Ben Nevis March 21st 2009

Colin and I made the long trek up to the Ben last weekend which actualy ended up being longer than usual due to :

Blindly following the sat nav, which thought it would be funny to take us on a tour of scotlands lesser known hamlets!
Thick fog and suicidal red deer!

We did eventually arrive at the north face car park in the wee ours of the morning ( 2am) threw up the tent, jumped inside and set the alarm for 4am. At 4.05am we emerged from the tent to find we were one of the last up and at the back of the queue!

On the walk up we managed to claw our way back up the queue to some extent, but were passed by some very fit looking types with enviously small rucksacks. A brief halt at the CIC and then on and upwards to our objective, Observatory Buttress. On the way up we had some fine views of Zero and Point Five, which looked very tempting and had it not been for the constant wiz of ice bombarding us from the bottom of the gully and the 10 other people queuing at the bottom of the route I may have given it a go. It looked good and it took all my willpower to convince myself it would be a bad idea.

So instead we persevered with our original “bad idea”. only bad as it turns out in that when we arrived at the bottom of observatory buttress ( Grade 5) it was running with water and very thinly iced. It didn’t take long to decide maybe we’d leave it for another day!

Colin had spotted a good looking line on the way up and it turned out to be tower scoop ( grade 3). This provided two really nice pitches which were steep but enjoyable as the ice was perfect and first time placements provided a feeling of security.

Once at the top of this first route we took the rope off and traversed round to the right to the base of Good Friday gully. Unfortunately the cloud had come in and visibility was very poor. I was convinced we had traversed far enough and headed up the obvious large gully in front of us.

As we soloed up we began to be battered by chunks of ice coming off the left hand side wall and quite a few times we were bracing ourselves as we came under sustained fire. Colin got a direct hit in the shoulder and I got a chunk in the face which I later realised had drawn blood.

As we approached what looked like a very steep headwall, we realised maybe this wasn’t the gully we thought it was. Hopefully it was Gardyloo Gully, otherwise we were in completely unknown territory.

We took refuge under a massive chock stone and assessed the situation. Convinced we were now in gardyloo gully, we got out the rope for the final move round the chock stone and up to the cornice or the “sometimes impassable cornice” as it was described in the guide!!

It proved to be passable , but the pitch was pretty good value for grade 2/3 being a bit leaner than usual.

A quick trip to the summit and than we were off down Carn Mor Dearg Arete and back to the car.

13 hours in total and feeling pretty battered by the end of it.

Sunday , we woke to the sound of heavy rain and after a slow start we decided to have a short walk in glen coe just to stretch our legs for the journey back . I don’t think either of us was too disappointed as the Saturday had been hard work even though we had ended up doing technically easier routes than we had planned .

Hopefully we might get one more shot before the winters out. The Bens back in condition this week with a new dump of snow and cold temps. I’m not quite ready to hang up the axes yet!


Views: 2

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Mountaineering Club of Bury to add comments!

Join Mountaineering Club of Bury


William Shaw created this Ning Network.


  • Add Videos
  • View All

© 2024   Created by William Shaw.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service