Ben Nevis

You are Here: Scotland; Lochaber; Ben Nevis

After the GDSF, my brother brought me back up with some friends for a week. One of the things they wanted to do was climb Ben Nevis, and as the Sunday looked best on the forecast we set off nice and early. It was blue sky and sunshine in Glen Nevis as we parked up and started climbing, rapidly gaining height on the relatively gentle path. The path was incredibly busy - literally hundreds of other people heading up although I suspect that many never reached the top. We certainly didn't pass them all twice!

I would explain and describe in great detail the climb up the 'tourist path', but to be honest, Ben Nevis is a pretty dull Mountain. It is climbed simply because it is the highest in the British Isles, there is surely no other worthwhile reason why thousands of people every year toil up this dull path. Yes, the views back across Loch Linnhe, Loch Eil and Ardgour can be pretty special, but in all honesty you'll get a better view elsewhere. There are 284 Munros in Scotland, and I reckon that 200 of them are more enjoyable than Ben Nevis. Probably more.

The mist descends

Anyway, as we reached about 900m the view started to disappear behind a curtain of mist that was slowly slipping down the rocky mountainside. My first (recent) ascent 5 years ago found me meeting the mist lower still, and so I missed the zig-zag path, instead taking the vertical approach. It was more fun, despite being a little scary here and there. As we reached the 1000m mark, where we had turned back a little over a year earlier on the Three Peaks, the mist was reducing visibility to 50m or so, but it never really got worse than that. Indeed, as we trudged up, it got colder, damper, and more monotonous. The only saving grace was that every step was a step closer to the summit.

At length, the path levelled out and the gloomy shapes of the old observatory building appeared. The wind was howling, every tiny spot of possible shelter already taken, so we took a couple of photos at the summit cairn and turned back. I don't really want to have to climb that mountain again, but I shall have to next year when we try again at the Three Peaks.

The Descent

We had managed to climb all 1344m of Ben Nevis in about 3 hours and 20 minutes, which considering I was the only one used to such exertions was pretty good going. It certainly matched my time of 5 years earlier. Sadly, the descent did not see me doing the whole thing in under 6 hours again. My brother had problems with his knees, as did Andrew, so it actually took us LONGER to come down than go up. I guess that is probably a record in itself...