Very heavy rain yesterday morning at all levels made it a miserable start to the day. The clouds cleared a little in the afternoon to reveal black mountain sides and it all looked a bit rubbish. However, it cooled enough over night for the showers to fall as snow dowwn to about 1000m and today was a cool, dry day. After getting very wet yesterday and being refrozen today the old snow that's left is pretty firm. So climbing on Ben Nevis today was actually very nice.
Matt, Sally and I went into Coire na Ciste and found the big easy gullies complete with a thin cover of firm snow, some nice ice in a few places and the rocks above 1100m starting to rime up. We climbed Number Three Gully Buttress by a slight variation on the traditional route at grade III. It was soggy on the first pitch but we placed a couple of ice screws and it was very nice. There was another team ahead of us and one behind us as well so it was a popular choice from the few options available! Green Gully was climbed as well which was thin and patchy in the first pitch and just thin afterwards!
You can get into Number Three Gully quite easily and it makes a good but steep descent with good crampons skills required. We dug a bollard and abseiled which worked well; the snow on the plateau was pretty firm but eaasy enough to dig into. With lower cloud and some more snow showers tonight the buttresses might well rime up and turn white by tomorrow.
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.