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Ben Nevis summit panorama - West Highlands
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Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis, although not as high as Alpine mountains, is positioned on a more northerly latitude and the climate can be considered similar to Arctic regions.

While there may be a welcoming sea breeze on the shores of Loch Linnhe, 20-30 knots of chilling wind may be evident on the summit of the Ben. Many walkers/climbers find weather conditions changing within minutes - usually for the worse - as they work their way up the mountain.

The dramatic effect of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, is emphasised by the fact that it begins its rise from sea-level on the shores of Loch Linnhe, to tower 4,406ft (1,344m) above the town of Fort William, providing an almost paternal presence.

  • Start / Finish: Glen Nevis YHA
  • Ascent: 4350 feet
  • Target time: Ascent: 2.5 - 3 hour / Descent: 2 - 2.5 hours
  Ascending Ben Nevis via the popular Tourist Route


Ben Nevis's altitude and maritime location frequently leads to unusually poor weather conditions, which can pose a danger to ill-equipped walkers.

In an average year the summit is covered by cloud (for at least part of the day) on 355 days, sees 261 full gales, and receives 4,350 mm of rainfall, compared to only 2,050 mm in nearby Fort William and about 600 mm in Inverness, Edinburgh and London.

Rainfall on Ben Nevis is about twice as high in the winter as it is in the spring and summer and snow can be found on the mountain throughout the year, particularly in the deep gullies of the north face.

So there you have it - this is the crux of the 3 Peaks Challenge and whether you do the Ben first or last, this is a serious mountain where the weather can change in the blink of an eye.

  The view down onto Fort William

What does 'Nevis' mean?

The river and glen running past the mountain both carry the name, as does the remote sea loch at Knoydart, 40 miles to the west. In Gaelic the mountain's name, Beinn Nibheis, has been linked with Irish and Gaelic words meaning poisonous or terrible, implying a fairly ominous character.

Tourist Path:

The original path (now named the 'Mountain Track') was constructed in the 1880's to service the observatory which was being built on the summit plateau. To view map click here.

This is now no more than a badly derelict building, however the path remains. The path on the summit plateau is not distinct, and should be treated with upmost care in poor visibility. Large cornices will sometimes remain well into the summer months, disguising the top of many gullies.

  Snow on Ben Nevis North Face

Training Weekends:

We can organize Three Peaks training weekends for teams requiring navigation coaching and mountaineering experience. These usually take place in the Lake District or Snowdonia and include an ascent of either Scafell Pike or Snowdon.

A preparation training weekend provides an excellent opportunity to assess your team and gain valuable experience from experienced Mountain Leaders. Call or email for details.

Charity 3 Peaks Challenges:

For companies, private groups or charitable organizations who are wanting to raise money for charity we ask that you carefully consider the impact of this event on the environment and local communities who live close to the respective peaks. 

We operate a small group policy for this event and offer a free advisory service at the planning stage providing sensible guidance for groups wishing to tackle this popular event.

  Nearing the Ben Nevis summit plateau
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