Joanna and I decided to head to Ben Nevis this weekend, MWIS said it was going to be nice. We set off on friday night, escaping the party which was apparently going to be in my flat, and arrived at the north face car park just after midnight. We folded down the seats in the back and got to bed as tomorrow was going to hopefully be quite a big day. As it turned out getting up at 6.30 am was quite late by north face car park standards and we followed a lot of teams up the Allt a'Mhuilinn. The aim for today was to do Cutlass a VI, 7 on the douglas boulder and then finish up the alpine preportioned route Tower Ridge (IV 3). We geared up at the CIC hut, where we saw Simon Yeardsley, who had been staying there for the BMC international meet, and walked the short distnace to the bottom of the route. I had done the route next to Cutlass, Gutless (IV 5), ealier in the season so we found it with out too much difficulty.
The first pitch is described as being easy slabs but I did not find them easy. I may have taken the wrong route or there wasn't enough good ice on the rocks and it felt quite sketchy, so I was glad to find a good gear placement about half way which gave me the confidence to continue and get to the first belay.
The second pitch was the much photographed crux corner. A steep pull into the corner, which is just slighlty on the slabby side, and I was fully committed. The gear is ok and not too hard to place although it is quite well spread out. The crack in the corner was just wide enough that I could fit my knee in and so have a rest, so I didn't find this bit too strenous.
|(Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)|
|Knee Jam rest (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)|
Joanna lead the 4th pitch which she did up until a tricky step, where I took over and continued to the top. It was getting quite late now so we decided to abseil into the Douglas gap and walked out, instead of finishing up tower ridge. We arrived back at the car at about 8.30pm, resulting in a roughly 13 hours, car to car, day.
|Joanna on the last part of South West ridge|
|Looking down South West ridge (IV 5)|
|Number 5 gully area, with the trident buttresses just in the cloud|