Edinburgh in the 1700's did not have proper sanitation. Sewers were not installed until much later so people used to empty their chamber pots in the streets or the close next to their houses. If you lived many floors up, walking all the way down was too much hard work so people just emptied them at their windows, allowing the contents of the chamber spots to fall to the ground, and sometimes splash back up one or two floors! To warn people in the street a shout of "gardez l'eau" would be made. The system was refined a little by exluding times for emptying chamber pots during the day. You can only do at after 10pm and before 7am!
Gardez l'eau was corupted to gardyloo and given to name the big gully closest to the summit of Ben Nevis. During the days of the summit meteorological observatory (1883 to 1904) rubbish and waste was thrown down the gully instead of being carried back down. Thankfully times have changed and we live with a "leave no trace" ethos now. However the gully keeps the name and you can still find pieces of pots and metalwork from the observatory in the gully. It's also a very nice climb to the top of Ben Nevis.
With little snow cover the walk up Observatory Gully is a bit tedious on loose scree. David and I came to the snow cover half way up and enjoyed some firm snow for cramponing through the narrows of Observatory Gully. Lots of water was running down the ice in the milder conditions but drizzle held off for the walk up to the start of the gully. In the gully there is a tricky move over a chockstone followed by more snow to the big through route. This is very impressive and a long way above the current snow cover at the moment.
Climbing out from the cave there is a lovely pitch of grade IV ice which is solid and excellent for placing ice screws. It's a bit of a squeeze with the wall behind squishing you in to the ice but the pull out at the top onto easy angled snow is simple enough. It's very nice to climb this gully that we walk around the top of so many time throughout the year. It's also one of very few ice climbs that's formed right now. We should get some fresh snow over the weekend and next week though.
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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.