Navigating Ben Nevis
Seb Fish, April 1, 2012
At a an altitude of 1,344m, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles. Located in the Grampian Mountains in the west of Scotland, it represents one of the many highlights of Scottish highland hiking. Being within two hours of Glasgow, and less than three hours from Edinburgh, it is also a very accessible peak which can be summited as a day trip from one of Scotland’s cosmopolitan cities.
There are several routes up the mountain, which offer a strikingly varied selection of difficulties. These range from a simplistic hill walk along a well maintained footpath to climbing vertical faces amongst spectacular ridges, buttresses and gullies – truly alpine in scale and character. This ensures that visits to Ben Nevis never have to be the same, and guarantees a challenge to ambitious hikers, whatever their experiences, whatever the weather.
We chose a roundabout route, initially heading up the first section of the tourist path before routing around the main trunk of Ben Nevis to the north face where we reached the other side of the valley. From here we ascended to the Carn Mor Dearg summit at 1220m, opposite and overlooking the incredible view of Ben Nevis’ peak. From here we picked our way carefully along the Carn Mor Dearg arete before assaulting the final 300m (we lost considerable altitude in the traverse).
We were blessed with perfect weather conditions but warm clothing and comfortable, waterproof footwear were invaluable on this trip. Water and wind proof clothing is a must if the weather is deemed unreliable or anything less than perfect. Expect snow on any of the upper parts of the mountain for most of the winter and spring months during the year with a strong wind chill near ridges and peaks.
The Nevis Range Resort website and the Fort William tourist website offer invaluable advice on a range of subjects and can also suggest additional activities or treks to make a visit to Ben Nevis truly memorable.
An array of accommodation options are available from hotels in nearby Fort William, to camping grounds at the base of the mountain. Trains and buses can be used to get to Fort William but we particularly enjoyed the freedom given to us by having our own car.