The wind turned round to the North and we were forecast a very cold day today so Bob and I headed up to Ben Nevis. It turned out not to be so cold on the walk in and we scratched our heads a bit about what to climb. Rain last night made the ground very wet and fresh snow on top was all a bit slushy. It did not look very promising but positive thinking is a requirement for winter climbing so we carried on. In Coire na Ciste we chatted with Richard Bentley who climbed Central Gully Right Hand yesterday on Creag Coire na Ciste. We described it very enthusiastically and said the climbing was great fun, even though there are only wee dods of hard snow and ice in the route. This persuaded us to give it a go.
We ended up climbing Central Gully, abseiling back down to climb Central Gully Right Hand to the top and descending Number Three Gully to climb South Gully. We went down Number Three Gully again into the coire to walk out. Three routes of great climbing with far less ice than is normal making it much more thought provoking and careful climbing. The protection is not great but there is some. I even placed a very good ice screw. The crags above 1000m are well rimed and reasonably well frozen. The tops of the crags have been scoured in the strong wind and the big easy gullies have firm snow and no cornices. So, it turned out to be an excellent day of climbing. Our presistence paid off. Number Three Gully Buttress was a popular and very good choice for today and Richard climbed Green Gully (very carefully!).
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.