What a wonderful day to be on Ben Nevis. There were lots of people out enjoying a really nice day of weather and climbing conditions on the North Face and Rob, Ali and I had a fantastic time climbing Ledge Route. This was a wee step up for them, something more "ropey" than what they have done before and it hit the mark perfectly. It was so nice that we went over the summit and down into Coire Leis to soak up the North Face atmosphere again. Well done to Ali and Rob, you did great and I'm so pleased you got such a nice day.
There were lots of teams out climbing good (and some not so good) ice. The Shield Direct had people on the first pitch and it looked like people were climbing on Gemini. Sally and Adam climbed The Curtain and reported it as pretty fat. Central Gully Right Hand, Thompson's Route were climbed and Point Five Gully had a few teams on it. The ice on the snow-ice gullies is not perfect - it is a bit cruddy and a bit thin in places. We need some more snow, thaw and freeze cycles to bring it on some more and build ice on face climbs such as Orion Direct.
Mixed climbing is quite tough now that there is thick icy rime on many of the crags. That said - Cornucopia was climbed today! Even Tower Ridge was really tough going today with icy rime on the rocks, a crust on the snow and ice in the cracks making progress very slow. There was a team at the Man Trap on NE Buttress making good progress.
We have a really good base to the snow cover. The snow is not deep by any means, we don't have that much compared to some other winters. However, the snow that we do have is frozen in place and is covering all the rocks and boulders. So it is easy enough to get around the tops now and when we get more soft snow the skiing will be very good. For the rest of this week though we will get a thaw due to high pressure sitting to the south bringing warm air from the tropics up to Scotland. Hopefully it will move away quicker than it did in January!
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.