A colder airstream arrived last night and we had a bit of fresh snow on the mountains above 800m or so. We also had a slight frost and a beautiful morning to walk in towards the CIC Hut under the North Face of Ben Nevis. As the light came we could see a very nice wee cover of snow making the whole Noprth Face look much more like iot should do at this time of year. It was not a big fall of snow and it will not last but it was very welcome today.
Nigel and I went up into Coire na Ciste to do a refresher of core winter skills and ropework for grade I gullies. We managed this with the few patches of old snow we found on the way up to the gully but there is nothing big enough with sufficient run-out for self arrest practice. We did lots of cramponing up to the gully, admiring the rimed up buttresses, before starting out pitching using snow anchors and body belays.
There are no cornices above any of the gullies at the moment so exiting them is pretty straightforward. At the top we looked at the details of the stomper belay before going over to Number Four Gully where we practiced another stomper and abseiled on a snow bollard. These are all important mountaineering skills that will be used by any climber working at any standard at some point in their climbing. As with all snow anchors, it is well worth getting the details just right to make them effective and secure anchors.
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.