This week I am climbing with Tommy, co-founder of Jottnar. If you see two guys dressed head to toe in Jottnar gear it is probably us! It's great to know that the boss puts his gear through its paces and continues to have big adventures in mountains, so that he knows what we need. The gear certainly got a bit of a workout today!
We went to the Minus Face of Ben Nevis. This faces north west and there are no cornices or snow slopes above the climbs. There is a steep enough snow slope to cross to get to the foot of the face and we were pleased to find a rain crust on the snow from a warmer spell yesterday. This is an indicator that the snow underneath is starting to stabilise and there was not so much fresh snow on top from last night. Even so, we pitched along the base of the crag to get to the start of the climb.
The ice is fat and accommodating on the climb. There is such a build up of snow at the base that you can step straight onto the slabs on the left with no steep traverse left at all. We got some very heavy spindrift a few times, right at the wrong moment too. Higher up, the spindrift lessened, the wind change to blow up the face and, by the time we topped out onto NE Buttress, it was quite a light wind and there were longer breaks between the showers. We almost got a view!
The third pitch is the real winner. Lovely climbing in the gully with an overhanging right wall and good ice on the left. From the top we abseiled two pitches to the top of Minus Three Gully, then another to First Platform. Two further pitches of abseiling took us down Slingsby's Chimney to the slopes beneath. Other teams were climbing Green Hollow Route and Ruddy Rocks, one pair went up to The Curtain which seems to be buried under powder snow. Hopefully we will get lighter winds, fewer showers and brighter weather over the next few days.
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.