A nice start.
Today was a lovely day to be on Ben Nevis or any other mountain in Scotland. Lawan and I went up Ledge Route to the summit of Ben Nevis on crispy snow in the sunshine, and it was fabulous. It couldn't have been more different to the soaking I got yesterday!
Wet snow gave way to a brief thaw yesterday before a clear night made the temperature fall away again. So, the wet, fresh snow froze to make it crusty in some places and firm in others where the snow was quite thin. The rocks were really quite icy with verglas and there is thick icy rime on many of the buttresses. But progress up Ledge Route was easy and beautiful, with amazing views in every direction.
There is patchy snow cover from the foot of Number Five Gully and Coire na Ciste upwards. We put our crampons on in Number Five Gully and were grateful for them on the first ramp out rightwards. There is a big patch of ice on the rocky slab, and another (avoidable) on the turn back left above The Curtain. After that, there is a nice thin layer of crispy snow on all the rocks.
The ice is left over from the long cold spell when lots of ice formed in drainage lines. Cascade climbs such as Waterfall Gully and Compression Cracks are fully iced up, and Garadh Gully and Glover's Chimney are close to being formed. We had a big thaw on Monday that did not wipe out all the snow and ice that we had before, but it probably detached some of the ice from the rocks as water ran down the gap, so it would be worth leaving it a day or two in freezing weather to stick itself back on again.
There is enough snow in the coires to make progress up to the climbs quite nice, and the big snow gullies are complete with snow, but are certainly not very full. Number Two Gully probably has an ice pitch or two in it.
The big ridges will be nice with this thin covering of crispy snow, but not easy. Verglas on the rocks and not enough snow to fill in all the gaps between the rocks will make an ascent quite slow going.
For the steep mixed climbing, there is not much rime and many of the buttresses still look black. There is some rime but also some thick icy stuff that might make mixed climbing quite hard work as well.
The ground is very cold though, and colder weather is forecast over the weekend, so it is a nice start to the winter. Any more snow we get now will not just melt away at the first thaw, it will be more likely to stay around for a while.
So, today was a fantastic day for Lawan to enjoy his first climb up Ben Nevis. Neither of us was expecting it to be quite so nice, but we soaked up the atmosphere, the views and were very happy to stay completely dry today and be able to hang around and enjoy the whole experience.
Happy Christmas folks! Happy climbing!
Thanks for the update Mike.
Thanks Josiah, I'm glad it's useful. Happy climbing!
Pictures and your content everything is beautifully described
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
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.