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Aonach Eagach & Tower Ridge

We’re enjoying an amazing spell of good weather in the Scottish Highlands at the moment, with plenty of blue skies and sunshine. For those after adventures in the mountains, it’s definitely a case of making hay whilst the sun is shining!

Guiding the Aonach Eagach

Yesterday, I was out with Heather, who was over from Australia, visiting her motherland. She was keen to sample a classic mountaineering day in Glencoe, and with such good weather, we decided to traverse the Aonach Eagach, one of the finest ridge traverses on the mainland. It proved to be a social day, with a number of other instructors choosing the same objective. Great minds and all that… Despite everyone setting off at more or less the same time, there were no hold ups, and everyone made steady progresses over the ridge. For Heather, it was her first proper taste of scrambling, which she took well within her stride, and enjoyed the movement and exposure.

Guiding the Aonach Eagach

Guiding the Aonach Eagach

Guiding the Aonach Eagach

Today, I was out with Andrew and Anne on Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis. The rock was dry throughout, although there were a couple of patches of firm snow, particularly at the end of the Eastern Traverse, up the Fallen Block Chimney and on the exit scoop, which could be largely avoided by steep scrambling immediately to the left of the snow. Andrew and Anna flew up the route, without much hesitation, and we were soon basking in the sunshine on the summit plateau. Today, I was working for Atlas Mountaineering.

Guiding Tower Ridge

Guiding Tower Ridge

Guiding Tower Ridge

Guiding Tower Ridge

Guiding Tower Ridge

Guiding Tower Ridge

Great conditions on Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis

Today, Simon and I were treated to some great views of the north face of Ben Nevis this morning on our walk in, with views all the way to the summit.  Unfortunately, the views didn’t hang around all day, but the deteriorating weather did enable Simon to have a taste of more traditional Scottish conditions, for every time he had been up in the past, he had enjoyed good weather.  Lucky chap!

Simon had booked a second day on a 1:1 basis, so that he could push himself, and have a crack at Tower Ridge, one of the finest winter ridge climbs in the UK, so that’s exactly where we headed to.  On our approach, we could see teams on Minus 2 Gully, Orion Face Direct, Orion Directissima, Point 5 Gully and Match Point.  One team also possibly headed round to Zero Gully.

Tower Ridge is as snowy as it has been all winter, and much of that snow has consolidated into firm snow/ice, allowing for solid first time axe placements for much of the ridge. The weather closed in as we made steady progress, obscuring any views, but I did catch a brief glimpse of a team topping out of Tower Scoop.

We topped out into almost white-out conditions, with fresh snow falling, but as we made our way to the summit, the weather did clear just momentarily.  Plenty of wind-blown snow made for a nice descent of the Red Burn, well most the way, the lower reaches are quite bare now.  I was working for Atlas Mountaineering.

I’m off to Skye tomorrow to deliver some ‘summer’ mountaineering this coming week, I wonder if all the snow will have melted by then…