Tuesday 23 December 2014

Solo on Ben nevis- fortunate indeed

Its funny the way things go… soloing a winter route is probably seen as a great deal more hazardous than doing your Christmas shopping in George Square but the randomness of life seems to mean that today I was safe whilst 6 people tragically were killed in Glasgow yesterday. Unfathomable and it leaves me thanking my lucky stars that my family and I are safe and well (barring the usual kids diseases… coughs… colds… dicky tummies… a non stop round at this time of year it seems) this Christmas. I hope and yours are as fortunate.
Friends were off to Gulvain but that hill tried to kill me in the late 90s when a wet cornice fell and avalanched much of the coire I was ascending, leaving me trembling and in a cold sweat! So I took a lift up Ben Nevis and waded up into Coire na Ciste. Snow above the hut but mild feeling. Firmer as I got higher but rather than plough blindly into the mist I was lured by the ice on the Trident Buttress. Mega Route X looked close, Jubiliation and Nasturtium looked fat but I was a little concerned by what might lurk in the large snow basin above. As I plunged my way through soft debris from yesterday's avalanches (plenty of bits of cornice around the Ciste from the thaw) occasional streams of spindrift made me recall that yellow on the Avalanche Forecast means that human triggered avalanches are possible…so I launched out up the icey slab of Jubilee climb which looked in fine icey nick.
It was a pleasure; the ice mostly good to great, snow firm enough and improving with height, rimed rocks and that ethereal light and occasional glimpses of blue sky above that tell you you are almost above the clouds- just not quite!
Stunning light as I took the steepest steps along the ridge crest to the top of Carn Dearg too…
…fortunate indeed.

Rich was on Tower Ridge and has a Report on action in Observatory Gully.

Marry Christmas one and all. Thanks to those who've shared life, laughter, ropes and routes this year and here's to 2015!

No comments: