Climbing Ben Nevis in June

Apr 27th, 2017, 07:50 PM
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Climbing Ben Nevis in June

Has anyone climbed Ben Nevis second week of June? I have read and been told varying information of what to expect as far as what kind of gear to take and that there will likely be snow at the summit.

Other than good hiking boots, poles and layers, is it prudent to take a pair of yaks to fit over our boots for hiking in snow or ice?

How many days should we plan to stay near that area, since it sounds like we may need to wait for a clear day to hike? And do you have suggestions for where to stay and other things to do in the area if we have to wait for a clear day to hike the Ben.

We are starting our trip by spending 9 days walking Hadrian's Wall, then renting a car at Newcastle on Tyne on June 6 for 7 full days, requiring us to be back to Glasgow airport area for the night of June 12th.

We are also wanting to take a day boat tour from Oban area to see the puffins and other wildlife.

We are novice climbers and would be grateful for any tips you may have especially if you have personally climbed Ben Nevis.
raz1024 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2017, 08:35 PM
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It's been a good many years since we climbed Ben Nevis, but I remember we did it in less than 6 hours round trip which we were told was pretty quick. We were fairly experienced climbers and very fit. I don't think you really need anything beyond a good pair of hiking boots, proper clothing and a compass as fog can be a big problem at anytime. Waiting for a clear day in the Scottish Highlands may be a prolonged affair just go when there's no predicted storms and go early. We did it without poles since people didn't use them at that time, but if you have them then definitely bring them. We stayed at a B&B in Fort William. No shortage of places to stay but can't recommend any.
historytraveler is online now  
Apr 27th, 2017, 08:58 PM
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I forgot you mention that while there was snow at the top, there was no snow on the trail. This was in June.
historytraveler is online now  
Apr 27th, 2017, 11:45 PM
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Many years ago for me too, but my experience was much the same - about 7 hours for the total up and down. Most people go up the more or less made-up path, of varying quality (good boots that support the ankles a must - the top is, as I recall, a collection of uneven boulders). It's walking rather than climbing (though I imagine there are proper mountaineering routes on the other faces).

One can never guarantee weather, so carry an extra layer and a waterproof outer, whatever it's doing at the bottom, plus water, emergency snacks and a first aid kit. Snow isn't impossible, but all I saw was in some spots out of the sun, and well away from anywhere anyone was walking. We didn't have walking poles (I was around 50 then, and not the fittest, but didn't feel the lack of them).

I have no recollection of where we stayed - presumably some nondescript motel, but clearly it was adequate if unmemorable. Fort William is likewise not particularly memorable in itself.
PatrickLondon is online now  
Apr 28th, 2017, 12:14 AM
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How bad were the midges?
sparkchaser is offline  
Apr 28th, 2017, 01:11 AM
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Do make sure someone knows you are going, and the route you are planning to take. Just in case.
I had a friend who worked on Snowdon Mountain Rescue, and it made life much easier for him, and for the victim they were rescuing, if they had some idea of where to look and how long ago the person had set off.
hetismij2 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2017, 02:56 AM
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>>How bad were the midges?<<

The only midges I can recall were in the forest at Boat o'Garten where we went to see the ospreys. None stick in the mind anywhere else from Glasgow up to Ben Nevis or across to Inverness and on to Orkney or down the north west coasts. Maybe they just didn't like me.

As I recall, the path up Ben Nevis from the Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis was pretty well populated then - not quite a traffic jam, but there were always people in sight:
PatrickLondon is online now  
Apr 28th, 2017, 05:49 AM
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So it looks like Ben Nevis by Mountain Path (17km) is what used to be called the tourist path and it is the most straight forward and of course well traveled path.

I have also read about Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete which is only slightly longer (17.5 km) but rated much more arduous and taking 10-11 hours round trip. This route intrigues me and I was wondering if anyone has done this route? If we did this route, we would definitely use a guide instead of relying on our own navigational skills.

Re equipment, my friend and I were at the bottom of Ben Nevis about 10 years ago and only walked a small portion near the bottom, enough to cross over a small waterway using a cable bridge that you took turns walking across on - I don't recall where this start point was or if it is the start of the main "mountain path" route.

We were told by other hikers that we met at this point, that to hike to the top of Ben we were not equipped properly, that "proper hiking boots and poles" were a "must" - at the time, we were only wearing regular hiking "shoes" and had no poles. We were somewhat naive and had no idea what climbing the Ben would entail since we just happened upon it(having done no research about it) on our road trip around Scotland.

I don't recall seeing a visitor centre but just walked in from a carpark. I believe we were also told we should check in at a visitor centre...

Anyone know where this start point may have been?
Or comments on the above?
raz1024 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2017, 06:06 AM
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No midges when we were there. We too were wearing what is referred to as trainers in the U.K. but I would certainly recommend a good pair of hiking shoes. When we started out we were the only ones on the mountain. They were having some kind of event. It comprised of yachting to nearby loch, then a team member running up Ben Nevis. We thought we were moving fast until we saw these guys. There was a first aid tent at the top for the runners to check in. All of this was years ago, and I'm sure things have changed considerably. No visitor centre and we also just walked from small parking lot. I would also assume there are a lot more walkers going up the mountain than when we were there.
historytraveler is online now  
Apr 28th, 2017, 06:35 AM
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I do remember passing an Italian lady, about half an hour up from the valley, and she was just wearing fashionable ballerina slippers. I don't think she or they would have lasted much longer....

raz, I think you're referring to the path I remember, which is the path described in that link.
PatrickLondon is online now  
Apr 28th, 2017, 08:11 AM
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Raz1024, the problem with Ben Nevis is the weather, not the hike. Because it is so unpredictable, your hike can change from a simple walk up a path in sunshine to being totally disoriented in a fog that you can't see more than a few feet ahead of you in. That is what kills people on Ben Nevis.

The safest route is the one 99% of all who go up Ben Nevis use. All other routes incur greater risk and are only for those who are very familiar with map, compass (and KNOW how to use them), have climbing experience and are fully equipped to shelter overnight if necessary.

Ben Nevis as a hike is really contradictory. For a fit and experienced hiker, the hike is in fact nothing much. It is the uncertainty of the weather that makes Ben Nevis a potential killer.

Every year, approximately 150,000 people start up Ben Nevis. Not all of them summit of course. Every year a few people die or have to be rescued on Ben Nevis as well though.

You ask how much time to allow to try and get a clear day and the answer is, there is no answer. Ben Nevis is cloud covered at the peak at least, for 355 days out of 365.

To be honest, as an enjoyable hike, Ben Nevis sucks. The only reason to do it is 'because it's there'. I have been hiking and climbing for over 50 years and consider Ben Nevis to be simply what I call a 'peak bagger' mountain. It's not somewhere I would hike anticipating the pleasures of hiking. If you get a 'good' day, it can be a pleasant hike but there are not that many of those days.

My advice for those who want to try Ben Nevis, is to:

1. Be realistic about your own abilities, knowledge and experience.
2. Make sure you are properly equipped with clothing and gear for the WORST case scenario.
3. Don't be reluctant to turn back if conditions become bad.

Take a look at the first picture on the following link and try to think of why someone would want to continue on.

The only reason Ben Nevis attracts as many hikers/climbers as it does it because it is the highest mountain in the UK. There is NO other reason to want to go up it actually unless you are into technical climbing for which it does have a deserved reputation as challenging. It is not a challenging hike really. If someone wants to hike in mountains for the scenery etc. there are far better places to do that all over the world.

You may also want to consider some other factors that might impact your decision as to whether you want to hike it or not.

I agree with the writer of that article in his conclusion. "I wouldn't go back." And that is how I measure whether a hike was worth doing or not.
Dogeared is offline  
Apr 30th, 2017, 06:40 AM
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Climbed Ben Nevis in mid May last year. We were lucky to have a clear sunny day, but I understand that doesn't happen very often. There was compacted snow near the summit which is most likely permanent. We did not take crampons or an ice axe and the path is busy. Compass and map are essential though as the route near the summit needs careful navigation. Was wearing 4 layers at the summit which is cold but had stripped down to just a base layer by the time we got to the car park. Nice bar for food and well deserved pint at the car park.
Nigel_UK is offline  
May 7th, 2017, 04:32 PM
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You have all been very helpful - thank you!
raz1024 is offline  

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