After weeks of storms, super short lived freeze cycles, and generally a frustrating start to winter, things finally took a noticeable turn for the better this weekend. So, with the promise of clear skies, calm winds and low temperatures, Steve and I quickly hatched plans to venture up to Stob Coire nan Lochan yesterday and have a look at Crest Route on North Buttress. Steve had already climbed the route before, so knew that due to it’s rocky and steep nature it didn’t really rely on turf, which hadn’t quite had the chance to thoroughly freeze, and me having not climbed it before, it seemed like a wise idea, and a great one, as it’s been on my tick-list for quite a while.
The approach was quite tough going due to some deep snow drifts covering the path, but luckily for us, we weren’t the first ones of the day heading up. We were also just as lucky that the couple of teams in front didn’t have Crest Route in their sights! The first pitch was a fairly straight forward affair, led by Steve, before I took over, and made my way up the sustained, technical, but well protected and enjoyable second pitch, before Steve slowly and steadily made his way up the technical and awkward third pitch. We topped out to virtually no wind and clear panoramic views in every direction. Not a bad way to open this winter’s account! Other teams were on Yankee Go Home, Scabbard Chimney, Dorsal Arete, Twisting Gully, Central Grooves and Intruder.
Today unfortunately didn’t turn out to be quite so productive. Steve and I made our way up high, to the entrance to No.4 Gully on Ben Nevis, with intentions to explore and climb on the upper tier of Trident Buttress, which overlooks No. 4, but unfortunately, due to the longish approach, probably coupled with yesterday’s efforts, Steve’s back, which he has had quite a few problems with this year, was causing him a bit of discomfort. For life as mountaineering instructors, there’s almost nothing more important than looking after your body, particularly with a busy winter looming, so for both Steve and I, there was no question that pushing on would be foolish, so we made our way back down. It was just nice to be out on such a glorious day, to have a look at an area of Ben Nevis that I know less about and see what else people were on (quite quiet today, with teams on Tower Ridge, Cutlass, No. 3 Gully Buttress, Sioux Wall and Ledge Route).
Hannah has also had a busy weekend, working with a group from Maximum Adventure. They enjoyed a walk into Coire na Ciste, whilst looking at a number of core winter skills, all in preparation for today’s assault on the summit of Ben Nevis, which they succeeded in achieving. They’ve certainly had a great weekend for it.