Sign Up  |   Log In:Login with Facebook
REI Community
Ben Nevis
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Hadrian's Wall Direct 
Orion Direct 
Point Five Gully 
Tower Ridge 
Vanishing Gully 
Zero Gully 

Ben Nevis Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 2,100'
Location: 56.8047, -5.0032 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 786
Administrators: Chris Owen, Euan Cameron, Nick Russell, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Nick Russell on Mar 1, 2013
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Looking up at Ben Nevis from the Allt a' Muilinn f...


At 1343m (4400feet), Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the United Kingdom. To the South and West, a relatively gentle slope with a well-maintained footpath take you easily from Fort William to the summit. It's a long slog, but not technically challenging. The North East is a different story: huge rock faces are broken by steep gullies and buttresses, all dropping precipitously to the valley floor. Here is the domain of the mountaineer, who must negotiate the challenging terrain and battle hostile Scottish weather to reach the summit.

The classic gully routes are perhaps the most typical of the Scottish style. When making their first forays onto the mountain in the winter, the early pioneers saw them as lines of weakness, though none are to be underestimated. With it's steep, sustained ice, Point 5 is a challenge even with modern tools and techniques, but spare a thought for the first ascentionist, chopping steps over multiple days. Zero gully poses a different challenge, technically easier but often lacking gear or even decent belays.

You may notice a pattern emerging. The gullies are not named elaborately, but numbered from minus 3 to number 5, with a point 5 in the middle. Still, these simple names are as evocative to most British mountaineers as any others, at home or abroad.

The buttress routes are as iconic as the gullies, though a very different style. Tower ridge provides a magnificent outing: a long day, varied climbing and a sting in the tail in the form of tower gap. It has all the feel of many alpine routes, and can be just as committing.

Finally, face routes sneak their way up between these strong features, Orion Direct being the biggest of them all. It is the closest thing in the UK to an alpine North face, finding an intricate way up a vast, steep expanse of the mountain, through iced-up grooves, over snowfields, and round rocky buttresses on thin/mixed ground. A classic expedition on a classic mountain.

Getting There 

From Fort William, it is normal to continue up the A82 to Torlundy, and park in the North Face car park. Forestry tracks take you to a higher car park (those in the know can obtain a key to the vehicle track up to here). From here, a well-maintained trail (the Allt a' Muilinn footpath) takes you up to the CIC hut. Again, if you have the right contacts, you can secure a bunk here, the UK's only alpine hut.


Ben Nevis is covered by the Cicerone and SMC select guides, and the definitive guide for the area is the SMC's guide Ben Nevis.

The relevant maps are the Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25000) and Landranger (1:50000) maps.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.1 miles from here

6 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',5],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Featured Route For Ben Nevis
Rock Climbing Photo: Not all the belays were this good

Zero Gully WI3 R  Europe : United Kingdom : ... : Ben Nevis
A classic route with poor gear and belays. The climbing is not as hard as Point Five Gully, but the overall route is just as serious, and the paucity of any protection puts off a lot of climbers.The base of the gully is between the Orion Face and Observatory Buttress.P1) Easy angled snow-ice, with a steeper icy step leads to a belay at the base of a left-slanting chimney. In fat conditions you'll hardly notice the step, and a lot of climbers start higher, getting to the top of P2 in one rope len...[more]   Browse More Classics in International

Photos of Ben Nevis Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The summit trig point, looking out over a cloud in...
The summit trig point, looking out over a cloud in...

Comments on Ben Nevis Add Comment
Show which comments
- none yet -

The Definitive
Climbing Resource

Inspiration & Motivation
to Fuel Your Run

Next Generation Mountain
Bike Trail Maps

Backcountry, Sidecountry
& Secret Stashes

Better Data. Better Tools.
Better Hikes!