All SMC Huts to close ! Till Virus is over. Some memories of the CIC Hut.

To all users of the CIC

SMC Huts Closed 18th March 2020

Due to the spread of Covid 19 the SMC has decided to close all of its huts forthwith. If you have an outstanding booking please contact the custodian through whom it was made. If you have a further query you can contact the Secretary

CIC Hut – SMC Photo

It is with regret that we have taken the decision to close all SMC huts forthwith and they will remain closed until we are advised under government guidelines that it is safe to reopen them.

If you have specific questions about individual huts do not hesitate to contact the custodians (their email addresses are on the SMC website), but please bear in mind that they will be very busy for the next few days cancelling bookings and organising any refunds that might be required.

Robin Clothier
CIC Custodian

Early 70′ s after a call out for two of our own who got off safely from Observatory Ridge. The snow came down so heavy they bivied and abseiled off in the morning.

CIC – Hut Memories. The hut is a place I knew well and the scene of many dramas on the mountains. The photo above is of a wee epic we had with our own troops. I had done Tower Ridge with Pete and Tom McGowan my first time in winter. Pete collected so many climbers who were having epics in the heavy snow it took us hours to get off the hill. Then we discovered that two of our own had a problem and after 3 hours sleep we were back up to the hut. I was given a bag of pullies to carry instead of a rope. I did not check it as I was exhausted. Lucky the boys got off. The wee shed by the front door had a stretcher, avalanche probes and shovels inside plus a radio direct to Fort William Police. It was well used by many.

With Mick Tighe at the hut.

The path up to the hut was awful in the early days it was a bog that caught many out but it was worth it as on reaching the hut it was a place of historic climbing folklore and famous climbers were always about when conditions were great. We had done many rescues with Lochaber and huge searches and was often glad of the shelter and respite in the hut. We brought many casualties into it and always got help from the occupants. In the days before Health and Safety we would get a helicopter on training and try to tidy up the poos left behind the hut after the snow left. Nowadays there is a toilet inside. As I started to climb a lot we used the hut more and more and got to know the Custodians who at times ruled the hut with an iron fist. Robin the current custodian is a great man and no one knows the Ben better than him. The custodians in these early days had to at “times defend the hut” Getting in was like Fort Knox. We helped with the Gas replenishment and often trained with the new pilots at landing near the hut. That was scary at times due to the winds that could come from no where.

The Ben

How many times have I walked that path?

Through forestry and muddy track.

Bag bulging, sweat is pouring,

Then the great cliffs mourning.

Watching In the mist clouds,

 Emerge, along with memories.

Many happy, many sad.

Long carries in the dead of night,

With unknown people.

Each glad to be alive,

All helped by fellow climbers.

In the gloom, avalanches crash,

We struggle over frozen burn and icy rock.

Yet there  is a special joy

Getting someone off alive

 Off that hill that does at times kill.

Not just the tourist, but many, with great skill.

Why do we climb?

If you ask you do not know?

This “Ben”, this mountain,

 The  ridges,

Its names full of history and mystery.

Clears in the mist.

This mountain means so much,

Too me and many friends.

It will never change.

Then , as now

Its ever-changing snow and ice.

Are friends? As are the familiar names,

Of cliff, buttress and  where we play our games?

Tales of great climbs,

Great days and nights on this hill.

These are special to those who

Know the secret of this magic place.

Below the great cliffs

The hut nestles

Long nights with heroes and egos

History and mystery

This is why we go and always will. 

On this great hill

Thank you Ben Nevis for a lifetime of Memories!

Arguably the only alpine-style mountain hut in the UK, the C.I.C. hut provides shelter from some extremely harsh weather.

The hut was erected in 1928/9 by Dr and Mrs Inglis Clark in memory of their son Charles Inglis Clark who was killed in action in the 1914-1918 War. The original building was extensively refurbished and extended between 2008 and 2012.

The approach to the hut -obviously- involves travel in mountainous terrain. Users of the hut, especially in Winter, should ensure they are suitably equiped and skilled for the conditions.

The most direct approach to the hut is from the Foresty Commission Scotland’s North Face car park near Torlundy. Follow the way-marked North Face Trail then continue, approximately south-eastward, briefly on a track and then onto a good path that roughly shadows the Allt a’Mhuillin.

There are a few power socket outlets in the hut that can be used for mobile phone chargers and other low power appliances. Mobile (though not necessarily 3G) reception for all major networks can be found on the downhill (north-west) side of the hut.

The hut is in high demand throughout the winter season, bookings should be made well in advance to secure bunks.

Latest reports from the CIC hut can be found on its Facebook page:

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Enviroment, Health, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Poems, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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