I awoke this morning to find a dusting of snow at sea level, which as it turned out translated to about a foot of fresh snow in Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis today, however, the overnight winds weren’t particularly strong, so I was sure that despite the fresh snow, it wouldn’t have packed down to create much windslab. However, it would have been foolish to not pay close attention on the approach, particularly from the CIC Hut up.
I was out with Nick, who over the year has climbed a fair bit up in Scotland, and would loved to have climbed one of the classic Vs today, unfortunately for both of us, none of the classic Vs have properly formed, and so we opted to head up to Thompson’s Route, knowing it would give an interesting climb, with a couple of awkward crux moves.
From the CIC Hut, we broke trail, which was tough going up to No 3 Gully Buttress, looking for signs of potential avalanche hazard, but all we found was sinking into deep powder, no propagation cracks, no slabs breaking away and no whoomphing. I had a quick look at the snowpack, and found a thin layer of soft windslab on the surface, but quite homogeneous snow beneath, which were were always breaking through to with ease.
We pushed on up, and eventually reached the foot of Thompson’s Route, which is still quite lean. There is very little ice forming with this prolonged cool period, but the snow on the route is starting to consolidate. After three pitches of good and varied climbing, winds and spindrift seemed to increase the higher we got, we topped out and headed to No. 3 Gully, for a look. No cornice, and a scoured exit, so we descended that way.
Very few teams out today, two heading round to the east side of the Douglas Boulder, and one other team in Coire na Ciste.