Ben Nevis via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete
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1,343 metres (4,406ft) of height make Ben Nevis the highest mountain in the UK. Because of that, the ascent of 'the Ben' is probably one of the most popular mountain walks in the UK. In summer a steady procession turns the usual ascent route by the Pony Track into the walker's version of the M6. You won't find solitude on the summit, either. There is another, quieter way, however. This is the Ben 'The Long Way Round' via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.
The route starts with the hordes on the Pony Track, but you part company with them near to the Halfway Lochan (Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe). From there the route contours round to the CIC hut under the imposing north face of the Ben. A direct ascent to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg follows. This is steep and arduous and the summit is a welcome sight. From there the route follows the Carn Mor Dearg Arête, eventually ending up at the summit of the mighty Ben. There you rejoin the hordes and follow the Pony Track down.
For many the CMD Arête is the main reason for doing this route. It's not technically difficult and if you have done Striding Edge or Crib Goch, you won't have any problems. The situation is nicely airy without undue exposure. The views however, are amazing, especially those across to the north face of the Ben. If you know the topography, it's possible to identify the ridges and some of the famous rock and ice climbs.
This is a big mountain day and should be treated as such. At least one member of the party should be skilled and experienced in navigation and route finding. All members of the party need to be fit and equipped for a long mountain walk. The weather changes frequently and the old joke about getting all four seasons in one day isn't quite as funny if the weather turns foul near the summit and you don't have the right clothing. In summer it is not unusual to see trippers on the Pony Track in sandals, shorts and T-shirts. In winter it is not unusual for experienced climbers with alpine experience to end up having an epic when a blizzard strikes. The norm is somewhere between the two, but you need to be prepared.
So why do all this? Quite simply because it is a challenge and a huge mountain day; and because after all, it is 'the Ben'.
Scotland - Highlands and Islands - Highland - Nevis Range
Great Views, Hills or Fells, Munro