But it is not the distant landscapes that truly hold my attention. And that, I realise is what they are - distant. Even the Mamores look distant from here, in a strange sort of way. It is, once again, The North Face of The Ben that is the spectacle here, or at least the pinnacles and ridges that lead up it. I find my way to an outcrop that juts out from the summit to the edge of the abyss. I swear that the temperature drops considerably as I get nearer the edge. A cold wind blows up from below. A chill creeps across my heart and my limbs tremble slightly. It is a daunting place to behold at such close quarters. Vertigo inducing. It feels lifeless and somehow unnatural. I feel a deep respect for the mountaineer who ascends this way. The summer rock climber must be brave. The winter iceclimber must have nerves of steel. I now also understand why the summit of Ben Nevis can be deadly in low visibility. Broad it may be, but there are horrendous, sheer drops all over the place. Descending with the low sun and the Inner Hebrides on the horizon is something of a treat. My eyes spend a good while tracing the spikiness of the very distant Cuillin on Skye and then the less dramatic Cuillin on Rum. Ben More on Mull looks huge but that might have something to do with the fact that it is the only mountain visible that has cloud licking its summit. Eventually, I decide to break into a run. Running downhill is a pleasure that any trail runner will attest to and it is something that I always enjoy immensely. There are sections of the Tourist Route path that are made of large, flat rocks that are a joy to leap between at speed. The speedy descent is done and, thankfully, the youth hostel has a shop for some liquid refreshment. Ben Nevis has served up a truly superb mountain day. It is a mountain that deserves to be treated the right way, not by the mere facility provided by the Tourist Route but by an adventurous scramble or climb. In the case of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, it is a route truly deserving of the highest mountain in the land. It is long, sustained, exciting with superb views and just enough exposure to keep the scrambler on their toes. Of course, there are even more adventurous ways to the summit, ways that climb that intimidating, cold North Face. The Ledge Route is the obvious natural progression for me and I am sure that one day I will be back to climb The Ben once more.
Alex is passionate about the mountains of Britain. You can follow his adventures at alexrambles.com and on his YouTube channel Alex Rambles
Summer Adventures to inspire you to get outside