Great weather and good climbing conditions continue on Ben Nevis. Abib and I went to see what the ice was like with a wee warm up on Vanishing Gully. As it was, another team got there just before us so we went to climb Gutless first. This side of Douglas Boulder is very icy which benefits Gutless. There are a couple of icy steps before you get into the chimney and the last groove to the big ledge is much more secure with good solid snow. With good protection, great moves and wild positions this is a brilliant wee climb. I think it's a shame there are quite a lot of fixed anchors on this route now from people abseiling down the climb so we tidied up what we could.
We went over to the SW Ridge and abseiled down to the foot of West Gully of Douglas Gap. If you pass the sling I left behind please tidy it up too! Vanishing Gully was next and was great fun. I bashed through the ice to open up the cave for a more comfortable belay and found quite a bit of water still flowing through the snow and ice. This will be freezing over night so the ice at this level will still be growing.
Vanishing Gully has had a few ascents this week and it is already stepped out with easy hooks for the axes. Surprisingly, the ice was not great for ice screws on the second pitch. I wonder if a lot of snow was blown up the gully as the ice was forming so it is a little cruddy. The Curtain was climbed by a few teams today as well as Jackknife, Fawlty Towers, Orion Direct and a few others. Large cornices are in place over east facing crags and gullies such as Number Four Gully. However, this now has a notch in the cornice and the gully was descended. The avalanche hazard is slowly reducing in the calm weather but it is still significant.
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.