NE Buttress dominates the view as you walk in to Ben Nevis. It is a steep and imposing buttress that is tremendously exposed so it's best to climb it on a clear day for the full experience. Today dawned frosty and calm with just a few clouds so it was a great choice for Rintje and me. We did think about going for an ice route and we were very surprised at how much ice has been forming in the last 24 hours. Things are looking much better than they were last week.
Many areas of snow are scoured and frozen hard. The approach to the First Platform is very icy and quite serious. Once on NE Buttress the climbing is secure and great fun all the way up to The Man Trap. Solid snow and bits of ice make progress quite simple. The Man Trap however was very hard today. The cracks are full of ice so instead of your pick falling into a perfect hook the picks bounce off while you lock off with much of your weight on one arm! The Forty Foot Corner is more straightforward but protection is hard to find with not enough ice for screws and the cracks full of ice. The view from the top was brilliant!
Point Five Gully looks fat and was climbed today. Zero Gully is also iced up but is not as fat, and it's about the same for Hadrian's Wall Direct. Smith's Route looks good and Minus Two Gully was climbed today (solo) as well. The Cascade looks well iced up as well as Boomers Requiem. There is some ice on Mega Route X and The Curtain, and even The Shroud has a good amount of ice on it. Tower Scoop, routes on the Little Brenva Face, Glover's Chimney, Garadh Gully, Green Gully, Central Gully Creag Coire na Ciste and several other climbs of this standard are also looking good.
The great ridges are all good to climb now. Ledge Route has plenty of snow and no ice on it, Castle Ridge and Tower Ridge have nice firm snow on them, NE Buttress is great but The Man Trap is hard and Observatory Ridge looks good with firm snow where you need it and little soft snow to cover up the holds.
The rocks are well rimed up on the steep mixed routes but there is likely to be ice in the cracks. Snowier mixed routes such as Tower Face of the Comb are more likely to be fun to climb.
The big snow gullies are all very full of snow and we have hard snow down to about 800 and soft snow down to 300m. Another slight thaw and refreeze will go through on Thursday and Friday before a colder weekend so there could be so good ice climbing to enjoy.
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.