Scramble Route - Surgeon's Ridge, Ben Nevis

Not as famous as Tower Ridge, but a heck of a sight quieter way up the Ben.

Posted: 23 July 2007
by Dave Mycroft

Surgeon's Rib, Ben Nevis - Highlands

Grade: 1

Surgeon's Rib provides an alternative away from the masses, taking a rib between Carn Dearg and the final section of the tourist route onto the Ben Nevis summit plateau

Equipment: Not required.

Online Map link

Views: 4
Technicality: 1
Exposure: 2

out of five.

There are many routes to the top of the UK's highest mountain, from long plodding walks to alpine style ridges.

For scramblers, and those with a head for heights the CMD Arete and Tower Ridge are the all time classic routes, but in summer even these alternatives to the traditional tourist track can be a little overcrowded.

The carn atop Carn Dearg - PTC's OM album

Surgeon's Rib provides an alternative away from the masses, taking a rib between Carn Dearg and the final section of the tourist route onto the Ben Nevis summit plateau.

Approach From the Youth Hostel in Glen Nevis follow the River Nevis for almost a mile, passing the Old Graveyard, then move diagonally up the hillside aiming for the top of the obvious drystone wall.
Route From the top of the wall move onto the north side of Allt an Aon Doruis - or Surgeon's Gulley as it is better known, and continue to a steep section of broken rock and heather.

Although this can be taken directly this choice would leap to grade 3, but by traversing left along the foot of the outcrop you can reach a small gully that bypasses the difficulties.

Take this narrow gully diagonally right to rejoin the crest of the rib on easier ground. Continue uphill as Surgeon's Gully splits on your right to reach a series of rock steps.

The summit of the Ben - Steven Horner, OM album

The first step has an obvious large flake which is passed on the right. Further rock steps between sections of walking can be sought out to make the scramble interesting until the rib flattens.

A ridge now curves right to join the CMD Arete route, and a collection of small outcrops here provides interest for the scrambler looking to add more contact with the rock to their route. The ridge slowly decreases in width and becomes boulder strewn as it joins the main ridge 400 yards north of Carn Dearg.

From here follow the ridge to join the final stretch of the traditional walk onto Ben Nevis.

Descent From the summit of Ben Nevis the descent takes the zig-zag path used by thousands of people each year, but care should always be taken on this descent as danger lies all around in anything but clear, good,weather. The summit area is complex with several large in-cut gullies which can be deadly in poor conditions.

John Cameron's shot of the Ben in June emphasises
the size and complexity of the summit -
OM album

The MCoS has issued an excellent definitive guide to descending safely from the summit at

Caution Scrambling is potentially dangerous and, particularly at the higher grades, requires technical skills and equipment to minimise the risk. We suggest that you take professional instruction or climb with an experienced partner.

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Scramble Route - Main Gully Ridge, Glyder Fach
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Scramble Route - Wistow Crags, Lakes

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