I was playing back at home today, with Nick, Andy and Allan. Allan had a fair bit of summer mountaineering experience, but had never worn crampons before, whereas his friends Nick and Andy had done a fair bit in winter before, so I thought a route like Golden Oldie would be a great introduction to winter climbing for him, and be of interest to the other two. Quite a few other folk had similar plans this morning, but we managed to stay out in front on the approach, and once on the route, soon left the crowds behind.
The route was in perfect conditions, with the turf fully frozen and snow largely consolidated, giving first time axe placements almost every time. We romped up the route, and were on the summit for midday. After a quick bite to eat, we walked over to Easy Gully on the East Face, which is in great condition (no cornice, good firm but not icy snow), and made a quick descent down that, passing a couple of teams who had decided not to try and tackle the cornices above Right Twin. We climbed Tunnel Vision, which had a great pitch of very good snow/ice (don’t expect too many screw placements) and no cornice at the top. The main pitch of this ticked the chaps’ boxes, and with still plenty of time spare we wondered down the NE Spur, and had a look at snow bollards and abseiling before calling it a day.
Andy was out with James and Robert, they enjoyed Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis, which must have been in brilliant condition. We could see a number of teams on the Great Tower from where we were today, quite possibly Andy, James and Robert!
Finally, Chris rounded the Advance Winter Climbing Course off, by heading away from the crowds, and up to Bidean nam Bian, where he and John climbed West Chimney on Church Door Buttress and something on Collie’s Pinnacle, which he couldn’t find in the guidebook. They’ve enjoyed a great week at a number of interesting venues.