The temperature continues to drop slowly this week and snow showers, mostly over night, continue to build up more soft snow. With no thaw freeze cycles, little ice has been forming in the gullies and not that much has been forming in the drainage lines either. So when we saw Left Twin on Aonach Mor East Face complete with solid ice as we abseiled down it we were happily surprised. So we climbed it and it was great.
Left Twin is certainly not banked out but the ice that is there is good and solid. The first pitch is a bit thin and there is a steep bulge on the second pitch making the grade more like IV,4 at the moment. However the ice screws I placed today were good. Right Twin has a steep bulge of solid ice at the start as well and Siamese Twin (right hand side of Left Twin) is complete too. So there is good ice to climb on Aonach Mor. Nathan and Mark enjoyed Morwind today but there was nobody else climbing on the crag today. All the rocks are white with rime and the mixed climbing looks good.
With a good forecast for the weekend it will be busy here and on Ben Nevis. It was very cold today though with a biting wind so make sure you wrap up warm where ever you go. The great ridges of Ben Nevis all have a good covering of soft snow. There is a good trail up Ledge Route and Tower Ridge has seen many ascents this week. There is not so much solid snow so NE Buttress and Observatory Ridge will be hard going.
The big gullies are full of soft snow but have little cornices. Mid grade gullies such as Green Gully and Comb Gully have little ice but enough solid snow to be climbable. The climbing is not very secure though and the protection limited mostly to the rock so it's not a weekend to push your grade on one of these routes. The big ice classics such as Point Five Gully are full of firm snow and little ice. I would leave these routes until we get a thaw and refreeze.
The buttresses are very white and frozen. Mixed climbing is good fun, especially the steeper lines that do not need any neve and have less soft snow on them.
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.