We had a tiny bit of fresh snow last night and a couple of light showers during the day. The dusting made the North Face of Ben Nevis look even better this morning. We had another moment when we walked out of the mist into a sunny day with bright white crags and a deep blue sky. Bob and I were up for another ice climb and had Rubicon Wall in minding thinking that nobody else would be climbing it. The snow was solid again and we followed the good steps up into the coire again to find Richard and team just starting Rubicon Wall! So we went for Point Five Gully as a reasonable consolation climb!
Other teams were enjoying Vade Mecum, Hadrian's Wall Direct, Sickle, Observatory Buttress and Orion Direct. There are many other ice climbs in great shape and this altitude is where the best climb is right now. Higher up on Gardyloo Buttress and Indicator Wall there is a lot of rime still so the ice might not be quite as good to climb. There is lots of it though and after the thaw and refreeze this week it might well be worth going up higher.
Point Five Gully was outstanding today as it always is. The first pitch is banked out and simple up the left side. The chimney provides the crux right now and is great fun. The Rogue Pitch is quite straight forward and after that it's a breeze. Luckily we had a few waves of heavy spindrift just to add the special Point Five Gully atmosphere and give us the full experience. I would hate for Bob to miss out! We also swung left after the Rogue Pitch to find various bits of great ice climbing left of the gully all the way to trhe cornice. This is really fun and helps develop the ability to follow your nose.
It was freezing on top but quite warm on the crag. The snow was a bit wet but the ice was certainly not thawing at all. In the shade the ice will last a long time yet and the thaw his week will not change the amount of ice we have I think.
There is just under 2m of snow on the summit and everything is pretty white! You can just about follow the cairns but several are buried in the snow including the one closest to the summit and the three at the corner next to Gardyloo Gully. You'll need a compass and the skills of how to use it along with pacing out distances to find your way around.
There is a long and very good slide down the Red Burn (please don't walk in the bum-sliding trail!) which you could continue for a hundrd metres or more below the path. The waterfall just above the path is completely buried and you can slide all the way to the path. There is also the old cornice on the south side of the Red Burn Gully which looks pretty dramatic but has a boot trail leading through it. I think we will be walking over snow on the summit of Ben Nevis for a few months to come.
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.