Over the past few days, I've been out with Blair, Seb and Nigel, who have been on our Winter Mountaineering Course. We've had to work hard to get up to the snow, with one day on Ledge Route, a day on 0.5 Gully in the Cairngorms, No.3 Gully on Ben Nevis yesterday, and finally, to wrap things up, we enjoyed a brilliant day in Observatory and Tower Gully on Ben Nevis today.
It's actually easier to get to the snow in Observatory Gully than No.3 Gully at the moment, and we started pitching alongside Tower Scoop. Two pitches of steep, firm snow (grade II), brought us to the big traverse across to Tower Gully, before two further pitches brought us onto the summit plateau.
The surface snow has fully refrozen and is great for front-pointing on. That said, a slip wouldn't be good at all! The highest crags on Ben Nevis are well rimed, but with plenty of verglas in the cracks. Point 5 Gully is complete, but it will be a while before it's climbable. It's also worth noting that the snow/ice on the summit plateau and for a fair way down the mountain path is rock hard, and crampons are essential.
Some stormy weather in the pipeline, which is exactly what we need right now.