It was a blue sky morning in the Outdoor Capital, something I have not experienced for quite some time. Ken, Dot and I were all keen to make the most of it so made the journey to the North Face of Ben Nevis with lots of ideas on what to climb. There was allot of recent avalanche debris from No.2/3/4 area and a bit of digging confirmed there were a few weak layers lingering within the snow pack. Pinnacle Arête had been mentioned a few times recently and I knew there was a direct 2nd pitch that may have not seen a repeat since the first ascent in 2010. With a reasonably safe approach we thought it would be a fun route to do in such calm and fine weather.
The first pitch started well with lots of nice climbing in narrow chimney’s before a difficult little step took us up to a very accommodating belay. Here, instead of opting for the chimney above (normal route IV,4) Ken went for a look round to the left in search of the direct and more challenging line. The climbing was good through this section with superb hooks but only produced amenable quality of protection. Ken took a belay below the steep crack in the headwall which proved to be pretty difficult but again had good hooks around chock stones with a bit of a run out towards the top. It was a nice pitch, one that we felt warranted tech 6 but also possibly V instead of IV. We chose to descend the Red Burn which is full of lovely soft snow making the walk down quick and easy.
The Ben felt empty today with just a handful of climbers out enjoying this excellent weather. On a whole we felt the routes at Trident hight are in good condition as the cracks are not full of ice and hooks / protection comes with just a little effort. There were patches of good snow about on the route but also allot of crud along with some loose blocks. Mega Route X had a surprising amount of ice on it, Pink Panther looked like it was forming very well, there were teams on Green Gully, Thompson’s, Slab Route and around the Douglas Boulder. Lots of options for good climbing at the moment, better get out and enjoy it!