Lots of pics today and no apologies. It was great weather on Tower Ridge with Alan and Ruaraidh.
Ben Nevis this morning
A little soft snow
Alan and Ruaraidh
A little warm, dry rock
Looking back down the ridge
Going around the cave
Looking down the steep pull onto the Great Tower
In the Gap
And out of the Gap
Heading for the top
Walking in Castle Ridge is in summer nick and Carn Dearg looked dry. No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 Gullys are all complete and there is plenty of snow in Coire Na Ciste. We encountered a reasonable amount of snow but it was all so soft that we didn't put crampons on until the Eastern Traverse, and then it wasn't worth it so we took them off for the rock step left around the cave (still mostly full of snow) and up onto the Great Tower. After the exposed joys of the Gap we put the spikes back on for the last snow slope as it was in the shade and the footprints from the team who climbed it yesterday were compressed and occasionally a little icey (the only firm snow encountered all day).
The snow on the plateau is still deep (up within a half a metre of the summit cairn's base) and was very, very soft. We had lunch on the summit before following some footsteps hopefully down the Red Burn. It didn't save us much time as it was so soft we son cut back onto the main path.
More sunburn but it looks like a return to winter next week. There were no routes other than the easy gullys in condition today (even Good Friday which had an ascent last weekend was rotten and broken) and there was a lot of ice fall in the Smiths, Gardyloo, Indicator, Hadrians area most of today. I did see that the tunnel in Gardyloo is intact but watch out if we get a dump of fresh snow on this older stuff and beware all of the loose partially melted ice on the Gully wall.