It would have been criminal to have wasted such a great day, so both Hannah and I hatched plans with friends to make the most of one of the finest days of the season so far.
Firstly, Hannah was out with Mark, and they decided to go for Thompson’s Route, a classic IV,4 on Ben Nevis. An early start meant that they were in pole position when reaching Coire na Ciste, and they made a beeline for their route. They found conditions to be quite lean on Thompson’s Route, giving a fun and reasonably well protected mixed route. One of the beauties of this route is that it can be climbed either as a mixed route, or an ice route. With such an early start, they topped out in good time, and so made a quick descent of No. 3 Gully, before racing up a mixed Central Gully on Creag Coire na Ciste. They reported a surprisingly quiet day on the Ben, with teams on Good Friday Climb, Tower Ridge, Tower Face of the Comb and No. 3 Gully Buttress.
Meanwhile, I was out with Scott and Steve, and we ventured up to Diamond Buttress on Bidean nam Bian, with intentions to climb Direct Route. I led a rather bold first pitch, and found the turf and unconsolidated snow to not be quite as frozen or useful as I had hoped, and so after Steve tried to make progress on pitch 2, and found it to be a bit too bold and insecure, we abseiled off, and with enough time in the day to spare, made a quick ascent of Closer on the West Top of Bidean nam Bian, a two star IV,5. The first pitch, which Steve led, was partly frozen, but the turf in places was quite dry, and not holding axe placements fantastically well all the time. Scott finally got a lead, by finishing the route up a much more solid second pitch, which gave some good climbing. So, nice to go somewhere different, shame that we didn’t complete Direct Route, which really needs more solid ice and snow, but a great day with great friends nonetheless. Oh, not another soul up where we were today. Stob Coire nam Beith looks white, but most routes will be far from climbable just yet.
Forecast for the next week or so looking cold and quite calm, which will only go to further improve conditions, so after a slow start to winter, things are starting to look very good.