It was very quiet on Ben Nevis today. I was out with Arran, who had yet to experience winter climbing on ‘the Ben’, so today we rectified that by climbing the brilliant Castle Ridge. The track up to the top car park had turned to slush, so even with winter tyres, we couldn’t quite make it to the top car park, and with tonight’s freezing levels dropping, it will be fun and games on the track tomorrow.
Anyway, back to the interesting stuff. So as to minimise the risk of being caught by anything sliding out of either of the Castle Gullies, we made our way across from the foot of Carn Dearg Buttress, which also enabled Arran to catch a glimpse of some of the other cliffs on the north face. The deep snow on the route was starting to soften lower down, in many instances making progress a bit easier, with the wetter snow giving a bit more resistance when stepped on. A good freeze should really help, which should happen overnight.
Arran did well, and cruised his way up, whilst we looked at keeping thing slick but safe enough. The crux high up, which is quite out of character to the rest of the route, and in a sensational position, gave Arran a good challenge, which he coped well with. So, that was Arran’s first foray on one of the finest winter climbing venues in the UK.
Going back to Saturday, it turns out that the brave and clearly hardy team did climb Point 5 Gully, and reported that whilst the ice wasn’t fat, it was in reasonable condition. Sometimes, you just have to stick your nose in it.
In other news… This link is well worth a read, the general gist being that high pressure should dominate over the next 2-4 weeks, which could well give us clear and cold nights, which would be nice.