The White Line takes the icefall just left of centre.

Relaxed day on The White Line, Ben Nevis

I was back out (working for Abacus Mountain Guides) with Vic today, who had enjoyed a relaxing day in Plockton yesterday.  Not wanting to completely destroy Vic’s relaxed mood, we heading back up Ben Nevis today, but rather than battle with crowds in Observatory Gully, made our way into Coire na Ciste, to climb The White Line, a route that I’ve been meaning to climb for years, but just hadn’t got round to it.  I knew it would be adventurous and good fun but not too tricky and so would be just right for Vic.

The ice on the first two pitches was excellent (grade IVish), with great axe placements, and plenty of opportunities for ice screws.  The ice was also much drier than on Hadrian’s a couple of days ago.  Further up, a couple of short steps were becoming a bit mixed, but asides from that, the route was in great condition.  No debris coming down in the vicinity either.

Plenty of routes still to go at over the weekend, before things cool down.  Teams on Green Gully, No. 2 Gully Buttress, The White Line, Tower Ridge, Hadrian’s, Indicator, Smiths and Good Friday Climb.  Comb Gully Buttress could be good to, but there are no tracks up it.  The Gutter looks fat, and would give a brilliant pitch of steeper ice.  Glover’s Chimney is doable, but the first pitch has a few holes in it, which can be avoided by starting to the right (The White Line original start), and traversing in.

Mid-range forecasts are pointing at a return to winter next week, with temperatures cooling down from Sunday onwards, before an increase in precipitation and wind speeds from mid-week onwards. It looks like winter is making a return in time for Easter.




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