Ben Nevis, Zero Gully

Terry and I traveled up to the Scottish Highlands this weekend having heard about the almost perfect conditions on Ben Nevis, and adding in the continuing ‘bon temps’ forecast, we had to go. A big route on the Ben seemed within grasp!

Traveling Britain’s motorways is a trial. And that isn’t even counting for the catering at motorway services. When we stopped for dinner I asked for the steak pie. The lady serving had to check with the cook if there was any left – there was one! Then I was asked, “Would you like chips with that?”, I replied, “What are the choices?”, the answer, “None”. I had chips with my steak pie and luminous green mushy peas. Nice!

Arriving at Riasg we looked for the key to gain entry early the next morning to the forestry track that takes an hour out of the walk up to the north face of Ben Nevis. It wasn’t there! Whoever’d had it during the week had passed it on to another without signing it out, and against the system that allowed Terry and I to book it for the weekend. A great way to ruin our plans. Only one thing for it. Wake them up and get it!

Of course the morning did come, we did have the key, and after some off-road fun getting Terry’s little Corsa up the forestry track we finally got to the mountain.

It was crowded! Every ice climber in Britain had heard about the conditions and was out to play.

We had planned to climb Orion Face Direct, but that had at least 8 people strung out up the route. Not one of them moving an inch as we slogged up the snow slope to the base. Busy! So we chose to climb Zero Gully, a super classic.

Whilst people on this line were moving, it was still busy, which meant falling ice! Check this clip…

One of these falling chunks of ice whacked me on the leg… It hurt! A lot! If Terry hadn’t been there I might have been less manly and cried! 😉

One positive aspect of the crowd was meeting Adelle & Paul, who were climbing ahead of us. Really friendly and enthusiastic people. Hope you had as great a day as us?

Despite the falling ice, what an amazing route! Easy climbing by Canadian ice standards. But combined with the walk in (even with the key), a painful ice fall injury on my leg, the stress of imaginary belays, and that damned walk out, a very tiring experience. Awesome! Here are two more shots, Terry starting the first pitch, and topping out.

On top was so nice we hung out just soaking up the sunshine and the views. It isn’t often you get a view like that from the top of the Ben. I even took my boots off and relaxed my tired feet ready for the walk back down.

One last picture though, is this the most freakishly scary cornice you’ve ever seen? It must be overhanging the cliff by 25+ feet, a fast way to descend a very long way! Or maybe a BASE jumping platform?

6 thoughts on “Ben Nevis, Zero Gully”

  1. Hope the guy who dropped his rucksack from high on Slav Route last Saturday (31March) found it at the bottom. He was very lucky not to have found me and my mate as well, since it nearly took me off ‘Zero’, on one of the more ‘flimsy’ sections. It actually hit my trailing lead rope and would have hit me a minute or so earlier. Fortunately, there was nobody below us. Would have taken them for certain. The lesson should be that if you have to take off your rucksack in this situation, make sure you have something to clip it to rightaway.

    Otherwise, a very good day on ‘Zero’, with magnetic ice, as has been said elsewhere.

  2. Yeah, it was frightening when that pack came over head, whooshing through the air! I thought it was heading straight for me! Obviously it missed me – luckily. Then I was waiting for the body to follow! That didn’t follow, just the curses of the fool who’d let it fall!

  3. Thanks! I thought the trip deserved a good write up.

    If you have any pictures from then, why not post it? Make sure it has the correct date though, Ian seems to forget that bit every time…

    PS. I thought Ian was gonna create a Gravatar for you?

  4. Pete, amazing photos – do you have a larger photo of the ‘Base jump platform’ picture as I can’t click to enlarge it? Aspiring Skydiver/day dreaming Base jumper here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *