Normally, by this point in the winter, I would have worked on Tower Ridge a number of times, but for some reason, yesterday was my first time this season. Today was my second.
I was out with Matt and Dave, who both have quite a bit of rock climbing experience, but were keen to climb a classic route and learn a thing or two along the way, and in particular how to climb efficiently yet safely in winter and still be down before dark. Luckily, it’s late in the season, and doesn’t get dark until 7pm, so the odds were stacked reasonably in my favour to be down without needing to use a headtorch…
The overnight thaw was still on-going as we walked in this morning, which didn’t quite match up with what some of the forecasts were suggesting, and I was quite surprised at how much snow had been lost overnight on the approach slopes to the East Gully of the Douglas Boulder. Fortunately, thereafter, there was very little change to yesterday, and if anything there was a bit more snow on the ledges above the Little Tower. As we approached Tower Gap, the freezing level dropped beneath us, icing up our gear and refreezing the soft snow, which was starting to form a crust. On the summit plateau, it was almost eerily calm and almost felt like the sun could burst through the cloud.
No other teams on Tower Ridge today, and one team made an ascent of No. 2 Gully Buttress. Comb Gully, Green Gully, No. 3 Gully Buttress and NE Buttress all reported to have been climbed yesterday.