Graham and I went to Tower Ridge today. Ben Nevis was quiet.... except Tower Ridge. There were 10 people on the route ahead of us when we began but the lower parts being broad and the snow ice being very friendly it was possible to climb parallel to other teams easily. This meant that we arrived at Tower Gap behind only one other pair who were moving quickly.
A quick trip to the summit for Graham who had never been before and we then descended No. 4 Gully. This proved to be well scoured and very firm but the slope below it into the basin of Coire Na Ciste was a little more suspect with a layer of very firm windslab and a gap between this and a softer layer beneath. It was however possible to steer a course beside exposed scree runs.
The higher crags in Coire na Ciste looked to be in condition for mixed climbing, hoared up with blobs of good looking water ice. Over in Observatory Gully there was less evidence of ice (owing to the continuous cold temperatures). Lots of isolated patches of both firm windslab and soft snow around, avoidable with care. A lovely easier angled icefall coming out of Coire na Ciste too.
I was interested to hear that Graham is a rep for Nikwax, manufacturers of waterproofing and care products for all weather clothing. Since this is what I use on my outdoor kit It was good to get some insider knowledge and advice on what new products there are and how to get the best out of them.