/ Cmd Ben Nevis route.

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Cadairmanuk - on 18 Mar 2013
Evening people. Could someone give me an idea on how hard or easy the cmd route is under snow conditions please. I'm back in Scotland next month and with the current conditons theres likley to be a bit of snow about ,i have a few walking friends two not overly experienced coming with me. Rest of us are ok having had a great time in the cairngorms last month and nipping over to do the Anonach Eagach too.

So comparison time if that's possible. Is it a crib goch? Or a striding edge? Easier harder.

Just trying to make plans.

Thanks

Ben
wee jamie on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk: It's a long Crib Goch. Give yourself plenty of time by getting a nice early start. Avoid very strong winds. Make sure everyone is happy to find their way off the summit of the Ben in possible whiteout conditions. If you're lucky, you'll get to see Ben Nevis at its best - http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=139160
Tim Chappell - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk:

I haven't done Striding Edge in winter, and I haven't done Crib Goch at all. I should think the arete is about as exposed as Striding Edge. It may be a bit longer.

You say you've done Scottish winter II/III. The CMD arete is grade I. On that basis you should be fine. Don't even think about it without axe and crampons, but if you have II/III experience I'm sure you know that.

If I was doing it as things are right now, my main three concerns would not include the arete itself at all. They would be (i) avalanche potential getting up to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg, (ii) avalanche potential on the big slope between the arete and the Ben Nevis summit plateau, and (iii) navigating off from the top of the Ben if the weather is thick--again there will be avalanche potential whichever way you go--watch out especially for the Red Burn.

But enough doom and gloom. Do it when it looks right, and you'll have a brilliant time.
Tim Chappell - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk:

Hang on, I've just noticed you've done the Aonach Eagach in winter. Compared with that the CMD is a walk.
Cadairmanuk - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Thanks guys. I will be keeping a very close eye on avalanche issues. I'm just trying to get as much info and opinions before I go. Hopefully I can have a go at tower ridge and ledge route but that will be with my experienced mate.

Ben
Jim C - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to Cadairmanuk)
>
>
>
(i) avalanche potential getting up to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg, >

If He goes up from The North Face Car Park, and heads up a bit soon after the Top car Park there it should not get steep enough for
avalanche ? Granted if he continues too far up beyond that it will get steeper and the risk will increase.
ScraggyGoat on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk: As mentioned above, nowhere hard, fantastic situation and veiws. The final slope from the arÍte can be become very icy in certain conditions, so you'd want to be sure your friends newer to winter, are good on their feet with crampons on, rather than starting to get used to them.
Tim Chappell - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Jim C:
> ( it should not get steep enough for
> avalanche ?


Isn't the optimum angle for avalanche 30 degrees? Tell me I'm wrong if I am, but I read that somewhere.

The best way to keep out of trouble is to stick to the ridges, but in some positions (e.g. between the arete and the summit plateau of the Ben) there's no ridge to stick to. And even where there is, in really avalanchey conditions even that strategy won't work.

There are days when you should just go skiing (on piste).

http://www.sais.gov.uk/latest-forecasts.asp
Tim Chappell - on 18 Mar 2013
One other thing--if the weather's bad and you need to retreat, then do so before you get to the summit of the Ben, because if it's bad elsewhere it'll be bad squared on the plateau.

In present conditions the safest retreat is very likely to be to retrace your steps back over the top of Carn Mor Dearg.
cannichoutdoors - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk: Get it right, and the CMD is a lot easier under snow, as you just walk over the top of the boulders :)
purplemonkeyelephant - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk:

How exposed does it get at its worst? Is it suitable for someone thats not terrified, but not great with heights?
SimonCRMC - on 18 Mar 2013
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

It's hard to assess one person's perception of exposure compared to another but I'd say the CMD isn't particularly exposed anywhere along its length and I don't remember any of the narrower bits being at all sustained. All of which I think adds up to you should be okay! It's a great day out.
Jamie B - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to SimonCRMC:

> It's hard to assess one person's perception of exposure compared to another but I'd say the CMD isn't particularly exposed anywhere along its length and I don't remember any of the narrower bits being at all sustained. All of which I think adds up to you should be okay!

Better hope so (based on the evidence of things unseen...) as it's inescapable once embarked upon.
Jamie B - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Jim C:

> If He goes up from The North Face Car Park, and heads up a bit soon after the Top car Park there it should not get steep enough for avalanche

Absolutely. Head up the broad north shoulder of Carn Dearg Beag rather than do what lots of folk seem to do; wait till CIC hut then head due East up a steep and never-ending slope towards the summit of CMD. This looks like purgatory.
MadProfessor - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to Jim C)
>
> [...]
>
> Absolutely. Head up the broad north shoulder of Carn Dearg Beag rather than do what lots of folk seem to do; wait till CIC hut then head due East up a steep and never-ending slope towards the summit of CMD. This looks like purgatory.

It is purgatory.....
IainRUK - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to wee jamie: I'd say its easier than Crib Goch and less exposed.. I've done it a few times but can't remember anywhere with vertical drops like Crib Goch, so think its more similar to striding..

It is a long day out though compared to Crib goch and striding, with a much longer section of scrambling.
neil9216 - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk:
I did the CMD aret in 2007 in 60 mph winds and a total whiteout, we then spent the night in the shelter at the top of the ben.

I,ve also done this route on 4 other occasions, twice coming down from the ben and twice going up.

the route itself is not that exposed there is one section near the end(if your coming for Carn Mor Dearg) its maybe 3 or 4 metres long and it becomes quite narrow and we had to crawl. the rest of it is fairly straight forward and as mentioned by others your main concern would be getting off the summit if conditions are not the best.

Just allow plenty of time as it is a big day, the last part when you finish the ridge and have to climb up to the summit of the Ben is brutal, just remember to stay to the left on this final section.

hope that helps
Lukeva - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk: One narrow and exposed section where one cannot trip and care is needed, very short lived though. The rest is an easy walk that you can plunge all the way along
Moondancer - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk:

I did the CMD arete as my first ever winter outing a few years ago. Beautiful blue sky day and perfect snow conditions. I think we started quite early to allow for some practicing of walking in crampons, ice axe arrest, etc. on the way up Carn Mor Dearg. Not sure if I'd been as happy to do it in typical Scottish weather though.
Euge - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to wee jamie) I'd say its easier than Crib Goch and less exposed.. I've done it a few times but can't remember anywhere with vertical drops like Crib Goch, so think its more similar to striding..
>
> It is a long day out though compared to Crib goch and striding, with a much longer section of scrambling.

I'd disagree... Crib Goch you can skirt along the side, on the CMD you have to take the arete. The exposure on the Glen Steall side is nuts...
Striding Edge is a walk compared to it.

But under snow CMD is easy as all the boulder gaps will be filled in :o)

E

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IainRUK - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Euge: Really.. I reckon GC is at its most dangerous when you skirt around the side.. the exposure climbing up the pinnacles is incredible for an easy grade 1..

I find CMD steep, but quite a way off the more serious parts of GC..

I've never done it in full winter really, snow covered, but never what I'd class as winter..

Similarly AE.. which I've done 3 or 4 times, and its much more serious and technical than those.
Kid Spatula - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk:

It's a lot easier than Crib Goch and nowhere near as exposed, except in one bit. More like Striding Edge. Saying that it is a much longer day.
Tim Chappell - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

e East up a steep and never-ending slope towards the summit of CMD. This looks like purgatory.

As an ascent it does. As a ski descent, when that side of the hill's all stripes on a fine spring day, it looks luscious. I've always wanted to ski one of the stripes from the summit of CMD to the CIC!
Cadairmanuk - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk:

Again cheers for all the wise advise. I think I will try and get the misses out on crib goch over the weekend just to get her familiar with the set up.

I thought this video was awesome and captures the ridge in full glory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwPsttenaH0

Ben
bowls - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk:

Have done all under winter conditions and would rank them as the following:

Hardest
Aonach Eagach
Crib Goch
Sharp Edge (for reference)
CMD/Striding Edge

I would say that in winter Crib Goch is significantly harder than the CMD arete, if it isn't too windy and you have a head for heights the CMD Arete is pretty much just airy walking with a steep exit onto Ben Nevis if it is Neve'd up. Infact we went straight up from the CIC to Carn Mor Dearg and found the Neve'd slope up from the CIC more exposed and warranting cause for concern that the Arete itself due to the long run-out, however you can take the cairned track which starts soon after the top level car park
Cadairmanuk - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to bowls:

It's a strange feeling , does anyone have it? What I mean is , I wouldn't think twice about skipping along it myself , Im happy leading grade two and have led grade 3 seconded a lot harder, but when close family namely your misses or the kids then even a walk in the park seems all dangerous and you say what if what that.

I remember losing sleep over sharp edge because she was coming with me , we took a rope and harness lol.

Guess we all know what could happen I guess and want to make it as safe as possible.

Ben
Simon Caldwell - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Cadairmanuk:
If you're with a nervous novice then carrying extra safety gear is only likely to slow you down to the speed that they are moving at anyway, so why not...

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