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Climbing Ben Nevis

Meaning: Meaning Obscure, Possibly Venomous Hill or Cloudy Hill

Munro Region: Loch Linnhe to Loch Ericht

Munro Number: 1

Height in Metres: 1344

Height in Feet: 4409

OS Map Reference OS Sheet 41; 166713


Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest, is a mountain of two very different faces. To the south and west it is a great lump of a hill towering over Fort William; to the north and east it has a very different appearance, with great ridges, buttresses and gullies rising from the Allt a' Mhuilinn to the summit plateau, truly Alpine in scale and character. The Tourist Route' up the path from Glen Nevis has for long been the way of hundreds of hillwalkers, but it is hardly worthy of such a mountain, and those who want to discover the real character of Ben Nevis should go round to its north side and climb to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg for the splendid view that it gives of the Ben, and then continue by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete to enjoy the finest hillwalkers' route to the summit. Start either at Achintee or the youth hostel in Glen Nevis and climb the tourist path to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe. From there the tourist route continues up the broad stony path, first by a series of zigzags on the south of the Red Burn and then across the wide boulder-strewn plateau, gradually climbing to reach the summit. Do not stray from the path as there are dangerous cliffs on both sides. The summit is disfigured by remains of the old observatory and a metal shelter. To explore the northern side of Ben Nevis, leave the tourist route near Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe and follow another path north towards the Allt a' Mhuilinn. Descend to the stream, cross it and climb the long slopes on its east side to Carn Dearg Meadhonach , with unfolding views of the north face of Ben Nevis. Continue along the ridge to Carn Mor Dearg. Descend south along the narrowing ridge of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, with very easy scrambling on the narrow crest. Beyond its lowest point the ridge rises to reach a broad boulder-strewn slope which leads tediously up to the summit of Ben Nevis.