Ming the Merciless.
Last weekend we had a lovely time in deep fresh snow with rime on the rocks. I was at Nevis Range with my kids trying to remember how to ski. Monday was a much warmer day with rain to the summits. Some big avalanches came out of Number Five Gully and Number Two Gully at some point leaving behind some impressive debris. The Number Five Gully debris was big enough to bury my van.
Tuesday was slightly better, a bit colder and drier. I climbed Number Three Gully Buttress with Connor and Sam which was great. Other teams were out in Number Two Gully, a mixed ascent of Comb Gully Buttress and Gargoyle Wall which was frozen and verglassed but not very white.
Yesterday (Wednesday) was warmer again and more drizzly. I went up Tower Ridge as far as the Eastern Traverse with Joe and Alex.
Tower Ridge has a good cover of snow on it. The narrow ridge just above Douglas Gap is covered in a slender crest of snow and there is deep snow all the way up to the Little Tower. All this snow was useless for climbing on, being softy and very soggy, but it is good news for when it freezes. At the Little Tower we started to find ice on the rocks as well as useless soft wet snow. This is not an ideal combination for climbing and it felt a bit awkward in places. I'm glad that I know the best way to go.
We were exploring details on the route up Tower Ridge including alternative access routes to the start of the ridge and how you can get off. We went along the Eastern Traverse and continued traversing until we were underneath Tower Gully. This is a really good way off the ridge if there is a problem, but might just take you into different problems if there is an avalanche hazard. There was no avalanche hazard yesterday, just lots of deep wet snow.
There is some ice around. Smith's Route had a bit of ice on and there was ice on all the rocks above 1000m or so. This week gave us merciless ming. Nobody like Ming the Merciless but we need it to consolidate the snow and make ice. When it gets cold again all this wet snow will freeze solid and ice will build rapidly. When will this be? Well, it looks a bit colder on Saturday, but it is uncertain what will happen after that!
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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.