A stomach bug and a spell in the office coincided with a nasty big thaw. But I was out today and then will be tomorrow and the weekend and Mon/Tues and later next week - the season starts to get really busy now as February comes around. Anyway.... today I went with Tom and Colin to the Ben and we were rewarded with surprisingly good conditions on the reliable No. 3 Gully Butress - plenty of ice low down and frozen snow higher up. It was raining or sleeting most of the early part of the day but this had turned to fresh snow by the time we came down No.4 (dusting down to just below the CIC). There were a few winter mountaineering parties in Coire na Ciste, a party on Green (first pitch thinish looking but present) and we gave Jack and partner a lift down after a slightly soggy ascent of Smiths - good effort. Their quote of he day was 'some of the screws were barely supporting the weight of the quickdraws'. We had a top day out and it was a great route for the lads' first winter climb. If anyone finds a BD Turbo Express at the bottom of Two Step where it fell after we fumbled it - there's a reward!