Saturday, 14 August 2010

Ben Nevis via Little Brenva Face August 2010

After breakfast I parked at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, where they charge you £3 for the privilage. Bloody Cheek!!!

The cloud was low, but the rain had stopped for now. I started to climb via the tiresome tourist route which in my opinion is an abomination on it's western slope. The Ben deserves better. I left this path at the Lochain at Meall an t-Suidhe (711m). This was my third time up Ben Nevis. My first time had been a straight up and down using the tourist motorway. The Second had been from the golf course, up Allt a Mhuilinn, climbing the slopes of Carn Dearg Meadhonach and traversing Carn Mor Dearg and up to the Summit via it's CMD Arete and down the tourst path via the lochain.

This time when i took the left hand path at the lochain i decended into Coire Leis, following the rough path under the cliffs up to the CIC hut. I then continued to climb up past the various gullies and onto the CMD arete via the steep zig zag path up the back 'wall' to the summit.

It was tough going and relentless as it was steep. The cloud clung to the north face cliffs. When I got to the CIC hut I met a french father with his two teenage sons. We walked together for a while, passing under the 'Tower' and 'Gardyloo' Gullies.

We skirted around and over the scree under the orion and minus face. It was here I carried on myself as the two boys were getting tired and slowing down. I said cherrio and headed up the Brenva Face, climbing onto the CMD Arete next to the abseiling pole. The summit was shrouded in cloud from my view point.

The Ring of Steall couldn't be seen for cloud either. My thighs were burning but i knew the summit wasn't that far away now. The cloud began to lift from the Arete and The Grey Corries behind, but not from Glen Nevis. Another 25 minutes and I stood at the summit. It was jumping!!! (aka very busy!).The problem with Ben Nevis is that the tourist path makes it so accessible to almost anyone. And everyone. And it seemed like half the population of the Northern Hemisphere was up here today. Children, dogs and most of the European union were represented. People were queuing up to get their photo taken from the summit carin and bothy. I get annoyed when i hear people saying 'that was easy' when they refer to the monstrosity that it is the tourist path.  90% probably don't realise that thats why it was built, for these denim and trainer wearing day trippers, and that there is another completely different side to Nevis with more exciting and energy sapping routes. However, maybe thats a good thing as most of these 'day trippers' are completely under prepared and poorly equiped to under take a 'proper' climb up the Ben. And true to form, with two minutes of leaving the top, the rain started with avengance.

Nevis needs to re-establish its reputation as a formidable undertaking so people climb it properly prepared for the changable conditions.
I got back to the car park 6.5hrs after I set off. I enjoyed today's route. After I had something to eat in Fort William I set off home a little disapointed about not getting to climb what i had planned, but the mountains will still be there tomorrow.

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