Scotland winter 2014, Ben Nevis 1344m by the Mountain Track.
So I had convinced Jack to come to Scotland with me to climb Ben Nevis, he had climbed Snowdon and Tyfan with me if the summer and kind of enjoy it apart from thinking was going have panic attack on Tyfan and die but that’s another story. lol
Day 1 Traveling to Fort Willaim.
So we woke up about 4am to get to Gatwick airport, the airport is 5 minute drive which is great, because we were in the pub having a cider and full English by 5.30am happy days. We managed to down 2 gin and tonics each on plane to Glasgow, once in Glasgow we had a couple hours to kill, so we stopped off in a nice pub had another cider and full Scottish Break which was much better than the English one, I do love black pudding, Jack didn’t like his, so double helping for me!
The bus journey to Fort William was boring as the sun had already started to go down as we left Glasgow normally though I love the trip along the A82, it has some of the best views on any road in the whole of the UK I think in my opinon. We got to Fort William about 7pm and got a taxi to Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, where we checked inn, I cooked me and Jack a pizza with a bottle of red wine, and then we headed off to bed about 9ish. The Hostel was almost empty just me, Jack and 2 other people staying that night. I had checked the weather forecast and the weather was going to be cold but clear in the morning but would be heavy snow and wind from about 1pm the next day, so I had told Jack we would have to leave very early so as to make most of clear weather in morning hours, so we would be leaving at 6am and going up for first 2 hours in dark on plus side we would get see the sunrise.
Day 2 Ben Nevis, Mountain Track.
So our alarm went off at 5.30am and we quietly got dressed as not to wake the other two guys in the dorm. We had a quick breakfast of chocolate bars washed down with a bottle of coke, and Jack choosing to wash his down with can of monster.
It was cold and dark outside but we were both in wrapped up well with Gore tex Jackets, fleeces, t-shirts, Wool hats from Russian and mitts. We were both carrying 3 litres of water, food, spare mitts and extra clothes. I was also carrying a spare head touch, map, compass, first aid kit and emergency bivy bag, we both also had phones fully charged.
The first half hour for me is also ways the worst, I was sweating like a pig even though it was probably well below zero even this low down. We walked up from the hostel for about 45 minutes until we reached the main track. We stopped here for a short rest and drunk some water, Jack was doing well and I was moaning more than him about being too hot. We carried on along the track for about another 20 mins until we got to the left hand turn that headed up towards the half way lochen. There was thick snow on the ground here at 400m and it had started to snow lightly, but we could see the sun coming up to the east.
By the time we hit the half way lochen the sun was up and the sky’s had cleared overhead and we had some good views. We stopped just past the lochen for about 5 mins to rest and eat and then we headed off again, we hadn’t seen anyone else on the mountain which was great, I loved the feeling of having the mountain to ourselves, no footprints in the snow ahead of us and no sign of anyone behind us yet it was great. By the time we hit the first of the zig zags I could see some clouds coming in from the North West and told Jack we might have some snow earlier than planned it was about 10am. We spent next hour zig zagging up with Jack asking me, how long left and with me guiding the way I kept telling him not long 15 minutes even though I knew it was about an hour at our safe, steady pace. Lol
Once we got the summit plateau the wind had picked up and it was cold about -16c, Jack was lagging behind a bit now put we made it to the summit, where we shared a kiss, then had a break on the summit in the shelter on top, where we were shorty join by another lone climber. We spent about 30 minutes at summit before we headed down once we were back on the zig zags the weather cleared and was amazingly clear day rest of the way down, sods law for it not to be clear on the summit, but oh well always next time. We were back in hostel by 4pm and it was already dark. Once back in hostel, there were a group of 5 northern boys that would be heading up tomorrow, we got chatting a spent the night swapping climbing stories and heavy drinking, which we did for next 2 nights as well. All in all it was an amazing trip to Scotland and another successful adventure for me and Jack. Please feel free to watch our Go pro footage from the climb on youtube and I’ve included some useful links below if you want to have your own adventure. Please do your research though Ben Nevis is not a place to risk it in winter if you don’t have right equipment or skills, so stay safe.