Ben Nevis

What a difference a day makes. It was a windy walk this morning up to the CIC Hut, lots of folk walking the other way too which is always disheartening. I had a very loose plan and fully expected to spend the day at low level teaching Marie winter skills and generally getting her acquainted with surviving in adverse conditions. There was an outside chance we could get to Ledge Route safely but I knew we had to be careful with such turbulent conditions. We stopped to put our crampons on above the CIC Cascades and spent time discussing heuristic traps. At this level the snow was crusty and broke away very easily but there was no evidence of cracks which had been reported elsewhere on Ben Nevis today. On approach we covered moving around on steep slopes including good crampon technique. There is a convex scoop that runs to the right of No.5 Gully which was very firm underfoot, solid enough it was difficult to kick good steps, only to our left did the snow deepen which we avoided all the way to the start of Ledge Route. With height the snow pack was very compact so much so we ran out four pitches up the start of Ledge route before moving together further on. Pretty windy after the crux step, which is very banked out and easy at the moment. Map and compass was needed to descend toward the red burn where we found a good slope to slide about on and practice ice axe braking. Mike was also out around the CIC cascades as was Brian who was avalanche reporting. Mike had set off a significant slide udner the cascades which was interesting given the angle of the slope. Quiet on Ben Nevis, with other teams climbing Faulty Towers, The Curtain, Mega Route X and a team starting up Nordwand.

Marie on Ledge Route

Marie on Ledge Route

Windy at times - check that rope!

Windy at times – check that rope!

Ice axe braking on descent

Ice axe braking on descent