3 Peaks: Ben Nevis
The 10 hour drive to Fort William went surprisingly quick, with the drive through Scotland, after Glasgow really being an eye-opener of just how epic the landscape is. We soon found our accommodation, and a pub for some hearty local fare. Chicken stuffed with Haggis. Well, when in Rome.
We checked the weather for the ascent the next day as Ben Nevis only has a few clear days each year and wanted to make sure it would be safe. It was due to get worse as the day went on closing in at midday. So we set off as early after as we could after breakfast.
A small strip of low cloud hung over the car park as we embarked on the first climb, full of high spirits and a little uncertain of what lay ahead. It was great setting off in good weather and we made good progress. The path soon changed to rocky steps and it began to hit home that this was going to be quite a challenge as we looked up towards the summit that was still out of view, and starting to get harder to see, as the clouds were closed in.
The rocky steps flattened out to give us a respite, and walking past a tarn we could see the green fading into rocky grey. This was the start of the famous zig zags and the beginning of the steeper climb to the top. As we reached this area it was waterproof time as the rain started to come down.
The zig zags got rockier and harder as the visibility got worse and the rain and wind got harder. The final climb is not too steep but is a bit of a clamber over a boulder field from cairn to cairn. (piles of stones to mark the route) These were starting to disappear into the murk and it was slightly worrying that we may loose the path as this was around the area of the infamous five finger gully. Thankfully to the great map reading and use of GPS we reached the summit. It was very cold and everyone’s fingers starting to loose feeling due to the probable below freezing wind chill. After adding extra layers, quick photos and a bite to eat we quickly and carefully made our way down.
Once clear of the cloud cover and seeing the route down we knew we were clear of real danger but the rocky steps were very slippery and I found it quite a difficult descent. Especially with 50mph gusts and stinging sleet! I was certainly glad of my trekking poles. It was an intense climb requiring full concentration, and we didn’t realise what we had achieved till nearly back at the car. Peak 1 ticked off! Click the link below for all the route details: