Tony has climbed many of the classic ice climbs on Ben Nevis but he had not climbed Tower Ridge. So on a perfect day with great snow conditions we went for it today. After heavy snow yesterday we decided not to climb up the East Gully of Douglas Gap, instead we went up the East flank for a hundred metres or so before taking the diagonal ramp back to the crest of the ridge. This was all secure and once on the crest we found brilliant conditions. The rocks are very well filled in with solid snow all the way to the top. We had sunshine all day and amazing views of climbers enjoying the big ice routes. Ruth and Ian followed us up after deciding not to go for Ledge Route and so they could make the most of a brilliant day.
Westerly winds were blowing up the Allt a'Mhuillin yesterday, scouring slopes underneath the Orion Face, Hadrian's Wall and Indicator Wall. Lou and Andy found secure snow up to Orion Direct which they had to themselves. There were also teams on Hadrian's Wall Direct and Point Five Gully. Many more ice routes look really good. The Minus Gullies all look iced up, several routes on Orion Face, Vade Mecum and Sickle are good, routes on Rubicon Wall might be worth a look as well as Indicator Wall.
In Coire na Ciste the ice routes are pretty good. Snow ice gullies are nice and mid-level routes such as Vanishing Gully, Italian Right Hand and Mega Route X (climbed today) are looking great. On Carn Dearg Buttress The Shroud now has two pillars, Gemini is fat, The Curtain was climbed today and The Shield Direct might be OK too.
All the great ridges are well filled in with solid snow. Ledge Route has quite a bit of soft snow but there is now a trail up it. The big snow gullies mostly have deep soft snow in them and large cornices. Icy mixed climbs such as Tower Face of the Comb are good but snowed up rock climbs have ice filled cracks. It's all about the ice which is how it should be on Ben Nevis in March!
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.