Munros: Ben Nevis
Date walked: 01/09/2017
Time taken: 7 hours
Decided to have a go at this after seeing Damon Ritchie's TR video on YouTube, it's also in Dan Bailey's Mountain Ridges book and his description is an article on UKC so lots of route info available online (there was rockfall in Tower Gap a couple of years ago and some pics show a wide ledge to step down onto but this has now gone).
Douglas Boulder from just after the CIC, I'm taking East Gully on the left to bypass the boulder. I was here last Sat but bailed out halfway up East Gully as it was too wet/slimy. It's also easy to miss the gully as it's rockier on the left side, route starts up a greasy corner.
Branch off here for East Gully, top of D Boulder just visible.
Then steep scree leads to the gully, which is wet & loose in places and there had been recent rockfall - I had a helmet on just in case.
Met a couple last Sat who were taking a groove onto the ridge further up than the gully, apparently it's easier but would miss out the tricky chimney out of Douglas Gap. There are sections of North Buttress harder than this chimney and it's sometimes described as the crux of the route, was a bit damp but it's very juggy and all the holds are there.
Descent of Douglas Boulder to the gap looks difficult.
Well, that was easy and I'm on Tower Ridge! Next it's a scrambly section leading up to the Little Tower, variations possible and the one I took actually felt like the hardest thing on the ridge.
Approaching the Little Tower.
Nice scrambling on the tower.
Had a look at the Ledge Route bypass path which avoids the slab at the bottom.
Slabs & crampon scratches on the way up the tower.
Next, there's a 'long flattish section' leading to the Great Tower which would be bypassed by the eastern traverse. Apparently a long flattish section is fairly short because I soon saw this hard looking lump ahead, so I thought this might in fact be the Little Tower? Fortunately it wasn't and I didn't have to climb it. There aren't many walking breaks on the ridge, and I noticed I was getting exhausted with all the steep scrambling so I decided to take more rest stops to conserve energy (and composure).
Scramble to the steep headwall then the eastern traverse bypass path on the left.
Path leads to a crossroads: cave on the right leads to the Great Tower. The wall on the right was dripping water but the left wall has all the holds and was dry.
Or it's possible to continue the traverse path and escape off the ridge. This would miss out the Great Tower and Tower Gap.
Top of the cave looking back down:
Scramble up to the Great Tower, a series of ledges with some steep moves.
Then the ridge narrows leading to...TOWER GAP!
I'd seen pics & videos of the gap and it looked like a steep, awkward descent to a block with huge exposure on all sides. I knew the moves by heart but could still feel the tension building as I got closer. A guide on North Buttress last month told me to loop 3m of rope around the boulder as an additional handhold so I brought some accessory cord for this - bit of a faff though and I didn't need it. you can see where the foothold on the left is from above as it projects out a bit, left foot on this and handholds on the ledge above it...look over shoulder to check right foot is heading to the block...transfer weight to right foot & get both feet on the block...hug the boulder above to regain balance...job done! Er, half done - very exposed step to the other side then ascend the block on good holds.
Not hard if you've done the homework but the difficulty is keeping calm with the exposure. You can also hear voices on the tourist path from here as it's close to the summit which is a bit surreal.
Final steep wall
Avoided by a ledge to the right
And Tower Ridge is done, wee cairn at the top then tourist path to the summit.
Cleared at the top so got a pic of the ridge.
Descended Ledge Route
Met a climber belaying above the slab, said it was pretty dodgy so I took the bypass path to CIC hut instead.
TR is graded Diff as a climb which I've never done before so I was a bit worried about it, it's not really much harder technically than a Grade 3 scramble but it's a very long route with a lot of exposure. I've done a little bouldering so I looked at it as a series of very easy boulder problems (which I can solo no problem) rather than a Difficult Climb. Best scramble I've done on the mainland.
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