Its been on the tick list for a while so it had to be worth a look. We set off at the usual time, about 8am. The weather wasn't ideal as we walked from the North Face car park up the track towards the CIC hut.
As the path rose to pass the shoulder of Carn Beag Dearg we left the path and cut up the hill. there was a bit more cloud than we would have liked but we carried on going hoping that the wind would blow the cloud cover away. To cut a long story short it didn't. There were brief spells of clarity but nothing substantial. We navigated our way to Carn-Dearg Meadhonach but decided at this point that there was nothing to be gained by continuing in the whiteout with strong winds.
Rather than retrace our steps we chose to cut directly down the slope to the CIC hut.
In normal or soft snow conditions the should have proved a swift heel plunging walk down the slope to the path some 300m below us. What we encountered was bullet hard néve. Crampons and axes made this decent possible but by now the cloud had cleared and Sarah was exposed to the full exposure of 300m of icy slide. Slipping was not an option.
To provide some more security I started cutting steps in the ice to make a kind of stair for Sarah to follow. This was slow tiring work that did not take away from the exposure.
About half the way down the angle eased enough that Sarah was happy to continue down with out the aid of steps. I was knackered. We got back to path just a little north of the CIC hut and made our way back down to the van. Our short jaunt to "take a look" at the the CMD Aréte had turned out to be rather an epic day out.