Monday 3 January 2011

Green Gully ahead of the weather

With bad weather approaching fast today Sally and I got an early start walking in to Ben Nevis. We weren't alone and a few other climbers were braving the early morning damp, cold and clag. We spoke to a party heading to Comb Gully and we hurried up to Green. Looking up the pitch large waves of spindrift were cascading down it at regular intervals but we decided that if we went fast enough we would be up it before the worst of the weather hit and things got really unpleasant. It was only half way up the first steepening when someone turned the lights out and it felt like being under a waterfall canyoning that I realised just how much spindrift was coming down! A few deep breaths and blind swings and my head was above the flow of snow and we were off . The first 3 pitches weren't fat but there was plenty of really excellent snow ice. Any time you were hit by a wave of spindrift on steeper ground it was just time to take a breath and wait for it to pass. Pitch 4 was a bit different- very brittle water ice, a little thin but good fun and out of the main flow of the spindrift. On the final pitch the snow was now beginning to fall hard and soft slab was just starting to form a thin layer in the gully... time for us to be off.
The plateau was a bit blustery but we headed round to the top of No. 4 and took a sharp left to descend a well scoured Red Burn. Back at the car for 2pm as the heavens really opened and time to go home to get dry and eat fresh baked fruit loaf!

Green Gully ahead of the storm from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

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