The last couple of days I have been joined by Erika and Michael with the aim of practising some simple mountaineering in the run up to Erika’s expedition to Aconcagua. I don’t think I have ever seen less snow on the hills at this time of year so I knew there would be limited options for getting in good crampon practice. Ben Nevis always offers a few options and so we spent Sunday focusing on moving up and down No.4 Gully in wet and windy conditions. Louisa had put a trail in the day before, which made the going steady enough and only once did we have to scrape around on scree.
Yesterday we went for a look up Observatory Gully with the intention of continuing up Tower Gully to the summit. There is plenty of snow in this area of Ben Nevis and we made good use of it, winding our way up toward Tower Scoop where we paused to witness a cornice collapse travel through the narrows beneath Gardyloo Gully. We paused under the buttress to assess the situation but more just kept coming. In such poor visibility we were unable to see what was happening above and so turned around and made our way back down. This was no bad thing as Erika got more practice moving up and down terrain similar to what she will encounter during summit day on Aconcagua – all good training. Sleet and snow fell most of the morning right down to the CIC hut, unfortunately by the time we descended it was mostly gone again. Looks like we are set for more stormy conditions over the Christmas period too. I was working for Abacus Mountain Guides which was a nice little introduction back to ‘work’ since my operation in September.
Dave was also out working for us over the weekend. On Saturday he and Rebecca tackled very strong winds to make an ascent of Sgurr an Lubhair in the Mamore mountains. If you look at Dave’s pictures its hard to believe its winter time here in Lochaber, lets hope Santa brings us some snow to play in!