Till, Sam and J got a chance to lead their first pitches of ice climbing today. In a complete contrast to yesterday the weather today was dry, cold and sunny later on. The snow froze hard and icy, there was next to no wind and we had a wonderful sunset from the summit. We were back on Ben Nevis and it all worked out very well.
We walked back into Coire na Ciste where we'd seen North Gully yesterday looking icy and lean. We did some ice bouldering to coach movement on steep ice then we placed ice screws in a handy bulge of ice. By the time we got to North Gully Al and Jamie had climbed it already and another team backed off it since it was certainly not a normal grade II climb! The first pitch is very thinly ice with nice but delicate climbing. We managed to place several ice screws but it was a great lead by Till. Sam and J each led a pitch as well placing ice screws and belaying before topping out into sunshine.
There's a couple of icy climbs to enjoy on Ben Nevis at the moment. Number Two Gully had a few ascents today and Gardyloo Gully has been climbed recently but at about grade IV which is normal for early season lean conditions. There are a few other ice pitches that you can seek out as well but not that much really. Green Gully for example has a few blobs of ice and a couple of tiny snow patches but that's all. The big grade I gullies are all easy and verglas is on a lot of the rocks including the great ridges. There was one team on Gargoyle Wall today which was verglased but not well rimed up at all.
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.