View Full Version : Ben Nevis

Bill O
06-02-2008, 09:48 PM
Its not quite Mount Washington, but it might be the biggest little mountain I've ever climbed. Starting near sea level you climb nearly all of the 4,409 feet to the summit. Despite the low elevations Scotland's peaks look like they could easily be in the Alps or Rockies. Low tree lines, glacier carved faces and lingering snow create a dramatic landscape.

I climbed to the summit of Ben Nevis on May 25th with great weather conditions. Just me and about 1,000 of my closest friends made the trek to the top. Thankfully, I beat most of them, making the 4.5 mile and 4,300 foot climb to the summit in two and half hours. I counted over 700 people still climbing up on my way down.

A teaser photo below with the a slideshow here. (http://picasaweb.google.com/wjozanne/BenNevis/photo#s5207455231190338530)


KD Talbot
06-02-2008, 11:27 PM
Someday I will climb that, what with being Scottish and all it's been a dream for quite some time to climb in Scotland. For now I've got to settle for the Whites, next best thing! No kilt?


06-03-2008, 06:08 AM
And you had fantastic weather! What a day. Have you hiked in the Welsh Mountains too?

Steve M
06-03-2008, 07:23 AM
What a great trip. I'm glad you had an awesome day. Thanks for sharing.

Bill O
06-03-2008, 07:43 AM
Never been to the Welsh mountains, but they look equally as enjoyable to climb. We got really lucky with the weather. The day after I climbed Ben Nevis we were on the Isle of Skye and I could have coded SKC - sky clear. There wasn't even a hint of a cloud anywhere to be found.

At close to 60 degrees north latitude the days were remarkably long. People were leaving for the 7 hour round trip to the summit well after noon. The sun set at 10:30 and it never really got totally dark there.

06-03-2008, 09:36 AM
The views from the summit are incredible - particularly in contrast with the landscape at the base. I never would have pictured this for Scotland. What an amazing trip - thanks for sharing.

06-04-2008, 05:10 AM
Bill, is there still just the small ferry to get out to Skye? Or have they put in a bridge by now. It has been 50 years since I was out there!. What a great trip.

Bill O
06-04-2008, 06:13 AM
Bill, is there still just the small ferry to get out to Skye? Or have they put in a bridge by now. It has been 50 years since I was out there!. What a great trip.

They put in a bridge where the two landmasses are closest together, but there is also a ferry near the southern tip of the island to cut off quite a bit of driving if you're coming from the Fort William area. We took the bridge and saved the ferry rides to get to the Outer Hebrides. I'll try to get those photos up in the next few days.

06-05-2008, 08:27 PM
We spent some time in Ft William / Glen Coe / Skye area in Scotland in spring of 2006. The scenery is like nothing I've ever seen elsewhere. Our mountains are dramatic in NH, but theirs seemed almost eerie. Like a martian landscape. I guess the lack of trees is a big part of that.

I think you were doing more strenuous hikes than we did, but did you get to see the Old Man of Storr (http://www.skyewalk.co.uk/thestorr.shtml)?

It's really interesting how a "walker" has right-of-way through all the farmers' fields and land. They even go so far as to build ladders up and over the fences so that the hikers can go in/out but the sheep stay in.


Bill O
06-05-2008, 09:27 PM
I think I was back to the car around 3pm then we headed straight for Skye. We found a B&B in Broadford and took a late evening drive out to Elgol. That was our first experience with single-track roads. I don't know why they don't have those here, but they really do work. From Elgol we got a great view of the Cuillin Hills. The next day we drove up to Uig to catch the ferry to the Isle of Harris on the Outer Hebrides. We had a choice of two loops and we took the one that didn't go by the Old Man of Storr.

06-08-2008, 08:43 AM
I knew that the mountains in Scotland got some snow, but I didn't realize they got enough to hold that much snow this late in the year. After seeing this thread, I searched YouTube and found some videos of people skiing the gullies on Ben Nevis in July of some years, with far more snow than the gullies of Mt. Washington typically have in July. This one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-35ur5r8zKc) is pretty neat, from July 1994. I don't have time to look, but perhaps that was a huge snow year for Scotland considering that amount of vertical that that video shows. See anything that looked worth skiing while you were there this year Bill?

I also discovered that there are some very interesting ski areas right around Ben Nevis. I find this one (http://www.nevisrange.co.uk/winter/) particularly interesting and would love to ski there and visit that region now that I have learned more about it.

Bill O
06-08-2008, 10:55 AM
Judging by the gentle slopes I climbed you'd have no idea people skied those northeast gullies. When I saw the group of climbers on the summit with a massive rack of rock and ice gear I just figured everything was too steep or mixed to ski. Not to mention, all the views into the gullies had large cornices guarding them, something I steered clear of. The cornices bring me back to another thread I started in the weather forum, but we'll re-visit that later.

Of the 1,000 or so people I saw hiking, not one had a pair of skis...but a group did have parts of a cannon. The gully in that video is a serious no fall zone with the upper section guarded by some big cliffs at the bottom.

If you thought New England winters were inconsistent I have a feeling Scottish winters are even more so. They have boom and bust winters, some with probably no snow at all. I think this year was a big snow year, I'm not positive though.

When everything goes right though its not surprising to see that much snow holding in those gullies. The west, sw and nw slopes all gently slope toward the summit allowing the prevailing winds to transport everything into the northeast facing gullies. Sort of like Mount Washington. They are literally just miles from the ocean and when its cold enough I'm sure abundant snow falls. Also, considering the northerly latitude I'm sure it snows all year long at the summit. Remember, the weather when I was there was very rare. Rain, fog and temps in the low 50's are much more common all summer long...and thats at sea level.

Bill O
06-08-2008, 11:04 AM
As for the ski areas...I always got the impression they were very small. Certainly not destination resorts. Very small day areas, but more visually attractive then anything in New England because they don't really have trees. More of a novelty and probably only fun when the sun comes out.

With that said, flights to Scotland in the winter are or were very cheap in the past. Trains and buses can take you to Fort William and buses can take you to the trail heads.