMD Arete at 7pm on July 11th 2019 and all we saw at the top was this little baby dotterel!
dotterel.jpg
Juvenile dotterel at summit of Ben Nevis


Two other walkers arrived just as we left and we met several late --- map-less and compass-less :( :shock: :? --- 'UK-3-peakers' charity-walking to the top on our descent. That said, we saw only 5 people between turning left at the half-way Lochan and the summit: go north, my friend, go north! On that day, the southern side was in thick cloud without respite but the Coire Leis was in and out of sun frequently and there were smashing views from the Arete.

[Top tip: invest in a good pair of thigh muscles for the seemingly relentless and apparently pathless ascent up from the CIC hut to CMD.]
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Re: Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Postby Sgurr » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:09 pm

You must be fairly phlegmatic not to have imploded with worry. We went to mind (then 7 year old) grandson when his Mum was spending time in hospital with his elder sister and went to pick him up, in the dark, from cubs. He hid either in the big bin, or behind the bins. We were searching everywhere, and were just organising a search party when he walked out and said "That will not be necessary." Twenty minutes of intense worry was all I could take, and it wasn't even a mountain. The thought of having to tell his mum we had mislaid him was just awful. Anyway I have always been a bit reticent about accepting "All's Well That End's Well" as a motto. But you will never get him to admit he had done anything a REASONABLE person would be worried by.


Good on him for climbing it anyway.
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Re: Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:49 pm

I take my hat off to you, and dunk it in a burn. What a lucky grandson, and blissfully unaware of what he put you through - though hope he really does take the chastisement/warning to heart.

Love the baby dotterel, Harpmonk!
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Re: Ben Nevis. Let's get it over and done with!!

Postby johnscot55 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:57 am

Sgurr wrote:You must be fairly phlegmatic not to have imploded with worry.
EmmaKTunskeen wrote:I take my hat off to you, and dunk it in a burn. What a lucky grandson, and blissfully unaware of what he put you through - though hope he really does take the chastisement/warning to heart.

Only answer to the question, "Did you not think I was concerned that we were not together?", was "I did a bit, but I just found my pace and didn't want to slow down or stop :roll:.
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