Our blog - Lochaber 4000s, 19-20 May'18

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Lochaber 4000s

19-20 May 2018
Two days of guided hiking up the high mountains in Lochaber. Kevin Woods was leading....

This trip took us over the four massive mountains of Lochaber; Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg and the Aonachs. They lie in a tightly-spaced cluster. Climbing them over two days makes for a spectacular and varied weekend of walking and scrambling.

Day 1 - Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg

This is a long day over varying types of terrain; it might actually have some of the most varied terrain of any hill day: you move from forestry tracks to good paths, a boggy hillside leading to razor-edge ridges. Then there is a climb on blockfield leading to the summit of Ben Nevis – always busy. Finally, a descent takes you down the zig-zags and a final pathless moorland romp to finish!

These hills are also home to the highest ascents anywhere in the country, and on Saturday morning wedid the long gentle rise to Carn Mor Dearg. Ben Nevis really looked tremendous today, still harbouring masses of snow. But the sun as out today, the arête was dry and grippy, and everyone made short work of it.

Ben Nevis itself was crowned with a snow cap on the plateau, which also served to make the place feel a lot cleaner than it is in summer! I told the group that in all my visits to the Ben, this was one of the few I'd had with a totally clear view. Many of my 'summer' trips up here have had simply shocking conditions; such is the west coast weather. Sometimes winter can be better.

We joined the main Ben track and headed down the zig zags. I've always enjoyed the moorland romp at the end, with the day's objectives pulling into view again. We had caught the weather; we had great conditions all the way around. It was really a great day to be on the highest mountains in the country.

Day 2 - Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag

A forecast not as promising with drizzle moving in. But in the morning a lone patch of blue sky was hovering over the Nevis ski centre. We thought we might have been in luck! And as the weather closed in all around, we followed the tracks under the ski tows up to the top station, then continued on up onto the NE arm of Aonach Mor. Like yesterday, we now had another long ascent; almost from sea level to the 1200m contour, where we stopped for a quick break at the top of the ski tows.

Statistically, the Aonachs day is as big as the Carn Mor Dearg-Nevis day, but the terrain is a lot more gentle. So it made sense to be here as the mist closed in and the drizzle commenced! We knocked off Aonach Mor with a bit of navigation en route, then went straight to Aonach Beag, which in the mist is an impressive peak, with a nice serrated edge leading skyward, and a final snow dome to mark the summit! It's a unique summit, with a tiny cairn that spends the majority of its year buried.

There wasn't much to hang around for but the chilling damp, so we went back north over Aonach Mor, past the summit and quickly down to the ski tows again. With the gondola now running and the bike tracks being used again, we chose to do the last two thousand feet mechanically!

More photos by Kevin Woods are here on Flickr.

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