This week has given us continuously cloudy weather with light rain. The ice has been melting slowly and the snow pack has receded uphill slightly each day. John and I have been having fun climbing classic (wet) rock climbs and mountain days but to be honest it's not quite the winter climbing we really wanted. It does go to show that there is always a great route to enjoy what ever conditions we have and that having an open mind and a flexible approach is best!
On Tuesday we climbed Observatory Ridge which was great fun. The rock was wet and slimy making every foot placement and hand hold quite tricky. No lapse in concentration was possible at all! We were climbing with bare hands even at the top but Donald and Abib managed a pitch of ice climbing right at the top of Zero Gully. It was worth climbing all the way there for 5m of ice! With it being warm enough for rock climbing at summit level we decided another classic V.Diff rock climb would probably be OK so we went for Agag's Groove on Wednesday.
John and I climbed D Gully Buttress to get to Agag's Groove. This is a great wee climb on rock at about Difficult standard with a steep wall low down and a slabby section higher up. The route leads onto Curved Ridge just above the start of Agag's Groove on Rannoch Wall. The first pitch of Agag's Groove was enough to tell us it was a bit too cold though so we abseiled off and climbed down Curved Ridge. It was worth a go and it was close to being fun climbing but numb fingers don't help the enjoyment factor.
Today turned out to be a bit colder again and with a cold wind swirling around the crags. We didn't really get the cloud inversion as expected either so John and I climbed Douglas Boulder instead which was a fun choice. There were a few teams climbing Number Two Gully which is complete and icy but might have a few loose blocks in. The big easy gullies are complete as well. Donald and Henri climbed Tower Ridge which worked out well but it had verglas on the rocks from above the Little Tower and even a bit of rime on the rocks around Tower Gap. It might not look very wintry but crampons and ice axes were certainly required today. Castle Ridge was not icy or snowy at all, NE Buttress has some snow patches on it.
The pictures show the extent of the snow cover. There is quite a lot and there is also ice in the turf on the ledges higher up and the turf itself is frozen too. With slightly cooler conditions the snow is freezing up again high in the gullies and the old snow is quite firm. Crampons and ice axes will be essential tomorrow and at the weekend.
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.