Ben Nevis Trip Report (#21538)
- Signed By: Simon Beck
- Date submitted: December 08, 2008
- Number of People Encountered:0-10 people
Took 2 weeks off from the office in Feb 1991 due to the super conditions. Fine, cold, water ice 1500foot-2500foot then icy snow. Ideal snow in the easy gullies on the N face.
I climbed it 5 times during that 12 day period, 2 times were when doing gullies on the N face, the other 3 were at the first or last peak of the route known as the Lochaber traverse, which is 3 of the grey corry munros and the Aonachs and CMD. A long route for the seriously fit, I was 10th ranked senior man in the UK orienteering list that year and the guy I did it with one day was 3rd in elite in the KIMM. I dont think I could do this in a winter day now. Well I could but I'd be too tired to do anything the next day.
I spent the nights at Glen Nevis SYHA hostel, oh it was so nice to come back into the warm when tired at the end of a long day!
The gully climbs were on cloudy days but the Lochaber traverse days were the good days in between. I did it once which meant my car ended up in the wilds somewhere on the way to the Loch Treig dam, so I walked it again in the reverse direction 2 days later. Then I met Tim Laney who wanted to do the route so we did it together on a 3rd day which was rather mad!
The descent from the Aonachs to the col before CMD is scary, with smooth hard icy snow, I insisted Tim go up with me to the bump on the way to Aonach Mor where there is a large cairn indicating the start of the correct route. Tim wanted to go down from the lowest point between the 2 aonachs. I didn't tell him why it was so important to go the correct route until we were safely down. 4 days perviously I had gone down the incorrect route from the low point. 1/4 the way down there was a red mark in the snow like someone had dropped a tomato or something. Then I saw another red mark, a smear about 2m long. Directly below the first red mark. Suddenly the penny dropped. It was blood. Someone had fallen and slid down the whole slope. My legs started shaking but I safely climbed down and at the bottom after passing more red marks found a substantial quantity of blood beneath a few cms of powder snow. Someone had been killed a few days previously.
Fortunately I avoided any incidents and it was fantastic. Crampons went on after half an hour walk and stayed on all day. Only one rocky bit of the ridge of the grey corry range did one get onto rocks, which was easily avoided.
The summit of Ben Nevis was reached about sunset on the 2 days when it was the last peak of the day, but with conditions as good as they could possibly be in winter, there was no difficulty getting down to the SYHA hostel without lights although the last bit of the path below the snow line required care due to the odd bit of verglas that was diffficult to distinguish by eye.