Saturday, 19 April 2014

Ben Nevis Conditions 18.4.2014

Walk-in inspiration
I didn't think I would be able get any more winter climbing this season after my ridge day as I was going to Cyprus for my final year field trip for two weeks and then come back and it would be exam time. Yesterday however I did manage to get  one last day in before everything falls down.
I set off to Ben Nevis to Elaine Ford hopeful of climbing either Comb Gully or Green Gully, as they had both been done recently meaning that there should be away through or around the monster cornices which are on the Ben at the moment. 
We had quite a nice walk-in in the sun, which felt quite unusual for most of my days out this season. The north face was looking quite bare. Much of the snow has fallen off the crags, with the douglas boulder looking totally black. Some of the ice lines looked complete though. 
Coire na Ciste
We headed up into coire na ciste across lots of avalanche debris. I left Elaine just at the bottom of the Trident Buttresses area thanks to a slight crampon issue. In the end I decided to climb Comb Gully. The approach was quite good with some rather hard neve which made for quick upwards progress, although a lot of calf pump too!
The route itself was in an OK condition. It was a bit damp in places, and I got rather wet as I was only wearing a base layer, but it was fine for axes and crampons. It wasn't too stepped out either. A cornice does directly overhang the gully but a short traverse to the left avoids this. 
Top of Comb Gully
I decided to try and descended no.4 gully as I could see a way round the cornice on the right hand side (if you are looking at it from the CIC hut). This made for nice easy progress back into the coire were I found Elaine again. 
It was quite warm so we walked out and went for a walk around Glen Nevis. It definitely feels like rock climbing weather now. That is probably my last day out this season but there should be some ice lines to go for on the Ben this Easter weekend. Enjoy it while you can! 
Playing in the Snow