A Climb Through the Clouds (Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg)

Route: Ben Nevis by the Càrn Mòr Dearg Arête

Munros: Ben Nevis, Càrn Mòr Dearg

Date walked: 10/08/2013

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 19km

Ascent: 1558m

Hi everyone. This is my first walk report so I apologize if it's a bit shoddy!

I awoke one day in July last year with a longing for adventure. I started to browse this site for some spectacular Munros that would involve a long drive and an overnight camp and what I eventually settled on was Ben Nevis simply for the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

My buddy and I left my home in Stonehaven around 5 o'clock after I had finished work, all of our supplies bought and packed ready to go the night before. We had a quick stop over in Perth to pick up a handy little 2 man tent from my buddies parents house then back onto the road to keep up with the remaining hours of sunlight.

Our little campsite by Loch Garry

Our campsite was a small wooded area just off a layby close to the shores of Loch Garry which proved to be absolutely perfect as it was relatively secluded and completely silent but for the lapping of the water on the shores of the loch.
The race against the sunset was closely contested as we had about 30-40 minutes of light left for us to prepare the ground for the tent and collect a small amount of firewood. We then sat for a good few hours with a few beers enjoying the fire and eventually decided to call it a day around midnight.

The next morning, we awoke around 7am and set off after a quick breakfast hoping to get to the visitor center earlyish but as fate would have it we were delayed as there was a pretty bad crash on one of the roads and had to wait for police to clear the wreckage. Arriving at the car park well after 9am, we finally got to walking.

Loch Garry as we found it in the morning

What I wasn't prepared for was the sheer amount of people that had turned up to tackle the tourist route up to Ben Nevis. It was like some mass pilgrimage, scores of people trekking up to the summit.
The walk up to Loch Meall an t-Suidhe (The Half-way Lochan) was, for me, the toughest part of the journey.
Once we started to approach the fork in the road, I was extremely happy to see that next to nobody had taken the route off to the left which was to be where we left the mass pilgrimage on our quest for the more spectacular route,
After a quick feed, we started along this delightfully lonely path where the real adventure now began.

Looking back down the valley

After a while on this very welcomed flatish part of the route, we turned gently right with the path which would now take us right beneath the utterly awesome North Face of Ben Nevis and eventually up to the CIC Memorial Hut and got an unforgiving view of the next part of our journey which was to be the ridiculously steep and lengthy scramble up to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg.

Into the cloudsImage

At this stage in the journey we figured we should just take our time and get it done safely. After around an arduous hour (probably longer) of being taunted by sheep sauntering up and down the rocks, we finally made it to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg.

Feeling pretty defeated and nursing a bad temper at this point due to being soaked through from being in the clouds for hours, we came upon our first glimpse of the arete.
All hard feelings and bad tempers were washed away and we were reminded of why we started this journey. The views of and from the arete are simply awe inspiring. Even though the clouds were thick and visibility was rather limited, the scenery still had a massive effect on morale and in a way it even added to the grandeur of the knife point as it gave it an air of mystery.

Morale giver!Image

My buddy ross

View from the arete

After traversing the arete and emerging on the other side with a new notch in my shin as a result from a slight misstep and with a few mini heart attacks due to loose rocks and boulders, we made it to the last ascent of the day which wasn't so much tiring as it was frustrating. With the clouds as thick as they were, the top looked JUST out of reach and with every step it pushed further back to reveal yet more rocks time and time again.

Endlessly Deceiving

Having believed the top was only a few strides away and getting my hopes up for the 50th time, we finally emerged on the plateau at the summit.
With the SCORES of pilgrims all jostling to have photos taken at the trig point as proof of reaching the highest point on the British Isles, we politely waited our turn to reach the top and stand ON the trig point so that I was with out a doubt the highest person for 400 miles for at least 20-30 seconds.

Inside the shelterImage

After a quick rewarding feed inside the shelter, we then set off on our return journey down the tourist route. Our decent got us out of the clouds pretty quickly and we could feel the temperature rising with every step we took down the path. After about a 7.5 hour ascent, the decent only took us around 3 hours back to the car park.
I hope to tackle it again this summer in the hopes that the clouds will be non existent so we can get better views of the surrounding area.

So that was my first report I have written, please let me know what you guys think. Thanks!

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Comments: 5


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Location: Stonehaven
Activity: Munro compleatist
Mountain: Loch Nagar

Munros: 100
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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Trips: 1
Distance: 19 km
Ascent: 1558m
Munros: 2

Joined: Jul 29, 2013
Last visited: May 13, 2022
Total posts: 3 | Search posts