Number 8 – Ben Nevis (via Castle Ridge)

5 09 2010

nearly the top of Ben Nevis, from Tower Ridge.

Peter was visibly upset. 

We had stopped at Crianlarich for his obligatory lavvy stop, and whilst I waited in the car park, stretching my legs from the strain of the previous days golf outing, Peter went inside to lay a cable. He emerged looking doleful and shaking his head. 

 “They’re shutting the toilet!” 

“What?” I said, my attention momentarily distracted by a fat farmer almost reversing his llama trailer into my car. 

“The toilet, it’s closing down in a couple of months, there’s a notice inside.” 

 I feared that this could put a dampener on the day. Pete loved this toilet. It was the coldest toilet in Scotland and Pete loved it still. Me, I was just surprised that there was a notice still inside the toilet and no one had used it. 

Peter got in the car and by the time we got to Achintee car park, he was still shaking his head in disbelief. 

As we arrived, It was my turn to shake my head in disbelief, the car park was mobbed. Apparently there were some nutters running up and down the Ben today, it was some kind of organised run. This, along with the continuation of the English school holidays, made for one of the busiest days I have seen on the Nevis escalator. 

We packed our bags and set off with the rest of the crowds. It was like Braehead without the neds. All life forms were on the path, all abilities and all types of outdoor and indoor fashions were on show. We moved at a good pace up to the half way lochan where I stopped for a pee and filled my waterbottle at the burn. We dropped down the other side and could now pick up the profile of Castle Ridge conveniently situated at the nearest and lowest point on the approach. 

Peter considers his fate.

 I was feeling quite good, legs were  still a bit sore from the day previously at my mate Tams Golf day  – not used to walking on flat ground for 5 hours carrying a big bag of sticks! As we sidled alongside the Alt na Muillin (?) burn, we stopped at the huge boulder which offers shelter on a bleak day to take a look at the ridge. No need for shelter today, the weather was fine for the Ben. The sun was out and only occasionally the clouds skipped across the skyline offering a break from the warmth of the sun. We cracked on up to the start of the slabby rocks and took a rest just before the obvious line of crampon marks signalled the start of the route proper. 

I had been up here a couple of years ago with Eric and turned back due to nervous feet on verglas slabs. So this was my first time and I was looking forward to it. Peter seemed surprisingly unphased by it also. Good signs! 

It proved to be not a very difficult route to get lost on, with slabby rocks showing scars from previous winter ascents guiding you easily up. Where the rock turned to grassy ledges, there were perfect steps to plod up. The first main Moderate bit of the route arrives quickly in the form of a slanting corner, which proved to be great fun and all too soon ended, then there was a continuation of great scrambling which offered fantastic views all around. 

We moved quickly up, well aware of what appeared to be a vertical tower looming ahead. 

“Do you think we have to go up that tower?” Pete shouted from about 20ft below me. I looked up. 

“Looks like it” I said “But it looks worse than it is, remember Pete, its only a Moderate bud” I offered as some reassurance, not entirely sure as to where we went exactly. However, I was quite sure that if the route was this well-marked with crampons, the route would be easily found and done. 

I found my way into a corner of broken rock and debris and scrambled up and over the top. A sloping ramp led to a wall which rose vertically. To the left was nothing remotely moderate, to the right was a series of vertical blocks, faded white with traffic and rising steeply into a tower. I padded up the sloping ramp and traversed right onto the platform before the tower. I called Peter up. 

The aspect was fabulous! I made a couple of steps up and around to the base of the vertical cracks going up the tower. I looked up. A series of nice hand and footholds, polished but sound, led up to a big block which sat proudly at the top. I looked down. Everything fell away below my feet. The whole ridge dropped away spectacularly below. I climbed up and was amazed at the fabulous exposure on this Moderate route. Soon I was over the top and the standing on a ledge holding onto the huge block at the top. A beautiful situation. 

Fabulous exposure for a Moderate

I got a sling over the block, a cam in a crack and took Peter up.  I think he liked it. Proper Rubber Dinghy Rapids Mate eh? 

Now I’m sure there were a couple of other bits of moderate climbing before the top of the ridge, but to be honest, I can’t really remember, none of it really compared with the tower anyway. I got to the top, sat down and waited for Pete to follow. He came up beaming from ear to ear,  just as well he had that stupid sweat band on his head or his skull may have split. 

Lunch ensued, I tied up Petes rope as he is still learning and usually when he’s finished with it, it looks like it should have some clothes pegs attached to it. 

We headed up towards the summit, taking in the view onto Tower Ridge as we went. 

“This looks about near enough the top mate” 

“Aye!, it does” 

Even Pete didn’t go to the top! 

Pete wearing Ken Broons headband

Peter – please note, that I have not mentioned the mobile phone debacle (both of them!) or the fact that there were people on the tourist path who can’t understand new technology, and my constant exclamation of “That was absolutely Terrifying” to bewildered passers-by. 

C U next Tuesday!




One response

6 09 2010
Peter Polis

Hurry up and finish your blog, or is that you can’t understand nee technology?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: