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Day 17. Tuesday, 14/06/2011: Fort William to Ben Nevis to Fort William

Actual walking distance 19km. Walking ascent 1571m. Total walking distance 50km. Total walking ascent 3696m.

Not much to say today as only a walk on quite familiar territory. Ron had Trish and Gemma visiting with little Bonny the dog and their plan was for all but Tricia to go up Ben Nevis via the tourist path. Neil and I were to get the company of Alex and John (Gardner) to do the Ben via Carn Mor Dearg. Ron, Gemma and Bonny went off quite early while we waited for Alex and John to arrive. We went up the tourist path to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe before branching off to the left towards the CIC hut.

On the start of the Ben Nevis path.
Heading down towards CIC hut
We had a gear change at the hut before setting off up the 500m plus steep scree slope towards the summit of Carn Mor Dearg. The view from these slopes of the Nevis cliffs is very impressive and there were several groups of climbers on various routes.

Some of the cliffs of Ben Nevis.
500m of steep scree ascent to Carn Mor Dearg.
We had our first lunch at the summit before descending down along the arete. We thought we heard some shouting while we were eating but with four of us chatting and eating and with the wind noise it did not seem any more than climbers shouting up and down to each other. As we descended we could hear this again and it was clear this time that these were calls for help. I phoned the police who were already aware of the situation but due to the distance we were away from the cliffs and the wind it was not possible to give them much more help regarding the direction from which the shouts were coming from.

On the Carn Mor Dearg arete.
Steall waterfall.
Before we had made it to the lowest point on the arete a search and rescue helicopter arrived and proceeded to scan the cliffs. It did many passes before it seemed to stop its search but by this time it was out of sight behind a big buttress. To the south of us the Steall waterfall looked quite dramatic as it plunged 120m in a single drop. In front of us the arete joined onto the main bulk of Ben Nevis at the bottom of a long blocky scree slope that was much easier last time I did it when it was just a snow slope that covered the rocks and steps could be kicked into it quite easily.

Neil and I on the summit of Ben Nevis.

At the summit we found the usual hordes in inappropriate dress and loads of litter. Alex took our photo on the summit cairn and then we had our second lunch. We then had a search for a cache that Edie had left for us when she was up there at the weekend. Thanks for that Edie. We will no doubt fight to the end to secure the major prize! The helicopter was seen lowering a stretcher and then some time after flying away in the direction of the landing strip for Belford Hospital. Some time later it returned and repeated the operation so there were obviously two climbers injured. News reports confirmed this with one being transferred to Inverness and one to Glasgow.

Finding Edie’s cache.
Snow bunting on emergency shelter.
It is maybe difficult for some to understand but today was a nice day off. We had plenty of time for the walk and didn't need to go anywhere for dinner after it. The weather was just about as good as it could have been for this part of the world which was quite a bonus. We have been extremely lucky with the weather for all three hill walks and that is a big bonus. That is now the three peaks completed and there are only three days of cycling left and none too big. Tomorrow we will follow the Caledonian canal partly on tow path but along the lochs it will be along the A82 and that won’t be fun.


Day 17 map
Day 17 track

Day 17 elev
Elevation plot Day 17