Climbing Ben Nevis, a Noob’s guide

I’ve decided to stop living my same old life, doing the same old things and seeing the same old people. So I did something about it. I went out of my comfort zone, bought a tent, a sleeping bag, an inflatable mattress and booked three days at the bottom of the biggest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis (located in Fort William). Excitedly, I packed my bags! I decided to share with you my adventure, in terms of gaming for noobs who have not done it before:

Items you will need

You will need the following items:

  • A tent (got a three people one of e-Bay pop-up tent from Queqhua or something like that for £50)
  • A sleeping bag that will be for the winter season, -15 included. I got mine of ebay for £13
  • An under-sleeping-bag protector mattress so it does not touch the floor of the tent (I got an inflatable one of ebay for £11)
  • Hiking gear
    • trousers that are breathable and waterproof and windproof and quick drying. No jeans. Got mine off Tresspass on a 70% sale for £17
    • socks, at least two pairs, thick and warm. I only bought one pair ’cause I was a smart ass. You need two. £3 per pair.
    • Breathable under-layer, for warmness. I got mine for £1 from Sainsbury’s (I know, a steal!)
    • Top layer or fleece, no cottons as cotton soaks with your sweat and it will not breathe, gluing itself to your body and making you heavy. I know ’cause I had a t-shirt.
    • Windproof coat. And waterproof. And warm. Feel free to splurge on this item as you’ll need it most. (I got mine in the same sale at Tresspass for £35 (reduced from 129 so I got lucky!)
    • Snow gloves (Tresspass, £8)
    • Hat (I don’t wear hats as it cramps up my style so feel free to wear what you’ve got)
    • Boots. I can’t express the importance of good footwear. I had a pair of boots (cost me like £33 off ebay a few years back and they DESTROYED my feet the first time I wore them. Wear them in before you go anywhere or you risk coming back with blisters the size of China.
    • For Ben Nevis, as it’s always snowy, you’ll need crampons and ice picks. I got cheap and bought neither.
This is me wearing my final gear before set-off
This is me wearing my final gear before set-off

You can climb the mountain single-player mode (like me) or multiplayer. If you go multiplayer, you might get destroyed by your other team-mates who are more efficient than you are and better at this. If you don’t wanna play alone, find similarly matched players to join you or risk getting left behind.

The start is at the Ben Nevis Visitor centre where you would have to sign in before you climb so they will be expecting you back and if you don’t return, call the cops. *Cough* rescue mission. I set off too early (7AM) and they weren’t open, so passed Go to the next checkpoint. As you pass the wonderful stream, there’s a path that goes right up and joins in with the inn path. First step, climb up a steep hill.

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You gain 20XP points at the end of it. You have completed 1/100 of your journey. Turn right and start going up the mountain, enjoying watching your camping grounds get smaller and smaller as you ascend.

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Stop to save the game every-time you need a drink. Keep yourself hydrated whatever you do. I carried the following food items with me:

  • 2l bottle of lemonade (diet) from tesco
  • 1 bag of grapes (was with me when I came down)
  • 2 scotch eggs for protein
  • 2 tuna cans (never used)
  • 5 bars of home-made fudge (best purchase ever as the high caloric intake and the sugar kept me going for miles)
  • nuts and dried fruits (recommended but I didn’t get any)

You also have to carry in your backpack dry clothing like socks and hats, an extra top and fleece (I had only another jacket thinking I’m not going to need the other items. When my socks got wet because of the snow, I regretted my decision.

OK, You climb up this mountain facing your camp and you think, “ok, this is not so bad, Ben Nevis is quite a chill climb”. Two points. The mountain you are currently walking is NOT Ben Nevis, it’s the one after it. And two, the difficulty level increases when you start going in Zig Zags around the mountain. And climbing boulders classed as steps.

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This is the first trial you have to go through. If you prove successful and don’t bail out, you will have completed 1/5 of your journey.

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The view is definitely worth-while.

If you finish the Steps of Doom, you gain 5000XP points and you get to enter the Land of Fog. This is a dangerous place. Anything can lurk in the moving mist and you can’t see any further than maybe 10m in front of you. Stay on the path and don’t stray with the risk of getting lost. There is a lake on your left, but you won’t see it unless you look very closely. I only saw it when coming down because a slight wind was blowing.

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Walk through the Land of Fog and you will know loneliness. No-one can be seen around you and it’s just you and your background music. (I loved it!)

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This walk is quite relaxing after the massive effort it took to go up the steps, but worry not, there is danger round the corner. The slippery type.

Now this is where your boots become important. They need to be tall enough to not let any snow in, and resistant enough so you won’t slip while going through it.

Pass the Snowy Scape in the Fog Lands and gain 100XP. The road bends then and you will get to your first challenge. Pass a waterfall without a bridge.

Find the best track in order to avoid slipping, getting wet or even worse, falling to your death. Gain 1000XP points for the Deathly Hallows.

Continue climbing and you will find the occasional NPC.

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You need to know when the mist ends and very soon, you encounter some villagers and as you interact with them, they tell you that half an hour away you will feel like you’re above the clouds, like an airplane. True enough, after half an hour, you get above the clouds!

Rest here and start taking off your wet clothes to dry.

You have exited the Fog lands and now comes the hardest climb – steep and snow-filled but you’ll be happy to know that you are at the half-way point. Keep climbing, this time taking more time to advance. Eat from your supplies and make sure you drink a lot of fluids. Shed as many clothes as you need to feel light.

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Side quest

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If you are feeling brave, conquer the rocky formation on your right and see the gorge opening up under it. Skills required: Careful planning of steps, free climbing, tough nails.

I reached it and OMG, the view was spectacular.

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Do not attempt this if you are afraid of heights. Do not approach the gorge as you might die. The rocks are very loose and you can come tumbling down any minute.

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You gain 500XP by doing this side quest.

Back on road: climb away and start rationing your water. I drank 2l of my tesco lemonade and all of a sudden, I found myself dry. I got lucky as I found some items lying on the ground, one including a half – empty bottle of water. Hey, I’m not picky, Mana falls from heaven as they say!

As you climb, you’ll notice the snow getting mushier and trickier to navigate. One step you take can land on solid snow, the other can leave you with a foot knee deep in snow and you struggling to get out. Crampons and ice picks would not have helped here.

I saw the summit and some adventurous people heading there but I started weighing in: the path they took was very slippery. Hidden rocks under the loose snow. Sharp rocks too! My HP was nearly depleted and at this point, any accident or trip would be fatal. So I decided to turn back 🙂

Final HP: 20p / 10000p

XP Gained: 7500XP points.

Mission FAILED 🙂 But will try again when my HP increases.

PS: The descent takes about 3 gruesome hours and destroys your knees. Make sure you have enough stamina left to get down. And also, drinking 2l of lemonade left me looking for a toilet. There are no toilets on Ben Nevis. This is where the Fog Lands proved useful. If I can’t see anyone they can’t see me either! 🙂

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