Monday 25 March 2013

Tough ladies on Ben Nevis today

A bit blowy on the walk in
 Raised footprints
 Dinosaur spine?
 Ledge Route
Almost on the plateau
Summit shot (its a birthday tiara... on her helmet...well you asked!) 
 Coming down
Today was Nicola's birthday and she wanted to go to the top of Ben Nevis. Sophia was a willing victim  partner so off we went. With the road to the top car park blocked by trees knocked down by the recent winds we walked up from Torlundy. The hill was bright for most of the day and we had so me good sunny spells in between the light showery squalls. But by 10am hiding behind the CIC hut the wind had not begun to drop as forecast (there were knock down gusts on the walk in). Nevertheless we kitted up and headed for the base of Ledge Route through the wind.
Everywhere on Ben Nevis is the evidence of the wind. Sastrugi, icey paths polished by the wind,  pillows of slab from 1m-100m wide on scoured slopes, loading and scouring on unexpected aspects and raised footprints absolutely everywhere (huge things- the neat line of them up to No. 5 Gully looks like the spine of some dead dinosaur and is over 50m long).
We got a little shelter in the Gully (half scoured, half hard slab) and scooted up it onto Ledge Route which is still well banked out and icey. We made good time up the route despite crawling in the gusts and this being the ladies first Scottish Winter route. On top of Carn Dearg the wind was a little less back from the edge of the plateau so Nicola got her birthday wish and we went to the top.
We came down the Red Burn which was scoured in the top section, half loaded and half scoured in the middle and full of hard slab in the gully lower down (we avoided it by keeping above the gully on the south side).
Garth and co. went for a look in Observatory Gully, a team had made it past the huge pillow of slab below Fawlty Towers/Vanishing Gully to get on the latter and there was someone round the base of Waterfall/Gemini. Big area of slab obvious below area of Green to No.3 Gully Buttress.

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