Jim Groark took a couple of clients onto Ben Nevis via the Carn Mor Dearg arete in late April. Here's his take on the day :
I met Andy and Elisabeth at the Visitor Centre, Glen Nevis, in lovely warm weather and sunshine! We bumbled up the tourist path as far as the Halfway Lochan, enjoying the views and exceptional weather. A pleasant relaxed walk, maybe too relaxed, as Andy decided to run back down to the car for a better warm up! (I wouldn't mention the forgotten sarnies in the car Andy!). From the Halfway Lochan we continued north easterly on the CIC hut track, then dropped down to cross the Allt a’ Mhuilin burn at a suitable spot, then up the rough ground leading up to Carn Beag Dearg (1010m). Above 800m there was a lot more snow cover, and the wind had picked up enough to put on jackets, hats and gloves. The path was much better higher up, but we got blown about a bit while heading over Carn Dearg Meadhonach (1180m) to the Munro of Carn Mor Dearg (1220m). On the old neve snow, we donned ice axe and crampons, and practiced “walking like John Wayne” so as not to trip over your own crampon straps. High up, the day had a real Alpine feel to it, with cloudy conditions breaking sometimes to reveal fabulous views of the North face of Ben Nevis, the Aonachs, and the Mamores all around.
We then crossed the Carn Mor Dearg arete which was quite narrow in places, and exciting in full winter conditions. The old abseil post to escape into Corrie Leis is no longer there, it has been replaced by a masterpiece of a cairn. (Very pretty, but no good for abseil rope retrieval!) But we had no need, or desire to change our plans, and plodded steeply up to the summit of the Ben (1344m), where the clouds kindly cleared again for more spectacular views all around. From the summit we practiced the 231 degrees pacing for 150m, then the 281degrees directly to the top of the zig zags on the tourist path. Snow was good, so took the direct line to the Red Burn /tourist path meet, then bumbled back down the track to the cars, back in t-shirt weather again!