There are lots of words for different types of snow. Neve, powder, slab, crust, etc. Today it was just gopping! For those of you not used to this Scottish phrase, it is not complimentary. The freezing level went above the summits last night and we had heavy rain. This soaked all the soft snow so we had soft, saturated snow to climb today. Gopping!
Despite this and the strong, gusty wind, there was still fun climbing to be had on Ben Nevis, centred mostly on the Douglas Boulder. Tommy, Phil and I climbed Gutless first. This a brilliant squeeze chimney with an icy entry. The ice was not there but I found a very helpful flake instead which made it OK to get into the chimney. There are many chockstones in the chimney (take lots of slings) which are all solid enough and the climbing was brilliant fun requiring a huge range of hooks, pushes, bars and udges. We took the big diagonal shelf to SW Ridge of Douglas Boulder and went up to the top.
We abseiled down East Gully of Douglas Gap and decided to climb the East Ridge as well to make it a Double Douglas. While we were there a massive avalanche came down out of Observatory Gully with a debris pile 1.5m deep and a couple hundred metres long. There had been a few others as well including from the area of The Cascade where we were yesterday. Take care in the thaws but if you don't mind getting wet there is steep, hooky, soggy fun climbing to enjoy!
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.