Today was the start of the two Paul’s Winter Mountaineering course. The plan was to get them into crampons and using an axe before giving them a bit of an experience climbing their first winter route. The walk up to the CIC hut was fine, not too wet and just breezy with a few squalls. We passed Max and Lena who had just got married under the North face of Ben Nevis, (very cool) before the weather deteriorated and everything became quite soggy.
We used an area underneath the Douglas Boulder to practise moving around with and without crampons, moving up and down hill and generally getting the guys used to looking after themselves in a winter environment. We then witnessed a very large avalanche which had released from above Zero Gully / Orion Face area, the debris came very low and just round the corner of the boulder!
The guys picked things up quickly, so not wanting to stand about to much in the wet conditions we roped up and moved round to West Gully (I) which we climbed in three nice pitches. It was pretty sheltered in here until we crested the Douglas Gap and down-climbed the East Gully (I). Although things were extremely wet by this point the ‘Pauls’ kept a smile on their faces and seemed to be enjoying their time away from office jobs.
On the walk down I noticed another avalanche had released out of No 2 Gully area. As we descended further there looked to be a large crown wall underneath The Cascade – care will be needed on Ben Nevis over the next 24 hours. I was working for Abacus Mountain Guides.