Saturday 26 February 2011

Winter returns (mostly)

Crowds heading into Observatory Gully
View into Coire na Ciste
Green Gully
Neil leading in Green Gully
Green Gully Left finish
Topping out from South Gully into the sun
Today Neil and I headed up onto Ben Nevis. Despite our early start there were hordes heading into Observatory Gully ahead of us so we turned right and were the first into Coire Na Ciste. Green Gully was there for the asking and despite dripping a bit it was fat. In fact, fatter than I've ever done it- the first pitch was banked out by avalanche debris from the last 2 days and offered about 6 feet of ice! The steeper ice pitches took mediocre screws but the ice was so friendly and stepped it didn't matter and we took the left hand finish at the top to hit the plateau at 1230. So it was off down No.3 (weaving a line through various ropes doing various things on the way up) and a sharp left into South Gully which was equally fat and friendly (bit of a cornice but outflanked on the left)! We had a the odd snow shower which generated some waves of spindrift but hit the plateau for a second time to bright sunshine.
Gill did No. 3 Gully Buttress, Kenny started up Wendigo's first ice pitch and then headed up Central LH or RH (not sure which) and Nick reported easy going on Ledge Route. The snow was soft and damp but there is firmer stuff beneath too.
I spoketo a team who had been on Indicator wall but reckoned that little else was in condition on that wall- they seemed to be uncoiling opes at the foot of Babylon. This face has wet snow and blobs of ice adhereing to it nicely and Thompsons would be fine. We also saw a party on Glover's Chimney.
We came down No. 4 which has a nice slot cut in the cornice and were down early for tea and medals.

Winter returns to Ben Nevis from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

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