Friday, 31 August 2012

Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis, Aug'12

Decisions, decisions ! Our plan for this day was to head down Glen Etive and hike up Sgor na h-Ulaidh and Beinn Fhionnlaidh. However, with fine weather forecast, Martin suggested doing Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis. We'd been planning this for a while, so the opportunity had to be grabbed. A few late night texts and after a bit of confusion, Dave was in too !

Next morning we headed up from the North Face car-park into Coire Leis. Weather was warm and sunny, but cloud blew over Ben Nevis with the summit stubbornly stuck in mist. Up to the CIC hut, where several folk were packing up after a few days climbing, then a bit further on on a loose path. We went around the Douglas Boulder and up a slightly slimy ledge and onto the base of Tower Ridge. From there on, it's sustained rock-scrambling with a few sections of 'Diff' climbing. The exposure rapidly builds up ! Martin knows the route well and where to keep to the ridge and where to turn slightly off.

The infamous 'Tower Gap' was reached an initially I wondered what the fuss was all about. We roped up, Martin down and over first, then we both belayed Dave over. My turn next, being only roped from Martin on the other side. Moving towards the gap I could now see what the fuss was about - as could the crowds on the summit looking over to us, the mist now having lifted. There's a couple of rope slings in place and after figuring out the steps, the moves are actually quite straightforward to get into the gap. Then all that is required is to lean forward and step over the gap. This sounds simple and it is, the problem is the drop on either side and in the gap. The exposure is sensational !

Once over it's a fairly straightforward scramble up rock (loose and slimy in places) onto the plateau. Summit visited, it was now a hill-run back down in practice for September's race !

More photos are on
our Flickr site.