Snow started falling on Friday night and continued to fall gently for much of Saturday. Our Winter Mountaineering Course started off with snow anchors and rope skills for grade I and II gullies in Broad Gully on Stob Coire nan Lochan while Simon and Rich climbed Central Gully Right Hand on Ben Nevis. Sunday gave us a little more snow and not quite as much sunshine as we thought we would get but the mountaineering course enjoyed Ledge Route and Rich and Simon brushed the powder snow off Castle Ridge. Today we had beautiful sunshine after a hard frost and I got to Alltnafeadh just as the sun rose to meet Geaspar and Maghnus.
We climbed North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor which, as always, was brilliant. The cloud blowing around the buttresses mostly cleared away so we had the views across Rannoch Moor and in all directions from the summit of Stob Dearg. Geaspar and Maghnus have done a good amount of climbing in the Alps and here in Scotland so they were straight into the technical mixed climbing on the route today. The snow was not at all helpful being dry and powdery, and there was a good amount of verglas on the rocks lower down. In fact the walk down was probably the trickiest part of the day, trying to avoid the ice on the rocks on the path.
The route is very dry and the loose rocks in the cracks and chimneys are rattling around. This is the same everywhere - there was a lot of rock fall in Number Three Gully on Ben Nevis yesterday, much of which came from a team on Sake on Number Three Gully Buttress. It sounds like they had a very exciting time and were unfortunate to find such loose rock on their route. We certainly don't have ideal winter climbing conditions so take care out there and bide your time. Scarcity of opportunity can influence our decision making - it's a human trap we can all too easily fall into.
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.