Ben Nevis - March 2005

Ben Nevis - March 2005

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 56.71506°N / 5.17181°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Mar 25, 2005
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring

Ben Nevis via Carn Mor Dearg

spent a few days visiting Scotland's Highlands after catching a music festival in Amsterdam in March 2005

flew into Edinburgh, rented a car with left-handed clutch (manual transmission) to drive on the wrong side of the road up to Glen Coe, then spent two nights at Clachaig Inn

scouted out Fort William, picked up a local hillwalking guidebook, then cruised to the trailhead, where i tried to score a bunk at Ben Nevis Inn - they were booked as this was Easter weekend, so i settled for a bunk at Fort William Backpackers Hostel in town

decided to climb Ben Nevis, at 4405' the highest summit in the United Kingdom, deep in the heart of the Highlands

Collins Ramblers Guide to Ben Nevis & Glen Coe suggested a loop over Carn Mor Dearg, instead of the standard "Tourist Track" which is an easier ("less interesting") wide switchbacking sidewalk

starting from close to sea level, the 10-mile loop hillwalk would cover about 5000' vertical gain, so i retired to the Inn and enjoyed tasty cask-conditioned ales

cruised to Glen Nevis Visitor Center the next morning to check weather forecast, and talked to the folks there, who were not crazy about my plans of attempting the ridge walk loop solo - they calmed down a bit once they made sure that i was carrying a "torch" to stay on the trail hiking out in the dark

crossed the bridge and started up the Tourist Track, wider than a sidewalk, with some nice stone work, stairs and switchbacks which made for easy walking up to the junction near Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, a small lake at 1850'

turned left here, leaving the Tourist Track, following a herd path around Carn Dearg, towards Allt a'Mhullin Glen, a valley carved on Ben Nevis' north side - spotted deer and sheep along this section

Rambler's Guide suggested dropping down towards the Coire Leis river here, losing close to 500' elevation, but i decided to follow the herd path, which continued along the countour towards Charles Inglis Clark Hut, leaving the herd path as i neared the hut to cross the river, which was running high ... i chose a spot where the river split into shallower branches

grabbed lunch at the base of the steep hillside i'd be climbing, checking out the terrain, covered with heather, scree and mossy rock ... chose a path which avoided large mossy slippery rock slabs, but led through plenty of loose scree and heather fields - tough scrambling up the steep hillside, gaining 1800' in under a mile

reached the ridgeline close to Carn Dearg Meadhonach (3867') then dipped down to climb up to Carn Mor Dearg (big red cairn)

clouds lifted briefly to uncover Ben Nevis, lifting my spirits to believe i might have views from the summit, and make it easier to locate the path hiking down the other side once i reached it

that idea was crushed a short while later when clouds rolled back in, socking me in for a while - eerie scenery felt like a scene from Lord of the Rings

knife edge heading over towards Ben Nevis was called Carn Mor Dearg Arete, and had steep cliffs which reminded me alot of Mount Katahdin's Knife Edge

reached the base of Ben Nevis' summit cone, which left about 1000' of climbing up a boulder slope - spotted abseil posts here, which Winter climbers use to descend into the valley

climbed up to Ben Nevis summit, which was socked in, and meandered until i reached the small summit war memorial - followed my compass at 230 for 500 feet, then followed a 280 bearing until i located the path heading down

they warn hillwalkers not to stray far from the path here, as it passes very close to steep cliffs near Five Finger Gully, a "notorious spot for accidents" ... it was so foggy i never saw the cliffs

cruised down switchbacks, following the wide rocky path until it reached the junction, then cruised down to Ben Nevis Inn, where i celebrated with scrumptious Guinness

snowshoes, crampons, ice axe, and Winter clothing stayed in my pack all day

fun hike ! posted a few pics online:


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