Under winter conditions 'The Ben' is transformed into a magnificent arena for winter climbing. In the winter months Ben Nevis is a far bigger undertaking and requires prior instruction with axe and crampons. It is truly a fantastic time of year to ascend the highest mountain in the UK and below are a few of the finest routes I guide groups on.
VIA THE CMD ARETE
A big day out with a long and exposed narrow ridge before the final slopes to the summit. This route gives the best views over to the north face of Ben Nevis as we first ascend up the gentle slopes of Carn Mor Dearg. The views all the way along this broad, easy angled ridge to the summit are fantastic. On a clear day the view resembles somewhere in The Alps. From the summit of Carn Mor Dearg there lies the highlight of the ascent, the CMD arete. For over 1km the arete snakes it's way toward Ben Nevis. It's a little exposed but the climbing is very easy, mostly just walking. The final 200m slopes from the end of the arete up to Ben Nevis's summit are actually easier than in summer! The bouldery terrain of summer is replaced with an even snow slope. After taking in the extensive views it's all down hill via the pony track, taking a short cut down through The Red Burn and back to the NF car park to end a memorable ascent.
THE MOUNTAIN PATH
Gone are the summer crowds, gone too is the rocky path and this side of the mountain becomes far more beautiful. This is the 'easiest' route on the mountain in winter. Even though it is relitively easy it is still a big day out and can take at least 7 hours up and down, depending on snow and weather conditions. The bouldery terrain in summer on the upper mountain is usually well banked out with snow and in some ways it is actually easier walking. The views are terrific in every direction.
NUMBER 4 GULLY
A spectacular and easy climb up on the north face of Ben Nevis. The approach walk up the Allt a' Mhuillin to the CIC Hut is in itself a great trek. Then up through spectacular ice, snow and rock archetechture of the Coire na Ciste before the final climb in Number 4 Gully which brings us on to the plateau. There are amazing and varied views all day on this easiest of winter climbs. Just 20 minutes of easy walking aross the plateau area and we reach the summit. Descend down The Red Burn and back to the North Face carpark.