It certainly feels like winter is trying to make a sneaky exit now, but it is hanging on, just. I was out with Paul today, and he was keen for an adventurous route and hadn’t climbed on Ben Nevis before, so we decided to go for NE Buttress, which had seen ascents over the weekend, and I thought would be just about holding on.
The approach slopes were still mostly on snow, but with a few gaps of rock and vegetation now showing. The first snowy left trending ramp was thinning in places, but he pitch leading up to the second platform was mostly on good snow and ice, with the odd rocky step. The second platform was still quite snowy, with some good consolidated stuff in places. From here on, the crest was in not bad shape, but the Mantrap was completely dry, and the 40ft Corner was mostly dry for the first 30ft or so, but still had some useful snow on the upper ledges.
Regardless of conditions, we needed axes and crampons throughout, had great fun and it gave Paul the perfect introduction to climbing on Ben Nevis. The weather, once again, was nothing short of amazing. Very quiet on the mountain today, but a pair did climb Point 5 Gully, and reported it to be ok, if a little soft for reassuring ice screws. I could see a couple of teams on Tower Ridge and a few on Ledge Route.
The Cascade and Expert’s Choice were both climbed yesterday, and looked ok today, but that might all change tomorrow afternoon as this great spell of weather is due to come to an end.