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Ben Nevis. The highest mountain in Britain. This fact alone is enough to draw over 150,000 people every year to climb to its summit. I know many people who have climbed Ben Nevis but have climbed no other Scottish mountain. They probably went up the tourist route, as 75% of people who summit do. This is a shame because it does not reveal anything near the full majesty of what The Ben has to offer.


You see, Ben Nevis has a sublime airy scramble accross jumbled boulders that provides a dramatic approach to the summit. This is the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, easily the superior hiker's route to the roof of Britain. As the intrepid pilgrim makes his way along the ridge, the prospect to the right is possibly one of the grandest of mountain scenes on these shores. The immense mass of the The Ben's North Face dominates this approach and serves as an intriguing contrast to the thin sagging arête that approaches it. However, it is not just the massive North Face that draws the eye. The glorious Mamores range is seen in profile to the south and across Corrie Giubhsachan the Aonach's Mor and Beag fill the horizon. However, all of this comes at a price. It is a long day with over 1500 metres of ascent. Great effort is spent merely reaching the arete - Carn Mor Dearg is the ninth highest mountain in Britain after all.


Once you have left the tourists behind, the guidebooks often suggest a slog up the moss and boulder strewn western flank of Carn Mor Meadhonach, which is easily the most tedious section of the route. Nevertheless, do not be put off. I urge anyone thinking of climbing Ben Nevis to shun the mere facility provided by the Tourist Route and seek adventure on The CMD Arete. If the exposure and scrambling get too much, there is usually a path to the left of the main ridge. Go on. Live a little. Hit the CMD arete. It is an ascent to be proud of.

Ben Nevis via the CMD Arete

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