Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Friday, 11 January 2013

10-01-13, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

Garry fighting on pitch 6 Observatory Ridge.
I have been in Scotland for the last week. I have been walking in the slushy remains of grade 1 gullies, rock climbing and dry tooling. The winter conditions haven't been good but it has started to change as of today. Four of us headed to Ben Nevis. I was surprised by the amount of snow left high up in the Ciste and Observatory gully. Tower, 2,3,4,5 gullies were all full of bomber neve. We saw many teams heading onto Tower Ridge, a lot of rock with enough snow on the eastern traverse, a team headed up to Good Friday Climb. We decided to give Observatory Ridge a go, the first half was clearly rock! However it was very verglassed! VD or grade IV, it went at a combo maybe a little harder. We had to wear crampons for the entirety, gloves and 1 axe then 2 axes for some of it. after pitch 3 it turned very wintry  The start was fairly time consuming and the day was long, we topped out at dusk, the joys of winter climbing at the start of January!
Pitch 6 Observatory Ridge
Carn Dearg, looks like it was a fine day on the summit - not that we saw any daylight when we topped out!
Looking down Zero Gully, plenty of great neve in the top half.
Matt, about to move fast in the last daylight minutes!

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