This season has been excellent for Scottish winter climbing with safe, stable snowpacks and fat ice about. I don’t think I have climbed anything less than a *** route all season.
Like all good things though, it has an end and this Easter was a great time to transition over to rock climbing for the summer.
David and I spent a few days in the Lakes climbing some classics, Little Chamonix and Troutdale Pinnacle (what a pair of tourists!) and ticking some multi pitch VS climbs to get the feel for rock under the hands again.
Absolutely stunning weather and great fun on a couple of classic rock ticks.
It was hard to believe that only a few days before Adam and I had been climbing snow and ice on the Ben!
Every now and then, a route in a guidebook grabs your attention and until it’s been climbed, it lingers in the mind. This was the case for me with the North East Buttress on Ben Nevis. One of the great ridge climbs of Ben Nevis and an absolute classic, this was a route I had hyped to myself and it didn’t disappoint.
A mild and very claggy day didn’t spoil it for Adam and me, moving together at a steady pace up the ridge which lead us to the infamous crux section, “The Mantrap”. and the “40 foot corner” with the Orion Face looming to the right. The mantrap wall itself was nearly completely bare and lacking almost any form of helpful ice which made for an interesting finish to a classic mountaineering route.
It has to be said, I had little hope that this would be a productive weekend on the mountains but I was glad to be entirely wrong.
Ole and I headed up to the CIC on Friday in denial of the hideous forecasts which had been put out for the Ben.
Saturday took us to the Indicator wall where we climbed the route of the same name. Good fat ice and a really nice natural line made this all the sweeter after a dogdy approach in the rain. The high winds never materialised and new snowfall was marginal although this was a VERY wet day on the hill and no photos were taken which tells the whole story!
Sunday, a quick blast moving together up Green Gully and a super easy going descent down Number 4 had us back at the hut by 10am feeling very satisfied to have bagged two excellent routes against the odds.
It just goes to show that unless you go, you won’t really know!
The first line of this climb’s guidebook description in the Ben Nevis guide says it all: “The most famous ice gully in the world!”.
“Point Five” has been in superb condition this year so I was keen to climb it while the stunning conditions on the Ben held during February of this year and it was to prove every bit as outstanding as I had hoped.
Good belays, incredible ice and a stunning line to the highest top out in the UK. An absolute joy of a climb.