Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These Conditions Reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

We are in a spell of excellent spring ice climbing, especially on Ben Nevis. After the slightly soggy day last Friday it was a colder weekend with many classic ice climbs being enjoyed by many people. Monday and Tuesday were a bit breezy with some fresh snow which has left a covering of 10cm to 15cm on many aspects. A hard frost last night brought in a beautiful calm sunny day today. Kevin and Dave enjoyed Green Gully yesterday as a warm up to Point Five Gully today which was excellent. They had the gully to themselves which was a bonus as well.

I was up at Nevis Range enjoying the skiing. Primary 7 pupils in the area all get to have a week of ski or snowboard tuition and my son Owen was up for one of his days with me as the parent helper. As well as being a brilliant opportunity for the youngsters it was an opportunity for me to do some laps of the back coires! The excellent coaches at Nevis Range were looking after the pupils so what else was I to do? Two laps of Chancer and two of Easy Gully gave me plenty of fresh tracks on soft snow on a very firm base in bright sunshine. What a great place to live!


Friday, 20 March 2015

When the light starts to fade it is not usually a good thing when you are climbing. Either a big black cloud is about to empty its contents on you or night time has arrived before you have finished the climb. So when the eclipse made it go quite gloomy this morning Mick and I had a sense of bad things about to happen. As it turned out, Boomers Requiem turned out to be too soggy and steep for me and a fall of ice from above was the last encouragement I needed to go back down. There is an ice screw still in place if anyone wants to retrieve it for me!

Instead Mick and I went for Raeburn's Buttress Intermediary Gully. The less than snappy name for this climb makes it less well remembered which is a shame because it is an excellent route. The initial icefall is sustained and has an awkward belay before the tricky second pitch into the long snow gully. The cave at the top was full of snow but there was a steep bulge of ice to exit the gully which I've not seen there before. Mick then had a go on the sharp end, leading us up the final pitch of ice to the summit of Carn Dearg.

We descended Ledge Route which has very little rock sticking out at all. I joked with a skier walking up Number Five Gully that you could ski Ledge Route at the moment. He replied that it was skied on Monday!

Colder conditions return tomorrow and there is still lots of ice on Ben Nevis.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Orion Direct is a classic amongst classics. Mick and I had it in good condition today and we even got to see the view all the way to the top. The route has been climbed a few times recently and in fact we were the third team on it today. With no spindrift or wind, a comfortable air temperature and friendly snow as well as good company it was a very good climb.

There is not much ice on the first pitch and the traverse out from The Basin is quite thin as well. A reasonable thaw will strip these sections quickly. Elsewhere the route has fat blue ice, great for ice screws on the pitches and belays.

Other routes climbed today include Minus Two Gully (thin at the bottom), Zero Gully, Point Five Gully and many others. There is still lots of ice on Ben Nevis and it is not going anywhere fast. We will be climbing well into April I think.