If you want to push into grade IV ice climbing or you are only just there at grade IV, don't go and climb Green Gully right now! The ice is more like firm snow which is fine to climb but the protection is not very good and it requires a bit more thought than you might expect normally. I wonder what Raeburn would have made of the soft ice. He did the first ascent over 100 years ago with one long ice axe (alpenstock) each and nailed boots. Firm snow is much easier to cut handholds and steps into and I wonder if he might think todays conditions were ideal for his techniques. In the modern way of doing things, with technical ice axes and ice screws, you might want to wait until the snow-ice is more towards the icy end of the spectrum.
On the way up the path Dave and I found the going quite slow with refrozen lumpy snow on the trail. We saw a big area of avalanche debris under Number Five Gully which probably came down very early on Monday morning. We also saw quite a bit of ice on Carn Dearg Buttress - The Curtain is good to climb and was climbed on Saturday, Gemini is pretty close to being formed and Waterfall Gully looks pretty good.
If you go into Coire na Ciste take your big legs (or take someone with you who has big legs). The crust on the snow is really hard to make progress through, especially since you sink to knee depth on nearly every step. If you know how long my legs are you'll appreciate these are deep steps! There are pockets of windslab in the coire all over the place and gearing up was a real test in the strong wind blowing snow in our faces.
On the climb the wind seemed to die away and we had little spindrift. The crux pitch is on fat blue ice and there is no cornice. The buttresses up there are all rimed up still, the big easy gullies are full, the ridges are filling in nicely. We need some more thaw-freeze cycles to create really nice climbing in the steeper gullies but this will come.
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.