The recent wet and mild weather has played havoc with the substantial amounts of snow which fell in late January and early February. Currently the conditions are similar to April with all the big easy gullies and some thin ice routes complete on Ben Nevis.
Smith’s Route, Shot in the Dark, Cascade, Number Three Gully Buttress, Tower Scoop and Number Two Gully amongst others were all climbed today.
Thanks to David Haygarth for these first three shots taken on Number Three Gully Buttress yesterday. They actually placed some ice screws, so it can’t all be bad!
Another brilliant weekend in the winter climbing capital of the UK. Saturday David Haygarth took Gavin and I up Dorsal Arete having first located it in the low cloud. It seemed a popular choice for the day as several other ropes were on the route. Conditions were slightly different to when I last climbed it two years ago in sun and frost but it was good to have variety of weather. Just one scarey moment when a large block detached from just behind our belay stance and skidded off into Broad Gully fortunately missing parties below. The Fin was just as exciting as last time and after topping out this was followed by an interesting descent of Broad Gully.
On Sunday David took us to No.3 Gully Buttress on Ben Nevis which again took some finding in the low cloud. We shared the route with one of David’s colleagues Theo and her two clients. An excellent route with some ice still on it and an exciting short rock traverse crux towards the top of the route followed by a top out up a snow ramp into sunshine on the plateau and an amazing view down onto a sea of cloud and the surrounding hills.
Pass on our thanks to David for us who we can thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting instruction.
Jon and Gavin.
The series if shots below show Ben Nevis early this morning, with clear skies and a hard frost to sea-level last night.
A distant shot with the 500mm lens shows lots of ice ‘weeps’ in all the usual places such as Cascade and Gardyloo Buttress. I cannot vouch for the quality of the ice, and the mild daytime temperatures may reduce it’s stability a little. I have teams out on Number Three Gully Buttress and Number Two Gully today. So maybe some good reports back this evening.
An early start to make the most of the night time frosts is recommended.