Over the last three days Joanne, Gregor and I have been climbing on Ben Nevis and staying in the CIC Hut. After walking in and drooping kit off at the hut on Monday we new we’d have to go high due to the rising freezing level, so we made for Creag Coire na Ciste hoping North Gully would be holding ice. There was ice in the gully, but it was broke, thawing and there was above so a quick change of plan was required and we nipped across Number Four Gully to climb Number Four Gully Buttress. This worked well with the climbing being on soggy snow, frozen turf and rock, but with some care being required with loose rocks. We descended to the hut via Number Four Gully and returned to the hut thoroughly soaked.
The forecast for Tuesday was for very high winds and rain, so we chose to stay low and climbed the Douglas Gap West Gully on snow and the chimney out of the gap on to Tower Ridge before abseiling Douglas Gap East Gully and returning to the hut, again thoroughly soaked even after a short day. It dried up and started to cool down later in the day, so I took a walk up in to Coire Leis to get a look at The Little Brenva Face.
Today we made use of the previous day’s recce and the cooler overnight temperatures and headed around to the Little Brenva Face where we climbed Bob Run on good snow and water ice and were out of the wind until topping out. We took in the summit, by which time it was raining at summit level. We then returned via Coire Leis to the hut, again thoroughly soaked, before walking out this afternoon.
Some of Tuesday’s precipitation had fallen as snow at height and overnight and a few areas of fresh wind slab had developed that required care today, however these were getting soaked this afternoon at all levels.
Well done to Joanne and Gregor for dealing with the conditions, which meant we got climbing on each day even if we did end up a little wet!
The last three days I’ve been away with Iona and Linda on what was billed as a Ben Nevis rock climbing trip based at the CIC hut. On Monday we were travelling up and the forecast was for very high winds and rain for Ben Nevis, so we decided on driving up via the A9 and trying to find dry rock further east. It was still drizzling at Newtonmore, so we went a little bit further east and found dry rock at Kingussie Crag. After a good day climbing there we drove across and walked up to the CIC hut in the evening.
It was wet and windy early on Tuesday, but with an improving forecast we made a late start and climbed Tower Ridge descending via Coire Leis. The rock was generally wet and we were in cloud from above The Douglas Boulder, but we had an excellent day.
With more rain overnight and early today we decided on walking out and heading east again to find dry rock. It was still wet as we past Creag Dubh, so we ended up back at Kingussie. The rock was a little damp on the Upper Tier when we arrived, but dried quickly and we had another good day cragging. Over the two days Iona and Linda climbed all but three of the routes on the Upper Tier.
An unusual, but enjoyable three days climbing.
I was back out on Ben Nevis again today with John and Chris. Chris hadn’t worn crampons before and there was a good bit fresh snow, so we headed up in to the back of Coire Leis where we used easy angled old snow to get used to crampons and axe. We then put the rope on and made our way up to the North end of the horizontal section of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete linking scoured snow and rocky sections. After traversing the CMD Arete we made our way up to the summit before descending the Zig Zags and then back to the Allt a’Mhuillinn.
There’s been a fair bit of fresh snow over the last couple of days and the more recent snow was forming soft wind slab in sheltered locations on lots of aspects above 650m; some of this is sitting on a graupel layer from earlier in the week, which is on top of old neve. If you’re out and about in the snow over the weekend choose your route and approach wisely. It’s worth noting the Scottish Avalanche Information Service is providing forecasts for Lochaber and the Northern Cairngorms for this weekend.
A belated report from last week on Ben Nevis. On Monday 31st John & I headed up to the CIC Hut with a Falkirk Community Trust team of Bob, Joanne and Linda. After dropping kit we climbed Tower Ridge before dropping back around to the hut via Coire Leis.
On Tuesday we climbed North-East Buttress in some cloud, mist and drizzle, but managed to get back to the hut via the half way lochan ahead of the forecast heavier rain.
Wednesday we climbed Observatory Ridge. This was greasy in places after the rain and required some care. We then dropped back to the hut via Coire Leis again and headed home. Three days on Ben Nevis and three classic ridges.