Sunday 8 April 2007

An unexpected day off and some quick phonecalls saw a late start for Nick and I heading up the Ben (left the car at 1.30pm). This meant that we reached the bottom of Tower Scoop (III) just as everyone else was descending. We had the 2 pitches of the scoop to ourself and the ice was fat (although Nick got a start when his first swing of the axe produced a jet of water - the sun had melted enough snow to allow water to run behind the ice. After just over an hour we were ready for the main event - Smiths Route (V) a steep sustained route at the top of Ben Nevis. I had the shorter and easier first pitch to belay on screws in a small ice cave, then Nick led on. The second ice pitch is steeper and he had an awkward move to make right to get onto the upper rank (I could here distant exclamations from above my head and then a query about whether I had still got the a few extenders from the last pitch - cue cursing from Nick). Following the second pitch I found it very steep, partly because of the amount of travel it had obvioxly had in the last week! An excellent route and we topped out into a deep red sunset.

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