This week I have been working for the West Highland College, teaching students basic winter skills. Wednesday we made use of the Gondola at the Nevis Range to gain easy access to Aonach Mor. The weather was superb with excellent vistas, some blue skis and feeling nice and cold in a biting North Westerly breeze. We were enjoying our day until one of my group took a slip and twisted an ankle, which forced a retreat. Luckily the incident happened towards the end of the day so we had already covered a good amount of movement technique and ice axe arrests – (in all its forms!)
Today was the polar opposite in terms of weather. The walk into the CIC Hut was warm, wet and pretty soggy by all accounts. Crossing the Allt a Mhuilinn anywhere around the CIC Hut looked like a disaster waiting to happen, so we kept on walking up into Coire Leis to look at emergency snow shelters and some snow pack analysis. At this stage the guys in my group really require a big winter hill day with lots of journeying and decision making along the way. Time and weather didn’t allow us to produce this sort of journey this week but hopefully with their new found skills they will be out and about in the hills themselves for the remainder of the winter.
There were many cars in the carpark and allot of people scattered around the hill today. There had been a large avalanche out of No.5 Gully and another from Observatory Gully. The ice on the Shroud is starting to form well but is a long way of being climbable. Other ice routes in that area such as Gemini have smears in them, Boomer Requiem looked like it was building nicely too. The cloud was down in the Comb which restricted visibility. Point 5 looked fat from afar, Hadrian’s and the Minus face looked thin to say the least. Super G on the Brenva face has two huge fangs building but again is a fair way from touching down. Cresta which I climbed with Davie a few years ago looked good but steep, I would guess routes higher up the mountain would be benefiting from this recent turbulent temperature fluctuation. Its stormy and wet out there but ice is building well on Ben Nevis……….