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Nice and quiet on Green Gully, Ben Nevis

It was nice and quiet in Coire na Ciste this morning, everyone seemed to be piling into Observatory Gully.  Shaun and I were only one of three teams in the corrie, and with Green Gully looking complete and empty, our decision was made.  Shaun is off the back of a climbing course in the Cairngorms,  and wanted to experience a classic west coast winter route, both for his own enjoyment, but also in preparation for an upcoming trip to attempt Mera Peak, Island Peak and Lobuche East in the Khumbu Region of Nepal.

The initial pitch was a bit soft in places, but all there, with reasonable axe placements, and thereafter, the route was in good shape.  Don’t expect much in the way of ice screw placements until the direct final pitch, which gave the best climbing of the day.  Some rock gear has now been exposed by the steady thaw.

John was also out with John and Richard, they made an early start and had a great time on Indicator Wall. They reported good conditions, made all the better by having brilliant views of the cloud inversion from the summit.

So, what about these warm temperatures and conditions for the weekend?  The ice is deteriorating, but on the NW/N aspects, at a fairly slow rate, and what’s there should remain there for the next few days.  Easterly aspects are catching the morning sunshine, so whilst things look complete (North, South and Central Gullies of Creag Coire na Ciste), they are very prone to cornice collapse and falling debris, so probably worth avoiding, unless you’re going for night time ascent.

 

Mont Blanc prep on Ledge Route, Han on Comb Gully

After three days of brilliant personal climbing, it was back to work for me today.  I was out with Conrad, who has an upcoming trip to Mont Blanc this summer, and wanted an MOT to see where he was at in terms of preparing for the highest peak in the Alps.  After a rather eventful start, with my van getting stuck on the Ben track (thanks to all those who helped!), we made our way up to Ledge Route.  For Conrad, it was his first experience of the mountaineering side of Ben Nevis, a world away from the pony track, which he had been up before in summer.

We made swift progress upwards, looking at some of the ropework he’ll need when in the Alps, and soon found ourselves on the summit plateau.  With plenty of time left in the day and to get further practise in, we descended No.4 Gully, shot over to the Douglas Boulder and made a traverse of the west and east gullies.

Hannah was out with Steven on a day of play.  They decided to climb Comb Gully, which they said was in sporting nick… great axes, not so great for ice screws.  They descended Ledge Route as neither of them had been up or down it before in winter.

Quite busy on the mountain today, with teams on Castle Ridge, Waterfall Gully (first pitch looks good), Wendigo (first pitch doesn’t look great), Central Gullies of Creag Coire na Ciste, Une Journee Ordinaire, plenty of folk around Thompson’s/No. 3 Gully Buttress, White Line & Beam Me Up Scottie, Vanishing Gully (still looked quite thin), Tower Ridge and Great Chimney.  Observatory Gully seemed very quiet.

I got back to find that my van had been winched out and left in the top car park, so huge thanks to Mike Pescod and Rob Skinner for making it happen!