With a day off yesterday and plenty of dry rock around, Caspar, Ruari and I were in need of a good day out in the mountains. Our options were either a big multi pitch route - Minus One Direct perhaps - or all of the Ben Nevis ridges, and it was very hard to decide. That was, until we got out of the van at the top car park. We were covered in midges instantly and the decision was made. We were going for the ridges. At that point we were actually under a layer of low cloud but MWIS suggested that the tops would be above, which made the idea of getting up high even more appealing.
But which order to do them in? If we were going to do all the ridges we wanted to do ALL of them, including CMD Arete. It is a ridge on Ben Nevis after all! So the logical place to start was with an ascent of Castle Ridge. The bottom part of the route was in the cloud still, but climbing the crux brought us out into the sunshine and looking down on the cloud that was just beginning to break up. From there we headed up the bouldery slopes of Carn Dearg and down Ledge Route. We wanted to avoid going back on ourselves as much as possible but we would have to do a little bit of looping around in order to use Tower Ridge as a descent, so next up was Observatory Ridge. This is the most sustained of all the ridges but being fully absorbed in the climbing meant we were at the summit before we knew it. Trotting past the crowds enjoying the sunshine, we headed for Tower Ridge and timed it perfectly. The parties we had seen on the ridge had already summitted so we had a clear run all the way down and back into Observatory Gully.
The third ascent of the day was North East Buttress and the legs were still feeling surprisingly ok. It was Ruari's first time on this route so he got the fun of leading Caspar and I up the Mantrap and the 40 Foot Corner, and once again we were on the summit plateau. Down the boulders we went, and on to our final ridge of the day - CMD Arete. It was a beautiful run along the Arete looking back at all of the ground we had covered, but making the final climb up the summit of Carn Mor Dearg, my legs were definitely beginning to feel all the ascent they had done. All that was left was the nice gradual descent and we were back at the van in exactly 9 hours.
This is something I had wanted to do for a while so it felt amazing to have done it on such a beautiful day, with good company and still feel pretty good after 17km and 2300m of ascent. I guess all the lockdown training has paid off!
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.