The path is regularly maintained but running water, uneven rocks and loose scree make it hazardous and slippery in places.
Thanks to the zig-zags, the path is not unusually steep apart from in the initial stages, but inexperienced walkers should be aware that the descent is relatively arduous and wearing on the knees.
The meteorological data collected during this period are still important for understanding Scottish mountain weather. "Beinn" is the most common Gaelic word for "mountain", "Nibheis" is variously understood, though the word is commonly translated as "malicious" or "venomous".
An alternative interpretation is that "Beinn Nibheis" derives from "beinn nèamh-bhathais", from "nèamh" "heavens, clouds" and "bathais" "top of a man's head".
The 1883 Pony Track to the summit (also known as the Ben Path, the Mountain Path or the Tourist Route) remains the simplest and most popular route of ascent.
It begins at Achintee on the east side of Glen Nevis about 2 km (1.2 mi) from Fort William town centre, at around 20 metres above sea level.
This route involves a total of 1,500 metres of ascent and requires modest scrambling ability and a head for heights.A route popular with experienced hillwalkers starts at Torlundy, a few miles north-east of Fort William on the A82 road, and follows the path alongside the Allt a' Mhuilinn.It can also be reached from Glen Nevis by following the Pony Track as far as Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, then descending slightly to the CIC Hut.The first recorded ascent of Ben Nevis was made on 17 August 1771 by James Robertson, an Edinburgh botanist, who was in the region to collect botanical specimens.Another early ascent was in 1774 by John Williams, who provided the first account of the mountain's geological structure.