Heavy rain and very strong winds yesterday forced most people indoors to do some training at The Ice Factor. David and I spent the day working on ice climbing movement and rope skills for multi-pitch climbing including placing protection, linking anchors on a belay stance and abseiling. Today was a much nicer day outside and we went up Ben Nevis to see what ice was left after the thaw. Number Two Gully was complete so we headed for this deep, twisting grade II gully and we had an excellent time.
There is a nice thin strip of snow leading in to the gully where we found a big ice pillar to make an easy anchor at first. In the climb we found two more ice belays and two rock belays as well as some grade III ice which was nice and soft today. The snow was really hard and there was a tiny little bit of fresh snow in the gully. The loose rocks that Number Two Gully is known for were well enough frozen in place today. So, David and I emjoyed five pitches of snow and ice in nice condition and we went over to Number Three Gully to abseil down on a snow bollard before walking down to the coire. After a careful look on the way back down I couldn't see any other ice climbs well enough formed to have a go at.
With NW winds last night the crags facing the wind were rimed up above 1100m or so. There was a team on Sioux Wall I think who must have found it nice and easy to find the hooks and protection but with just about enough white rime to make it white. Number Three Gully is complete and has steps to the top but Number Four Gully has more broken sections with rocks showing between. Tower Ridge has a micro-dusting on it, more cosmetic than useful. Cold again tomorrow but warmer on Thursday and Friday.
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.