We had our first Ben Nevis Winter Camping trip last week on 9-10 February. I had the idea to run this trip last year to offer something different for my clients. Something that is more of an achievement than just walking up the highest hill in Scotland. In the past I have run several winter ascents to the summit of Ben Nevis. However, they are just the same as what everyone else offers and it’s always a bit of a rush to the to the summit in time. With camping on the summit you don’t need to worry about the timing too much since you will stay up there anyway. So you can start walking a little later than usually. You also spend some more time on the summit so you might even get a view.
Back to our first trip. We started off walking just before 10am from the North Face Car Park and walked straight up the new path and then along the Allt a’ Mhuilinn path towards the C.I.C. Hut. We turned off to the path going towards the Red Burn before we got to the Hut and walked in sunshine further up the hill. Once we got to the zig-zags it was quite apparent that it has become hard work with heavy packs to get to the summit. The conditions couldn’t have been much better for a winter ascent though and we plodded up the hill. After a total of 7 hours of walking we reached the summit successfully and got on with pitching the tents. It was pretty cold with around -10C and a chill factor of below -20C. Just melting snow and bring it to a boil took almost an hour. Eating took considerably less time.Then straight into the sleeping bag to sleep.
The morning saw less wind and even a few occasions with a view from the summit down towards Carn More Dearg and Aonach Mor. After a quick breakfast we headed down again and it only took up 1:30 hours to get back to the red burn where we had a quick rest and then continued back down to the North Face Car Park.
Even though it was quite windy at night at it was pretty cold this trip was a total success and will certainly keep it in the programme.