I was going to go rock climbing today but my partner bailed on me at the last minute (some excuse about his girlfriend... needs to sort his priorities :-) so seeing the great weather this morning I went up Ben Nevis again. I went up Tower Ridge, the snowline was pretty much level with the top of the Douglas Boulder. Initially I climbed a dusting of soft damp snow happily in my approach shoes but looking up at the Little Tower I could see holds coated in partially thawed ice so I changed into a pair of boots and popped on crampons. I was soon heartily glad that I had - anywhere the sun hadn't touched was icey and slippery, anywhere the sun had been was just damp and snowy. It wasn't too cold and I carried an axe but didn't really use it and climbed with my hands.
So was it winter? Not really, it didn't feel that wintery, an axe was of no real use and I climbed in bare hands almost all day. But on the other hand I would have really struggled without crampons. At this time of year an hour or so of sun, a degree or so of temperature, a 100m of height, or a slight change in aspect can make a huge difference to conditions so take care and play it safe folks. Better to carry the kit and not use it than get caught out.
On other topics; the portakabin clachan has been removed by helicopter so the path building is over for the season. I also saw 2 chatty chaps pushing their mountain bikes to the summit- they said the descent only takes them 20 minutes.