Indicator Wall

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 56.79674°N / 5.00942°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Ice Climbing, Mixed
Seasons Season: Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Scottish: 4 (5 for the variant)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 3
Additional Information Grade: V
Sign the Climber's Log


Geographical Classification: Scotland > Ben Nevis >Indicator Wall

Indicator Wall is the highest ice climb of the United Kingdom. It has the same name as the face where the route is located on Ben Nevis. The route is located in the Observatory Gully Area which is the valley just north of the summit of the Ben. In order to climb the route you'll have be prepared on a pretty long walk to the base of the route. In good condition the face is very icy and has a right-hand variation, which is slightly more difficult. The route is 160 meters long, so in order to climb it in 3 pitches you'll need a 60 meters rope. The final pitch ends directly at the summit of the Ben. Due to it's high location on the mountain the route is quite often in condition. Especially when other routes are not in condition, you'll found a lot of parties in this route. So, in order to enjoy the climbing it is adviced to start early, or at least, before other parties.
Indicator wallIndicator Wall right hand.

Getting There

In General, to the Ben

See the excellent Ben Nevis site on SP: Getting there!

To Indicator Wall

From the North face car park start the 45 minute walk to the CIC hut on the North side of Ben Nevis. The path initially follows the side of a golf course before climbing through a light wooded area. After rain the path can be a bit of a mess. It soon reaches the upper car park. Those lucky enough to a have a key to the forrestry commision gate can park here. From the upper car park the trail climbs gently to the CIC hut crossing a couple of streams along the way. Walk past the CIC hut and enter the Observatory Gully Area, by going around the Observatory ridge. Continue ascending through the Observatory gully untill you'll bump into Tower Scoop. Pass tower scoop left and turn left to traverse to the base of Indicator Wall.

About 1,5 hours from the CIC-hut.

Route Description

Indicator wallSecond pitch
From the base of the climb you'll have two options:

Indicator Wall (Scottish: V,4 - 160 m)

First pitch
  • The crux of the climb. A long 60 meter ice pitch with very steep sections up to 80 degrees, straight up and very sustained.
Second pitch
  • Starts with a steep ice wall finishing on the snow gully above.
Third pitch
  • A steep ice gully exit to the summit of the Ben

Indicator Wall right hand variant (Scottish: V,5 - 160 m)

First pitch
  • The crux of the climb. A long 60 meter ice pitch with very steep sections up to 90 degrees, very sustained. Instead of going straight up, take the right icy line. Basically you'll meet up with the normal Indicator route at the start of the second pitch.

Essential Gear

Two Ice Tools, Double 60 meter Ropes (allows you to climb the route in 3 pitches), 8-10 Ice Screws (depending on conditions and skills), Crampons, Helmet, Warm Clothes (not much sun) and Navigation tools for the descent.

External Links

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) - Avalanche information
Scottish Mountaineering Club - Guidebook for Scottish winter climbing
Winternet-Scotland - Scottish mountaineering conditions
Weather Forecast - Weather Forecast for Fort William
Tourist Fort William - Webcam Ben Nevis North Face



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