So you’re thinking of planning a walk up Ben Nevis?
In order to stay safe you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does anyone in the group have hill walking experience?
- Is everyone in the group fit enough?
- Is everybody properly equipped?
- Are you planning to go between May and September?
If you answered no to any of these, then you’ll need to ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing.
Don’t do the CMD! If you’re not used to hill walking and scrambling, this is not just a more interesting way up! This is a serious undertaking in fine weather and a full on mountaineering trip in the depth of winter!
Experience. If you lack the experience of hill walking, get the group to pay for a qualified mountain leader. It’s a small price to pay, and ensures your party will be safe.
Fitness. Your group can only go as fast as the slowest member. You should be happy that it’s within the ability of all in the group. It’s six to seven hours of hard graft, maybe even more if you’ve a slow member. I’ve felt fine after a 2hrs 30min up AND down on Snowdon, but guiding a group up on an 8 hour trip left me sore, aching and exhausting!
Equipped. The basics can be bought quite cheaply these days – and most people will have the basics anyway. You may need some decent footwear (trail shoes or sturdy trail running trainers are perfectly fine. Boots are recommended, but in my opinion, aren’t always needed. I’ve sprained my ankle only once, and that was with boots. Grip is much more important and trails shoes from Inov8 are the grippiest, most confidence boosting footwear known to man).
Whatever you do, don’t wear jeans – they are hopeless when wet. Try to avoid cotton tees as well, but if you insist, just take a few spares as once they get wet with sweat, they’re next to useless. They will cool you however, so maybe in the height of summer you’ll be thankful!
The Ben can easily see snow fall most months of the year. The summit can be completely covered in deep snow into late spring. Autumn and onwards sees the snows, and this can be the case far into the spring.
Of course, you can also have some wonderful days in this period so make sure you keep an eye out on the mountain forecast and be prepared to cancel if it turns out to be adverse.
Take a look at the video on this link where a Snowdonia National Park Warden gives his advice.