Ledge route and CMD Arete

Back to Scotland for our Second trip of 2018. We’d decided on a longer stay to allow more days out - though in retrospect probably shouldn’t have chosen two very long days to start the trip.

Day 1 - Ledge route, returning via CMD Arete #

Of the various climbs up Ben Nevis, the Ledge route seemed to be good and varied, and not too too technical. For good measure, we’d return via the CMD Arete.

looking down a snowy hill with low grey clouds. Ed is off to one side walking up towards the camera.
Photo by Chris Natt.
Some large rocky hills near Ben Nevis. They’re covered in snow and ice, and you can just make out small coloured figures dotted around them - people climbing the ice.
The you see the climbers?

As you near Ben Nevis, the sheer scale scale of it starts to hit.

Chris before base of Ben Nevis. He’s got a climbing rope on and axe on the back of his bag, and he’s using a walking pole to point up at the summit.
The Improbable Pedestal at the start of the ledge route. A tall, top-heavy rock stood apart from the mountainside.
The Improbable Pedestal
A group of climbers on hands and feet climbing the ledge route.

It’s hard to capture the scale of a mountain and the precariousness of a ridge in a photo. Suffice to say it’s steep, and you try not to look down too much.

Ed climbing up the side of the Ledge route in very white conditions
Photo by Chris Natt.

At the summit, we could breath easily - though the visibility got much worse. We lost sight of the other climbers who were on our route, thus we were alone for the remainder of the day. Now we can say we’ve climbed Ben Nevis.

The emergency hut at the top of Ben Nevis. It’s covered in lots of snow, so only a patch of the top of the doorway is visible. There’s low visibility so it looks somewhat ghostly.

We’d read enough horror stories about getting lost on the summit to know you need to take good bearings or risk walking off the edge. From the trig point near the hut we set off with 5m visibility towards where we hoped the CMD would be.

Chris at the start of the CMD Arete, going down. It’s very snowy with low visibility. The ridge is only just visible.
Chris on the CMD Arete. It’s a near whiteout so you can only just see the rock-face in the middle.
A wide shot at dusk looking up a snowy hill. A figure (Ed) in the distance can be seen waving an ice axe.
Photo by Chris Natt.