After a week or two hanging around Glen Coe and Beinn Udlaidh it was really nice to get up Ben Nevis again today. I've spent a lot less time here this winter so far but I hope to make up for that in the next month or two. Today Sandy and I were hoping to climb some classic ice and we certainly did that. We had some rain last night falling as snow above 500m or so and more fell on us as we walked up teh Allt a'Mhuilinn path. So by the time we got to the CIC Hut it was clear that we were not going to climb Aorion Direct or Hadrian's Wall Direct. So instead we went for some lower level climbing that is much more accessible.
First up we climbed The Curtain. This is lovely but a little thin at the bottom of the slab and some of the ice is a bit mushy on the surface. I guess some water has been dripping down the climb and making the surface ice and snow a bit wet. Despite this the climbing was good fun and, as always, pretty tough for a grade IV. We did it in two pitches with an ice screw belay at the tope of the slab. After an easy walk down we went across to Vanishing Gully. We also climbed this in two pitches with the very good cave as a belay half way up. The entrance to the cave is open and the ice just above is steep but full of hero hooks so it feels really cool.
We made a quick abseil down 1938 route and went back down in good time. There is certainly quite a bit of fresh snow around and windslab. Nobody went up to the Orion Face or near Point Five Gully. When we can get there safely the climbing looks really good. I'm not sure the Minus Gullies are complete but lots of other climbs are full of great ice.
It looks like we will have a warmer weekend and more mixed weather next week. The easterly air stream has come to an end and we have more normal weather coming. However, the ice will hang around for a good while yet I think.
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.