Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ben Nevis, and Ben Nevis rant !

The summit team on top of Ben Nevis 

Orion Face, Ben Nevis 

The team headed for the Ben today. We walked into the CIC hut and then wound our way out to the zig zags and up over the plateue returning via the path to nowhere and down to the dam. It was pretty snowy from towards the top of the zig zags, plenty of fresh snow has fallen and the feel was very much like winter. Numerous people where descending from the snow due to being under equipped. The snow felt heavy and looking up across the North Face it felt as though things looked heavy and wet with some especially big cornices in some areas. Alan Kimber was also out with a client and headed up round Ledge Route.
Coming up and down the Ben a couple of times in the last week I cant help but feel the mountain is looking pretty run down. There seems to be a very shortsighted view taken on this mountain in the attempt to keep it 'wild' by various parties which seems to me to be cutting off their noses to spite their faces. The path is in many places a mess and although there are some good sturdy sections on the whole it is not great. The litter which spans the summit to sea level is pretty poor, its many boulders are not a pleasant sight to look behind as they are the only option as a loo and the area around the red burn is a tottering mess. The main user of the mountain track are novice hillwalkers who may have no experience at all yet the views are taken is by minority climbers and mountaineers who are experienced and wish to keep the purest view. I think there needs to be an acceptance that this mountain is an exception and as such should be treated a little differently.
coming down off the summit area

I think there needs to be a way to maintain four key areas on the mountain, Track, Toilet, Tourists and Trash ! A way to perhaps manage some would be things like an Alpine style hut at the halfway lochan which could serve drinks, meals and beds. This would raise a huge revenue with proceeds being put back into the mountain, the 100'000 or so people who use the mountain track in a year would raise enough money to have a regular paid team working the track creating a solid track able to cope with the crowds. This would also perhaps attract more people as an attraction and be something the Fort could be proud of. The red burn area could be cleared out and some nice benches put in place for people. Perhaps even a sign at Johns wall which points people towards the summit, Glen Nevis or the North Face the sort of thing which in many areas that rely on tourism cater for IE the tourists. The problem for Ben Nevis is that it makes no money it supports a wide variety of people and business within the area but nothing comes to the mountain itself could a couple of pounds levy be made on the mountain track which would create the revenue needed to maintain it ? I am all for the wild and unspoilt Highlands but this one path up one mountain is an exception. I fear that peoples desperation to maintain the wild (which it is not with 100'000 people walking up it in a year) ethics we have will  in the end be the mountains worst enemy.