We are pleased to announce that we’ve got a new website, which we’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks, and we’re really pleased with, but please have a look and let us know what you think.
Now, back to the mountains. We’ve had quite a warm spell over last weekend, which ended rather abruptly, with quite a bit of fresh snow on Wednesday and Thursday. Today was cold and calm, a pattern which looks to stay with us for the next 6 days or so, which for this time of year, is hugely promising.
I was back to work today, and was able to enjoy these cold and calm conditions with Chris, who arrived with plenty of rock climbing under his belt, but had yet to climb a winter route, so today was about rectifying that! Conditions are quite typical of this time of year, with plenty of soft snow, sitting on rocks, with little consolidation, so, inspired by Simon Richardson’s new book, Chasing the Ephemeral, we decided to go for the classic grade III on Ben Nevis, No. 3 Gully Buttress, which is recommended as an early season climb. Having only climbed it later in the season, I was interested to see how it would be with next to no ice, and it turned out to be great fun, if a little trickier than the grade suggests.
Getting to the route was the toughest part of the day, as we waded through the soft snow and yet to be buried boulders, but we made it in reasonable time, and there’s now a track up that way for the weekend!
It was great to back out winter climbing again, and although a bit of consolidation wouldn’t go amiss, neither of us could complain with such stunning weather, views and enjoyable climbing. Chris relished the challenges of awkward rocky steps, steep snow slopes, thrutching up chimneys and journeying through some pretty impressive scenery. Not a bad first Scottish winter route!
Needless to say, very few other folk out today. We met one team heading up towards Carn Mor Dearg, Scott was out working on Ledge Route and the CMD Arete (he owes me a beer for the track we put in), and numerous folk from the Forces, based in Ballachulish, were making a mass ascent of Castle Ridge.
With these wintry conditions set to continue for the next wee while, other routes worth considering at the moment include North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor and other snowed up rocky routes and mountaineering ridges (Aonach Eagach, Sron na Larig, Curved Ridge, Ledge Route). Harder routes high on Ben Nevis, such as Slab Climb and those on No. 3 Gully Buttress may also be good sport. The turf is frozen in places and there are dribbles of ice about, but care is still required, as all this snow has insulated what’s underneath.
What a great start to winter 2016/17!