Today was my second and last day with Paul, and my last day of winter work this season. The spell of good weather finally broke last night, with cloud cover through the night, which meant that the snow and ground didn’t lose heat through thermal radiation, which it had been doing recently. This in turn meant that the snow and ice didn’t firm up quite so well overnight, so whilst the overnight summit temperatures were much lower than of late, it wasn’t quite cold enough.
We decided that Tower Ridge would be the best (and possibly safest option) for today. The East Gully of the Douglas Gap was pretty much full, but thereafter, the ridge was quite rocky for a while. There was good snow cover up to the Little Tower, and again for the section up to the Great Tower, but the Eastern Traverse was a fairly thin band of snow, and the tricky step to gain the Great Tower was bare, as was the approach and exit out of Tower Gap. Only one axe really needed throughout.
Still, like yesterday, the lack of winter didn’t detract from a great outing, and another classic Ben Nevis ridge in the bag for Paul. We did see a team just above the steep first pitch of Glover’s Chimney/White Line area whilst we were crossing the gap, but with the clouds swirling around today, we couldn’t see much else.
And that’s it, the end of another great winter. It’s not been without challenging conditions, but overall, there’s been enough to climb for much of the season. This winter has presented some great opportunities to think outside the box and climb lesser travelled routes, I’ve certainly enjoyed it! Thanks to all those that have worked for us and climbed and walked with us this winter.
I’ve got a day off to pack tomorrow, before heading to Nepal to lead a trip in the Himalayas on Friday. Can’t wait!