John has agreed to be my guinea pig for a couple of days in preparation for a fast approaching MIC course I am attending. With super high winds forecast we were optimistic as we walked into Ben Nevis, our plan to refresh some winter skills and regain some confidence on steep ground.
Before we even managed to finish sorting our gear at the CIC Hut the alarm was raised of an avalanche in No.5 Gully area. One person was soon on the emergency radio/phone at the hut whilst some other climbers in the vicinity helped the injured climber down toward the hut. I walked around the corrie floor attempting to gain some phone signal to call for help but to no avail, instead we walked up to meet them. He was clearly in shock, had some pretty large cuts from catching his crampons and axes but at least he was walking and talking.
What was very apparent was the lack of wind. No sign of the severe Northerlies forecast which in turn meant there was still huge accumulations of snow in the corrie floor which had been predicted to be deposited onto Southerly slopes during the day. In the end we covered some basic winter skills, avalanche avoidance before heading (swimming) around under the Douglas Boulder. We climbed Faulty Towers (III) which was in super condition before topping out and heading down a very narrow Tower Ridge. A full repertoire of skills were then needed to descend West Gully safely. Some bollards, abseils, down climbing and avoiding being burried later we were on our way out. Its been a long time since I broke trail on the path out from the hut but that just goes to show how much snow is falling and being blown around at the moment. John has an interesting gadget attached to his arm which dished out a load of stats from today. 38,234 steps, 17.9 miles and a whopping 4,638 calories – and that’s just a wee route on the Ben!