On top of Ben Nevis winter is very far from over. Substantial snow cover remains including over 2m on the summit and general cover above 800m pretty extensive. With the current very cold conditions the snow is frozen solid and the ice is good to climb. So Terry and I climbed Orion Direct today and had a great time!
It was tricky to interpret the weather forecast to know how strong the wind would be and how much fresh snow there would be. There is quite a big difference between the north (windier and snowier) and the south (calmer and drier). As it turned out the wind was fine, it was blowing up the crags and we were in it for the last couple of pitches and it was not so strong. The snow showers kept on threatening but never came to anything. So we had a very dry day with great views, well frozen snow and very few other climbers.
Terry is a very experienced ice climber and we enjoyed lovely solid snow climbing with enough ice to place ice screws and belay on. Low down there are one or two loose bits of rock after the warmer conditions a few weeks ago but there was no debris falling down at all. A little spindrift was blowing around but not much. Several big classic ice climbs are really well formed at the moment including Point Five Gully, Hadrian's Wall Direct, Smith's Route and Indicator Wall. There is also recently formed ice on some other climbs such as the Second Slab Rib of The Long Climb Finish to Orion Direct and Psychedelic Wall. Cold northerly winds will blow for the rest of this week and the days are long so get out and enjoy some excellent ice climbing.
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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.