Winter Mountaineering Course - Scotland


ROCK CLIMBING - CUMBRIA (Lakes) (1 to 4 days),
SNOWDONIA (3 to 5 days)

NAVIGATION Courses - CUMBRIA (Lakes) (1 or 2 days)

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Ben Nevis climbing

A great day's climbing on The Ben. It was cold last night and minus 8.5c when I met Dan (from Real Adventure) and Bridget, my "clients" for guiding today. We used a key to the forest gate and drove up in my Golf (more instructors seem to have VW's and La Sportiva winter boots than any other brands). I have winter tyres and chains - couldn't have got up the track without them.

North Face of the Ben whilst walking in.

It was an interesting day apart from the climbing - we saw a fell runner in his shorts on the summit (wow!), people scrambling just above the start of Tower Ridge at 4pm (wow - have a headtorch and/or be sleeping out the night) and somebody using ice axes to make an ascent of the shelter on the Ben's summit!

My instructor plan was to guide Harrison's Climb Direct, a IV.4 four-star on Carn Dearg Buttress, but it looked thin of ice from the track so we headed up towards Italian Climb, but it also loked thin, so we kept ascending to climb Glover's Chimney III.4 which meets the ridge at Tower Gap, then follows Tower Ridge to the top.

People on the summit of Ben Nevis

Glover's Chimney is in the book 'Cold Climbs' but we had it ot ourselves. The initial ice is good, then it's a long easier plod up steep snow before the final rocky chimney, a rock climbing conclusion before it meeets Tower Ridge at at knife edge point of the ridge but you can clip the in-situ rope before scrambling on up out of Tower Gap and heading on to the summit.

Looking back down Tower Ridge from above Tower Gap

Navigation was a doddle today - superb views and tracks in the snow to follow. Though one lady did walk over to us at the top of Tower Ridge to ask if it was the decent gully.

Walking down to the decent at Number 4 gully.

The cornice on No 4 gulley had been cut through so the decent was ok and the snow was soft enough for some swift glissading.

Climbing Conditions - plenty of low down ice; higher up it's not been warm enough for water or snow to consolidate so lots of fluffy white stuff but it's not good for whacking pic's into. The icefalls bewlow the CiC look good, The Curtain isn't in codition. Italian Climb looked like the snow was unconsolidated; Italian Right-Hand looked thin; and Vanishing Gully looked like it might be OK. Ridges look great though.

Icefalls below CiC hut

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