Peak 3 | Ben Nevis, Scotland | 1345m | 7th April 2019
Updated: Nov 24, 2019
'The Ben,' as its locals know it, would be my first mountain completed solo and the most prominent peak that I ascended to date. However, blizzard-like conditions, low cloud cover, and strong winds were present yet again. This was now becoming a common theme in the mountains for me on this challenge.
• Start point - Glen Nevis Youth Hostel
• Route taken - The Pony Track
• Total ascent - 1300 m
• Total length - 17 km round trip
• Total time for the climb - 5½ hours
• Expense category - #Low
• Equipment - #StandardHike
• Difficulty - #Level3 of 5
• Enjoyment - #2stars of 5*
Portrush to Fort William
Climbing the highest point in Scotland
With this being the highest peak in the United Kingdom, it was the only one required in my Guinness World Record attempt. However, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland I had decided to do as additional peaks. I had only been tasked to climb up to the high point that was defined by the UN. It only felt right to me. Not only because of their distinct cultural and historical identities. But I also allowed me to explore areas that new to me, which is what I wanted the challenge to be about in the first place.
We traveled from Northern Ireland to Scotland by ferry. Drove up to Fort William and planned to spend a couple of nights. On my first full day there I decided to do it.
The weather forecast looked cloudy and overcast but this only seemed a common theme on the mountains we had been doing up to now.
I had decided to go up the most popular route - The Pony Track. The route starts off quite close to sea level so I would be doing practically the full height as ascent. I found a space at the side of the road by the Youth Hostel and got going.
Although it was still early in the season and not the greatest day, the path seemed busy in places. People had traveled from some distances to hike it as well. Got chatting to a couple of lads from Germany on the way up and a couple girls from Poland on the way down. I'd thought to myself how busy this must get on a nice day in peak season.
From about 1000 m up there was snow and ice cover. At this point, it would have definitely been easier if I had some crampons with me. I managed with what I had.
Towards the summit, viability was very poor. The rocks cairns used to guide hikers where to go couldn't be made out from one to the next. I kept on track by using the Garmin Inreach that I had bought to track my route and location for evidence in the Guinness. It was proving its weight in gold after the last few peaks we had done. Great bit of kit and essential to what I was doing.
Summit seemed fairly busy. There were many groups on top.
The next morning we drove past 'the Ben' as we were passing to visit local Steall waterfall. Annoyingly the weather conditions looked perfect. I remember that I wanted to do the whole thing again. But we had to get back.