Advice required for Ben Nevis Walk!
I need some advice about walking up Ben Nevis. I am attending a hen party in July, which involves a walk up Ben Nevis (The Moutain Path/Tourist Track). Half of the group are walkers and want to reach the top, but the other half are not sure they will make it to the summit!
Is there a 'half way point' that we could stop and have lunch together, and then split, so that those that wanted to could continue to the summit and those that wanted to head back could choose an alternative route down (to make it a round walk?).
Any suggestions greatly appreciated!
Providing that you're ALL sober on the day...
There is a 'half-way point', and believe it or not, it's pretty much half-way too! It's where the first steep slog levels out before a steeper slog continues to the summit. I'd suggest that the 'walkers' in the group get cracking and set off early, with a view to reaching the summit, then come back down to the half-way point. The more reluctant folks can take a bit more time and just aim for the half-way point. Keep in touch with each other by mobile phone and see if you can all make it to the half-way point around the same time. Have lunch together, then head back down the way you came. There isn't really an alternative route that's going to work if you have people basically doing two different things.
If you all set off together early, and keep together, and reach the half-way point in good time, then you could have an early lunch there. Afterwards, let those who want to climb to the summit get cracking... but they'll need to keep moving. If they really are 'walkers', then they could come down another way, but I think time won't be on their side after being in the company of slower folks until lunchtime.
The ascent of Ben Nevis isn't as easy as some folks think and even discover. On average it is only cloud free on 60 days each year and snow lies on a high section of the path well into the summer. The path is steep in places and rough with lots of loose stones and boulders which some folks fine harder on the descent. It takes on average 6 - 8 hours to go up and down unless you are a hill runner when the record is under 90 mintes and that is from a park in Fort William and back.
Some folks class Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe as the half way lochan but it is only about a third of the way up but it would be a suitable location to head for those only going part of the way. Beyond the zigzags start.
Here is a link to my last ascent of Ben Nevis. From it you should also be able read previous ascents of The Ben.
The "Half Way Lochan" is as Lindsay points out about 1/3 of the way and the logical spot to stop for a lunch break - getting there from the Nevis car park can take anything between 1 hour and 3 hours depending on fitness levels. A good summit up and down is about 5 1/2 hours - and as lindsay says 8 hours isnt that unusual.
which brings a point - either the summiteers need to get away early, summit and meet the Half wayersjust as they arrive at the HWL or the parties really need to be independent - I wouldnt want to hang about anywhere on the Ben waiting for a group to arrive as pretty much anywhere could be a cold enough station.
Count on poor weather - I have walked the Ben perhaps 20 times and have only been in sunshine and cloudless on the top twice.
Oh..it can be beautiful T shirt weather at the bottom and blowing a right hoolie with snow at the top. I have even been sat basking in sunshine at the Half Way Lochan for a mate to ring me from the top to check the weather hadnt closed in all the way down! Be prepared for everything you might get lucky
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