The weather is very mild just now and ice climbing not too good unless some colder weather arrives.
Archive for March, 2011
Good old North Face of the Ben
A week ago today Padraig and I were on way to Hadrian’s Wall Direct, as part of WCMG CIC hut week. Some unforecast rain and melt were hurling ice, rocks and water down near the route, we scurried away quickly to climb ridges.
Exactly one week on, with very little wind and fresh powder down to the base of the Douglas Boulder, the mountain was locked in a freeze. Hadrian’s Wall Direct was a joy, the holes where a week ago water had poured were filling with fresh water ice, no drips today. Screws went in to the hilt. The fresh snow had insulated the fresh ice and softened it to first time every time placements. What a contrast and what a joy. I could never have guessed it would have been that good, and I do climb and work a large amount of the winter on the Ben.
I do not think it will be like that tomorrow, but watch the weather, and keep trying, some days you get really rewarded. We were also in Point Five last week and that seems to have transformed back into very acceptable life too.
Quiet day on the Ben today, Tower Ridge empty. Nobody followed us on Hadrians. Point Five had two parties. Smiths empty, Indicator Wall one party.
Bruce Poll & Photos by Padraig
Thanks to you both, especially Bruce for clearing the overhanging trees on the ‘Ben’ track.
Point Five Gully today was damp but pretty good. The first pitch has to be taken direct by steep but good ice, as the left side is stripped to rock at half-height. The chimney on the second pitch is much more of a chimney than usual and involves ‘back and footing’ on a blank rock left side with ice on the right side. The ‘Rogue’ pitch is straightforward, as are the top pitches. We did eight pitches in all. The route will suffer over the next few days when the melt turns on. Teams out on Hadrian’s Wall also, plus routes higher up Observatory Gully.
Today was very misty with a light drizzle in the air after a chilly and dry start to the morning.
A technical axe was found at the ‘Half-Way-Lochan’ on Ben Nevis. Contact Alison Coull on 07732165130. ALSO, today I found an axe at the top car park on the North Face approach.
Today we climbed Tunnel Vision by both the left-hand and right-hand routes. The left-hand route was considerably more difficult than the right-hand, which was about grade III. The ice was very good but starting to peel away from the underlying terrain. Another team climbed Left Twin and said it was very good. Many teams went up to try Indicator Wall, but the queue was too long for some of them, who finished on Good Friday Climb. itself in good shape. Start earlier folks!!
Today On Ben Nevis the ice conditions were good out of Observatory Gully. Teams on Point Five Gully, Hadrian’s Wall, Tower Scoop, Smith’s Route on Gardyloo Buttress, Indicator Wall and Good Friday Climb. Orion Face looks pretty bare in places and probably not worth a thought. Plenty of good ice in Coire na Ciste to go at also. We climbed Indicator Wall in very good conditions, if a little cloudy.
Early start paid dividends from the hut once more, firm neve from below the lochains in Coire na Ciste, knee deep four hours later on the descent in the same spot. Fresh ice was forming from 1000m and the hint of rime was reappearing, not enough for myself to call acceptable winter mixed conditions, but hey, enjoy! Coire na Ciste had plenty of action on IVs all-round today, Hadrians had a team, could not see Indicator Wall or Smiths today but should be fine, if a little thin at first. Steve and Simon had a great week at the hut, *** route every day and avoided the resident hut bug, apparently airborne transmission, so hut should be fine from now. April has come early, only by a few days though!
Thanks to Yasuyoshi for these pictures of his happy partner. They climbed Tunnel Vision on Aonach Mor East Face today. No reports of the condition of the route, but as it is east facing I’d hazard a guess it was pretty soft!
It may be a long way off but the next ten days looks cool and wintry at times. Do not get the chalk bag out just yet and never ‘second-guess’ a Scottish Winter until mid to late April.
A report from Spike at the CIC Hut. They suffered some bad stomach bugs this week, so, take some good hand cleaning stuff to apply after using the toilet and cooking!
Thank you for another stellar day on the Ben. Ian and I had a great time on the Tower. Paddy Cave just called in to remark on Green, Comb and Hadrian’s too. Mike Lates and vom crew have bailed after a really good clean up. (Take care this weekend). Cornices gone from most routes but some BIG stuff coming down and some booming 1st pitches on the high routes in Obs Gully.
And from Bruce:
The good news, freezing level dropped down to about 950m last night and has stayed below the summit of the ben all day. However there is still water running down or behind most ice lines. We started up Point Five and abseiled off from the first belay, first pitch is only climbable direct, but great ice. It is still very wet in the chimney and very steep, verglas adorned the sidewalls. Nothing was coming down which was great. Hadrians lost a big lump, but was climbed later today. We went higher and climbed Indicator Wall first pitch and traversed onto the right hand to the finish. Tower Ridge was busy, Green, Comb and Good Friday climb were also climbed, along with Tower Scoop. Early starts recommended!
Some kit with the name of Clare Sutherland on it has been been found in the Mamore Range. Identify the kit and yourself as Clare Sutherland and I can post the item back to you. A bottle of red wine is the normal reward!!
The CIC Hut course today climbed Green Gullly. Still mild but, colder conditions descending from the north. As a push to fill winter courses from now until Easter, I’m offering a 15% discount on all the Scottish winter courses on my website. VisitScotland think it’s a good idea, so response will give a clue to this offer and it’s value to hard-pressed guests. Tell your friends.