Mike and I had a lovely Spring day to enjoy climbing Number Six Gully on the West face of Aonach Dubh today. I was thinking it was quite late in the season to be able to climb this route but the first ascent was made on 30th March so perhaps it's the winters that have changed. It was slightly colder than yesterday and fresh snow had fallen down to 500m or so over night. Being able to see the climb from the road does make it easier to decide whether it will be OK or not and we decided it looked good enough for a closer look.
Despite the snow being a bit soft and the ice being quite detached from the rock we had some nice climbing. The first and second pitches were just a little delicate, the third was too delicate so we did some agricultural climbing up rock and turf to get past the steep bit. The fourth pitch was great to start but then had soft snow covering the ice on the second half. The ice is very impressive having formed a huge umbrella that you can now see up underneath to the stream right at the back. I was quite gentle with it and thought light thoughts as I stepped past it! It all held in place fine but I could not really recommend it to anyone! It worked fine for us and it was a grand day out.
Over on Ben Nevis the ice is still in fantastic shape. It is all a lot higher and fatter so it will be there for a long time. There has been fresh snow and graupel there too but it seems to be secure enough for travel around the mountain. Looks like we will have a nice day again tomorrow. We might also get dry easterly winds at the Easter weekend so it could well be worth the trip to the Outdoor Capital for some skiing or ice climbing!
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.