Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ben Nevis, The Aonachs and the Grey Corries: Carn Mor Dearg (9) [and Ben Nevis (1)]

Walk date: 25/09/04
My Munro #s: 10/284

Approaching the climb to Ben Nevis:

This hike was also Day 8 of mine and Paul's West Highland Way and the only Munros of the trip (we did also attempt Ben Lomand, but were driven back by wind!). Having both done the tourist route before, we were eager to try 'The Ledge', but stupidly didn't realise that the best route from the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel onto this alternative route is to start on the standard path until you've passed Loch Meall an t-Suidhe, and then dip down into Allt a' Mhuilinn before hiking onto the ridge via Carn Beag Dearg. Instead, we believed that a better plan was walking around the road until past the Ben Nevis distillery and then up through the forest overlooking the golf course. This hurt. Our departure time from the Youth Hostel was 08:30 but our actual hike (off the road) didn't start until ~10:15. The initial climb was then good, but our route up to Carn Beag Dearg was ridiculous, leaving us contending with very wet bog on a high-incline, which meant that four-season boots or no we were very soaked very quickly. Having spoken to others it seems that drier options are available so be careful with bee-lines on this slope if there's been rain (and let's face it there will have been!). Once on the ridge the walking was very enjoyable, although at times a little sharp for the unaccustomed, with the summit of Carn Mor Dearg ("caarn more jerrack") soon being reached. We were in heavy cloud for this and took great care on navigation, but due to the nature of ridge walking you're ok as long as you don't cross the crest! The climb up to Ben Nevis was sharp but nice and honest - very satisfying. Our descent was down the tourist route and through boredom this became a run - fun but not recommended if you have dodgy knees!

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