After a big Ben Nevis day yesterday Richie and I went for a more mellow day of fun climbing and a really cool journey. We went to Crowberry Gully on Buachaille Etive Mor which is just as classic a climb as Point Five Gully. Walking in was baking hot in the morning sunshine beaming straight onto us. It was strange to think we intedned to go ice climbing. It was jusr radiant heat straight from the sun though, the air temperature was -5C so in the shade it was very cold. Looking up we could see the rocks in the shade very well rimed up but in the sunshine the rocks were dry. It would have been a perfect day for the Buachaille Etive Mor double of Crowberry Gully and Agag's Groove.
After a long time of SE winds blowing snow down into the gully it is now very banked out. None of the initial chockstones are visible and you can walk all the way to the Junction! The pitch to the cave is on hard snow and really nice. The cave itself is really full of snow but you can still get two people inside. The cave pitch is shorter than I've seen it before but just as steep for a step or two. It's always a great journey and the view down the gully to the road is always superb.
A couple of other teams were ahead of us but it was very sociable and nice to chat with the other climbers. Some people went to Curved Ridge and Raven's Gully looks exactly the same as it did when I climbed it a month ago. However I had a dribble of ice on the rocks that really helped at the first chockstone and I doubt that it will be there now.
It was another day of very light wind, non stop sunshine and dry snow and ice. The views went on forever and it was a shame to come down again. Richie has earned these two days by spending lot of time here in pretty poor weather. Those of you who have not done so yet will have to pay the price; get ready to suffer some soggy days in the hills next time!
The next two days look pretty soggy in fact! The freezing level is forecast to go above the summits tomorrow with steady rain and for the thaw to last a day or two. By the weekend it should be a bit colder again. This thaw and refreeze will only make the ice climbing even better, especially on Ben Nevis. Meanwhile the raven resident on Stob Dearg was enjoying the warm calm conditions just as much as Richie and I did.
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.