Sally, Caspar and I are working with the very talented Nadir Khan, taking some images for the next Ellis Brigham winter book. We get to take some vry colourful new gear from the biggest brands and go climbing while Nadir takes the most amazing shots. Yesterday it was pretty tough to take any shots at all with thick cloud on the tops and a strong wind. However today was much brighter so we went up to Ben Nevis.
After the thaw in the middle of the week we still have very good snow cover and lots of ice to climb. Most of the big classic ice climbs are very good - I could see people were climbing Orion Direct and Hadrian's Wall Direct and I'm sure many others were climbed as well. Tower Ridge was reported to be very good with excellent snow cover and NE Buttress, Observatort Ridge and Ledge ROute are all the same. Castle Ridge has less old snow on it but a little bit of fresh snow spruced it up nicely today. Vanishing Gully and The Curtain are broken but these are pretty low down on the mountain and the first to melt away normally.
We went into the Castle Coire to keep away from other people and we had a great time climbing the first (cascade stylle ice) section. The ice is fat and beautifully blue; you could climb at least three separate lines up the main cascade and there is an enormous umbrella there that is well worth looking at. As we were in the coire the showers fell more heavily and the temperature went up slowly so we got some very heavy spindrift down the crags and it collected in the gullies sufficiently to call them avalanches. South Castle Gully had a deep pile of such debris at the foot and similar slides came down off The Shroud.
Tomorrow looks like another nice day and possibly slightly drier and brighter again. If you see some people out in very bright gear it will be us!
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.