Rain last night and a summit temperature of +2C washed away much of the fresh snow that we enjoyed yesterday. It seemed like it was going to be a pretty wet day as well so Maghnus, Geaspar and I braced ourselves for a soaking and headed up the Allt a'Mhuilinn for Castle Ridge. We discounted any potential ice climbing due to the loose rocks evident at the moment . In thaws like this with a better build up of snow and ice it is certainly quite possible to climb reasonable ice routes but with the current conditions I thought it was best not to. So instead we went for a relatively solid classic ridge climb.
Castle Ridge is superb. The positions are amazing for a short, quick climb. The lower crux corner is always greasy in the wet but the higher steep chimney is better. It's very steep for a Moderate climb and I find it every bit as hard as the hardest sections of Tower Ridge. As we topped out it started to snow and this carried on as we went up to Carn Dearg and down Ledge Route. There is a bit of old snow on Ledge Route's upper ridge which is enough to make the descent quite straightforward. Lower down it is all on rock apart from the slanting shelf out of Number Five Gully with its awkward slab. This area has a lot of ice on it and we had to put on crampons to climb down into Number Five Gully. Thankfully it was reasonably dry in the afternoon and we got down dry enough having had a nice wee adventure.
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.