With a pleasant forecast for this morning and good late season ice climbing conditions being reported on Ben Nevis I took the opportunity to get up early and head up for a look.
Conditions didn’t disappoint and I soloed Comb Gully, descended Number Four Gully and was down for lunch. There’s been a fair bit of fresh snow, particularly graupel, over the last few days and this was sitting in pockets in sheltered locations. Some care was required on approach and with route choice. However, the snow ice and neve was in excellent condition with mostly first time placements in Comb Gully. There was a thinner section, which was fine today, but wouldn’t be much fun if things soften up. I descended in to Number 4 Gully on the right hand side looking up, this avoided the steep section in the middle, but I did have to negotiate some awkward mixed steps. I also saw teams out on Italian and starting Green Gully.
I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page for those who want to check today’s conditions, but bear in mind there was more snow forecast for this afternoon, overnight and through tomorrow.
I’ve been on Ben Nevis for the last three days with Linda, Tony and Robin from Falkirk Community Trust outdoors. On Monday we walked in to the CIC hut and Linda, Tony and I climbed a right hand variation to Fawlty Towers up an icy corner just right of the normal chimney start. This joined the normal route after a pitch and a half and had good moves up the initial corner. We then descended down Tower Ridge to the Douglas Boulder gap and the East Gully of the Douglas Boulder. Robin climbed Ledge Route in excellent condition and descended Number Four Gully.
On Tuesday Linda, Tony and I had a great day climbing Harrison’s Climb Direct on very good ice. Once in the upper bowl we headed up to the top section of Raeburn’s Buttress and finished up this taking in a short steep ice fall direct just below the top as a bonus. The ice on Harrison’s is holding on very well, but beware of the icicles of The Shroud on warmer days as they threaten the initial pitch. Robin went along the Carn Mor Dearg Arête, before heading out to Aonoch Mor and then returning via Carn Dearg Mheadhonach.
Today Linda, Tony and I climbed Green Gully finishing direct. The route was in good condition with the initial ice pitch being pretty banked out and easier than normal. We topped out in to glorious sunshine, no wind and great views. Robin spent the morning practicing Winter Mountain Leader Skills in Coire Leis.
The higher areas of Ben Nevis are holding ice well with routes on the Orion Face and Indicator Wall seeing plenty of ascents. Buttresses that are catching the sun are stripping fast in current conditions. There are still some large cornices about and these need to be considered on warm and sunny days.
I’m just back from four days climbing on Ben Nevis. On Sunday Andy and I climbed Fawlty Towers up on to Tower Ridge, descended the lower section of the ridge and abseiled the East Gully of the Douglas Boulder.
On Monday I met John and a Falkirk Community Trust team of Neil, Pete, Tam and Tom for two nights in the CIC Hut. We walked up to the hut and needing a quick route for the afternoon Tam, Tom and I did the first two pitches of Fawlty Towers and abseiled off whilst John, Neil and Pete did the first two pitches of Italian Right-Hand.
On Tuesday Tam, Tom and I climbed The Curtain then headed initially up Ledge Route and then a good ice pitch and an ice groove to the right at about III to pop out back on to Ledge Route just above the large pinnacle block. We then descended over the top of Moonlight Gully Buttress. John, Neil and Pete climbed Green Gully in excellent condition, descended Number Four Gully and climbed the first couple of pitches of Central Gully Right-Hand before abbing off.
Today before walking out John, Neil and Pete climbed The Curtain and descended Ledge Route whilst Tam, Tom and I climbed the first two pitches of Italian Right-Hand to cap off an excellent few days.
On Sunday the lower level routes were thawing slowly and Fawlty Towers was dripping as we climbed. The thaw continued slowly on Monday and we met Buzz and Jess who’d decided against Nordwand, which had been reported as very good a few days before. Over Monday and Tuesday nights there was a frost, which has helped consolidate the snow and slowed the thawing of the lower level ice routes. The higher crags are still rimed, but the lower crags are now pretty black apart from gullies and ice lines. Hadrian’s Wall Direct and Point Five have both been climbed in the last few days and were reported as being very good.
Just back from a great three day trip to Ben Nevis with a Falkirk Community Trust team of John, Eliot, Gayle, James, Jim, Nigel and Tam.
There are lots of routes in excellent condition with very well consolidated snow and generally good ice. Care is required on the hard snow particularly on crag approaches and descents as a slip would have potentially serious consequences.
Over the three days members of the team climbed Green Gully, Number Four Gully (in descent), Central Gully/Central Gully Right-Hand (Creag Coire na Ciste), Italian Climb, Tower Ridge, Glover’s Chimney, Douglas Gap West Gully and Traverse, North Gully, Vanishing Gully, Garadh Gully. All of these routes were in very good condition.