First Recorded Ascent of Ben Nevis


Historically, the Nevis area belonged to the MacSorlie branch of Clan Cameron. In 1851 Nevis Estate was sold by John MacSorlie to Sir Duncan Cameron of Fassifern.

First Recorded Ascent

The first recorded ascent of Ben Nevis was in 1771 by the botanist James Robertson who noted, "I ascended Ben Nevis, which is reckoned the highest mountain in Britain. A third part of the hill from the summit towards the top is entirely naked, resembling a heap of stones thrown together confusedly. The summit far overtops the surrounding hills."

Second Recorded Ascent

The second recorded ascent was in 1774 by John Williams, who prospected for valuable minerals (he found none of commercial interest). John Keats, the English poet, climbed the mountain in 1818, comparing the ascent to "mounting ten St. Pauls without the convenience of a staircase."

Ben Nevis As A Climbing Area

The development of Ben Nevis as a climbing area in the 1880's was a key factor in defining the nature of Scottish mountaineering. A big surge in ice climbing and climbing in general came in the late 1930's, with further surges in the 1970's and 1980's.