On walking up to the north face of Ben Nevis this cold, crisp morning, I was quite amazed at how much snow had disappeared over the past few days, but then again, we’ve had a stable high pressure system, which has meant clear nights and frosty conditions in the glens, but quite warm temperatures on the summits (above freezing continuously since Thursday night) . This has led to much of the unconsolidated snow being lost through sublimation.
I went up there with Tony and Kristy, to climb Ben Nevis via the brilliant Ledge Route. For Kristy, it was her first time in crampons, which were needed certainly to get up the first few meters of No. 5 Gully, and were useful in gaining the ledge above the Curtain and for ascending the leftward trending gully above. Once on Ledge Route proper though, it was mostly dry, bare rock all the way, so we ditched our crampons, and scrambled our way up. They both did very well, but in particular Kristy, from whom this was the first taste of mountaineering. We topped out in glorious sunshine, but to a very dry plateau, almost devoid of all snow.
The temperature on the summits has just dropped below freezing, which is good news, as we are due some snow later in the week as we enter a slightly less settled week, with some gentle thaw/freeze cycles and a picking up on the winds. It’s early days yet, and if Netweather.TV is anything to go by, early to mid December sounds quite promising, with another high pressure system in the pipeline for the middle chunk of the month. Fingers crossed!