Italian start to Tower Ridge.
Will, Jonathan and I climbed the spindrift factory today, also known as Italian Right Hand. It was a very nice start to the day with a hard frost and light winds. The walk in was a delight with the orange light of dawn lighting the clouds from behind. Even when we were in Coire na Ciste we could see very little spindrift on this side of Tower Ridge. However, as soon as we got to the start of the climb the sluice gates opened and we got a steady flow of spindrift for the whole climb.
To be honest it wasn't too bad. Italian Right Hand is quite an open climb, not a chimney or narrow gully. The snow coming down was very cold, dry and light so it did not push us out from the ice at all. And since it was so cold we stayed dry. The ice on the climb was brilliant so you didn't even need to look very carefully where we hit it with our picks for placements. Ice screws were good and there are fixed anchors at the first two belays. You can abseil the route in 60m from the top of the second pitch but today we went for the journey up to Tower Ridge and to the top.
Tower Ridge is so snowy at the moment! Firm snow covers the whole ridge with some nice ice in various places. The climbing is pretty easy like this but it can ve very hard to protect. The obvious blocks for belays are under the snow and many of the cracks are full of ice. The mixed climbing on Ben Nevuis could be pretty hard going right now if the cracks are as choked with ice as what we found on Tower Ridge.
We met a couple of other teams on Tower Ridge including Hamish and Greg, another Abacus team. On top, the wind was blowing and visibility was pretty poor. The cairns are very well covered over so a compass and knowing how to use it are essential. Orion Direct was climbed by a few teams today as well as Hadrian's Wall Direct. Steady light snow fall this afternoon built up a few patches of windslab pretty quickly. Altogether it was a proper winter day!
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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.