In the snow-thaw-freeze balance, this week has been too heavy on the thaw with not enough snow and freeze. Sunday and Monday were lovely, cold with some fresh snow. There was a bit of mixed climbing and several ice climbs on offer, even though there is not much snow in the gullies and the ice is thin. The quality of the ice was very good though. I climbed Green Gully on Sunday and Comb Gully Buttress with Tommy on Monday. The Cascade looked OK and a team climbed Comb Gully.
Since then it has been thawing, reducing the snow cover and volume of ice, and increasing the volume of water in the Allt a'Mhuilinn.
Yesterday Tommy and I climbed Bobrun on the Little Brenva Face in Coire Leis, Ben Nevis. It is grade II in the guidebook but with little snow at the base and by linking together the steeper bits Tommy and I enjoyed 200m of climbing that would be IV,5. It was very wet though, so I didn't take any photos. Richard climbed Green Gully and the big snow gullies and Ledge Route all had plenty of people in them
Today was even wetter and windier. Not many people ventured out and that was probably a good decision. Tommy, Alex and I did go ut, we managed to get across the Allt a'Mhuillin above the CIC Hut and we climbed Number Two Gully. Rock fall and ice fall is a concern in thaws like this, as well as getting on to some ice that turns out to be mush with water running down it. We climbed Number Two Gully which is a very atmospheric grade II snow gully. We then went down Raeburn's Easy Route a short way to climb Experts Choice, a nice pitch of grade III or IV ice. There are several lines you can follow here and the ice is pretty fat.
The big snow gullies are full and cornice free (but fresh snow is falling currently), snow cover in the coire goes down to the lochans, the major ridges have some snow but less than there was a couple of weeks ago, and rime might well be growing on the rocks for mixed climbing, as well as ice in the cracks.
The expert's choice today was rubber gloves plus double waterproof trousers and jackets! I was only wet from the wrists to the elbows where water running down the ice went into my sleeves!
As I write this at 6.30pm, the temperature dropped 5 degrees in one hour and it will be much colder over the next few days with a little thaw freeze as well.
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.