More soft ice and more snow.
More fresh snowfall last night gave Lochaber MRT members a very tough job to rescue two climbers stuck on Tower Ridge. The call out came in last night and everyone got down by 11am this morning after a very long night. Well done to everyone involved and thank you.
Dave and I went up Ben Nevis to find some more ice to climb. We went to Waterfall Gully first and found it to be pretty mushy and insecure to climb. We just did the first pitch before abseiling off. The direct start to Gemini is a bit too thin I'd say but the big smear higher up looks great. The Shield Direct is also a bit thin but it will not take much more ice to be good to climb.
We went round to climb The Curtain but we decided not to climb this one after hearing from Donald King that it was pretty soft and cruddy as well. He had got a bit up the second pitch before deciding to retreat using a V-thread that was already in place. So Dave and I went over to Douglas Boulder where we climbed the SW Ridge. This was pretty well covered in fresh soft snow but the older snow underneath was starting to be a bit firmer and usable.
The big gullies and coires are now pretty well covered with snow. Tomorrow will give us another brief thaw, this time slightly more effective than the last couple. I think it wil get the snow wet enough to refreeze but without taking away very much of it. We have a base of snow building up very nicely which will make the rest of the winter pretty good for walking to routes and for skiing. It will also start to make some proper snow-ice in the gullies and on the faces, ice that does not exist in much quantity at the moment. The big ridges are starting to fill in and the thaw and refreeze will help this process as well. The higher crags are well rimed up right now but they might not be after the thaw tomorrow.
Well done to Dave for his first week of substantial winter climbing. North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor, Green Gully, Last Post, Waterfall Gully and Douglas Boulder SW Ridge is a pretty good colection of climbs!
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