Ledge Route; The best way up Ben Nevis?
Maybe "Best" isn't the right word.
Obviously everyone has an opinion but for me I think Ledge Route provides an epic day out, whether it is working guiding clients, using it as a descent route in summer and winter, as a quick after work hit or as a first slightly more challenging route for people getting into scrambling.
Yes Tower Ridge and the other main ridges are amazing, yes climbing Minus One Direct on dry rock in dry weather and appearing at the summit is brilliant. However I honestly don't think I have ever had a bad day on Ledge Route. It is super atmospheric on the approach, arriving at the CIC hut and looking up at the surroundings always inspires me. It is often more sheltered than the mountain track and the CMD arete and can be climbed in all but the worst weather.
It also has the massive advantage of being away from the main mountain path, which in recent weeks has returned to being a motorway for people to trudge up and down.
Maybe the best thing about Ledge Route though is that it is within most peoples grasp! Those with extreme vertigo might not enjoy the couple of exposed steps and it does require an ability to navigate and read a guidebook to make a safe ascent and descent. However if you have the fitness to walk up the mountain track and can negotiate the boulders and rough surfaces of the zig-zags then actually it is not a huge step further, a step which in my opinion is well worth considering.
Picking a route up towards Lochan Coire na Ciste and then traversing out past number 5 gully adds a little bit of exposure and some narrower bits of path, all the time with great views.
Snow just makes the route even better! A dusting of snow can make some of the sections slightly more challenging whereas a good amount makes really fun snow aretes, often easier walking and incredible views.
Once the traverse out from the lochan past number 5 gully is complete you arrive at the mushroom rock, scene of many a photo. From here you join the crest of the ridge all the way to the top.
Shortly after starting up the crest of the ridge you reach a section with a couple of options. Staying left means you tackle the most exposed section, a small side ridge finishing with an airy step across and down to re-join the main part. Pictured in the two photos below. Staying right avoids the exposed section but negotiating the scree filled gully might be more scary.
From here upwards there are options to stay on the crest and tackle a couple of steeper steps or stay slightly right to avoid them. Really fun little sections of scrambling mean the time and height flies by and soon you can see the top looming closer.
If you have read on this far then hopefully you have enjoyed some pictures and a small amount of description. This is not designed to be a route description for people to follow, more to inspire and to try and convince people that the North Face is worth a visit!
Please be responsible in the mountains, go prepared! In both your planning and knowledge of where you want to go but also in the equipment and clothing you take with you on your adventure. This I consider to be a free service, if advice and some ideas about what to wear/take can help you enjoy the mountains more then please just send us a message.
If this looks like something you fancy and you would like a stress free day out with a guide then we'd love to help you out!