Ben Nevis

As mentioned in the Scafell Pike blog entry, the plan was to go and tackle Ben Nevis in October 2018…

So, did I do it? Read on to find out…

Well, in October as planned my son and I flew from Gatwick to Inverness, and guess what? Yes, it was raining when we arrived. Caught a bus in to the city center, then got the coach to Fort William (wow that was a wild roller-coaster of a ride!

When we finally arrived in Fort William, some 2 hours and 45 minutes after boarding the coach in Inverness, it was still raining hard. I thought, here we go again, just like when we went to Snowdonia and the Lake District! I have come to the conclusion that my son is a rain magnet…

So, after 4 days of almost solid rain and feeling unwell, we finally woke up to a sunny morning with almost no chance of rain; we ate a big breakfast and then headed out. It was about 1.5 miles to the start of the path up Ben Nevis.

This is what Ben Nevis looks like with my DEM map in BaseCamp in 3D mode (yes it really is that steep in the real world!)

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland and the UK as a whole,  standing at 1,345m (4,413ft).

The photo below is after about 20 minutes of starting up the main track of Ben Nevis.

Still feeling unwell, I ploughed on with expectations of not even getting to the plateau and the lochen at the end of the first part of the track (before it splits to the North path, and main path to the summit). Having climbed both Snowdon and Scafell Pike I knew that this was not going to be a stroll in the park…

After a very steep final part we came on to the plateau and the lochen. Weather still fine, cool and a little blustery now, so I knew it would be cold at the top, if we actually got there!

Here’s a picture of the lochen, from the main path to the summit and the going got tough…

The terrain went from mainly rock steps and loose scree to more and more boulder strewn and loose large scree as we headed on up, and up…

Here’s a picture of about of a third of the way up the summit path (after the Lochen)…. and the path was still mainly rock steps at this point…

After this the footing got worse and the path steeper and harder.

By now I was feeling better, but finding it a hard slog, even my son said “that last part nearly did me in” and he has 30 years of extra youth on his side!

On and up we went, stopping more and more frequently to catch my breath and let my burning legs subside. However, we were still overtaking many people, as we had been, all the way up. We weren’t going mad, but we were not taking it as a slow as most on the mountain that day….

Finally after just over 3 hours after we started at the foot of the trail, we crested the final rise (see photo above) and headed to the trig point and the old weather station…

It was very windy and not surprisingly cold at the top. Apparently just a few days before there was quite a bit of snow up here, but not today.

So, we did manage to summit Ben Nevis, and now we have managed to successfully summit all of the highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland (and the UK as a whole).

Here’s a view from the top looking towards the North trail down in the valley…

Whilst at the top I bagged the geocache; the highest cache in the whole of the UK. After about 20 minutes, it was time to start the descent.

Normally I prefer the descent and look forward to it, but going down Ben Nevis ended up being almost as hard work as coming up…

Here’s a picture of the path from the plateau and Lochen on the way down…

Finally after 3 hours since starting back down, we finally got back to the start of the trail; a number of slips and quite a bit of swearing was involved coming down. To say we were both very knackered was an understatement… after that it was a quick cache at the foot of the trail, and then back to the hotel for a well deserved rest, drink and food!

Oh, and when we got to the bottom at around 16:00, there were people just starting to go up!

Bear in mind that it gets dark before 17:00 in Scotland in October; this means they wouldn’t get to the top in daylight and would also have to come back down in the pitch black of night (most we saw didn’t have a backpack, the right footwear or clothing, no water, no torch or head torch, etc!)

So, which of the peaks would I climb again?

I loved Snowdon, and would love to climb it via the 6 other main routes (apart from the tourist track that follows the train up); I loved the Rhyd Ddu path!

I quite like Scafell Pike, although the weather was atrocious on the way down and it was a white-out at the top.

Of the three, Ben Nevis was the hardest, both up and down, and the least varied; not sure I would wan to climb it again, it certainly would be the last on my list to do again, unless I do it via the CMD Arete route instead.

All photographs used in this article are Copyright, 2018 by Talkytoaster or Ben Overton, All Rights Reserved.

One thought on “Ben Nevis

  1. Hi Martin, what a fantastic resource you are, firstly, it is great to see you and your family achieving the above adventures. As an experienced hiker, cycle traveller i have always used map and compass but am now going to cycle an off-road route from Canada to Mexico [GDMBR] and have just purchased a etrex20x. Its proving to be a very steep learning curve on the Gps and having purchased your British Isles map, downloaded, installed and used! I am feeling much more informed on using my etrex. Thanks again for the time and effort you must spend on this resource. Kind regards, Martin.

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