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Lots of Ben Nevis questions

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Lots of Ben Nevis questions

Postby LesterLong » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:53 pm

Fellow SPers (this is my first post, after joining a couple months ago, and lurking for a couple years prior),

I'm flying out from NYC to ascend Ben Nevis via the Carn Mòr Dearg Arête route (and descend via the Pony/Tourist track). I'm landing in Edinburgh at 8:30am this Thursday, July 5th and I return to NYC on Wednesday, July 11.

The plan is:

Day 1- Arrive in Edinburgh, drive to Glasgow for sightseeing, drive to Fort Williams and sleep.
Day 2- Rise early around 4:30am, climb Ben Nevis, go to Island of Skye
Day 3- Explore Island of Skye and drive to Inverness
Day 4- Drive down from Inverness to Aberdeen, Dundee, and Stirling
Day 5-7 Edinburgh and return home

Regarding the climb, I have these questions:

1) What is the best/closest place to stay in Fort Williams? Money is not a major concern.
2) Assuming that this climb will be difficult for me (and my girl), and thus minimizing walking/climbing, what is the best starting point? The Distillery? Tolmundy? Glen Nevis? I had also read that one can start on the Tourist Track, and then split off at Lochan Meall. What is best/easiest?
3) My girlfriend is (reasonably) a bit nervous about the arete (the airiness, not the climb itself; she's in great shape). Any thoughts?

I'm not a strong climber, but have climbed Mt. Washington (winter), Mt. Mitchell (spring), Mt. Elbert (spring), and (almost) summitted Mt. Baker (winter).

Thanks!
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Re: Lots of Ben Nevis questions

Postby Proterra » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:16 pm

LesterLong wrote:1) What is the best/closest place to stay in Fort Williams? Money is not a major concern.


I'd recommend the hostel/B&B at Achintee. Call them ahead to see whether they have a room available.

More options are on my Fort William page, with links and phone numbers.

LesterLong wrote:2) Assuming that this climb will be difficult for me (and my girl), and thus minimizing walking/climbing, what is the best starting point? The Distillery? Tolmundy? Glen Nevis? I had also read that one can start on the Tourist Track, and then split off at Lochan Meall. What is best/easiest?


If you stay at Achintee, walk up the pony trail and split off at the Lochan Meall an-t Suidhe. Descend into Coire Leis and go up the arete from there.

LesterLong wrote:3) My girlfriend is (reasonably) a bit nervous about the arete (the airiness, not the climb itself; she's in great shape). Any thoughts?


I'd be more worried about the weather than anything else. Your schedule doesn't really allow for extra days to wait out better weather. By going up to the lochan by means of the pony track, you can observe the weather and see what it does. If you're uncomfortable, you can still decide to stay on the pony track and make a less pleasurable ascent, but still an ascent.

LesterLong wrote:I'm not a strong climber, but have climbed Mt. Washington (winter), Mt. Mitchell (spring), Mt. Elbert (spring), and (almost) summitted Mt. Baker (winter).


Then Ben Nevis should be a piece of cake. The main thing that keeps Lochaber MRT busy are people getting lost in the fog on the summit and ending up making an uncontrolled descent down five-fingered gully or Coire Leis (the latter being usually fatal) or folks walking up in summer clothes when the weather at the summit suddenly goes from July to January. As it comes to technical difficulties, an 80-year old grandma can walk up on the pony track if she's in decent enough shape, (and there are actually a few people in the 70's and 80's in Fort William that might prove that to you) and the arete isn't that difficult either.

For some more detailed information about Scottish mountain weather, I wrote an article about that; Mountain meteorology of Scotland.

LesterLong wrote:Thanks!


You're welcome. Enjoy Scotland :)
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Re: Lots of Ben Nevis questions

Postby LesterLong » Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:49 pm

Thank you Proterra! This is very helpful and answers all my questions.

After reading a lot today, I've realized that I need to prepare for the assumption that it will be raining constantly....time to bring the gaiters!
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Re: Lots of Ben Nevis questions

Postby AndySay » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:45 am

Lester,

Tried and tried to get the forum to work for me so I cold contribute some thoughts. But....

Hope you had a good trip - loads of driving on narrow roads!

If you come back then just get in touch.

Andy
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Re: Lots of Ben Nevis questions

Postby LesterLong » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:14 am

Andy,

Thank you for the warm wishes. We spent 9 days in Scotland and had a fantastic time.

On Day 2, we climbed CMD, from the CIC hut, which proved to be far more arduous than expected. We started down the arete, but were frankly too spent (and lacked the head for heights) to do it.

On Day 8, we climbed Ben Nevis via the "Tourist Path", which was exceedingly easy.

Both climbs taught me a lot. Thanks to everyone for their help.

-Lester
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Re: Lots of Ben Nevis questions

Postby Proterra » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:12 pm

LesterLong wrote:We spent 9 days in Scotland and had a fantastic time.


Good to see common sense prevailed and you decided to stay a bit longer... :P

LesterLong wrote:On Day 2, we climbed CMD, from the CIC hut, which proved to be far more arduous than expected. We started down the arete, but were frankly too spent (and lacked the head for heights) to do it.


I had expected better from someone who's done Baker and Washington in winter... :P Apologies for not warning you about the airyness of the CMD arete though, because I always figured that this was common knowledge... :D Did you stay in Achintee? If so, how were Scott and Heather doing? Is Bessie still around? Haven't been there for over two years now :(

LesterLong wrote:On Day 8, we climbed Ben Nevis via the "Tourist Path", which was exceedingly easy.


Too easy if you ask me. As a matter of fact, they stopped referring to it as "tourist path" as too many tourists with no mountain navigation skills got surprised by inclement weather and ended up dropping off the plateau due to navigational errors... Most FW locals and regulars actually refer to it as "pony track" as ponies were used to supply the observatory located at the summit around the turn of the 20th century.

Cheers,
Clint :)
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Re: Lots of Ben Nevis questions

Postby LesterLong » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:48 am

Proterra wrote:
I had expected better from someone who's done Baker and Washington in winter... :P Apologies for not warning you about the airyness of the CMD arete though, because I always figured that this was common knowledge... :D Did you stay in Achintee? If so, how were Scott and Heather doing? Is Bessie still around? Haven't been there for over two years now :(


Thanks. :lol: Every mountain seems different to me; Baker and Washington were walk-ups; CMD was my first scramble, where I used my hands for lots of the climb. The airiness was definitely not trivial (although several folks passed us as if it was for them). We did stay in Achintee; Scott and Heather were doing just fine. They seem happy and are doing well. I mentioned you to them, and Scott reckoned that he remembered you.

Proterra wrote:
Too easy if you ask me. As a matter of fact, they stopped referring to it as "tourist path" as too many tourists with no mountain navigation skills got surprised by inclement weather and ended up dropping off the plateau due to navigational errors... Most FW locals and regulars actually refer to it as "pony track" as ponies were used to supply the observatory located at the summit around the turn of the 20th century.


I agree. I wish I could have averaged the two climbs somehow. The good news is that I learned a lot from the CMD climb.

Thanks again for your help.
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Re: Lots of Ben Nevis questions

Postby Alan Arnette » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:32 am

I climbed Ben via Tower Ridge earlier this year. My trip report may help.

http://www.alanarnette.com/climbs/bennevis2012.php

Wonderful people, area, climb - visit Oban if you get a chance.
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Re: Lots of Ben Nevis questions

Postby LesterLong » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:51 pm

Alan Arnette wrote:I climbed Ben via Tower Ridge earlier this year. My trip report may help.

http://www.alanarnette.com/climbs/bennevis2012.php

Wonderful people, area, climb - visit Oban if you get a chance.


Alan, I just want to thank you generally for the incredibly nice website you have created. It is truly the best mountaineering website I've visited. Very helpful in so many ways.
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