As the rain fell on the walk up the Allt a Mhullin Al and I weren’t feeling too optimistic. The Ben was looking black and wet but we wanted a leg stretch and a chance to work off some of the mince pies. We caught Iain and James up at the CIC Hut then walked up into the Ciste to see if anything improved. We picked our way up towards No 2 Gully area, which typically stays quite wintry when the temperature is up and down. It was soon clear our extensive mixed rack for our original objective was going to be nothing more than a weight belt as everything was looking incredibly icy. Thankfully Al brought two stubby ice screws, enough for a jaunt up No2 Gully Buttress which was nothing more than a streak but had hero ice in all the right places.

Me enjoying the first pitch (photo: Al Halewood)

Me enjoying the first pitch (photo: Al Halewood)

Al enjoying P2

Al enjoying P2

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Below 1100m things aren’t so good, the winds have whipped most of the snow off the buttress’ and ledges leaving much of the mid/lower mountain looking pretty bare. However, ice is forming on routes such as the Curtain, Italian Climb and Vanishing Gully, there is even a reasonable amount on the CIC Cascades. The big Ben Nevis ridges are looking well and I would imagine routes such as Good Friday Climb will be building nicely. If we don’t loose it all in the next warm spell there could be some good conditions early in the new year when it gets a little colder, a little perseverance is the key right now.

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