Sunday 17 March 2013

Alone but not lonely on Tower Ridge

After another night of snow on Ben Nevis I was hoping that a tactically late start would see a few teams digging ahead of Jakub and I on Tower Ridge today. No such luck- the weather had teams retreating in their droves (although Italian, Vanishing, Orion Direct and 2 of the Minus Gullies all saw action today). As we waded in the knee deep powder up Observatory Gully to traverse onto Tower Ridge someone was coming down from the crest having been soloing around on Vanishing and 1934 Route. That gave us 40m of trail broken on the Crest. We waded on and next bumped into 2 lads downclimbing from where Italian breaks onto the ridge.... that gave us a little more trail.
My phone was turned off so I missed a message from Mike (who'd obviously seen my tweet about heading for TR) warning me of a team who had spent the night higher on the ridge (brrrr!). Lochaber MRT were on the case and after an icey ascent (take a couple of short screws) punctuated with some deep drifts (easy climbing, hard for gear) I popped over the Great Tower in time to see Kenny retreating from the far side of the Gap as LMRT cleared the Ridge after the rescue.
 Initial snow arete
 Break in the weather
 Getting higher
 Eastern Traverse
At the Gap
This meant the last bit of the Ridge was well trenched and we were on top by 2.15 to nav down the Red Burn. 3 days on the Ben on the trot. Jakub's legs have earned a rest at home!
The team who let us climb through past them on Green Gully yesterday dropped and axe on the final pitch. If you find a tool in the top of Green Gully then the owner can be contacted here:

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