Each spring we get one last fall of fresh snow at about this time. It's when the lambs are being born and when you think the snow has given up for the winter. So Connor, Alex, Mark and I had a slightly snowy climb of Castle Ridge on Ben Nevis today. It also made the descent very smooth.
There is quite a lot of fresh snow above 1000m, about 30cm or so in places. However it is all soft and wet and not very helpful. On the rocks it covers up the hand and foot holds and is not very supportive. So it looks lovely but isn't very useful. Most of Castle Ridge was clear of snow though so we were not held up at all. We were on quite dry rock all the way to the first crux, a corner with slightly rounded and nearly always wet holds.
The second crux was dry and really quite nice but getting there was probably harder today. There is a slab which is awkward to get onto and which was covered in snow so we needed to uncover the holds before we could use them. All very delicate for a few metres. Above the second crux the ridge is very fine indeed. It is narrow and interesting with great exposure.
Since South Castle Gully is still full of snow we went to descend this. South Castle Gully is my favourite grade 1 gully on Ben Nevis and possibly anywhere. Steepe and very big walls line the top half of it. It's pretty easy to get into from the side and gave us a brilliant slide all the way down to the bottom steep bit. Here there is an abseil to do which got us to the bottom snow slope and a quick slide to the bottom of the climb. What a great way to get back down again!
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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.