High and Wild: Climbing Ben Nevis, Scotland’s Highest Peak
The Wash versus the Ben
In theory, if you stand at one of these stone mounds, the next one should be visible, whether you’re nearing the summit of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington or Scotland’s Ben Nevis. The two peaks have a lot in common. In addition to cairns, both are the pinnacles of their regions. “The Wash” is the highest peak in the Northeast. “The Ben” is the highest peak in the British Isles. Both have exposed, well-trodden alpine summits whose upper trails skirt ravines and require stepping from stone to stone. Both are colossal rock piles atop which it can snow any day of the year.
As a hiker, I’ve always had an affinity for Mount Washington (6,288 feet). Though Ben Nevis is lower (4,413 feet), the length of the hike—10 miles round-trip—is similar to a day hike up Mount Washington and just as strenuous based on mileage. In addition, the ascent of Ben Nevis starts at sea level, so the vertical gain is actually more.
By Lisa Ballard
Story and Photos by Jack and Lisa Ballard