Steve and I headed out early this morning up to Ben Nevis for a day of personal climbing. The mountain was looking brilliant this morning, with clear views to the summit, so we headed up high to have a go at a mixed route that both of us have had on our radars for some time now.
Unfortunately, despite the crags looking white, it was clear from the first few moves that the rocks weren’t bonded well due to the lack of ice holding it all together, so rather than force our way up on wobbly hooks and blocks, we decided to change tact. Having heard that both Central Gullies had been climbed quite a bit recently, we thought that South Gully, a route that neither of us had done, might be worth investigating. However, on starting up the second pitch, which is quite tricky to see into from below, we found it to be rather lean, and required a bit more mixed climbing than snow/ice climbing as we had expected. Good to climb it, but I wouldn’t rush up there if I were you.
Quite quiet on the mountain today, with only a few teams out, climbing Ledge Route, No. 3&4 Gullies, North Gully and Central Gully R/H. The winds picked up quite a bit as the morning progressed, forming noticeable wind slab in a number of sheltered areas. Temperatures are slowly rising this evening, which will help consolidate the snow and start binding the rock together when it cools back down.
Meanwhile over on the East Face of Aonach Mor, it seems that with the face catching a bit more morning sunshine, the ice up there has formed much better in places than on Ben Nevis. Hannah, Lena and Dave enjoyed a couple of unnamed ice routes at about grade III/IV, and reported good ice. Looks like we should have gone there instead!