8 DHC'ers (Chris, Ali, Moira, Iain, Robert, Sandy, Jane, Ruth) had signed up for the Glen Nevis trip and were joined by Robert’s son Philip and Fiona Russell and her partner Gordie for what we all hoped would be a successful weekend of Munro and Corbett bagging.
We arrived at the Ben Nevis Bunkhouse (literally at the foot of the tourist route up the Ben) on Friday evening feeling a little disappointed to discover that the “rustic” description actually meant “very basic”. Our 8 person dormitory was actually no more than an alcove with no door, no privacy and certainly no room to swing anything. 2 showers for 18 people seemed a little light.
However the redeeming feature was that the Inn was situated directly above the bunkhouse and served good beer and excellent food with a buzzing atmosphere since it was so popular. So by the end of the long weekend (for some of us) we actually got to quite like the place and would probably go back again.
By coincidence our weekend coincided with the annual Ben Nevis Hill Race so we ended up sharing the hostel with runners from Rossendale Harriers in Lancashire.
Saturday – Ring of Steall
7 of us from DHC (Chris, Iain, Moira, Ali, Robert, Philip, Ruth) met up with Fiona and Gordie who had spent the night in their van in car park at the end of the Glen Nevis road. After being severely “midged” in the car park we set off at a good pace up the glen and managed to escape the wee blighters. The first obstacle we encountered was the spectacular Steall wire bridge.
Everyone successfully managed to cross, apart from wee Ruth who sensibly preferred to get wet feet rather than risk the crossing with a more limited reach than the rest of us!
The weather was fine and clear with stunning views but I think the occasional cool breeze meant that Iain changed in/out of his shorts at least 5 times. Here is the group on the summit of Am Bodach with great views of the Ben in the background.
We continued along this spectacular ridge with added concentration on the Devil’s Ridge when Gordie recounted the time of his last visit there when someone slipped and fell to their death. Fortunately we had no problems and reached the final munro Sgurr a Mhaim
Sunday – Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag
There was high cloud, as forecast, on Sunday morning and the group splintered into at least 5 different groups to attack their chosen targets. There were as usual the corbetteers (Sandy, Jane, Ali), Moira & Ruth considering CMD, Robert/Philip going for Sgurr Choinnich Mor, Fiona/Gordie attempting CMD (see her blog www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk) and Chris/Iain went for Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag.
Fortunately the cloud base was rising during the course of the day and was at around 1000 metres by the time got up there, after again starting from the end of the Glen Nevis road. So later on in the day we were once again rewarded with some fine views.
Monday – Carn Mor Dearg, arête and Ben Nevis
4 of us with more time on our hands (Chris, Iain, Robert and Philip) decided to stay another night at the bunkhouse for a walk on Monday. The unusually optimistic MWIS forecast for the “chance of cloud-free munros” of “almost certain” was too good an opportunity to miss.
We set off in low cloud from the North face car park and ascended the brutally steep slopes of Carn Mor Dearg to pop out above the clouds opposite the north face of the Ben and were rewarded with the quite rare sight of a “white rainbow” –well I’ve never seen one before!
We pressed on up to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg looking down to a sea of cloud over Fort William.
After summiting Carn Mor Dearg we negotiated the arête scramble without any problems, though there was always the option of the off-ridge get-out path if required.
The last 200 metres of ascent up the rubbly, rocky SE ridge of Ben Nevis was tough but rewarding to eventually get to the summit cairn and join the hoards of tourists up there on what must have been one of the best days of the year.
Then followed a punishing 1300 metres of descent down the tourist track followed by a well earned pint at the Inn (at least for the non-drivers!)
This has to go down as one of my most memorable DHC trips ever due to a combination of the fantastic weather, the great area and the mountain achievements. Over 3 days we climbed 8 munros (or 9 according to Iain’s book! – 6 new for me) with around 4,300 metres of ascent.