It was really nice to see some fresh snow on Ben Nevis today. It cooled down last night and fresh snow fell down to about the level of the CIC Hut at 700m or so. The snow was pretty wet underneath but it had frozen on the summit and everything had a very wintry look to it. Rintje, Tom and I went to climb Number Three Gully Buttress which worked out very well. I'd seen the ice at the start of the climb yesterday and it looked fine. As we walked up, Green Gully also looked fine but looks can be deceiving. The fresh snow was a bit wet and sticky, and had filled in the first itch of Green Gully with soft snow. It looked inviting but would have been horrible to try to climb.
Rintje and I climbed Number Three Gully Buttress a few years ago but there are lots of variations on the route that I took last time. This time we stuck to the classic route and it worked out very well. At the top the route steps over a really exposed corner and then follows a ramp to the top which is tremendously airy. It's a fantastic position that we got a good impression of despite the steady snowfall.
We came down Number Four Gully which was very nicely filled in with some soft snow. There was a little blocking and cracking of the new snow but not enough to cause any concern with the depth that had accumulated. It was a challenging day to stay dry. Rubber gloves worked well for me today!
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.