Wednesday 7 March 2007

Frustrating day on the Ben

Kev Shields and I headed for Ben Nevis today to take advantage of the freeze-thaw build up and hopefully get a new route in. Not to be. At first it looked best to stay low because of the mega dump of fresh snow which appeared to be burying all the high buttresses. But our first option turned out to be starting to drip a little in the warm March morning air. Up we went, following the footsteps of the brave who ventured up observatory gully to test the avalanche hazard for us!

The mist cleared to reveal the lower cliffs thawing pronto, but Indicator and Gardyloo looking pasty white and encased in stupendous amounts of ice. Unfortunately we decided it was too dangerous to walk to the foot of it. So we had to turn on out heel and head all the way home after seeing the sight above - Gardyloo buttress buried in maybe the most ice I've seen on it. Smith's looks like a nice grade IV right now!

I've been avalanched 300 metres down this gully before (from the cornice to where I took this photo) so I wasn't keen for a repeat performance. Today a vast jumble of debris serves as a warning to passers by. Stay out of my way! This debris was over 100m long and comprised of slowly setting lumps of concrete ice. Nice.

I did start up something, just to see the cliff up close, but quickly came back down as the drips rained from above.

Kev all dressed up and nowhere to go. Oh well, there's another month and a half at least...
Tomorrow I am going to Spain for ten days of clipping bolts by day and writing coaching at night.

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